Book Of The Month: Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House

When 63 million people made the decision on November 8, 2016 to vote for Donald J. Trump to become the forty-fifth President Of The United States the rest of the country, indeed the rest of the world was understandably shaken. Whether you loved or hated Trump you could agree on one thing we would be getting something in The White House the likes of which we had never seen. Donald Trump is a man with no boundaries, no sense of decorum, no true ideology except a pathetic need for approval and a more transparent capitulation to white supremacy (I mean more transparent than a normal Republican which is already pretty translucent).

In “Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House” journalist Michael Wolff takes advantage of the chaos of the amateurish and discordant Trump Administration to observe and confirm what many of us have suspected. The President and his minions are a house of fools and the entire world is much worse for their usurpation of actual power.

Among the characters profiled in this story you will find no heroes. If you were searching for a “protagonist” I guess you would have to go with Steve Bannon which is odd because he’s done so much to agitate and amplify the worst things about America. But rather Bannon than the feckless Jared Kushner, the ineffectual Reince Priebus, the sycophantic Kellyanne Conway or anyone who’s last name is Trump.

Wolff starts with The Trump Campaign in 2016 through to the ouster of Steve Bannon and weaves a narrative around much of what we already learned through leaks. Throughout the book based on whatever subject or character he is currently expounding on Wolff will sometimes flashback to earlier periods either from the campaign or earlier in Trump’s life. While those of us who have been political news junkies won’t find many new facts it is interesting to hear direct quotes from the principals involved in the story. One thing that is more clear I will say is that even most of the Trump Administration believes their was collusion with Russia and Trump’s family made it worse by obstructing justice and firing Comey.

What I find most disconcerting is the cynical opportunism of the “adults” in the room. The serious Republican operatives who at times are baffled by Trump’s ignorance, arrogance, and incompetence and who privately express concerns about his mental health. Most can’t quite decide if he’s crazy but a running theme throughout the book is that they all agree that he’s a fucking moron. And yet rather than spare us they all put party before country and are playing politics at a time when the geopolitical ramifications could be staggering.

The most troubling thing about Donald Trump himself is that his blatant expression of racial animus is basically his only truth. He hasn’t made a dogged effort to follow through on any of his other campaign promises and as Wolff pulls back the curtain you understand why. The only thing he craves is the accolades, the applause and the attention. Where he actually believes in anything it is the racist, anti-semitic, and sexist stew that has transfixed much of the consciousness of the Make America Great Again crowd.

Trump isn’t the most hardcore believer of course. That would be Steve Bannon. But at times Steve Bannon comes across as a pragmatic and flawed mastermind. You quickly find that only in a room full of mental midgets does he loom as an intellectual giant. This book is interested in telling a very particular story about the ins and outs and political machinations in the Trump Administration. What you will come to understand is that these people are as objectively terrible at being human as any villain in a comic book movie. As a matter of fact I sympathize with the motives of Loki more than any of the people presented in this book. These people are so uniquely despicable they don’t even like each other.

What is pertinent and what gives me most hope as a political partisan but most dread as a citizen of the United States is that by the end of this book (which concludes some time in the fall of 2017) the most competent, and effective political operators have essentially been neutralized in favor of Trump’s incompetent, and extremely corrupt family. While they may not have the same exact nationalist agenda as a true villain like Bannon they do intend to pilfer the Treasury and use their plunder to reward the Republican congress and their donors (many of whom won’t be re-elected as a result). What’s worrisome is that their inability to reign in the worst impulses of Donald Trump could find us on the brink of a nuclear crisis. As Donald Trump, a man who is easily wounded, grapples with the fact that one of the United States’ most bitter enemies doesn’t like him very much and isn’t afraid of him.

As much as the election of Donald Trump gave me existential dread about the United States I still believe there are people here worth saving. Are there enough good people here to stop Trump and his flunkies from destroying our country? That remains to be seen.  Maybe the “adults” in the room will invoke the 25th amendment and deal with the political fallout as opposed to you know… a nuclear one.

 

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Fire and Desire..for Nuclear War

For Trump Supporters Nuclear War is just one acceptable consequence for the advancement of White Supremacy.

I wanted to write about something other than politics this week. However we are at an urgent moment in history. We are witnessing the dissolution of norms that most of us had taken for granted until now. I’ll be honest as a student of history, a political junkie, and a human being the idea of nuclear war remained an abstraction for the majority of my life. From what I understood the Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest we ever came (although some declassified documents suggest that’s not quite true) and it would take some extraordinary circumstances for us to ever come that close again.

Well, extraordinary circumstances thy name is Trump. We currently have an occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that doesn’t have the moral or intellectual capacity to lead. As much as I can I’ll drive home the point that when it comes to matters of mere policy Trump isn’t so much of an anomaly and is really just a Republican with no shame. But in so many ways Trump isn’t a Republican politician so much as he is a Republican voter who stumbled ass backwards into the most powerful office in the world. And if you know anything about the Republican base (older, whiter, angrier, less educated, richer and tons more racist than the average American) then every single thing Trump does makes absolutely perfect sense.

So where does that leave the rest of us? Like Howard The Duck trapped in a world we never made. Caught between a rogue nation with a hermit king who is unpredictable and inexperienced and a faction of white nationalists within our own borders who have the same exact resume, it’s hard not to feel helpless, frustrated, and angry. We have to put the pressure on our elected officials of course but in the meantime the best thing you can do is educate yourself about how this world works. We have to train the next generation of leaders. We have to emphasize how close to the brink we have come. We can’t let the next generation forget the way these 63 million Trump voters forgot about the Cuban missile crisis. We have to convince people that their Whiteness shouldn’t be the priority when they hit the voting booth because having a President who is an incompetent racist hurts everyone not just minorities. But having a President who is mentally unstable becomes a grave threat to the entire world.

The anger, fear and confusion are natural responses. I hate to betray my sardonic demeanor, I am a blogger after all. I have to retain this cool bemusement with even the most dangerous global developments. My purpose here isn’t to stoke, provoke or amplify your existing fear. I only intend to give you my point of view and let you know that you’re not the one who’s crazy. Unless you’re Donald Trump then yes you are the one that’s crazy.

Despite the fact that we live in an age of extreme political divisions there are some persuadable people out there. Persuadable people are people who are smart enough to not just be wrong by default but not quite smart enough to be right on their own. If you find yourself near a persuadable, please persuade them. Don’t let the evil side direct them towards the cliff. I’ve spent the better part of the last decade ignoring the persuadables and that’s the only responsibility I will take in this current mess. The problem is people are so dumb they don’t respond to debates they respond to marketing. I’ve been going around sharpening my rhetorical skills but I suck at marketing. The problem with debate is it requires a level of knowledge and sophistication from the judges and audience to declare a winner. Most people don’t have that level of knowledge and sophistication. But they can tell you Coke beats Pepsi because the commercials are better.

I don’t know how to save America from itself. Maybe Donald Trump has the answer. Maybe his reckless demeanor and total disregard for the gravity of his position as a global leader will scare enough persuadables to come over to the side of the righteous. Maybe we are just experiencing growing pains, taking two or three or eight steps back so we can take a huge leap forward. I’m not so sure. Besides the fact that Donald Trump is President we see so many other signs that our country is under siege from enemies both foreign and domestic.

Trump and his cadre of neo-Nazis could really care less about America. Well not the real America. The America they fight for doesn’t exist anymore. Their America is an America with whites only water fountains. Their America is an America where black people don’t go to college. Their America is an America where fighting drug epidemics equals locking up black people. There America is an America where foreign powers are so terrified of our military might that they move about meekly hoping not to incur our wrath. Again this is a fictional America. This is an America that exists only in the myths white people construct to justify the decades of racism, misogyny, and homophobia inflicted domestically and the violence exported globally.

I’ve previously written about the faux redemption of John McCain and the urgent need for Non-Voters to join the rest of us in these upcoming elections. This week my message isn’t quite so clear. I feel a deep ambivalence about the state of our nation. On one hand I feel like Trump is the lesson we needed on how the southern strategy and the embrace of the racism that secretly powered the conservative movement for the past 50 years is ultimately a corrosive that will eat our nation from within. On the other hand I feel like the people who most need to learn this probably won’t reckon. For anyone still happy with Donald Trump I guess Nuclear War is just an acceptable consequence for the advancement of White Supremacy.

Weekly Recommendation –

Anyway I’m going to end most of my blogs from now on with a recommedation of some sort. This week it’s a video game that brings friends together only to tear them apart. I’m of course referring to Tekken 7.

Get it now from Amazon: