L’état, c’est Donald

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Interesting take on the latest Trumpmania by my former student Dr David Smith on ABC News 24 this morning. He foreshadowed his remarks on Facebook

Here’s how I see the situation in the US. The Executive Order was clearly drawn up by Bannon and Miller very quickly and without any departmental or legal advice. The only consultation seems to have been with Rudy Giuliani, who has cheerfully admitted on TV that it was designed to achieve a “Muslim ban” as legally as possible, which is still not very legal. That is what we can expect from this White House. No consultation with lawyers or public servants, because all they’ll do is get in the way of political objectives. Much better to announce new powers and see who fights back. Congress will be reliably spineless at least for now. Courts will respond (especially federal courts full of Obama appointees), and this could be an early test of how far the White House can get away with just ignoring them. Whose side will agencies charged with enforcing the law take? (Nathan Kalmoe made this point very eloquently–court orders don’t enforce themselves). Tomorrow I’ll expect to wake up to a lot of menacing whining about activist judges and lawyers “with links to the Muslim Brotherhood”. Can’t wait for that.

I think they probably didn’t count on this level of protest, which is great. It’s also a sobering reminder of geographic divisions in America. Most ports of entry into the country (even DFW) are proximate to Democratic-controlled cities. These will be crucial sites of resistance over the next four years, but along with the federal judiciary, the media and the academy, they will be constantly painted as the enemy, thwarting the will of “the people”. Those of us who beat ourselves up over not properly understanding rural American voters should be aware now that the President those voters put into power is basically declaring war on cities (he literally promised to “send the Feds in” to Chicago). These are the first shots in a very long war.

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L’état, c’est Donald. As Ben Fountain forewarned us in November 2016:

Ego will be the guiding principle of the Trump presidency. In this respect he’s much more like a monarch than the duly elected public servant of a representative democracy, and, as monarchs do, he will keep his heirs close to the center of power, Ivanka, Don Jr, Eric, and that budding Cardinal Richelieu of a son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Top security clearances and advisory roles are contemplated for the kids, who at the same time will be running the for-profit entities of the sprawling Trump Organization. It’s hard to imagine a more ethically fraught, legally explosive situation for the children, managing a vast consortium of transnational businesses while being privy to the country’s most sensitive secrets, along with easy access to the most powerful man in the world. How will it all play out? Badly. Look to Shakespeare for a taste of the awful potential here, to the tragedies and history plays, those coils of ego and empire and wealth (and sex and sex and sex!) that often end with bodies all over the place. The best thing Trump could do for his children would be to put his assets in a genuine blind trust, and send the kids away – far, far away from Washington – to do their own thing. Limit visits to holidays and weekends, bounce the grandkids on his knee, not breathe a word about business or affairs of state.

But that’s not how monarchies roll. That Trump would put his children in such a legally tenuous position gives us a clear idea – as if we needed it from a man who used to rely on the infamous bottom-feeder Roy Cohn for legal counsel – of his appreciation for the rule of law. Here again we can expect the monarchical model. L’état, c’est moi. People rarely grow in humility once they reach the White House. To the extent Trump attempts to game, spin and mutilate the rule of law, his most immediate potential check will be a Congress that’s firmly in Republican hands, led by the same wrecking crew that’s already shown such faint regard for the constitutional order, with a fire-breathing rank-and-file – think “Freedom Caucus” – egging them on to new lows.

The institutions, structures and traditions of American governance are about to be tested as they haven’t been in generations. You say you want change? Here it comes. Brace for impact.

And cop that signature! I don’t recall seeing much of presidential signatures before, but it’s part of King Donald’s theatrics now to display his angular abortion of handwriting over and over again.

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I wondered what graphologists might make of it. Not an exact science, I admit, but interesting. Here’s one:

Take a look at Trump’s signature. In general, cursive handwriting is comprised of straight lines and loops. But Trump favours straight lines and does away with curves or loops. For the graphologist, roundedness implies emotionality and softer aspects of the personality. Harsh angles imply critical thinking and also a sharpness that will be expressed in word and deed.

But what is the meaning of the straight line? The straight line extends forward, intensely pursuing established goals in a linear and focused way. The straight line, whether in handwriting or expressed in a comb-over that thrusts forward, represents the capacity to be single-minded, undeterred by obstacles. The person with an affinity for the straight line is linear, analytical, driven and focused.

And here’s another:

Donald Trump’s signature has absolutely no curves, only angles. Curves in handwriting show softness, nurturing and a maternal nature. Angles show a writer who is feeling angry, determined, fearful, competitive or challenged. When a script is completely devoid of curves, the writer lacks empathy and craves power, prestige and admiration. Besides the bigheadedness that shows in this script there is something else that is rather over-sized—the “p” in “Trump.” This large phallic symbol shouts, “Me … big hunk of man.”

That second one nails it!

Meanwhile, the latest round of decrees is an opportunity for a neighbour to display leadership and humanity:

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And how sad I felt when I read this highly merited rebuke:

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban and went on to become an internationally-known advocate for girls’ education and children’s rights, said she is “heartbroken” over President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees from entering the United States.

“I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war,” Malala said in a statement Friday through her nonprofit organization, the Malala Fund. “I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants — the people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life.”…

Malala called out Trump for discriminating against children from those countries who have found themselves helplessly caught up in war.

“I am heartbroken that Syrian refugee children, who have suffered through six years of war by no fault of their own, are singled-out for discrimination,” she wrote.

Malala referred to a friend named Zaynab, who had fled wars in Somalia, Yemen and Egypt before age 17. Two years ago, Zaynab received a visa to go to the United States, where she learned English, graduated high school and is now in college studying to be a human rights lawyer, Malala wrote.

“Zaynab was separated from her little sister when she fled unrest in Egypt,” Malala wrote. “Today her hope of being reunited with her precious sister dims. In this time of uncertainty and unrest around the world, I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world’s most defenseless children and families.”

Finally, in The Age Paul McGeough articulates something that also occurred to me:

The new President is cravenly political in the countries he decided to put on a refugee and migrant blacklist. And his inclusions and exclusions don’t make sense – unless your name is Donald Trump.

Trump claims to be motivated by the horrific September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, but the countries of which the 19 aircraft hijackers were citizens are not on the list – most came from Saudi Arabia and the rest from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon…

Also absurdly absent are Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan – all of them hotbeds of terror. In excluding them, Trump is grovelling to their leaders, not making a gesture to their people.

But there’s something a bit more sinister in his choice of targets.

In the 40 years to 2015, not a single American was killed on US soil by citizens from any of the seven countries targeted – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – according to research by the conservative-leaning Cato Institute.

But the same research shows that in the same period nearly 3000 Americans were killed by citizens of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Turkey — most victims of the September 11 attacks.

And oops, wouldn’t you know it, Trump has multimillion-dollar business operations in all those countries.

In 2015, he registered eight hotel-related companies in Saudi Arabia, according to The Washington Post; in Turkey, two luxury towers in Istanbul are licensed to use his name; in Egypt, he has two companies; and in the UAE, he has naming and management deals for two golf courses….

The reign of King Donald is proving even worse than I had feared. See for example my October 2016 post Body language, cross-cultural communication, Trump etc….

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One thought on “L’état, c’est Donald

  1. Hat tip to “Legal Eagle” Katy Barnett: Malevolence Tempered by Incompetence: Trump’s Horrifying Executive Order on Refugees and Visas by Benjamin Wittes. “The malevolence of President Trump’s Executive Order on visas and refugees is mitigated chiefly—and perhaps only—by the astonishing incompetence of its drafting and construction…”

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