The lifelong lessons in the death of Herman Cain

“God loves irony.”

Herman Cain at a Trump rally, sans mask.

That’s what I wrote on a Facebook post in a group calling itself Christians Against Trump. A person in the group was objecting to people crowing about the passing of the conservative businessman and politician, Herman Cain, who died from Covid-19 after attending a Trump rally. He’d boasted about the refusal to wear a mask on his Twitter account.

Cain was making the bold claim that PEOPLE ARE FED UP with wearing masks, yet he’s now dead from contraction of the Coronavirus. One cannot be sure that he caught the deadly bug while sitting in the audience cheering on Trump. But the quid pro quo is compelling nonetheless.

Herman Cain also considered himself a mouthpiece for God. He connected his religion closely to his politics. During his campaign for President in 2012, he made a direct connection between his 9-9-9 tax proposal and his ardent belief in the Almighty. “If 10% is good enough for God,” Cain proclaimed, “9% ought to be good enough for the federal government.”

Scriptural warnings

Given these almost scriptural musings about the nature of life and government, one wonders if Cain understood the fuller meaning of scripture that warns us against putting the Lord our God to the test. (Matthew 4:7)

Going out in public without a mask during a worldwide pandemic seems to be a keen way to put the Lord to the test. Yet it is a popular meme with some religious folks. There is no escaping the fact that Herman Cain tested the power of his faith and it didn’t work out that well for him.

A common sense approach

That’s the problem with banking on religion to protect us from all kinds of evil. God still expects us to use common sense. The Book of Genesis starts out with a test of that sort to warn us against getting too cocky about the support of God in this world. Even after Adam and Eve are told not to take fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, they engage with a legalistic serpent who shows up with a promise that they can be like God, knowing good and evil, if they take matters into their own hands. “You surely will not die,” the Serpent promises them.

But a harsh lesson awaits. The Serpent’s promise is only good in the short term. The deceivingly religious Serpent has tricked Adam and Eve into thinking they have immunity from their own actions. Such is the case, it seems, with Herman Cain and millions of other religious believers who too easily neglect the lessons of their own scripture. While claiming to represent the Will of God, they eagerly take fate into their own hands.

The legacy of Herman Cain

There is more to the conflicted legacy of Herman Cain than his unfortunate death. HIs life as a businessman is depicted as a classic “up by the bootstraps” lesson about corporate perseverance. He rose through the ranks of several fast food companies to bring Godfather’s Pizza to renewed profitability. But when President Clinton pursued a plan to require employers to support health insurance for employees, Cain complained that plan would make it impossible for companies “like mine” to stay in business.

In a textbook example of conservative victimhood, Cain stated “For many, many businesses like mine, the cost of your plan will cause us to eliminate jobs. What will I tell those people whose jobs I will have to eliminate?”

Two bad choices

That tactic of offering up two seemingly bad choices to defend an ideological premise of conservatism under the banner of capitalism is a classic conservative ploy. What Cain refuses to consider or mention is why employers are even involved in the business of dispensing healthcare in the first place? Conservatives love to ignore such topics, leaving businesses across America responsible for the major headache of paying premiums and managing our healthcare system in the increasingly expensive triage of combatants vying for profitability. These are healthcare insurance companies, healthcare providers and networks, and Big Pharma. All of these lobbies want to protect their own interests, and corporate politicians gain big donations by doing so.

And the rest of America is left living a lie of bad choices. The United States barely ranks in the Top 40 worldwide in terms of quality and affordability of healthcare. So much for American exceptionalism. The fight against the Affordable Care Act was not about constitutional rights or Death Panels or any number of conflated reasons concocted by the Republican Party. It was about the selfish interests of all these profit-pursuing entities trying to slice pieces of meat from the other. And the GOP plays the role of butcher by trying to cut people out of the ranks of the covered.

Purposeful blindness

Herman Cain’s purposefully blind approach to resolving health care needs in America is the entire premise of the Republican Party’s non-plan to protect the health of everyday Americans. For decades, millions of people living outside the bubble of corporate-sponsored health care went without coverage. And worse, those with pre-existing conditions were essentially banned from pools of favorably-priced health insurance even if they tried to buy it on the open market.

The Republican approach to health insurance was, and remains, a death warrant for anyone who works for a man like Herman Cain. So we must ask, how does a supposedly God-fearing Christian man come to a place in life where he aggressively opposes the needs of people who work for him? It turns out scripture has something to say about that too.

Up-from-the-bootstraps

That “up-from-the-bootstraps” mentality favored by conservatives is more about selfishness than it is about solutions. It’s the “tough luck” school of thought that Jesus combatted in the religious authorities whose love of tradition moved them to invent laws and rules and restrictions that stood as stumbling blocks for those trying to reach out to God for spiritual sustenance. Instead it became a transactional religion run by people in positions of power and authority who got to call the shots, even to the point of sentencing people to death if they were accused of doing something wrong.

That’s the lifelong lesson of Herman Cain in a nutshell. His supposed love of personal responsibility was actually a politically dismissive ideal that cost him his own life in the end.

But as scripture tells us time and again, God loves irony. It teaches so many lessons.

Even Trump can’t bend the laws of nature to his will

Cicada killer

As a child deeply interested in nature, I studied butterflies and learned dozens of species, taking up birding thanks to the gift of a Peterson Field Guide from a knowing aunt, and spent all the time I could outdoors where the world seemed to offer limitless opportunity to find something new every day.

Yet one warm afternoon I got a bit more nature than I expected. While popping tar bubbles and collecting “Fool’s Gold” bits of pyrite from the gravel on a neighborhood street, I heard a loud buzzing noise over my shoulder and turned to find the biggest wasp I had ever seen descending over my head. It was a cicada killer carrying prey back to its underground nest.

At first, horrified by the size, then fascinated by this massive insect, I watched it land and drag a cicada carcass into a hole in the Pennsylvania clay.

Although I well knew that aspects of nature could be vicious––our own feral cat had proved that to me by dispatching birds and chipmunks multiple times––that encounter with the cicada killer shattered my expectations of how forceful our world could be.

Force of nature

But it didn’t end there. Later in life, I learned that certain kinds of wasps will lay eggs in the bodies of larger caterpillars, whose innards become food for the young of the wasp once they emerge. Parasitoid wasps actually prey on all sorts of other living creatures, with some focusing on aphids, which is why some gardeners welcome the sneaky beasts into their world.

The world is full of predator-prey relationships, many with brutal consequences. Nature usually finds a balance if evolution is left to work its magic. But the human race is known to mess up this equilibrium by introducing entirely new or “invasive” species into an ecosystem. Without any natural predators or systems to keep them in check, these species can run amok, overtaking the natural environment with often devastating force.

We see invasive plant species such as garlic mustard covering woodland floors, shutting out light vital to native wildflowers. Out in the marshes, it is purple loosestrife that propagates like mad. There are also bird species such as European starlings and House sparrows that upon release into North America flourished and flooded the countryside with their aggressive ways.

Murder hornets

The latest predatory and somewhat parasitic species to invade the United States is a species of wasp called the Japanese Murder hornet. Specimens of this robust and vicious wasp have been found in the Pacific Northwest, leading some to worry that they might expand across the country and decimate honeybee populations. That problem would only worsen the challenges faced by beekeepers during a period when massive hive die-offs are common, and whose cause is not entirely known.

Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 4.20.22 PM

Whether Murder hornets will make way across the fifty states remains to be seen. One expert quoted in a Business Insider article played down the threat: “It’s not an existential threat to mankind or to the US or to our honeybee industry to have,” Doug Yanega told Business Insider. “Even if they do get established and build a foothold here, the scale of the threat is greatly overblown.”

Another entomologist quoted in the Post-Crescent, a Wisconsin newspaper, noted: “This whole ‘murder hornet’ thing is annoying to entomologists, I think,” Draney said. “It just freaks people out and sort of unnecessarily makes people nervous.”

Coronavirus

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People are nervous about quite a few threats these days. The invasion of the Coronavirus in America has shut down the economy and cost 30 million people their jobs. The virus is an evolutionary wonder of its own, a “novel” bug that has no predecessor among human beings. That makes it more dangerous to contain because there are no antidotes or antibodies developed to combat the tiny beast. Thus it presents an existential threat to millions of people around the world.

Here in the United States, response to the Coronavirus bug was slow and ponderous. That’s because the main person in charge of pondering the issue is himself a bit of an apex predator and by some reckonings, a parasite of the first and final order.

Orange Donald too

A real (estate) parasite

Back in the days when Trump was making his way in the New York Real Estate market, he refined his predatory tactics through manipulation of rent controls and valuations, playing up the worth of his properties when it suited his ego and playing them down when it benefited his tax needs.

But his parasitic instincts flared into action when the Real Estate market crash threatened the nation in 2007. As NBC News reported, “Donald Trump counseled Trump University students to take advantage of the housing bubble as an investment opportunity and said, just a year before it burst, that he was “excited” for it to end because of the money he’d make.

“People have been talking about the end of the cycle for 12 years, and I’m excited if it is,’ he told the Globe and Mail in March of 2007. “I’ve always made more money in bad markets than in good markets.”

At that time, the housing market was already beginning to decline, and just over a year later the subprime mortgage crisis hit, part of a chain reaction of events that led to the stock market crash of 2008 and cemented the Great Recession.”

Predator and parasite combined

Orange Donald

That is Trump the predator and parasite coming together in one devilish creature. The NBC News story originally published in 2016 is all the more revealing now that Trump University was punished for defrauding the students it claimed to educate. Not only was Trump eager to parasitize the economy on which his supposed wealth depends, but he was also sucking money out of people for fake wisdom.

But we’ve long known that Trump knows how to leverage his vicious nature better than most. His television show The Apprentice celebrated his love of dispatching those he considered inferior with the famous phrase, “You’re fired!”

There’s an interesting parallel between the behavior of Donald Trump and the Murder Hornets whose habits include honeybee hive genocide and then carting off the carcasses of its victims to feed to its children. He claims to love chaos and seems happiest when tearing his victims apart. Perhaps the sociopathy of nature really does trickle up the food chain to gain expression in the human race. Supposedly our species is capable of transcending survival of the fittest and its “red in tooth and claw” dynamics. Yet the wars and political battles common to our kind do not suggest we’re all that better than the creatures over whom we claim dominion. That is why so many sociopaths seem to succeed. They appeal to a certain base instinct to dispatch the opposition at any cost. Trump is their Murder Hornet King, the face of domination and revenge.

Murder Hornet Trump

Political murder hornet

After years of eviscerating victims on The Apprentice, Trump was elected President of the United States and kept playing the same role, only this time the reality show was not semi-scripted. It was live and in-person. So whether the contestant was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who branded Trump a “moron,” or former FBI director James Comey, who did Trump a symbiotic electoral favor by glorifying the trumped-up case against Hillary Clinton and her dreaded emails, Trump went at his mission indiscriminately. Any buzz of disloyalty was sufficient to make Trump go full-on murder hornet. 

And when anyone threatens to hold him accountable for his lack of accountability or Tweets designed to sting his perceived opponents to death, Trump claims that it is his natural right to do such things, and nothing anyone says or does can stop him.

The taste of prey

Even after the Mueller team uncovered Russian interference in the 2016 election and turned in multiple indictments people in the President’s close circle,  Trump claimed innocence and embarked on a new and horrifically bald-faced attempt to bring foreign influence to bear on American elections. He targeted Joe Biden by coercing the President of Ukraine to conduct an investigation into Hunter Biden. That political murder plot exposed by a whistleblower. There are always guardian bees or ants in nature that are willing to sacrifice themselves to defend the colony.

But Trump loves invasive species, you see. He embraced Wikileaks because it helped him break down the value of laws in the United States, freeing him to flaunt our Constitution and the natural limits of the Executive Office itself.

The invasive coronavirus

Trump shrug

This brings us to Trump’s non-response to the invasion of the Coronavirus in America. At some level, Trump likely admired the cunning tactics of the Chinese government that kept the virus secret until it knew what it wanted to do about it. Who knew that a virus living in bats could make the leap over to human beings? Actually, people like Dr. Anthony Fauci and the entire Pandemic Response Team that was told by Trump “You’re fired!” knew quite a bit about the potential problems caused by viruses of that type. Researchers had spent years studying Coronaviruses of many types. Predictions were made that it wasn’t a matter of “if” such a virus would threaten the human population, but “when.”

The fact of the matter is that Trump refused to believe yet desperately feared that his perfect economy could be affected by news of a potential pandemic. The fat caterpillar on which his eyes were trained was getting re-elected in November of 2020. Trump’s goal is to lay his eggs in the American government to the benefit of his progeny; Ivanka, Jared, the Trump boys, and ultimately his nearly invisible son Barron.

Parasite in Chief

lamphrey-getty-01

Trump is indeed the Parasite In Chief, a predator so cunning and absorbed in his mission that he failed to see that a much smaller parasite was coming up from behind. It laid its eggs as he sat dormant in his brooding complex surrounded by the buzzing sycophants who guard the dark lair from journalists and other such pests. If Trump had his way, he’d fly out and bite off the heads of every reporter he could find.

His popularity with his base is built on such instincts. They view Washington as a brood of termites gnawing away at the foundations of the American household. Trump was elected to be their can of Raid. The more poison he spewed, the more favor he won among those who favor a scorched earth result. Those instincts were verified when Trump claimed at a campaign rally that he could shoot someone and he would still be on top. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said.

That’s a murder hornet philosophy if there ever was one. Trump is indeed a unique and invasive species in American politics. His symbiotic relationship with Russia includes the parasitic ploy of trusting Russian social media trolls to inject seeds of discontent among the aphids he calls his base. Meanwhile, Trump occupies himself by buzzing around with other murder hornets such as Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Turkish kingpin Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose political career Trump would dearly love to emulate. As described on Wikipedia: “As a long-standing proponent of changing Turkey’s parliamentary system of government into an executive presidency, Erdoğan formed an alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to establish an executive presidency in 2017, where the changes were accepted in a constitutional referendum.”

King of the Hoppers

That’s the type of power and authority Donald Trump truly craves. Yet his predatory brand of narcissism caused him to focus on his own ego during the one moment when that brand of authority could truly have been his to wield. Trump preeningly tried to brush away the threat of a pandemic, insisting it would disappear “like magic” simply because he willed it to be so.

“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.

His power was so great, he repeatedly Tweeted, that nothing bad could happen to the economy.

The Grand Parasite

Trump-golf-seated

On that topic, Trump is also a grand parasite. He did nothing to build to the economy that he inherited from eight years of hard work by President Obama, whose leadership helped the country recover from the Bush-led Great Recession.

Even in the midst of that effort, Obama got blowback from his political opponents when he had the nerve to inform business interests that the government was critical in providing the infrastructure needed for their success.

He stated, “You did not build that” in talking about the nation’s investment in that infrastructure. But conservatives took that to literally mean they had not built their businesses. That’s how selfish people can be when they don’t want to owe anything to anyone.

And that’s the reason Trump got elected. The selfish horde of Americans whose spit and prejudicial spit rained down upon Obama could not stand the idea that a Democrat had saved their asses.

Wasting away

Now Trump has quickly squandered everything that Obama did create. The tariffs imposed by Trump gutted agricultural markets. The tax cuts he favored sent the national deficit soaring. Now his feckless and lazy response to the pandemic has cost millions of American jobs and the nation is headed toward yet another Republican-led recession.

It should be noted that every Republican President from Eisenhower to Trump has trashed the economy enough to cause a recession. That’s the real pandemic in America:  Republican economic policy. It sickens the nation every time by infecting the country with the attitude that it is the job of United States citizens to feed and support the rich so that jobs and money can trickle down to the everyday worker.

Hopper king ants

In that respect, we should consider the plot of the movie A Bug’s Life, in which a nasty King Hopper brings his horde to bear on the ant colony. Their goal is to mercilessly clean out the stores of the ants for their own purposes. Yet the ant colony musters enough courage to resist King Hopper thanks to an oddly liberal batch of circus performers whose act serves as both a distraction and an act of resistance. Their colorful display distracts the grasshopper mob long enough for a band of ants to fly a fake bird down from a tree to scare the daylights out of King Hopper and his deplorable clan.

Thumper

Yet that’s not the end of the story. When King Hopper sees through the ruse and labels it Fake News, he goes off in mad pursuit to kill the Whistleblower ant that led the charge in standing up to the bullying ways of Hopper and his base. But the ant flees until it arrives at the lair of a hungry bird, who grabs Hopper in its bill and feeds the hapless insect to its beckoning young. What a fitting end that would be for the likes of Donald Trump, the President determined to terrorize a nation into doing his bidding.

There’s a moral to every tale in nature. No one is immune to the forces of natural justice in this universe. Not even those who try so desperately to break its laws and bend the truth to serve selfish objectives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAGA deserves a closer look

None of us sees behind the veil of what Trump truly values. I have spoken with people that gained an audience with the man, and his personal interactions with them were both kind and considerate. That suggests there is something more to Trump than his public persona and political style. Perhaps his supporters sense this aspect of their president. So it demands a closer look at what drives the popularity of Make America Great Again.

Trump Maga Hat

His brand of brightly-hued optimism appeals to millions of Americans eager for some sort of renewal in this country. These also tend to be people aggravated by the complexity of life as it has evolved in the American republic. Trump’s slogan Make America Great Again proposes to eliminate the complexity of life by reducing the American experiment to simple actions; cutting taxes, ending illegal immigration, stopping abortion, eliminating financial and environmental regulation and putting religion at the forefront of national policy. Does that cover pretty much of what MAGA fans want to see happen?

The Trump mantra really isn’t more complicated than that. His simplicity is his message. One could just as easily change the Trump slogan to Make Aggravation Go Away and achieve the same objectives. A big chunk of the American electorate craves simplicity. They’re sick of having to think about complex issues such as the lives of transgender people. They’re tired of hearing Spanish rather than English spoken in public places. They’re believers in old-school industries such as coal and oil because they harken to a time before the complexities of air pollution, acid rain, and climate change challenged the status quo. There must be a simpler way. Trump appeals to that manner of thinking.

But first, let’s make the aggravations go away.

MAGA redefined

Make Aggravation Go Away is a powerful message also to people whose vision of America does not require accommodation of any sort. That means Christians should not have to think about Muslim traditions or put up with people saying Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas. That cultural issue alone has aggravated Christians for a decade or so, coaxed on by Fox News chryons pitching the “War On Christmas.”

Make Aggravation Go Away has roots stretching way back to the Confederate cause in which states’ rights were the big issue, but mostly that was a cloak for the right to keep slaves. Indeed, that was the cause of ‘liberty’ back then. Liberty for white Christians quoting scripture to justify selfish aims while treating people of other races as property. It’s hard to read that sentence and grasp that people once truly believed that. Yet that’s what America most needs to do. Come to grips with its own conflicted traditions.

The Civil War was fought over that aggravation. There are still some Americans that wave the Confederate flag as a sign that their aggrieved state has never been recognized.

Protestors

Tracing these historical grievances from the past to present helps to explain why protestors are now gathering to “liberate” their states from Stay At Home orders issued by their governors. Responding to the pandemic has been an aggravation, which is defined as “an intensification of a negative quality or aspect.” The threat of disease is never a joyful situation. Being encouraged or required to retreat from public life is another layer of aggravation. Those orders are being treated as an infringement on personal rights by protestors who want to Make Aggravation Go Away.

Not that simple

The problem with that belief system is that life isn’t always that simple. Trump’s eagerness to prevent any outside influence from impinging on his prized economy is what directly led to the infection rate getting a head start on the nation’s ability to respond. By trying to simplify the Coronavirus threat to a sound bite and a promise that it would “go away, like magic,” Trump put millions of people’s lives at risk, and tens of thousands have indeed died.

Trump Denial

And yet his supporters still seek to simplify the complexities of Covid-19 with even more disturbing sound bites. So desperate are some supporters to protect Trump they have projected blame for the pandemic away from Trump to a more convenient and horrifically simplied target for their ire, Dr. Anthony Fauci. The Fire Fauci meme swept across the Internet with all the resonance and credulity of the Lock Her Up chants aimed at Hillary Clinton. Again, it’s all about Making Aggravation Go Away. Fauci is an aggravation because he’s a medical professional speaking in terms of science, that complex source of often bad news that stands in direct opposition to Trump’s vacuous brand of gut-instinct optimism.

fire fauci

That’s the kind analysis. A more honest approach would be to say that Trump acted stupidly by ignoring clear warnings that a pandemic was brewing overseas and that it would not be confined to arrival just from China. Fauci accurately predicted it would arrive through other channels, yet Trump desperately tried to simplify the threat by calling it the Chinese Virus. That was a clear attempt to politicize the problem with a nationalistic, effectively racist approach to directing blame away from himself. Trump aggressively failed the leadership test of recognizing a genuine threat to our national interests. That is how he approaches every problem he faces. He fails, then bails, and finally assails. It’s all about blaming others. That’s the simplest way to avoid responsibility. But to Trump, it is an art form.

As a result of Trump’s recklessness, our national interests are now bogged in a swamp of economic doldrums wrought by the need to shut down our service economy to prevent rampant spread of the Coronavirus. That requirement has cost millions of jobs and Americans are suffering, big time. The Trump response has been cynical at best. At one point he proudly promised to send Americans what he called a “big, fat check” amounting to about $1200 for most households. And then, Trump held up the distribution of those checks to make sure his name appeared on them.

Big money goes elsewhere

Meanwhile, billions have been snarfed up big money interests all too eager to accept the graft intended for “small business.” That includes Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, whose company gladly embraced more than $800M from the stimulus program. At what point did nepotism become a complete non-issue in this country? How ironic it is that Republicans love to point fingers at the supposed graft of Hunter Biden overseas while Trump’s children blatantly leverage their proximity to the seat of power to pad their present and future interests with promises of profit?

In advance of that flush money going out, Trump promised oversight of the stimulus package to Democrats, then snatched it away after the bill was passed. Of course, his supporters love him for things like that, because it’s just another example of Making Aggravation Go Away.

After all, it was Democrats in Congress that sought to hold Trump accountable for his criminality in seeking to coerce Ukraine into announcing an investigation into his now-confirmed political rival, Joe Biden. The goal of Trump’s digging around in Ukraine was to cast aspersions on Vice President Joe Biden by framing his son Hunter as a symbol of supposed corruption on the part of that family. Those accusations were why Trump’s so-called ‘personal attorney’ Rudy Giuliani spent months mucking around in Ukraine only to turn up nothing substantial. Granted, Hunter Biden does not sound like a prize pupil when it comes to judicious use of family influence or reputation. At one point, neither George W. Bush or John F. Kennedy were paradigms of personal virtue. Even Trump could be forgiven his past transgressions if he weren’t so ardently bent on creating new ones.

Impeachment doesn’t stick

Congress ultimately impeached Trump inaccordance with massive lines of evidence pointing back to Trump’s “perfect” phone call as perfectly corrupt. But the Republican-led Senate made the aggravation go away by refusing to conduct anything approaching an actual trial with testimony and witnesses. Instead, they simply broke the oath to do that and acquitted Trump even while several in the Senate admitted that Trump had done wrong. Once that aggravation was gone, along with the Mueller Report, Trump proceeded on his merry way of mocking his critics and calling everything with which he disagrees Fake News. That’s another tactic for making aggravations go away. Call them fake, or a hoax, and Trump supporters gobble it up like candy.

We don’t even know if Trumpism will allow his removal during a normal election if such a thing exists anymore. By many reports, the Russians are still playing games in the hinterlands of the Internet, posing as Americans and creating fake news sites to pump out pro-Trump and anti-Biden propaganda to divide Americans even further.

Low information 

But it’s not the Russians that are the real problem. It is the Make Aggravation Go Away attitudes of everyday Americans caught up in the authoritarian, nearly fascist call to defeat all those who aggravate the president in any way. This worldview is further fueled by a religious culture that for decades has attacked all that contradicts its scriptural orthodoxy. As a result nearly 40% of Americans embrace the literalistic, anti-science worldview of creationism that reduces the origins of all nature and humanity to the level of a childhood bedtime story. This is the brand of low information that has turned America into a backwater swamp of anti-intellectual populism.

No wonder so many Americans want to Fire Fauci, a medical professional who embraces actual germ theory and the evolutionary insights upon which it depends. And no wonder so many Americans want to “liberate” their state from medical strictures designed to prevent the spread of a quickly evolving virus.

In fact, Coronavirus symbolizes all the complexities that Trump supporters and their evangelical partners love to hate. In many ways, it is the aggravation to end all aggravations, a perfectly unseen enemy that propagates itself through invisible droplets and forces us to wear masks. It looks and feels like the ultimate liberal conspiracy. And if you can’t shoot it with a gun or crush it like a beer can, it surely must be some sort of Democrat conspiracy to block the ideal world Trump wants to lead us to.

Just Make Aggravation Go Away. That is the dog-whistle call of those protestors toting guns, waving both Confederate and American flags and revealing the swastika instincts of depicting The Other as the ultimate irritation in life. That’s how Hitler convinced so many that the Jews were the aggravation vexing the nation. But that brand of thinking can be applied to any other label and it still works. Immigrants. Gays. Liberals. Muslims. Tree-Huggers. Mexicans. Blacks. Indians. The list goes on forever if you let it. A nation built around eliminating aggravations is not a nation, but something else entirely.

It is evil.

 

Trump Derangement Syndrome is projection writ large

 

MAGA ballToday a Facebook Friend posted a story to his Wall that popped up in my feed preceded by the comment, “Trump Haters will not like this.”  There was a photo of an airplane titled, “Russia delivers medical supplies to the United States after Trump-Putin call.”

Trump lovers adore projecting hate on those who do not worship their president. They even invented a term to describe those who resist the policies that Trump conceives or pushes into law. The term is Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS).

Derangement

The word deranged means “disturbed or disordered in function, structure, or condition.” The implication of TDS is that anyone who objects to Donald Trump must be a dysfunctional person. The purpose of abiding in this lump-sum psychological assessment is to make Trump’s cultural opponents second-guess their beliefs about the man by making people question their own sanity.

This is better known as gaslighting, a method of mental and social abuse described by Psychology Today as, “a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality.”

Trump himself is an exceptional gaslighter, well-known for branding any information with which he disagrees “Fake News.” He also regularly contradicts his own statements in full view of the public, then doubles down on the denial that he ever said such things in the first place. It’s not even necessary to provide links to examples of these Trumpian methods anymore. The practice is so common with Trump that no one can tell the difference between what Trump wants to believe, what he actually believes and what he wants the rest of the world to believe. There are no distinctions in the distinctive realities created by Donald Trump.

Trump KIllersBut meanwhile, Trump has been executing vicious policies behind the curtain of his public lying and displays of petulant patriotism. His efforts to kill the environment alone are worth contempt. All these laws governing quality of life, historical and natural sites, wildlife and environment, migratory birds and clean air, safe drinking water, noise control, the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration, rivers and harbors, even the Eagle Protection Act, have all been axed by the pen of a deranged madman eager to privatize America to its own death.

Cognitive dissonance

As a result of Trump’s own derangement, especially toward President Barack Obama, two things are at work among his followers. The first is a willing form of cognitive dissonance to embrace the reality that Donald Trump seeks to impose upon the nation and the world. Most recently, the Trumpian claim that Coronavirus was not a threat in the United States was followed a few months later by a radical disclaimer that he knew all along that the risk of the pandemic was dangerous. He only admitted it when people started to die. So which was it? Trump does not care. Nor do his followers. And his Republican colleagues immediately started the actuarial calculations to decide how many deaths were worth protecting the fragile illusion of the Trump economy, which he did no real work to establish in the first place.

Instead, Trump chose to blame everyone but himself for the nation’s belated response to the COVID-19 threat. He most ardently blamed his favorite enemy, President Barack Obama. That tactic is highly favored by Trump supporters, along projecting what Hillary WOULD HAVE DONE as president, to explain all the bad that has ever happened in this country. But now Trump’s lying and selfish delusions while blaming others for his mismanagement of this pandemic is having a real cost to the people that support him. But to affirm his supposed authority, Trump even has the gall to interfere and even block distribution of needed supplies to governors who do not “appreciate him.” This is a deranged attitude if there ever was one.

Even as it blows up in his face, Trump continues to claim that his response to the pandemic is as “perfect” as his call to Ukraine when he attempted to coerce and corrupt the president of that country into doing his personal political bidding. Trump was impeached by Congress for that offense against the Constitution that he swore an oath to protect. Yet his supporters continue supporting his claims that the investigation and impeachment were all a “hoax.”

These are all the behaviors of a truly deranged man. The fact of the matter is that Trump Derangement Syndrome, rather than being a rhetorical accusation against his critics, is actually a literal description of its actual perpetrator. But Trump supporters love to project derangement on those who accuse the President of being out of line. This is the great sin of American culture today.

Standing up to the lies

Timeline of Trump's statementSo I did not back down to the Trump supporter who protested when I pointed out that his claim about Trump Haters was a disturbing example of the problems Trump has created for himself.  The arrival of a Russian plane on American soil was yet another hint that Trump is beholden and more likely to ask favors of Putin than to stand up for America’s interests despite that nation’s consistent attempts to undermine our democracy. Trump loathes admitting that Russians helped him get elected in 2016 despite massive evidence from the Mueller Report that revealed how, where and when it was done.

On pointing that out, my “friend” on Facebook insisted that I was a “victim” of Trump Derangement Syndrome. So I went on the offensive and documented a concise and logical list of the ways that Trump is a proven fraud from his own University to his corrupt foundation. And my friend stated those things were “all in the past” and had no relevance now. I countered by stating that Trump’s deceit and lies are still much in evidence during his contemptuously bad response to COVID-19, and that his horrific methods are now costing thousand of American lies.

And at that, my friend folded up his post and took it offline like a little kid gathering up his red playground ball and running home while crying out, “I’m taking my ball and going home!” Along the way he Unfriended me, but not before playing the victim himself, by posting a comment: “I thought you were a good guy.”

I am a good guy. I just don’t like Presidents who lie and abuse other people. That does not make me either a bad guy or in any way “deranged.”

What we can all learn from this experience is that there is nothing more frail in spirit than a bully projecting their own hate on others. When their projected cruelty finally reflects back on them in the form of exposed victimhood and selfish aims, take their playground ball and run home to MAGAhood where nobody seems to care if people play by the rules, because it’s all about getting their selfish aims fulfilled in the end.

That’s how Trumpers play the game.