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Synchronicity and Trump

March 22, 2016

Six hundred fourteen days later, after caring for a dying mother and nurturing Travelyn Publishing off the ground, I am back. And just in the nick of time apparently because Donald Trump is leading in the race for the Republican nomination. Donald Trump. Egad, what the hell, people? I step out of the room for 614 days and y’all start a food fight?

I know what I am about to say will irritate anyone who has sampled the Trump Kool-Aid and enjoyed the taste but, if that describes you, step off the bandwagon for a minute and hear me out, please. I’m going to tell you why that Kool-Aid is bad for you.

After a long digression of course—after all, I have 614-days-worth of words stored up.

Some people have a spooky-close relationship with synchronicity. I’m one of them. Carl Jung described synchronicity as an “acausal connecting principle” or “meaningful coincidence.” In other words, weird stuff happens. Live with me a couple weeks and you will see examples. Someone I don’t think about, see, hear about, or even remotely contemplate will suddenly occupy my thoughts two days in a row and on the third day I will run smack dab into them in a grocery store; or I will accidentally click on an Internet ad, start an irritatingly intrusive video from a tire chain, and the next day get a flat tire; or something longer term will happen as I am about to describe.

During my hiatus from writing columns for JPAttitude, a startling number of propaganda examples came to my attention, both historical and contemporary. Lots of them. Like every other day. And all of them were remarkably successful examples. Propaganda is not a new concept but when examples are shoved in front of you, to the point where it is extraordinarily repetitive, and when you can’t help noticing how irrationally successful they were at promoting falsehood... well, I decided this influx might be leading to some sort of synchronous event. I believe that event is the Donald Trump candidacy for president.

Before you dismiss this as the crackpot ravings of a lunatic, let me describe one of these examples.

About a year ago, while reading a very old collection of novels by a nineteenth-century writer of historical fiction named George Alfred Henty (1832–1902), I came across a novel titled At Aboukir and Acre: A Story of Napoleon’s Invasion of Egypt. Mr. Henty as an author was known for doing fastidious research with the goal of making his stories historically accurate, and believe me there is no more pleasant way to learn history than by reading his novels. This one intrigued me from the start by its title alone. I had no idea Napoleon had invaded Egypt. It makes no sense in itself, but when I learned the reason he invaded Egypt, I was even more flabbergasted: the goal was to beat the English in Egypt, conquer the country, and then march four or five thousand miles across Syria, Persia, and the militaristic empires that controlled what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan, to reach and conquer India... all this without supply lines, reinforcements, or allies along the way.

The idea is stupendously stupid. Mr. Henty was more polite in the preface to his novel, suggesting that maybe Napoleon’s maps were insufficient, but the excuse is lame. By the end of the 18th century, circumnavigation of the globe by Europeans was commonplace and everybody knew how far away India was—everybody who could read a map anyway. The idea of marching overland from Egypt to conquer India is just. plain. stupid. Shortly after reading the novel, I happened to read a non-fiction account of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia—another stupendously stupid decision (also involving an inability to read a map). And then, in an idle moment while recovering from the flu, I started re-reading the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell (yes, I read a lot) and was struck, not for the first time, by how the Duke of Wellington adapted, adjusted his military tactics, and ultimately defeated Napoleon—twice!—while Napoleon started with a tactic that worked well in the beginning and stuck with it even after it began failing. There’s a name for that: it’s called stuck on stupid.

And yet, for some inexplicable reason, Napoleon has gone down in history as a military genius whereas the best anyone will say about Wellington is that he was methodical and persistent. It’s crazy. How can history be so doggone wrong for so doggone long?

And I still wasn’t done with having Napoleon thrust upon me. With my previous inclination toward considering Napoleon a moron having been reinforced, Amazon notified me about a new biography titled Napoleon: A Life. The title didn’t interest me. I was tired of the subject of Napoleon. But the description of the book caught my eye because it described Mr. Bonaparte as “a military genius and astute leader of men.” What the...? Now, mind you, this was a serious book by a professional historian but I am never shy about sharing my opinion, amateur or not, so I waded into the Amazon comment section with, “...any book that describes Napoleon as a military genius has lost its way before it started.”

As you can imagine, that started a debate. There were two sides in this debate, mine and everybody else’s.

People were not just aghast and offended, they were angry. Especially the people with French-sounding surnames. I pointed out that he lost in the Middle East, lost in the Iberian peninsula, lost in Russia, and lost at Waterloo. And each time with stupid being a prominent characteristic of his defeat. They would not hear it— So I pointed out that after losing at Acre, he killed his own wounded so they wouldn’t slow him down during his retreat to Egypt, then abandoned his army in Egypt, and in similar manner scurried back to France from Russia, abandoning the biggest part of the whole French army in the process; plus he ultimately left France a defeated, humiliated, destitute mess; so all that “astute leader of men” crap is every bit as inaccurate as the “military genius” part. He was a cowardly, self-promoting, narcissistic, louse as a human being, and at best a one trick pony as a military leader.

By the way, there are questions about the size of Napoleon’s manhood. Sound familiar?

You probably see where I’m going with this and how it relates to Donald Trump. My question: Why do people obstinately ignore facts and reality, instead clinging emotionally to myths created by propaganda, even centuries afterward? More than puzzling, it’s frightening, calling into question the rationality of the human species.

The French people loved Napoleon because he hired people to make them love him by spinning every ignoble defeat into a glorious victory. Napoleon didn’t just abandon his army in Egypt, he snuck off without saying a word to them, skulking off to the coast and sailing under cover of darkness, leaving his fellow soldiers to wake up and find he was gone in the night, never to return, with them surrounded by angry Muslims and a British fleet that controlled the only supply port. This was the dishonorable act of a coward, as was the killing of his wounded during the retreat from Acre, as was the abandonment of his army in Russia later, but by the time he arrived in France from Egypt his aides, by sending letters ahead, had already painted his Middle East excursion as a brilliant military victory for France, and he was soon afterward the absolute dictator of the French Republic.

Hmm, where else do we see a mythical product of propaganda, a lifelong failure at everything he does, who has fielded questions about the size of his manhood, vying to become the leader of a republic?

In every campaign speech, of which there is at least one per day at this point, Donald Trump tells his audience that he is a “world class businessman” who built a “wonderful successful company” that has made him a billionaire “probably worth more than ten billion dollars.” None of this is true—none of it—and it isn’t even difficult to learn how untrue it is. But his rabid followers eat it up, ignore any facts contrary to the mythology they want to believe, and one of their favorite reasons for supporting him, confounding all reason, is that he’s a good businessman and that’s what Washington needs.

Good businessman? Donald Trump inherited hundreds of millions of dollars from his father, and through diligent effort and constant infusions of rescue money from people like Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal (twice) and leftwing ideologue George Soros (twice)—not the sort of people to whom you want the President of the United States beholden, eh?—and other sources, he has managed to turn that wealth he inherited into... less than it would be if he had not become a businessman. That’s right, Trump fans, Forbes ran the numbers and determined that if Trump had taken his net worth in 1982, initially acquired from his father remember, and invested that wealth in a boring stock index fund, then gone home and watched TV for the last thirty five years, he would be worth $20 billion today, which is twice what Trump claims he’s worth... which, by the way, in itself is twice what Forbes thinks he’s really worth.

Another way to say this is that it cost Donald Trump $10 billion over the years to pretend he’s a businessman. And yet another way to say it is that Donald Trump is a world class bad businessman. He’s like the rich rube who wants to join a poker game: the other players see him coming and know they’re going to make money. I imagine real businessmen see Donald Trump coming, rub their hands together in glee, and say, “Oh boy, let’s fleece this moron out of some more of his money!”

The sheer gall of this spoiled rich kid losing ten billion dollars and claiming it proves he’s a good businessman... well, it’s remarkably similar to Napoleon Bonaparte describing his foray into Egypt as a great victory.

The list of Trump failures in business is so long and so varied that every list is different. It’s like trying to list Barack Obama’s lies: once you get started you realize the task is endless.
Trump Mortgage lasted less than two years;

GoTrump, a travel website, lasted less than a year;

Trump Network, a multilevel marketing pyramid scam that sold “customized vitamins,” went bankrupt two years after he got involved;

Trump University is gone except for the lawsuits—one of which was filed by New York’s attorney general—alleging it was a scam;

“Trump: The Game,” an idea he tried twice, in 1989 and 2005, didn’t last at all, either time;

but he tried the game thing again with a board game called “The Apprentice” based on his TV show... nope, still didn’t work;

he failed at selling steaks, both as a business called Trump Steaks and in a Las Vegas restaurant called Trump Steakhouse which got shut down for health code violations;

Trump Entertainment Resorts, his casino business, has declared bankruptcy four times, each time screwing thousands of little people whose pension funds, IRAs, and savings were invested, and Trump’s percentage of that business has dwindled to virtually nothing;

Trump Tower Tampa is an overgrown vacant lot more than a decade after he started it;

want to buy a Trump tie?—you can’t because they don’t sell them anymore;

he even failed at being a Broadway producer, losing $70,000 on a 1970 Broadway comedy, “Paris Is Out!” which flopped like almost everything else he touches.
That’s a highly abbreviated list. Basically, if Trump is involved as a principal, it’s a bad investment and if there was a way to short Donald Trump business deals, you could make yourself rich.

On March 2, Mitt Romney gave a speech in which he listed some of Trump’s business failures and said, in an understatement, “A business genius he is not.” Romney listed Trump Vodka, Trump Airlines, Trump Water, the aforementioned Trump Steaks, and Trump Magazine as examples of Trump failures. A few days later, an angry Donald Trump turned his Tuesday-evening primary victory speech into an infomercial for Trump products, trying with his usual bluster and dishonesty to defend himself and convince assembled journalists that he really really is a good businessman, doggone it, regardless of what Romney said. He had Trump Vodka and Trump Water for the journalists to drink, a pile of Trump Steaks on display, held up a copy of Trump Magazine, and claimed that Trump Airlines was a successful investment that he sold —“I actually made a great deal,” he claimed. Except...
1) The Trump Vodka on display was actually Trump Wine because Trump Vodka failed just like Romney said; and oh, by the way, that Trump Wine is actually not a Donald Trump business at all which is probably why it’s still going.

2) The bottles of Trump Water the journalists were drinking were actually bottles of Village Springs water with a Trump vanity label slapped on them.

3) The Trump Steaks were actually Bush Brothers Steaks (it’s like a bad joke, isn’t it?), with the packaging half ripped off so people wouldn’t notice the label.

4) The Trump Magazine he was holding was actually a magazine called The Jewel of Palm Beach because, again, Trump Magazine failed like Romney said.

4) And he sold Trump Airlines all right... after it performed so miserably that it defaulted on its loans, he unloaded the assets to USAir.
This comb-over con man claiming to be a “world class businessman” and fooling such a large percentage of the electorate is unprecedented in American politics. It’s not that there is a shortage of dishonest politicians in the nation’s history—dishonesty and congressman are practically synonyms, after all—but the fact that Trump’s lies are so blatant and obvious, while his supporters are so gullible. This is the Information Age, for crying out loud! A two-minute trip to Google or Bing will inform you of the business failures, the bankruptcies, the loan defaults, the bullying, the crony capitalism that he uses to push little people around, even the half-lies about his education...

Oh yeah, the education:

Generally, shortly after telling you that he’s a “world class businessman,” Trump will mention that “I went to the Wharton School of Business. I’m, like, a really smart person.” (That’s an actual quotation. Those two sentences alone should be enough to disqualify him for the presidency.) Which sounds like he has a master’s degree from Wharton, right? Maybe even a doctorate? Or at the very least went to Wharton for four years? Nope, none of those. He went there for two years. He couldn’t get in as a freshman because he didn’t qualify scholastically and rumor has it he only got into Wharton as a junior because his rich daddy greased the wheels with money.

The self-described “really smart person” graduated without honors of any kind and won’t release his college transcripts... just like that other really smart person, Barack Obama. And if all that doesn’t make you wonder, someone always analyzes presidential candidates’ speech patterns and guess what: Trump talks like a fourth grader. So he’s either trying to talk down to his less-than-intelligent supporters or he’s less-than-intelligent himself... and neither one of those options is good.

“But at least he’s going to stop those illegal immigrants and do something about the budget! And other cool stuff!” you reply, as though somehow a bad businessman who constantly declares bankruptcy and defaults on loans will magically become a paragon of fiscal responsibility and wisdom the second he arrives in Washington. That happens all the time, right? people go to Washington and stop spending money stupidly?

He says he will make Mexico build a wall to keep its own people corralled. Never mind that the odds of making Mexico pay for a wall are lower than the odds of making Congress pay for a wall; it sounds awfully good in a campaign speech and never mind that just a couple of years ago he called Republicans “mean-spirited and maniacal” for wanting to do something about illegal immigrants. And here’s what he said about illegals just last summer on the Bill O’Reilly show:
“You have to give them a path. You have 20 million, 30 million, nobody knows what it is. It used to be 11 million. Now, today I hear it’s 11, but I don’t think it’s 11. I actually heard you probably have 30 million. You have to give them a path, and you have to make it possible for them to succeed. You have to do that.”
If that sounds like amnesty for illegals, which Trump supported in 2013 and obviously supported last year, but this year has been viciously criticizing Marco Rubio for supporting... well, it should sound like amnesty for illegals because it is. In Trump’s defense, he might not be smart enough to know that he and Rubio are on the same side of the issue.

By the way, did you know there is supposedly a tape recording of Donald Trump telling New York Times editors that his whole campaign position against illegal immigrants, which is his main attraction to voters, is a bluff? and Trump won’t allow the Times to release the recording to prove otherwise? “Never mind,” say his supporters.

Well, as long as we’re never-minding,
never mind that Donald Trump has spent more time and money supporting liberals and Democrats than supporting conservatives and Republicans, including many of the Gang of Eight who were trying to pass amnesty for illegals three years ago;

and never mind that he and Barack Obama are the only candidates for national-level office—ever—who supported partial-birth abortion;

and never mind that he claims to be against Obamacare but also wants a federal mandate like Obamacare;

and never mind that he’s against the free trade that has been a bedrock of conservatism since conservatism was a thing;

and never mind that he has publicly bragged about cheating on his wives and calls his quest to avoid STDs while having sex with many different women his “own personal Vietnam;”

and, speaking of Vietnam, never mind that he dodged the draft by claiming he had a health problem that magically disappeared when the Vietnam War ended;

and never mind that he lies so much he makes Obama look like a Boy Scout;

and never mind that he believes eminent domain should be used to steal property from little people and give it to rich businessmen like himself;

and never mind his connections to organized crime figures;

and never mind that a search of Donald Trump’s campaign speeches shows that he never mentions the words constitution, liberty, or freedom;

and never mind how preternaturally ignorant the man is: he wanted to take out terrorists’ families with drones until he learned it was against international law, thinks judges sign bills, accused George Bush of lying about WMDs like some whacko 9/11 Truther, and didn’t know what the “nuclear triad” is when asked about it either the first time or, a few weeks later, the second time.
Shoot, who wants a president who understands nuclear weapons? Trump has more important things on his mind, like talking about Megyn Kelly’s period.

The tragedy in this is not that Donald Trump is fooling so many people. The tragedy is in what he interrupts: a multi-year conservative revolution that seemed to offer hope for a dying nation. After Barack Obama’s election in 2008, the subsequent wanton spending engaged in by the Democrat-controlled Congress, and then the Democrat Party’s indefensible, undemocratic skullduggery in the passing of Obamacare started a conflagration in the United States, sparked by an irritated I’m-mad-as-hell-and-I’m-not-going-to-take-this-anymore business news reporter named Rick Santelli who used the words “tea party” in a news broadcast. The languidly obtuse and notoriously disengaged American electorate suddenly remembered the words constitution, liberty, and freedom, and decided they wanted them back.

The Washington establishment has been fighting the voters ever since in a battle that will decide who runs this country, the people or the ruling elitists in Washington, D.C. Here is a fight recap, blow by blow:
Punch—In the 2010 elections, ablaze from Santelli’s spark, angry voters elected the largest political shift in the nation’s history: 63 seats in the House, 6 seats in the Senate, 680 seats in state legislative races, and eleven state governorships switched from Democrat to Republican. Republicans captured the House and came within a few gnats’ hairs of taking the Senate.

Counterpunch—Two years later, 2012, the Empire struck back: establishment Republicans, in spite of the conservative revolution, finagled a RINO into the presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, who ran what seemed to be a purposely bad campaign, giving Obama another four years in the White House.

Punch—Two years later, 2014, another conservative backlash swept another dustpan full of liberals out of office, leaving the Republicans with a majority in the Senate as well as the House.

Counterpunch—But in spite of getting control of Congress, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately started finding excuses to surrender and give Obama and the liberal Washington establishment everything they wanted, enraging the electorate even more than they were before.
You see what’s due, right? It’s time for a good hard punch, maybe even the knockout punch that wins this fight. The electorate is enraged, maybe even angrier at the Republican establishment than liberal Democrats. Even the dumbest political analyst has known for two years now that 2016 would see a conservative Republican nominated and elected to the presidency... unless... unless something drastic and dirty was done to interfere with this conservative revolution.

There are two ways to stop a political revolution: smash it viciously and emphatically, like the Chinese did in Tiananmen Square in 1989—they drove tanks over people and that was the end of that. (Trump is a big admirer of that method.) The other way to stop a revolution is to commandeer it and lead it in a fruitless direction—like leading a cattle stampede in a big circle until it ends up where it started—so that people get tired and lose hope.

That’s what Donald Trump is, and it makes me want to weep in sorrow for my country. Instead of nominating a conservative candidate, like the enraged electorate was demanding, the establishment sent an outrider to lead the stampede in a big circle. And I’m afraid when my fellow citizens get back to where they started, with another narcissistic, phony, statist, establishment elitist in the White House, they will be tired and lose hope.

And that, my friends, will be the end of the United States as we knew it.

"Synchronicity is an ever present reality for those who have eyes to see." — Carl Jung

"The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it Intuition or what you will, the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why." — Albert Einstein

"It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." — Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

From Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA       

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