Fear and Loathing at the Cross Arena in Bangor, Maine: Donald Trump Makes Headlines

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Because I’m not an exemplary reader of the local paper, I didn’t know that Donald Trump was coming to Bangor until yesterday, two hours before the speech — I think from a link alert reader Martha R threw over the transom, which I now can’t find, as if all this happened in a parallel universe — during the midst of the attack on the site. So I immediately called a cab to Bangor — you don’t just hail a cab, where I’m at — and went online to get a (free) ticket to the rally at the Trump site, discovering after I filled out the fields that I needed to have a cell phone to get a confirmation number. Damn! Heart attack!

Submitting Water Cooler, the heart attack having been resolved, I slipped my landline phone into my pocket, as proof (except it isn’t) that I don’t own the cell, and got into the waiting cab. (I probably should have brought an iPad to record and take photos, but I didn’t know what the crowd would be like.) Because this is a small town, the cab driver is the one I call to take me to the airport, so after we chatted about gardening, I explained my ticket predicament and asked what he thought about Trump. He was non-committal, and took a call on his own phone, but when he got off, he handed me a slip of paper with what he’d written on it, explaining that his girl-friend had won two tickets to the rally, couldn’t go, and I could use her name name at the door; they would check it against their database, and I’d be sure to get in.

This week has been marked by small acts of kindness like this; being a good Mainer, I wonder how this temporary imbalance in the karmic scales will be rectified, but it’s certainly nice while it lasts.

* * *

Arriving at the venue we passed a few protesters — the photos I’ve seen are of young people wearing anti-Trump T-shirts and holding printed signs, but the signs I remember were hand-made. (I liked “Everything that comes out of Trump’s tiny mouth is wrong,” technically. Would that were true!) I hopped out of the cab, passed the “No Demonstrators Beyond This Point” sign, and got in line. The speech had already started (so I missed Howie Carr, a provincial Rush Limbaugh from the shitty of Boston).

At this point, here are some links to previous reports from Trump rallies, so you can compare this to them:

  1. An Eyewitness Report from the Thwarted Trump Rally Naked Capitalism
  2. A journalist went to a Donald Trump rally yesterday and came back shocked. Here are his tweets Political Scrapbook
  3. I went to a Trump rally, and it was nothing like what I expected Business Insider
  4. That Time I Went To A Trump Rally (Storify) tressie me, with additional commentary here.

(The first is a report on the Chicago rally that was shut down by an improvised coalition of Chicago protesters, the next two are partisan in their different ways, and the last two are serious must-reads, if you have not read them already from Links.)

I’m not going to do a systematic comparison between this rally and those reports; and I’m not going to do a close reading of the texts, because all I took away is a few scribbled notes and I don’t have a real transcript. I also feel that impressions are what count with Trump anyhow, because almost nothing Trump actually said stuck in my mind. Some speakers are memorable at the sentence level (FDR: “[T]he only thing we have to fear is…fear itself”[1]), others even at the paragraph level (Lincoln: The Gettysburg Address), but Trump is memorable only at the phrase level (Trump: “Crooked Hillary,” “Little Marco,” “You’re fired.”)

Trump’s Manafort-crafted prepared speechs (here and here, for example) are lavishly footnoted and convey clear messages. Trump’s stump speech is far more amorphous. Here are some of the headlines from stories reporting on it:

The headlines from the Maine TV stations are carefully neutral (in itself, a victory for Trump), the Globe a clear point of view and the resources for multiple stories, the Herald, a tabloid, has an equally clear point of view but no resources, and the Daily Mail conveys a complex Inside Baseball point (and what’s up with that?) All are true[2], but none are consistent, and I’d argue that’s because the speech doesn’t convey a clear message; you can almost see the writers and editors throwing up their hands in despair. FWIW, I think the BDN’s is the most accurate, but then it confirms my priors.

So I got in line and took a look at the crowd. What Tressie MC saw, I saw a Maine version of:

One thing that is captured in data on Trump supporters but not teased out well: how many middle class and upper class whites support him. At this rally, there were certainly the stereotypical blue collar, low income supporters (as judged, as we do such things, by visible status markers: clothing, style, teeth, weight, speech patterns, etc.). But, a fair number of those attending were from the Khaki Brigade: middle class, middle America whites for whom something like Gap’s “Dress Normal” ad campaign is made. They were soccor moms and business class members. Many of them had their children with them. We cannot entirely blame or credit (depending on your disposition) the poor whites left behind in the new economy for Trump’s political career.

The differences: A smaller khaki brigade, but then Bangor is a lot more poor than Northern Virginia. A larger working class (let’s say it, as opposed to “blue collar, low income”) contingent, therefore, and a much younger crowd (odd, since Maine skews old). No crazies that I saw, but above all no people of color. Statistically, that’s reasonable, since Maine is the whitest state, besides being the oldest, but I’m sure Trump’s reputation had preceded him, and people of color did not attend for the same reason I didn’t bring my iPad and nobody brought the kids: We were worried about what the crowd might do, and why.

So I made it up to the metal detectors (operated by men in TSA uniforms), took my coins, keys, pens, and landline phone out of my pocket, checked my cabdriver’s note for the name, and prepared to talk my way in. But surprise! There wasn’t any ticket check at the door at all! I don’t know whether that’s terrible advance work, or whether the famously lean Trump campaign has worked out that checking tickets at the door reaches the point of diminishing returns after the online data is collected.

I entered the arena and made my way down to the floor. The crowd was, by Bangor standards, large, and many had driven a long way to attend. (Maine is, by New England standards, a big state; it has a big sky.) The Cross Arena[3] has 5,800 seats, and will hold 8,500 when the floor is used. While the auditorium wasn’t packed, there were no noticeably empty patches, and at least half the floor was fenced off for the press, so crowd estimates of 4,000 are low. A crowd of 5,000 would be a big deal in Bangor, which has a population of 32,673. (Bangor is a big circle on a map of Interstate 95, and so some people think it’s a big city, but it isn’t. It isn’t Portland, either.)

Because I was a touch late, I missed the introductions, and Trump was already speaking. The stage was quite lean; Trump was at a simple podium, backed by far fewer than eighteen flags, and with a basic dark blue curtain behind him. There wasn’t even a platform for dignitaries! (Trump mentioned “Paul,” several times, and I wormed my way closer to see if I could catch a glimpse of Paul Manafort — rather as if Trump were Johnny Carson and Manafort were Ed MacMahon — until it dawned on me that he meant our Governor, Paul LePage, who had endorsed him, but couldn’t be seen because he was at the same level as the crowd; only Trump was above it all, a rather nice subliminal message. Before I forget, here is a video of the entire speech, helpfully provided by alert reader Clarky90:

Seen in person, and not on the screen,Trump’s hair — and where are the “He lies like his rug” jokes? — isn’t that gold and isn’t that weird. (I think Boris Johnson sets the baseline here, and Trump’s nowhere near it.) Had his hands been that small, I would have noticed. His almost entirely single-handed repertoire of gestures, like Clinton’s, is limited, although less so than Sanders’. Which is not hard. His body language is dominant, but at the same time, he lacks presence; I remember from 2008 a description of Obama strolling onto an outdoor stage — no podium, no flags, in shirt-sleeves — and quieting the crowd of many thousands. I don’t think Trump could do that. Trump’s voice does not boom, and he does not shout, in the sense that when a singer shouts, they’ve lost control of their abiity to modulate; Trump modulates well. His voice is pitched high, and it’s abrasive, but not grating or grinding; rather like fine sandpaper. He did not use a teleprompter; at the end, he folded up a few sheets of paper and put them in his jacket pocket. What I did not expect to find is that Trump is funny, since dictators are not famous for their sense of humor. (I tried making a crude transcript from the Closed Caption text from here, here, here, and here, but it’s really impossible to use, so I’m going to paraphrase when necessary. I’ll try to capture Trump’s style, but it’s not easy.)

TRUMP (paraphrasing): We won more votes in the primaries than any Republican! More than Romney, Bush, Dole, Nixon, Eisenhower — though in all fairness, Eisenhower won World War II

Or this, a very long anecdote about his visit to Scotland to a Trump-branded golf course, Turnberry:

TRUMP (paraphrasing): I flew to Scotland to open my new golf course, Turnberry. [Material omitted about the amazingness of Turnberry and the Trump family.] And the press [material omitted designed to make the crowd turn around and boo the press, which it did] kept asking me to pick up a golf club and take a swing, but I didn’t want to make that the story, so I didn’t. So what did they do? They ran a picture of me swinging a golf club from a year ago! And at the press conference, the press asked me one question about the vote for independence, and I gave a one-sentence answer. In hours, Crooked Hillary made a television ad attacking that one sentence. So I get a call from my manager [material omitted about the amazingness of the Turnberry management team], and he asked me, he said: “Donald, did you run a television ad for Turnberry?” I told him no…. [pause for laughter and applause]. I made money on the deal! [more laughter and applause.]

This anecdote is subtler than it may appear. (Again, I apologize for the paraphrase, but I think the ideas are there.) These messages at least are implicit in it:

  • Trump is a successful businessman; golf is a rich man’s game[4]
  • Trump is a very successful businessman; he owns the golf course
  • Trump is unpredictable; his subordinate had to confirm that he hadn’t take out an ad
  • Trump’s enemies defeat themselves, and attacks on him boomerang
  • The press is “them,” not “us”

The last point is important; Trump constantly prepares his audience with interpretations of how the press will cover the rally; for example, protesters will get a lot of coverage (not “us”), and the photographs will be tightly focused on Trump (again, not on “us”).

There was, in fact, a “policy” aspect to Trump’s speech (the trade deals), and Trump made seven points on trade; at least I think it was seven. (The crowd booed TPP vigorously; they did not need to have the acronym expanded for them.) For the purposes of this post, I want to focus on how he made the points: He didn’t just emit them in bulleted-list form. Rather, he treated them as waypoints. He’d state the point, clearly and loudly, and then begin to move away from it in ever-widening circles, riffing jazzily on anecdotes, making jokes, introducing other talking points (“We’re gonna build the wall”), introducing additional anecdotes, until finally popping the topical stack and circling back to the next waypoint, which he would then state, clearly and loudly; rinse, repeat. The political class considers or at least claims Trump’s speeches are random and disorganized, but they aren’t; any speech and debate person who’s done improvisation knows what’s going on.

What I really went to see was not Trump on policy, but the relationship between Trump and the crowd, and how he managed it. Here again, I (mostly) agree with mc tressie’s concerns and perceptions when she writes:

I am privileged in many, many ways. I can be somewhat distant about the visceral appeal of racism and homophobia and class conflict. That is a consequence of my personal status mobility [moi, aussi]. It’s real but I would be lying if I said it is as real as it was for me when I was poorer. But ideology is powerful precisely because it mobilizes violence and resistance. We saw what happens when ideologies about who is human and not; who belongs and who doesn’t; who is an equal participant in our social contract and who is an threat to it spills over through the minds and actions and weapons of people who believe rhetoric is reality.


Trump is not that great at the things we give him credit for. He doesn’t whip up the crowd so much as the crowd comes seeking an outlet to vent. Trump doesn’t shape that anger into a collective experience. That’s why there are a lot of blank spaces — or “dead air” as I call it on Twitter — in the rally. He’s not a good fascist and only a passable demagogue. He would never make a JV cheer squad, is what I’m saying.

I’ve been in crowds that have become single, supra-individual organisms, though only once or twice in my life (once at a baseball game, once at a concert). It’s an experience both exhilarating and frightening. This crowd was not one such. However, there were two events were protesters did their thing and were removed by security. (I couldn’t see because both events were on the floor, I was on the floor, and I couldn’t see over the heads of the crowd.) In each case, Trump said “Get ’em outta here!” but immediately damped down crowd reaction: “Don’t hurt ’em…. They’ll be voting for us in a two or three years!” My concern is what would happen if the protesters were much more determined (Trump: “You have the nicest protesters in Maine”), the crowd was much more vociferous, and Trump either lost control or decided to whip the crowd up instead of damping them down, which I think he could do; Trump clearly decided to cool things down, and did.

I’ll close by saying that this message resonated — and didn’t resonate — with me and, I think, with many Mainers in the Second District That Is Not Portland:

[TRUMP (CC transcript cleaned up):] I know a big plant closed in Maine recently, and it’s closing because that you can’t compete with the valuation. You know it’s all about their devaluing their currency, and so are others. I talk about China, but remember I talk about China for a reason: They’re the biggest abuser. They’re the biggest, and they’re the biggest abuser, but every country, virtually every country that we do business with, looks at us as the stupid people with a piggy bank … [T]hey take our jobs, they take our money, they don’t respect us, we have political hacks negotiating the biggest deals in the world…

Yes, a big plant did close, and Trump came and talked about it. That is, actually, huge. Nancy Isenberg, in her wonderful book White Trash, describes the non-khaki-pantsed part of Trump’s constituency well:

“The white poor have been with us in various guises, as the names they have been given across the centuries attest,” Isenberg writes. “Waste people. Offscourings. Lubbers. Bogtrotters. Rascals. Rubbish. Squatters. Crackers. Clay-eaters. Tackies. Mudsills. Scalawags. Briar hoppers. Hillbillies. Low-downers. White n—–s. Degenerates. White trash. Rednecks. Trailer trash. Swamp people.”

Today’s version of all that is “stupid,” and you will note that the Clinton supporters apply “stupid” freely to Trump supporters; the Clinton campaign speaks of the working class, white or not, and not to it. Trump seems to have noticed that, and prods the pain point with “looks at us as the stupid people.” Aside from the mill closing, there’s not much else I agree with, but again Trump is subtler than he appears at first glance:

  • Trump identifies Trump voters with the country: “our jobs,” “our money.”
  • Trump deflects blame for the mill closures from capital to the Chinese; Chinese currency manipulation, and not private equity, caused the mill closure.
  • Trump’s problem with trade “deals” is really the negotiating team (“hacks”).

There’s really not much for a Sanders supporter to like, here. To the final bullet: If Trump thinks squillionaire Republican Carl Icahn would negotiate a better deal than credentialed Democrat Michael Froman, doesn’t that make Clinton and Trump two neoliberal peas in a pod?[5]


So that is my report from the field on a Trump rally. I hope I’ve provided you with some tools for interpreration. You will have noticed that I’ve touched only barely on the three *-isms tossed at Trump by Clinton supporters: Fascism, racism, and sexism. There are several reasons for that.

To begin, Clinton supporters, including much of the political class, and most of our famously free press, invoke the *-isms so often that The Rice-Davies Rule applies; all three have descended, in the discourse, from terrible problems on the scale of original sin to lazy tropes tossed out by hacks. Second, in the speech as I heard it, the *-isms were at dog-whistle level (granted, Trump’s whistling knob is set to 11, but you know what I mean). The opportunity cost of joining the chorus of liberal goodthinkers in their chorus of denunciation would have been, well, the post as you have just read it. Next, on racism and sexism: It’s utterly unclear me why an individual with a moral stance that opposes those two *-isms is superior to an individual who opposes classism (which “stupid” so clearly encapsulates every time the credentialed emit it). A functional left would manage to integrate race, sex, and class, and be able to mobilize on that basis, but that’s what programmers call a hard problem. And one reason it is a hard problem is Democrat vulgar identity politics (see here and here), which stifles and silences the left. Not undeliberately. Finally, on fascism: My verdict is “not proven.” (As tressie mc says: He’s “not that great.”) I would also like it explained to me how the massive national security apparatus of surveillance and domestic paramilitarism initiated by Bush and normalized by Obama isn’t fascism either and already. We live in interesting times.

Will either Clinton or Trump lead to a net increase in kindness? I doubt it. We’re looking at elite conflict between two neoliberal factions.

Oh, and an enterprising Mainer got a look at Trump Force One and wrote a special on it for the BDN:

This isn’t your average 757. At all. Having seen several documentaries on the aircraft, Mr. Trump’s crew maintains this aircraft to his high standards. After all, if I had a 757, I’d expect it to be in tip-top shape as well….

At a price tag of $100 million, no expense was spared. From gold-plated seatbelt buckles, an on-demand library of movies and music in each seat to the Trump family logo proudly displayed everywhere. Seven Alpha Foxtrot features a guest room with its own entertainment system as well as Mr. Trump’s master suite with an even larger entertainment system than the guest suite and a bathroom with shower. There is custom wood and leather abound throughout the cabin. Trump’s 757 is powered by 2 Rolls Royce RB211 engines which are controlled from the full glass cockpit(electronics).

Ill-gotten gains, to be sure, and a vulgar display. Trump should be classier, launder his money through a foundation, and get third parties to sponsor his flights. Sad!


[1] Well, not exactly: “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

[2] Except “Bromance,” which recalls the false BernieBro narrative. LePage is an interesting figure who would never have been elected if (corrupt and flaccid) Democrats hadn’t done their usual iron law of institutions thing.

[3] Sadly, Cross is an insurance company, from the FIRE sector. It’s not a paper company, or a shoe manufacturer, or even a consortium of lobsterpersons. It’s where we are.

[4] Especially resonant in Maine, where most golfers are summer visitors from away, who are much better off than the locals who own the course or the hotel or the clam shack, let alone those who are caddies, maids, or cooks and staff.

[5] If you believe that Clinton doesn’t want TPP to pass, show me receipts. I don’t buy the idea that deference to Obama caused the Sanders anti-TPP plan to be defeated at the platform committee. I mean, who would Clinton defer to next? Her donors, that’s who, and they want TPP.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Politics on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. aletheia33

    “This week has been marked by small acts of kindness like this; being a good Mainer, I wonder how this temporary imbalance in the karmic scales will be rectified, but it’s certainly nice while it lasts.”

    no, it is itself a rectification of a temporary imbalance in the karmic scales, just look at what a week it’s been, about time for some small rectifying acts of kindness. may it spread and millions knock on real doors of other millions to bring the news of the movement to restore kindness (and i don’t mean small acts) to our kindness-starved social order.

  2. Romancing the Loan

    We’re looking at elite conflict between two neoliberal factions.

    That makes a lot of sense…Trump is the right wing’s Obama. I wonder if the reaction of his supporters to his betrayal will be the same (change their politics completely rather than admit they were punked).

    Even if you’re intent on voting for the lesser evil it’s a really hard call this time.

    1. P Walker

      It’s even deeper.

      In 2008, Obama ran as basically an empty suit that people either poured their dreams into (the disenfranchised voter looking for change) or money (given how most of Obama’s money was raised by employer’s handing around the collection plate).

      Even beyond that, Obama positioned himself as an “outsider” against the establishment forces that Clinton represented. What did Trump do? Exact same thing. Positioning himself as something other than he is … and people bought it.

  3. Tom

    Trump should be classier, launder his money through a foundation, and get third parties to sponsor his flights. Sad!

    True — just ask HRC. The trick is to get people to pay you for the opportunity to pay you more!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      While Trump pulled out the stick with judge Curiel, Bill went with the carrot with his spouse’s investigator.

      So, yeah, the Orange One should be ‘classier.’

      The world needs more silver tongued-talkers/smooth operators.

  4. Carolinian

    Excellent report. Thanks.

    While I have never seen Trump’s reality show or in fact much of him at all, I have noticed from news reports that he is funny. You have to wonder if half the things he says–including those often tacky insults –are meant as jokes..life as a comedy roast. This is not necessarily a defense as one could say the same thing about Rush Limbaugh, but Limbaugh is always pushing a particular mean spirited agenda whereas with Trump it could be a kind of half in jest role play.

    At any rate I think it’s not Trump so much as it’s the people who like Trump that the “fascism” spouters are most afraid of. Our coastal intelligentsia need to get out more. Real Americans are not as scary as they think.

    1. RabidGandhi

      Real Americans are not as scary as they think.

      I saw some once when my canapé incidently got stuck on the Acela window. They lack disruptive synnergy and are non-innovative.

      life as a comedy roast

      My (/sarc off) inner transactional analyst sees Trump as playing the part of the loudmouth guy you meet at the local bar. All politicians are playing a role, and that’s the one he has chosen. And it’s working out smashing for him, so why stop? Like you say, I don’t see him as having any mean Limbaughian agenda– all he’s doing is trying to play the game. He likes to win, and to win this particular reality TV show you have to say the “common sense” stuff that will endear you to the other people in the bar (voters). Common sense stuff like the Chinese are kicking our butts because we have crappy negotiators (an argument Lambert correctly demolishes).

      This makes me think that such heavy duty waders are not necessarily needed for a Trump rally. His speeches work precisely because they are basic, in contrast to the focus group tested blandness of a Jeb! or an “I’m With Her”.

      1. Carolinian

        They have Acela in Argentina? If you want great trains you have to go to Europe.

        As for scary/Trump/waders, it’s probably impossible to know what Trump would really do which is indeed a little scary. For those of us who are ABH Hillary is scarier (so far).

        1. RabidGandhi

          I actually rode the Acela once for free– the funny part of the story was my scheduled train was cancelled so Amtrak put me on the Acela to NY. It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I even realised the train they had switched me to was the much balleyhooed Acela– I couldn’t tell the difference, and the trip took just as long. Granted that was back when it was first launched– not sure if things have improved.

          And you’re right, no Acelas down here since our train system was first defunded, then privatised, and then demolished. :(

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Hillary is already great.

        It doesn’t make sense you have to make her great again.

        Trump: I can be great.

        Hillary: I am already great.

        Trump: But I am already rich.

        Hillary: I have momentum on my side. Bill and I will soon surpass you.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        I love Eric Berne’s work, so I’ll bite. If Trump as a player is Loudmouth in a Bar, what’s the game?

        And this point, and I can’t imagine why this hasn’t occurred to me before, the Democrat Party is playing “Wooden Leg.”

        The thesis of “Wooden Leg” is, “What do you expect of a man with a wooden leg?” Put that way, of course, no one would expect anything of a man with a wooden leg except that he should steer his own wheel chair. On the other hand, during World War II there was a man with a wooden leg who used to give demonstrations of jitterbug dancing, and very competent jitterbug dancing, at Army Hospital amputation centers. There are blind men who practice law and hold political offices (one such is currently mayor of the writer’s home town), deaf men who practice psychiatry and handless men who can use a typewriter.

        As long as someone with a real, exaggerated or even imaginary disability is content with his lot, perhaps no one should interfere. But the moment he presents himself for psychiatric treatment, the question arises if he is using his life to his own best advantage, and if he can rise above his disability. In this country the therapist will be working in opposition to a large mass of educated public opinion. Even the close relatives of the patient who complained most loudly about the inconveniences caused by his infirmity, may eventually turn on the therapist if the patient makes definitive progress. This is readily understandable to a game analyst, but it makes his task no less difficult. All the people who were playing “I’m Only Trying to Help You” are threatened by the impending disruption of the game if the patient shows signs of striking out on his own, and sometimes they use almost incredible measures to terminate the treatment. Both sides are illustrated by the case of the stuttering client of Miss Black’s, mentioned in the discussion of the game “Indigence.” This man played a classical form of “Wooden Leg.” He was unable to find employment, which he correctly attributed to the fact that he was a stutterer, since the only career that interested him, he said, was that of salesman. As a free citizen he had a right to seek employment in whatever field he chose, but as a stutterer, his choice raised some question as to the purity of his motives. The reaction of the helpful agency when Miss Black attempted to break up this game was very unfavorable to her.

        There are several wooden legs: One is “Mean Republicans!”, another is “Ralph Nader!”, another is “The President is not a dictator!” I’m sure others will readily spring to readers’ minds.

        Many in the liberals nomenklatura are playing “I’m Only Trying to Help You,” too, with the Democrat Party and others (which dovetails neatly with the concept of rent-seeking).

        NOTE Adding, category error between person and institution. Nevertheless…

        1. RabidGandhi

          That’s phenomenal. I think they might actually apply more tightly to institutions than individuals.

          Ms RG always points to the URC (our own charming version of the Democrat Party) as the paralytic at the pool of siloam. Paraphrasing her: when asked if he wants to be healed, the paralytic doesn’t say yes, but rather hems and haws around the issue: because it’s so much easier to be sick, and have people feel sorry for you, and do stuff for you… Not being paralysed means having to get up and take responsibility, fight for real, stand up for your stated principles, GOTV….

  5. Watt4Bob

    Looks to me as if the neoliberal cabal that runs things has hedged their bets by giving us a choice between two champions of the Washington consensus.

    Whether accidental, or as some have imagined, concocted by Slick Willy, we’ll never know for sure.

    I get the feeling that Trump was simply amused by the whole thing, right up until he realized that he actually had a chance of some sort.

    Why do I get the idea the republicans are hoping it really is Hillary’s turn.

    1. TheCatSaid

      A couple weeks ago I heard an interview with a sound therapist, Sharry Edwards. She said they did a profile of Trump, and that it’s clear from her analysis that Trump doesn’t want to be President.

      Another interview I saw recently (with former Assistant Director of HUD Catherine Austin Fitts) said one theory she considered was that Trump was originally put in play (with agreement of all major players) as someone so inappropriate he’d have to lose. I had though this myself as well. I wonder if he’s warming to the role now.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Whatever else, Trump’s enjoying it.

        And ya know, after Brexit, maybe we don’t need to imagine the elites are all that competent. I mean, with Cameron, Boris, and all, that’s 500 years of successful imperial administration right down the tubes. They don’t even have a competent negotiating team!

      2. Jess

        President of the United States is a pretty exclusive club; only 43 people in history. So even if Trump started out just to enhance his brand and stroke his ego, now that the White House is a practical reality, I just don’t think he could stand to turn his back on it.

        1. Floretta

          Not sure d stand actually job more than a few months l those briefings, meetings, paperwork, always getting nailed in the press and by the opposition thwarting every idea. Better keep a close eye on who the VP pick is.

      3. John Zelnicker

        I spent some time last week at another site arguing with a possible David Brock troll about whether or not Bernie was a sheepdog for $hillary. A couple of days ago it occurred to me that Drumpf may, in fact, be a kind of reverse sheepdog meant to drive voters to $hillary by being so outrageous.

  6. Take the Fork

    Great report.

    “I would also like it explained to me how the massive national security apparatus of surveillance and domestic paramilitarism initiated by Bush and normalized by Obama isn’t fascism either and already.”

    Because neither surveillance nor domestic paramilitaries are inherent characteristics of fascism, for starters. Go back a couple of weeks and find Smith’s comment that the US is already “decidedly fascist.” The explanation for why this is wrong is under it.

    I’d argue that the actually existing US does not fit into any of the 19th or 20th Century political classifications. I think we need a new term to describe it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “Go back a couple of weeks”

      I don’t mean to be cranky, but we don’t do assignments, because otherwise it would never end. Got the link?

        1. Lambert Strether

          You sound like a manager assigning a zero-time task.

          Surely you must understand the systemic perspective that “it would never end”? If not, read the site policies. To repeat: We don’t do assignments. Support your point from the beginning, and I don’t have to spend time making the point for all readers.

          1. Take the Fork

            Can you scroll down? Just a little bit. You might learn something. Or is suggesting that a violation of site policy?

            1. tegnost

              if it was so easy your complaining is whiny, can you just post a link to confirm whatever it is you happen to be interested enough in to comment about? Why should you do what you want others to do when it’s easier for you if they do it for you or something, or is suggesting that a violation of your inflated self worth? If you want to cite something, cite it, no one is forcing you to comment, and if you do, take a little of the responsibility onto yourself. Yves and lambert provide the links and moderation, you supply your opinions and the sources you use to support them.

    2. Carolinian

      You are ignoring that other aspect of 20th cent fascism, the melding of large corporations and the state. The turn to authoritarianism and militant policing was to support this ceding of power to non democratic institutions including, of course the Fuhrer and Duce themselves. While Hitler was a raging anti-semite, his real obsession was arguably anti-communism which is why his original plan was to strike at Russia, not France and England. And indeed many oligarchs in Britain were hoping that Hitler would do their job for them and wipe out the commies. The Germans were quite surprised when the English followed through with their guarantee to Poland.

      So Lambert is right that there are many fascist tendencies in our neocon/neoliberal elites and the militarization of the police is one of those. The silly golf course guy is probably the last thing lefties should be worried about by comparison.

      1. Take the Fork

        Hitler didn’t make sharp distinctions between Jews and Bolshevism. He might emphasize now one and then the other, but in the end the idea was that if you rid of one and you get rid of the other. This, in a nutshell, was the reason for Barbarossa.

        Fascism (per Paxton) can be seen as more of a behavior than an end state. A becoming, if you will. I haven’t made my mind up about this, but it does bear consideration.

        Upon securing power, paramilitaries tended to be disarmed, disbanded or suppressed by fascist leaders. Most famously in the Night of the Long Knives. Why? Because paramilitaries are not, by definition, under state control. As such they present a threat to the state. If they are under the control of the state, the correct term is simply “military.” Equipping police with military hardware and permitting them to follow rules of engagement more commonly observed by soldiers is to *militarize* them. An example of paramilitaries being tolerated by the US government was the original Klu Klux Klan.

        The ruling dispensation in this country lacks the nationalist (ethnic or racial) impulse that is the animating spirit of fascism. If anything, it is explicitly opposed to it. And there is no such thing as “multicultural fascism.”

        It was not necessarily Marxist economics that provoked Hitler, it was the Communists’ aim of equalizing or even eradicating racial and ethnic differences. What Hitler did not count on was Stalin’s ability after June 1941 to very quickly stoke Russian nationalism (even to the extent of rehabilitating the Orthodox Church) and frame the event in nationalist rather than socialist terms. [The fact that, after almost two decades of totalitarian rule, this degree of ethnic and nationalist identification remained in the USSR, ought to give us pause the next time we want to declare ourselves “post-racial.”]

    3. I Have Strange Dreams

      ” I think we need a new term to describe it.”
      Sheldon Wolin called it Inverted Totalitarianism.

        1. Take the Fork

          I like parts of the idea, but “inverted totalitarianism” just doesn’t have that swing.

          1. tegnost

            Which parts do you like, and what about inverted totalitarianism is to your mind
            not swinging? Does totalitarianism swing? In what way?

  7. David Carl Grimes

    So Lambert,

    Who is the lesser evil? Trump or Clinton?

    Or should we go Third Party? I’m leaning towards the Green Party.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I honestly have no idea, although I think the question is which is the more effective evil, not the lesser. The only reason I can see to vote for the Greens is to keep them on the ballot. That’s not an affirmative vote for the Green candidate or the Green Party.

      1. jawbone

        This is a really tough question. Supreme Court justices — Hillary will appoint Corporatists with some social liberalism; Trump? So far, he’s told the PTBs of the Repub Party he will go maximum conservative.
        Environment? Well, what has Hillary been saying about that? Incrementalism? Trump, I have no idea.

        War? Seems Hillary will get us involved widely and maybe in a really big one. Not sure of the latter, incrementalism and all being so important to her. Trump seems to say the US will be pulling out of a lot of places and there will be no Big One. But, who can tell?

        For me, it’s tough, bcz it would be nice to have a Supreme Court which had some representatives of the regular people, not just Big Bidness and the powerful. But, as I said, her appointees will probably be All Corporatism All the Time. And how does that really help us? (I still can’t believe the vote to find McDonnell had not done anything wrong was unanimous. Just can’t believe it.)

        1. katiebird

          (I still can’t believe the vote to find McDonnell had not done anything wrong was unanimous. Just can’t believe it.)

          Wow. Me neither. Why? Every one of them? In a year where corruption has been a more visible issue than any other year of my life?

          I don’t understand it at all.

        2. Archie

          What!?! You thought they were all honest and impartial and all that??? It’s them and us man, it’s always been thus. It is just so much more obvious now with each passing hour.

        3. Vernon Hamilton

          Environment? Well, what has Hillary been saying about that? Incrementalism? Trump, I have no idea.–

          you really don’t?

          EPA – “disgraceful” http://dailycaller.com/2015/10/19/trump-vows-to-cut-disgraceful-epa/

          Global climate change “Bullsh*t” http://www.inquisitr.com/1083625/donald-trump-global-warming-is-bull-because-its-cold-out/

          “a myth” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/05/24/donald-trump-calls-global-warming-a-hoax-until-it-threatens-his-golf-course/

          1. Yves Smith

            I don’t disagree with your points about Trump. But the point many readers correctly make about Clinton is that despite giving lip service to climate change, she’s been very much pro-fracking as Secretary of State, when fracking not only endangers aquifers but also releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. So the difference between her and Trump is nowhere near as great as Dem hacks would have you believe.

      2. Code Name D

        I would counter that it’s a nonsensical question. Like asking which is better for crossing a 500 foot wide canyon; the 100 foot long bridge or the 200 foot long bridge?

  8. DJG

    Lambert: The important question after your journey to Minas Tirith. Was there pie afterward?

  9. Oregoncharles

    “Trump’s problem with trade “deals” is really the negotiating team (“hacks”).”

    Is this supported by his overall record? (I honestly don’t know.) In that quote, he’s simplifying in a trademark manner. But vilifying the “trade” deals is his keynote, at least according to Thomas Frank (I really ought to read Frank’s take on it; add that to the list).

    This is important because “trade” is his biggest point of agreement with Sanders; Trump has said so himself – as in, supported Sanders’ take on it. But I don’t know how well that’s supported by his actual statements of policy – which this isn’t. Granted, it seems to be rare that he MAKES actual statements of policy.

    A further consideration is whether he’s establishing a position on the subject that he could potentially be held to. This is an area of policy where presidents have a lot of discretion, though treaty/agreement changes have to be OK’d by Congress. Remember that Clinton reversed the Dems’ position on “free trade;” could Trump revers the Repubs’ position?

    1. Code Name D

      To be fair, no one really opposed trade per say. They just want it done in a fair and open manner where every one can participate. The problem with trade deals is they are not really about trade – but about power.

      1. tegnost

        When no one was looking businessmen and workers found themselves on the same page (no one is against trade), while the overleaf is a version of the mafia (everyone (except cheaters) is against cheating) Nowadays I talk to my republican boss, and we agree on most things, but neither of us has changed our core values, what gives?

        1. norb

          I think the difference is defining and giving proper voice to the founding principles upon which ones life is based. The argument for natural human rights has been defeated by the rise of corporatism. The difference between people is their dedication to founding principles. At core, the corporatists will maintain their natural right to control their own fate and by extension, fall blind to the hardships they impose on others. They see no responsibility to others outside themselves and the corporate system they control.

          The corporate takeover of our lives sets the tone for all to follow. The business elite have used the language of liberty and freedom to succeed in a counter revolutionary effort that has taken power away form the people and once again firmly established it in the hands of the few. The nationalism formed under such circumstances in one of aggressive domination, not national safety within defined borders.

          Determining the natural state of human rights is a messy business. On whole, as a people, we have not figured it out.

          What we are witnessing is the struggle of corporatists to hold onto their power. Instead of fighting the legitimacy of Monarchy, the common man is fighting the power and legitimacy of corporatism and doesn’t even know it.

          The dissonance we see all around us is centered on the fact that corporate freedom is antithetical to development of individual personal freedom. In the current system, your freedom is based on how well you serve the machine, not on the ability to pursue your own interests and discover the world around you. This is the supreme contradiction of corporatism, as the logic of the system progresses, the need for actual people diminishes.

          Corporations are a super organism that we have lost control of. The division will be one of insiders and outsiders. Corporatists and the disposables. Propaganda will be the tool used by the insiders to convince the outsiders that they are somehow not outside.

  10. Skip Intro

    I don’t see why the rally would turn anyone away from the arena, ticket or no. Best would be for the fire marshall to have to do it. I’m sure the tickets were only for building a list. Thanks for the report, keep us posted on further contact from the campaign, if you please.

      1. Isolato


        watching him speak, he is far more emotionally conversant w/the crowd, they are invited to participate in his outrage (Am I right?) there is more call and response, a very effective rhetorical technique. But the entertainment value, as both you and Dave Eggers point out is there too. The Andrew Dice Clay. But way too poorly done to lead a March on Rome or a Cristalknacht. Of course it was making the rounds today that he is high on diet pills…there’s that!

        1. John

          I was just stating what I got out of his writing about it.
          It was not at all descriptive.
          It was weirdly lacking anything that led me to feel like I
          was there.

          Anyhow, I did get a sense immediately from the writer Jared Yates Sexton’s tweets of what it would be like to be at a Trump rally.

          Just letting him know this but of course he got all up in arms about
          my comment.

  11. sd

    Thank you for your report Lambert. Much appreciated.
    Thinking maybe we need more first hand reports from the NC commentariat for the candidates. It would help compare/contrast the regional differences that might show up in speeches and audiences.

      1. Oregoncharles

        What? The Greens are better organized (at least online) than the Libs?

        How is that possible?

  12. Code Name D

    “Trump was above them all.”

    Actually, I observed this at the Sanders rally as well. Simple geometry really. If you have a large audience on the ground floor, the only way they can see the speaker is it he is elevated on a platform.
    Notice how they set up the press core and the VIP bleachers in the background. Even here, there is effort to control the image. Not that giving a speech in a barn is a bad thing, but you would never know it seeing the press photos taken at the time.

  13. Linda Galindo

    When I clicked on the video embedded in this post I realized I have hit the wall on Trump as I did with Bush. I could not stand the sound of him long enough to hear his message. I had to turn it off. I really appreciated your “sense of” what you heard factually, intuitively and with paraphrasing. I believe that anti-Obama voters back in the day felt the exact same way I do about Trump as they did about Obama. President Obama could be stating smart, fact-based, intelligent policy directions but haters could not hear “a black man” just as Trump haters can’t hear substance from him even if it’s there. Empathetically I see that all “sides” in the voter pool that don’t really matter want to be heard, want to vent, want someone to fix their abdication of personal accountability and role in creating the society we have today. Trump; I am accountable. I use the law. I am accountable. Think of me what you will. I am rich. I use the law. I will continue to use the law. My bankruptcies are good math. My failed companies enriched me, the spreadsheets say so. People are just jealous. I used the law. I’ve done nothing illegal. I know how to recalibrate deals to use the law or get the law or rule changed so I am not breaking it while it enriches me, like Enron did with mark to market accounting. Mark to market accounting was legal and enriched many at Enron.” I guess his supporters think it translates. For example, default on our loan payments to China, declare the US bankrupt and start again in some form of Chapter that has yet to be created that we “keep the house” and leave those we owe with zero. We can default on our debt, restructure and come out enriched, and it was all legal. Is Trump saying this is what he can do for the country and therefore his supporters? I’m not at all sure what Clinton is saying can be done on this front other than “status quo” and more of the same going forward. Can’t listen to any of them anymore. What’s a voter like me to do?

  14. Dave

    This is a slippery slope.

    Prediction, Lambert has a Trump button on his lapel by November.

      1. katiebird

        With Trump buttons? Sounds like a stretch. I can imagine something between some and a lot of teeth-gritting votes. But active, open support? I don’t see this site morphing into a Trump Blog ever.

        Not that I have any insider info at all.

  15. casino implosion

    “…Next, on racism and sexism: It’s utterly unclear me why an individual with a moral stance that opposes those two *-isms is superior to an individual who opposes classism (which “stupid” so clearly encapsulates every time the credentialed emit it)…”

    You’re getting close:

    The moral condemnations of racism and sexism are made in the service of classism.

  16. Roland

    Trump is not a fascist, cannot be a facist. It is stupid to call him that, even as an insult.

    1. Paramilitary organization is the sine qua non of all fascisms, whether the Blackshirts, the Nazis, the Phalange, the Iron Guard, etc.

    2. All fascisms extol the martial virtues as cardinal for both for the individual and for society. Nowhere in Trump’s campaign do I see an emphasis on the martial virtues.

    Trump is a nationalist, but being a nationalist does not make one a fascist.

    Today’s anti-national globalists, due to their own prejudices and their own agenda, are prone to confuse nationalism and fascism.

Comments are closed.