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Thomas Adcock: Watch out for Projekt 2025

New York

Two men with no desire to shake hands entered a broadcast studio in Atlanta one night in late June as player-combatants in a political drama routinely misnomered as debate. In reality, what the viewing audience beheld that night was a television art form as preposterous as professional wrestling.

This time, sadly preposterous. As commentator Audie Cornish of CNN Television dubbed the event, “The Infirm versus the Unstable.”

At screen right that night stood Joseph Robinette Biden, the Infirm: a slim and balding family man six feet in height (two meters), with a halting gait and a hoarse voice bespeaking eighty-one years of life. Long prominent on the international political scene as a masterful wheeler-dealer, admired for his integrity and empathy, Mr. Biden has accomplished more in the cause of progressive statecraft than any national leader since Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s and ‘40s.

Mr. Biden stammers, though considerably less often than in childhood, and his body has stiffened over the decades, as anybody’s body will. At times, his words trail off into the ether.

At screen left was Donald John Trump, the Unstable: three years younger and two knuckles taller than his adversary in the coming November presidential election. He is also the focus of a documentary film titled “Unfit: the Psychology of Donald Trump,” in which a panel of mental health professionals diagnosed him as a malignant narcissist bent on revenge over personal grievances.

As usual that night, the ever glowering face of Donald Trump was cosmetically bronzed; as usual, he was unable to button his suitcoat over an epigastrium swollen by a lifetime of gluttony; as usual, his hairdo was an intricate comb-over of heavily sprayed locks colored in a dye shade called “desert gold.”

Recently convicted by a Manhattan jury on thirty-four felonies in a case arising from his $130,000 (€121,000) payment to a leading lady of pornographic cinema to conceal extra-marital sex on the down-low, Mr. Trump awaits possible incarceration at his judicial sentencing on July 11. For the interim, his probation officer permitted travel beyond the New York court jurisdiction in order to participate in the TV event that Washington wags have tagged “The Battle of the Geezers.”

With an alternating sense of hope and horror, the whole world watched as these two markedly contrasting old fellows jousted over the question of which geezer was better suited for the moral authority and immense global power that comes with White House occupancy.

The slim one or the fat one?

The one who would take pains to locate you and return the wallet you accidentally dropped in the street?

Or the one likely to swipe your cash and credit cards, ditch your wallet, and scurry off?

The empathetic one?

Or the adjudicated fraudster, multiply accused rapist, and convicted criminal involved in the aforementioned Las Vegas tryst with a smut movie star—his wife was back home in New York nursing their newborn son)?

The respected one first elected to the United States Senate at age 29 who rose through prestige assignments in Congress to serve eight years as vice president during the scandal-free administration of Present Barack Obama?

Or the one soundly defeated after a single term in the White House, during which time he was twice impeached by Congress—first for an extortion scheme against Ukraine in aid of his failed reëlection bid in 2020, and second for inciting his particularly violent fanboys to mount a deadly insurrection at the Capitol building in Washington in the dwindling days of his disgraceful regime?

America seems to have gone mad at moment, as reflected in opinion polls that show Donald Trump having an excellent chance of returning to power. The madness is underscored by pundits and the polity who see Mr. Trump as “winner” of the June “debate.” But in fact there emerged from that night in Atlanta two losers.


Because a profusion of Biden admirers—notably, members of the New York Times editorial board—were shocked (shocked!) that an 81-year-old man with an occasional stutter and who occasionally mushes his words was not as verbally nimble as they’d like in responding to the provocations of a mendacious blowhard.    

And because American voters are no longer shocked (shocked!) that Donald Trump is more loathsome than ever before as he grasps again for disgrace. For most of us here at this madding time, life is a struggle to ignore his vulgar presence. This is the paradox: The vile Donald Trump may become president once more, but only he could consider himself a winner.

Joe Biden lost the so-called debate because he stammered, Donald Trump lost the so-called debate because his mouth vomited forth lie after lie after lie after lie throughout the ninety-minute TV spectacle. Whoppers such as—

• “Radical left lunatics” of Mr. Biden’s Democratic Party advocate abortions in the final month of pregnancy, and even at birth. Presumably, Mr. Trump suggested, infants would be left to die in maternity wards.

• Immigrants released from “prisons and insane asylums” in their home countries are snatching away “black jobs.”

Donald Trump’s ugly lies and racist rhetoric went entirely unchallenged by the event’s moderators, CNN journalists Dana Bash and Jake Tapper.

Ms. Bash and Mr. Tapper seemed unwilling to deal with the falsity and bigotry on parade, or perhaps they were ordered by their corporate bosses to neglect the sickness to which their audience was subjected. Either way, shame on them.

The morning after Mr. Trump’s nasty barrage, the New York Times editorial page thundered—

To Serve His Country, President Biden
Should Leave the Race

…As it stands, the president is engaged in a
reckless gamble. There are Democratic leaders
better equipped to present clear, compelling
and energetic alternatives to a second Trump
presidency. There is no reason for the party to
risk the stability and security of the country
by forcing viewers to choose between Mr.
Trump’s ‚ deficiencies and those of Mr. Biden.
It’s too big a bet to simply hope that 
Americans will overlook or discount Mr.
Biden’s age and infirmity…

In another era, perhaps the New York Times should have demanded that Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945) end his bid for reëlection as the Democratic candidate for president. After all, Mr. Roosevelt was crippled by poliomyelitis, the nerve disease that kept him bound to a wheelchair from age 39 until his death at age 63.  Surely such infirmity might doom effective leadership!

Indeed, how could a man dependent on a wheelchair guide America and her allies to victory over Nazism in World War II—which he did.

In our own day, perhaps the New York Times might demand that the criminal Donald Trump abandon his quest for a second presidency, in which his stated purpose is “retribution.” Beyond his sociopathic bleatings, the Times might have found Mr. Trump detestable due to his published manifesto—titled “Project 2025,” his how-to manual for ending democracy by way of a fast track to fascism.

Twenty-four hours after the Times went to press in a rush to judgment , the Philadelphia Inquirer countered as a voice of reason:

To Serve His Country, Donald
Trump Should Leave the Race

President Joe Biden’s debate performance
was a disaster. His disjointed responses and
dazed look sparked calls for him to drop
out of the presidential race…But lost in the
hand-wringing was Donald Trump’s usual
bombastic litany of lies, hyperbole, bigotry,
ignorance, and fear mongering. Trump
attacks the military. He denigrates the
Justice Department…He fights with allies
and cozies up to dictators…During one
Oval Office meeting, Trump shared highly
classified intelligence with the Russian
foreign minister and ambassador…The
only person who should drop out is Donald

            As I write, pearl-clutching grandees of the Democratic establishment warn us that old Joe could lose in November, thus cursing the country with Trumpism II. Therefore, Mr. Biden must do the noble thing, the grandees plead: step aside and allow next month’s nominating convention in Chicago to put forth a younger candidate, a man or woman full of pep and more enchanting in the glow of TV cameras.

The situation is in deep flux. I would not chance a prediction as to whether a good man well tested steps aside or stays the true course.

Meanwhile, now comes Project 2025, a roadmap to Trumpistan. 

Known by political operatives as “P-25,” few ordinary Americans are aware that it is Donald Trump’s governing agenda, should he defeat Joe Biden (or some more toothsome Democrat) and bring back a White House staff full of  zealous apparatchiks, several of whom would need release from prison before committing their crimes all over again.

Safe to say, no one has read all nine hundred twenty pages of P-25 or knows much about its provenance—the increasingly strident Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based policy institution serving the appetites of huge corporations run by so-called conservatives, Christian fundamentalists, and ultra-right Republican financiers such as the oil barons Charles and David Koch.

Consider some introductory remarks from P-25, and the mindset represented:


The long march of cultural Marxism through our
institutions has come to pass. The federal
government is a behemoth, weaponized against
American citizens and conservative values, with
freedom and liberty under siege as never before.
…[Our] political establishment and cultural élite
have once again driven America toward decline.
The good news is that we know our way out…
Conservatives should be confident that we can
rescue our kids, reclaim our culture, revive our
economy, and defeat the anti-American Left—at
home and abroad… Conservatives should
gratefully celebrate the greatest pro-family win in
a generation: the overturn of Roe v. Wade, a decision
that for five decades made a mockery of our
Constitution and facilitated the deaths of tens of
millions of unborn children…[The] progressive Left
cavalierly supports open borders despite the
lawless humanitarian crisis along America’s
southern border. They seek to purge the very
concept of the nation-state from the American
ethos, no matter how much crime increases…     
Abraham Lincoln warned that the greatest threat to
America would come not from without, but from
within. This is evident today, whether it be mask
and vaccine mandates…efforts to keep
Americans from driving gas cars or using gas, or 
eforts to defund the police, indoctrinate
schoolchildren or deny the biological reality
that there are only two sexes…

Less floridly, the text of P-25 proposes that the entire federal bureaucracy—including the Justice Department and all regulatory agencies—be placed under the direct control of Donald Trump. Job protections for career government employees would be largely eliminated, in favor of filling administrative agencies with political appointees (read hacks).

Further, P-25 would “stop the war on oil,” slash corporate taxes, ban pornography, spend billions more on Mr. Trump’s fantasy of constructing a continent-wide steel wall to divide the U.S. and Mexico, and strike “woke” language from all federal laws and regulations…

…Words and phrases such as “sexual orientation” and “gender equality” and “reproductive rights” and “abortion.”

Censorious policemen of Iran’s Gasht-e Ershad, take note!

Organized resistance to P-25 is tardy, but if Jared Huffman has a say it’s on the way. On June 11, Congressman Huffman, one of those “radical left lunatics” that Donald Trump finds irksome, announced formation of his “Stop Project 2025 Task Force” as a roadblock to the Heritage Foundation’s roadmap. Slowly, U.S. media outlets are beginning to listen.

“Project 2025 is a dystopian plot that’s already in motion to dismantle our democratic institutions, abolish [governmental] checks and balances, chip away at church-state separation, and impose a far-right agenda that infringes on basic liberties and violates public will,” Mr. Huffman declared in a press statement, adding, “We need a coördinated strategy to save America and stop this coup before it’s too late.”   

It is Monday morning, July 1.

Two no-nonsense officers of the U.S. Marshals Service, armed with Glock 22 service pistols, escort a paunchy man into the Federal Correctional Institution at Danbury, Connecticut. The paunch protrudes between a drinker’s face and a thatch of grey hair in need of shearing. His sartorial custom has him wearing three shirts beneath a shapeless jacket.

He is at the wrong end of those Glocks, the triple-shirt man. Once upon a recent time he was a powerful aide to a disgraceful president. His name is Stephen K. Bannon. But behind the slammer’s concrete walls, the ex-White House propaganda meister for an ex-president is known by a number that follows the dishonorable honorific “Inmate.”

 June first began Inmate Bannon’s four-month incarceration ordered two years ago after his conviction on two counts of contempt of Congress: 1) refusing to tell an investigating committee what he knew about the Capitol insurrection instigated by his boss on January 6, 2021, and 2) refusing to turn over documents related to Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss to Joe Biden in 2020.

Steve Bannon knows plenty, and admitted as much on the eve of insurrection via his popular podcast—the “War Room.” He spoke then of an Oval Office meeting on January 5 with the president-cum-convict Donald Trump. That evening, Mr. Bannon took to his microphone to gleefully forecast the next day’s coup d’ètat in Washington: “All hell is going to break loose!”

Indeed. Inspired by a Big Lie á la Joseph Goebbels—in this ongoing instance, the claim that Joe Biden and the Democrats “rigged” the 2020 election to steal it from Donald Trump and the Republicans—people died as a result of that hell, two policemen and one civilian.

A Trumpian swarm of thugs hunted for then-Vice President Mike Pence that hellish day, intending to hang him from the gallows they erected. (Quick-witted cops hustled Mr. Pence out of harm’s way.) A Trump yobbo distinguished himself by smearing his excrement on the office desk of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

Vandalism costs—glass repair, furniture restoration, urine and feces clean-up—amounted to $2.8 million (€2.61 million), according to the Justice Department. Attorney General Merrick Garland listed more numbers: 1,265 arrests, 718 guilty pleas, and 467 incarcerations on convictions of felonies that included seditious conspiracy.

Steve Bannon and his former boss refer to those behind bars as “hostages.” A 1985 graduate of Harvard University, he must surely know better somewhere down deep in his corroded heart. Yet he and Donald Trump repeat and repeat and repeat the Big Lie, damn the consequences to men and women who choose to believe rather than to know.

And what excited Mr. Bannon in the days before shuffling off to the penitentiary? With fever dreams of the coming election, he raised a microphone to hear the roaring response from an assembly of Trump voters to his call to action: “Victory or death!”

Big Lies are the bread and butter of authoritarian social control. It has ever been thus. During his campaign for president in 1940, Mr. Roosevelt called The Big Lie a “very simple technique of repeating and repeating and repeating falsehoods, with the idea that by constant repetition and reiteration, with no contradiction, the misstatements will finally come to be believed…They are used to create fear by instilling in the minds of our people doubt of each other, doubt of their government, and doubt of the purpose of their democracy.”

 Now, eighty-four years later with America amidst a presidential campaign of rehashed lies from a dark side of the contest, we must make the cri de cœur of one of us a chorus for all of us: This time, “Stop this coup before it’s too late.”

** **

THOMAS ADCOCK’s journalism has been published in  American, Canadian, Mexican and European newspapers and magazines—as well as university publications in the United States. His magazine and newspaper career began at the Detroit Free Press. He has written for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Chicago Today, the Toronto Telegram, the New York Times, and the New York Law Journal. As U.S. correspondent for CulturMag, the international journal of art & commentary, he contributes essays on American politics and sociology. He is an editorial consultant to major New York corporations, and nonprofits engaged in social justice. As recipient of the Edgar Allan Poe Award, given by Mystery Writers of America, his novels have been published worldwide. – We are proud to have him as our US-correspondent. He recently was the one – fittingly reporting from Trump’s courtroom in NYC – clicking our clock with »10.000thst« for the number of published articles on our website since it started.

His website here.


All his posts with CulturMag here. His books:

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