In Trump’s version of America, I’m happy to be called an ‘Enemy of the People’

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An 18th century parliamentarian well might have had Donald Trump in mind when he described a political opponent, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, as “blending mediocrity with cunning.” Trump doubtless will spawn many such descriptions on his own; one legal scholar, for example, already has described his slap-dash travel ban as a “combination of malevolence and incompetence.” Trump’s ongoing campaign against the news media is a signature example of his malevolent cunning. Beset with bad publicity—and historically low public approval ratings—because of his administration’s stunningly chaotic launch and growing suspicions over surreptitious Russian involvement in his election, Trump has scuttled to the ...

It’s hard to be an effective populist when you’re not all that popular

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Donald Trump is about to discover that it’s very difficult to govern as a populist when the majority of the populace isn’t with you. One of the most unexpected events in this period of dizzyingly destabilizing socio-political novelties—Trump’s chaotic attempted presidency foremost among them—is the mass resistance to his administration now expressing itself in the streets: The massive post inaugural women’s marches, first of all, and now the stunningly widespread airport protests against his anti-immigrant diktats. The spontaneity, scope and intensity of the latter exceed, I think, anything that occurred at the height of that last great period of popular mobilization, ...

Trump’s First Days in Office: Deeply Sinister

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The trick to making something like sense out of these first stages of Donald Trump’s presidency is distinguishing between conduct that merely is vulgar or idiosyncratic and those ideas, policies and appointments whose implications are genuinely sinister. The difficulty, of course, is that the new chief executive’s bellicose, frenetic, self-aggrandizing and habitually mendacious persona throws up a kind of smoke screen that impedes such sober distinctions.  His appallingly tasteless and offensively egomaniacal performance before the “Wall of Heroes” at CIA headquarters Saturday was a quintessential example of the boorish and dissembling Trump; his cabinet and White House staff appointments are chilling ...

Mysterious Intelligence Report Invites Us to Wonder Just How Perverted Trump Is?

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Traditional Christian mysticism holds that one of the gifts of the spirit is cardiognosis—the ability to read hearts. Apparently that ancient charism, usually reserved for saints, also is going to be an essential tool for the reporters and analysts who deal with Donald Trump’s incoming administration. Trump’s chief apologist Kellyanne Conway—whose bizarrely inexplicable enthusiasm for defending the indefensible would give Freud a migraine—put the cardiognostic case this way when explaining how her boss could deny ridiculing a disabled reporter, even though the incident was recorded on video: “You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth,” she complained ...

 Trump and the GOP Lack a Popular Mandate for a Radical Transformation of the U.S.

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The confirmation that state-sponsored Russian hackers intervened in the recent election to support Donald Trump and various Republican congressional candidates further heightens questions about the incoming administration’s legitimacy. We are not speaking of legitimacy in the legal sense. The Russians’ unacceptable intrusion into our electoral process was only one of the factors that contributed to Hillary Clinton’s defeat. So, too, was FBI Director James Comey’s clumsily politicized 11th hour letter concerning Clinton’s emails, as well as the fact that she herself was a poor candidate freighted with more baggage than a Korean container ship and her campaign was badly managed and ...

Wall Street and Oil Companies are the Real Winners in Trump’s Cabinet

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Whatever the populist voters who propelled Donald Trump into office thought they were getting, their president-elect is giving them a cabinet consisting of—as Josh Marshall has aptly put it—plutocrats, generals and right-wing extremists. It also will be an administration staffed with an unusual number of candidate Trump’s major donors. As the Washington Post has reported, federal campaign filings reveal that, “President-elect Trump has now tapped six big donors and fund-raisers to serve in his administration, lining up an unprecedented concentration of wealthy backers for top posts. Together with their families, Trump’s nominees gave $11.6 million to support his presidential bid, his ...

Trump’s Emerging Administration is a Combination of Crooks and Kooks

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Much has been made of the emerging Trump Administration’s wealth, and if either Mitt Romney or Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson is selected as Secretary of State, the incoming cabinet’s standing as the richest ever will be more than assured. A great deal, too, has been made of the number of Goldman Sachs alums in the new administration—despite the president elect’s demonization of the powerful investment bank during the campaign. Much, too, understandably is being made of the Trump team’s extreme right-wing views. Equally notable, it seems to me, is the prevalence of plain old crooks and kooks in the group ...

Religious leaders’ electoral rush to Trump is a self-interested betrayal of trust

“Ecclesiastical establishments” James Madison wrote to his friend William Bradford Jr. in 1774, “tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.” If ever there was proof of Madison’s preternatural wisdom it was the role of organized religion in Donald Trump’s recent electoral victory. In fact, for those of us who take faith and politics seriously, the conduct of America’s major religious voting blocs—Catholics and evangelical Protestants—and, particularly their leaders is further evidence of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy that ought to disqualify them from further influence over the minds of reasonable Americans. Such people, even ...