America’s Banana Days

Donald Trump issued a slew of pardons and commuted sentences yesterday, some of them directly related to political donors to Trump himself or his Republican defenders. The case that got the most attention, and which I discussed here yesterday, was his commutation of Rod Blagojevich’s sentence for selling Barack Obama’s vacated senate seat in Illinois. It makes perfect sense for Trump to find Blagojevich’s punishment unfair, since it was punishment for selling influence for personal gain, which merely makes Blago a man after Trump’s own heart. 

It turns out that one of the less publicized cases was a pardon for one Paul Pogue, who was sentenced to three years probation for tax evasion, but whose family just recently started making a pile of mega-donations to Trump’s re-election bid. Go figure!

Over the past few days, rumors have circulated, first at CNN and now — “confirmed!” — at Fox News, that Attorney General William Barr has said privately, to a few close associates, that due to the way his work is being compromised or complicated by Trump’s incessant ignorant tweeting about DOJ cases, he has thought about resigning, although he decided not to do so.

Barr has been one of Trump’s most steadfast — that’s my nicest euphemism for cowardly, cynical, and self-seeking — lackeys in recent months, much beloved by the Cult of Orange for his professionally-bespectacled groveling techniques. Now, however, due to his having reportedly, allegedly, spoken privately about merely considering leaving his job over a style conflict with Trump, the cultists are all over the internet condemning Barr as a swamp creature and establishment loser. 

Of course they are. No surprise in this. It is, after all, a cult. But I never tire of pointing this sort of thing out, because it needs to be recorded, time and time again, for posterity. Too many people call these millions of minions a cult for rhetorical purposes, but then turn around and try to argue with them or meet them halfway. I won’t play that game, because I am not using the word “cult” rhetorically, and I never have been. These Trump worshippers are a true, unqualified, if-ever-there-was-one cult — they have no independent thought left in their heads. They have given their souls to a confidence man and crooked salesman. The sheer volume of their self-contradictions; their violent and unreflective turnabouts on public figures, based on the slightest perceived daylight between those figures and their god; their willingness to hate any human who dares to disagree with or disapprove of anything Trump does or says — these and many other similar features are the very hallmarks of cultism, as I have explained in detail on many other occasions. (See here, for example.)

As I wrote yesterday, I have no doubt whatsoever, based on all the accumulated evidence of the past four years, that if Trump got it into his head to declare that he was cancelling presidential term limits by executive order, and intending to govern indefinitely, there are millions (ten million? fifty million? — difficult to say at this point, but I would be inclined to lean toward the higher number) of American adults, people with jobs and children and middle class homes, who would be nodding their heads in approval, or even shaking their fists in triumph, at this great Trumpian blow to the Deep State.

Let me take this one step further, in keeping with all of the above, and with Trump’s matter-of-fact conjecture that his idolaters would not abandon him if he shot a man on Fifth Avenue: I honestly cannot say with certainty that there is anything these millions would not do, if only Trump were to demand it of them. No explanation would be necessary, no arguments, no reasoning, no constitutional rectitude; a simple tweet, with a few key words capitalized, would suffice to turn their minds and worlds upside down for him in a New York minute. I cannot honestly say that they would not shoot that man on Fifth Avenue on his behalf, if he asked them to do it. I cannot say with any confidence that they would not do harm to their own mothers for Trump. Trump is their world now, and to deny him, in their current mental condition, would be to deny life and reality. They could not.

Cults are real. They lead to destruction of various sorts, and almost invariably to self-destruction on a mass scale. And in terms of “mass scale,” there has rarely been a bona fide, non-rhetorical cult to match this one in size or potential for destruction. They are already, on a daily basis, engaged in the outright dismantling of the last remnants of a former representative, constitutional republic, turning it into their own personality-idolizing fantasy world, with right and wrong, justice and injustice, patriotic and unpatriotic, defined and redefined on a daily basis, according to the insecure ego-lunges of a single manifestly incompetent and unworthy man.

In short, they are quickly turning modernity’s single greatest political achievement into a banana republic. And they are doing it with pleasure.

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