The election of Donald Trump as U.S. President was not just reality-TV magic. It was the culmination of a succession of efforts, dating back more than a century, to inject conspiracy theories and bigotry into the election process on a massive scale by way of populist upheavals and the sly manipulation of legitimate concerns. Rachel Maddow discussed this pattern on MSNBC in May 2016 and, among other things, compared briefly the parallels between the rise of Trump and the near-rise of (or five-year period of substantial support for) Lyndon LaRouche and his followers in the 1980s.
I experienced deja vu while watching Maddow’s show, for I had written 27 years ago in the final paragraph of Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism:
The lessons of LaRouche’s rise and apparent fall are important. If we study them seriously and act on them, it may turn out that the LaRouche phenomenon was a blessing in disguise—a dry run, under relatively safe conditions, that revealed our hitherto unsuspected weaknesses without our having to pay a heavy price for this knowledge. One thing seems certain: America is too violent and diverse—and too vulnerable to economic crisis—to avoid forever a major internal challenge from some form of totalitarian demagoguery. When that test comes, the story of Lyndon LaRouche may provide the key to an effective and timely response.
In the months since the election, Trump’s behavior as President Elect and then as President suggests that we are indeed going to pay a “heavy price” for not addressing earlier our nation’s “unsuspected weaknesses” in regard to the allure of dangerous demagogues among angry and discontented elements in our population. Although Trump does not seem to manifest the “totalitarian” form of demagoguery that I referred to in the quote above, he does display unprecedented authoritarian tendencies for a White House occupant plus an inability to exercise self-control in speech or tweet, or in his decision making. He has appointed among his top aides individuals who harbor bigoted and/or conspiracy-laced or even apocalyptic beliefs of the most extreme kind. And he is the first American president to come into office backed by and beholden to an angry and irrational mass movement comprising about a third of our population that expects swift action–and vengeance–regardless of the long-range consequences.
This situation may result in enormous damage even without a breakdown of the formal constitutional order. We may end up, at best, in a kind of way station between the America we know and the nastiness of Vladimir Putin’s Russia unless Trump’s opponents devise methods of fighting back that are vastly better than the preaching to the choir that characterized the pre-election tactics of the Clinton campaign, the Obama administration and the liberal media.
The document that follows examines no less than 35 eery parallels (there are actually more) between Trump and Lyndon LaRouche. It shows that we now have a President whose personality, behavior and unhinged rants have more in common with those of LaRouche–a small-time Hitler, cult leader and convicted fraudster–than to any major party Presidential nominee, either winner or loser, in our time.
The comparisons are between a 70-year-old man (Trump) who only entered political life in a consistent way in 2011 via the birther movement, and whose serious experience as a political candidate dates back less than two years; and a 94-year-old man (LaRouche) who has spent the past 40 years struggling to keep a modest foothold amongst U.S. far rightists, although he did enjoy his “moment in the sun” in some Midwest states in the 1980s and his ideas and initiatives continue to have a substantial direct impact in several foreign locales.
It is important to keep in mind other profound differences: LaRouche is a cult leader, Trump is not (although Trump is good at manipulating crowds); LaRouche poses as an intellectual, Trump does not; LaRouche sets forth a tightly knit ideological world view, Trump is very loose in his thinking and is not concerned with maintaining a pretense of consistency; LaRouche is said to have a fear of the hurly-burly of political campaigns, Trump glories in it; LaRouche is a creative elaborator (and artful disguiser) of 1930s style European fascist and Nazi memes, while Trump expresses an enthusiasm for the more simplistic conspiracy theories and hate rants of the Alt-Right via his early-morning tweets and his selection of alarmingly wacky advisors for his inner circle.
Some comparisons below are sufficiently complicated that they require repeating examples found in others. Several of the similarities in policy, as on environmental issues, obviously could be made between Trump and many other individuals on the far right, not just LaRouche. Some resemblances in policy are described in relation to current political trajectories of the Trump administration that may change over the course of his presidency under the pressure of unforeseen events (such changes may already be underway). Some readers may find most useful the comparative descriptions of how our two subjects used (or attempted to use) artful lies, psychological manipulation, dog-whistle communications and Orwellian doublespeak to manipulated public opinion and attract ardent followers.
I hope that this document will be useful in (a) evaluating just how dangerous our new President is (or may become) and (b) predicting his future moves with more accuracy than the mainstream media ever attained during the 2016 election cycle.
1. Expressions of overt racism.
Trump first revealed an inclination towards racial demagoguery when, less thn two weeks after the 1989 arrest of five minority youths (all but one, a minor) in the Central Party jogger assault and rape case, he took out full-page ads with the headline “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY, BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” in all four major New York dailies, implicitly presuming the guilt of the five (without naming them, he referred to criminals “who beat and rape a helpless woman”). The stentorian ad proclaimed that “CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!” (caps in the original). And Trump stated in an interview at the time with Larry King on CNN: “The problem with our society is the victim has absolutely no rights and the criminal has unbelievable rights” and that “maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done.”
All five were convicted and spent between three and 13 years in prison. They were exonerated after another individual confessed to the crime in 2002. The DNA of this other individual matched the semen recovered from the victim’s body. No DNA from any of the five youths had been found at the crime scene. The case was a complicated one and to this day the innocence of the Central Park Five is not universally accepted. In a 2016 statement to CNN Trump suggested that the original confessions of the Central Park Five were still sufficient proof of their guilt, thus ignoring the proven frequency of false confessions and the fact that the minors had been interrogated without counsel being present. Trump’s demagogic rush to judgement, however, helped to build up an atmosphere around the trials that was at sharp variance with the assumption that an individual is innocent until proven guilty. And his sinister view on where “civil liberties end” would be expanded during his campaign 27 years later to include a generalized contempt for human rights in comments on, among other things, re-instituting torture (waterboarding and a lot worse), dropping bombs on the children of terrorists and rounding up and deporting over ten million “Mexicans,” whom he stereotyped as “rapists.”
In 2011, Trump stepped into the birther movement to try to delegitimize President Obama–by claiming he was not born in the United States and was not entitled to be President and therefore (implicitly) was not due the respect of a real President. Trump’s initiative helped to take the racial animus against Obama to a new level by providing a conspiratorial pseudo-legalistic cover for it.
In 2015-16, Trump called for a massive “law and order” crackdown in inner cities in response to Black Lives Matter’s demonstrations against the police, also using the protests as an excuse for continuing his campaign against Obama: “Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore!” he tweeted sarcastically in April 2015. He even criticized the Baltimore police for supposedly failing to respond with sufficient force to the protests over the death of a black man in custody. He depicted black Americans in a stereotyped manner as living mostly in impoverished and violent ghettos. He avoided for many months any public softening of his earlier claims (described as racist by Colin Powell in an August 2016 hacked email) that Obama was not born in the United States.
After Trump finally did accept the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate he heaped new doubts on Obama’s Presidential legitimacy by calling him the “founder” of Isis. At his raucous rallies, he encouraged the virtually all-white audiences to revile or attack protesters–many of them nonwhite–who were peacefully holding up protest signs. He acquiesced in the support that white supremacists were giving him, and even sent signals of approval, as by passing on their toxic social media postings via his Twitter account. (He also made grandiose and vague promises about how he would fix the problems of troubled black communities–a posture aimed mostly at salving the consciences of suburban white Republicans who might otherwise have found it a bit more difficult to ignore his crudity.)
LaRouche used both open and coded racist rhetoric in his propaganda campaign against President Obama. During the 2008 presidential election campaign, he told his followers:
You’ll find Obama’s ancestry, if you chase the family tree, everybody’s climbing and swinging from the branches there….Every monkey in every tree, from every part of the world, has participated in the sexual act of producing him.
Once Obama was in office, LaRouchian publications began referring to him as the Emperor “Nero” (just add a “g”) and LaRouche joked on his web-TV program that the White House is where the “chimpanzees” (the Obamas) vote. LaRouche also stated, in a 2009 webcast, that the President “doesn’t have much conscience, because he doesn’t have any brains. He’s trained to talk like a trained monkey….” (See full documentation on LaRouche’s racism.)
2. The use of members of a targeted racial or ethnic group as one’s spokespersons to soften the group’s (and the general public’s) reaction to one’s bigotry.
Trump singled out the very small number of non-whites (the non-protesting ones) at his rallies as proof of the campaign’s inclusiveness, and he also attracted a number of African-American conservatives to serve as spokespersons at his campaign events or as his surrogates in some network interviews. One of these was South Carolina pastor Mark Burns, whose frenetic speech at the Republican National Convention and clashes with interviewers culminated in CNN uncovering misleading information, including outright falsehoods, on his personal web site. Another was Katrina Pierson, a Tea Party activists hired by Trump as a national spokesperson in 2015 but later overshadowed by other surrogates. A third was far-right radio shock jock Wayne Dupree, who was named by Citizens for Trump in April 2016 as a national spokesperson and minority outreach liaison. And fourth was Bruce LeVell, a former Republican county chairman for Gwinnet County, Georgia, who stated to applause at a Macon, Georgia Trump rally in Nov. 2015:
Donald Trump is not a racist, guys. We had a big meeting up at Trump headquarters, and we had a bunch of pastors show up who look like me–leaders across the country–to denounce this rumor, this accusation, against this fine man.
LeVell would later become the Executive Director of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump. In Sept. 2016, MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson asked him about Trump’s birther campaign to delegitimize President Obama:
“[I]t is not a race thing. It never has been,” LeVell said….”This is that scare, boogeyman tactic trying to go into the general to keep African-Americans like myself from not wanting to vote for Donald Trump. It is absolutely false. There is no proof of Mr. Trump tying, you know, this birther movement to President Obama being African-American, et cetera. Has nothing to do with it whatsoever. It’s totally false.”
A suggestion of how Trump will use African American surrogates in the White House is seen in the appointment of Amarosa Manigault as “assistent to the President and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison focussing on issues such as community outreach.” (CNN, Jan 4, 2017) Manigault, who mostly goes by her first name and is a former contestant on The Apprentice, was a frequent surrogate during Trump’s campaign with the title of African-American outreach director. She is best known for predicting to Frontline in September 2016:
Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s every doubted Donald, who every disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.
The sole African-American member of Trump’s cabinet or in any other high level post (so far) is Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Trump’s pick of Carson could be regarded as comparable to his cynical choice of talk-show surrogates as well as being a flagrant example of tokenism:
First, HUD is stereotypically associated in the public mind with minority public housing projects and efforts to break up segregated residential patterns (it was the first Cabinet position ever given to an African-American–by LBJ in 1966); and to give only this Cabinet post to an African-American today is roughly like an all-white college circa 1966 appointing a single black person to the faculty to teach African-American studies–a small step forward then, a big step backwards today; and
Second, Carson had taken himself out of the running for a Cabinet post in mid-November 2016 on grounds of lack of administrative experience. Carson’s longtime advisor Armstrong Williams told the press that the former Republican presidential candidate, who had dropped out and endorsed Trump, didn’t regard himself as having the background to run a department of the government. Williams told Reuters that “Dr. Carson doesn’t feel like that’s the best way for him to serve the president-elect.” And Williams told The Hill: “Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency. The last, thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.”
Trump’s picking of Carson for HUD thus suggests that Trump has little interest in the department’s historic goals. The New York Times noted that HUD today “oversees programs that provide vouchers and other rental assistance for five million low-income families, fights urban blight and helps struggling homeowners stave off foreclosures.” The Times implied that Carson’s conservative philosophy emphasizing “individual effort, not government programs,” even though his own mother sometimes had needed to rely on government food programs while raising him, did not mode well for HUD’s short-term future.
LaRouche, while reviling Obama in the most extreme manner, also gave much publicity and prominent public positions in his org to a small cadre of African-American followers such as: Kesha Rogers, who won the Democratic primary for Congress in Texas’s 22nd CD twice (2010 and 2012), came in second of five candidates in Texas’s U.S. Senatorial primary in 2014, and became a widely publicized face of the LaRouche org nationwide, shown holding a picture of President Obama sporting a Hitler mustache; Sky Shields, a leader of the LaRouche Youth Movement and a member of the LaRouche’s National Executive Committee until he quit in 2012; and Dennis Speed, a LaRouche follower since the 1970s who is a frequent speaker at LaRouche events and writer for LaRouche publications, and a leader in the org’s New York/New Jersey region. I have seen him many times at LaRouchian street tables on Wall Street, handing out Obama-bashing literature. In “The Fact Is, Obama Must Be Impeached” (EIR, Oct. 21, 2016), Speed gave what appeared to be an indirect endorsement of Trump as well as high praise for Trump’s friend in the Kremlin: “Fortunately for the world, Vladimir Putin is a brilliant leader of Russia.”
In the 1990s, LaRouche compared himself to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King (even suggesting that he was King’s successor) and paid a former civil rights leader, Rev. James Bevel, to provide political cover for assorted LaRouchian organizing efforts and even to run as LaRouche’s vice presidential candidate in 1992. One would never know from such posturing that the LaRouchians had worked with and supported South Africa’s apartheid regime–from 1977 through the regime’s end in 1994–through intelligence gathering against anti-apartheid activists and/or sly propaganda efforts to sanitize the regime’s public image and demonize the African National Congress.
3. Thinly coded calls for violence against a president or a presidential candidate.
Trump claimed at an August rally in North Carolina that if Hillary Clinton were to win the Presidency, she would abolish the right to bear arms. “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. [pause] Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know,” he said. The comment was widely interpreted as a call for post-election violence against Clinton. Trump rallies also included shouts from people in the audience not only that Clinton should be locked up but also that she should be killed. Trump did nothing to stop such hysterical anger; he continued to whip it up with even more extreme claims about the danger that Clinton supposedly posed to the very survival of America.
Just how bad things became is found in numerous media accounts. In Trump rallies in North Carolina in July, shouts were heard of “Hang that bitch!” and “Hang Hillary!” Al Baldasaro, the co-chair of Trump’s controversial veterans group and a New Hampshire state legislator, declared in an interview, also in July, that Clinton “should be put in the firing line and shot for treason.” He repeated it in a second interview but added, “maybe it’s the electric chair now.” When Trump was asked about Baldasaro’s remarks, he said “Well, I don’t know about that but I will tell you he’s a very fine person.” Pressed, Trump replied in a manner similar to when first asked to distance himself from David Duke: “I don’t know what he said. You’d have to show me what he said.”
In late October, a warm-up speaker for Trump in Las Vegas received cheers when he described a fantasy he’d had about someone making a TV movie in which Clinton and her top aide Huma Abedin would drive off a cliff to fiery deaths, as in the film Thelma & Louise. At a North Carolina rally shortly before the election, a Trump supporter displayed an effigy of Clinton with a noose around her neck.
LaRouche incessantly called for impeaching Obama on grounds that the President was planning to set up “death panels” (to target senior citizens), launch World War Three, and usher in a New Dark Age. In September 2009, he said that Obama “should back down [from his health care plan] or he might be hung.” In a January 30, 2010 speech LaRouche crossed the line from hypotheticals to open incitement. After suggesting that Americans who were thinking about lynching Obama were moving in the right direction, LaRouche stated that it was time to “take out Obama,” who supposedly was good only for “kindling.” The latter quip appeared to refer, in the context of the lynching remark, to how racist mobs burned black men alive, or burned their lynched corpses, during the Jim Crow era.
In a March 13, 2010 speech entitled “Ides of March 2010” (an allusion to the assassination of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March 44 BC), LaRouche discussed violence against the President even more explicitly. He said that impeachment is not a matter of laws but of mass action. He predicted that citizens would take upon themselves the role of the dark avenging angels aka the Erinyes, or Furies, of Greek myth. The coup leaders would walk down “that corridor” of the White House –“silent-faced, grim, determined”–and whisk away the President, who would be “screaming, shrieking, so forth, like a banshee.” That the scenario was to end in Obama’s death was implicit in LaRouche’s selection of the Furies as the prototype for White House coup leaders; indeed, an illustration of an ancient Greek frieze, accompanying the above-cited passage, showed the Furies acting out their vengeance on malefactors with extreme violence.
To make the assassination idea even more explicit, LaRouche’s Executive Intelligence Review and Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s Schiller Institute website both illustrated the text of “Ides of March 2010” with a gruesome image of Julius Caesar being stabbed to death by Roman Senators. (Caesar’s murder took place on the Ides of March, and LaRouche publications circa 2010 took to depicting Obama in a Roman toga.) The caption under the image stated, “As with Caesar, time is running out for Barack Obama.” The webcast and text versions of LaRouche’s speech were widely circulated via YouTube and various websites.
LaRouche in earlier decades had already developed a fondness for assassination fantasies. In 1977, he discussed with associates how to kill President Jimmy Carter, National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, NATO general secretary Joseph Luns and banker David Rockefeller with remote-controlled radio bombs activated from public pay phones. (The story of this creepy conversation was reported on NBC-TV’s First Camera in 1984. When LaRouche sued for libel on this and other counts in federal court, the jury found that NBC and the other defendants had not libeled LaRouche on any of the counts.)
LaRouche also speculated about how an assassination might be carried out by proxy and without risk–you simply spread hate propaganda against a public figure over and over on a large scale, and at some point a lone assassination may get inspired to do the deed. Although LaRouche was careful to say that this was a tactic he was warning against, his Swedish and German followers conducted just such a hate campaign against Swedish leader Olof Palme; it went on for almost 10 years and Palme was finally shot to death in 1986, traumatizing a nation (the case remains unsolved).
Thomas L. Friedman wrote in the August 10, 2016 New York Times about Trump‘s remark regarding Hillary Clinton and the “Second Amendment people.” Friedman compared it to the Israeli right’s hate campaign against Israel’s prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, which resulted in Rabin’s 1995 assassination by an ultranationalist; but he might as well have been talking about LaRouche‘s theory of the lone assassin:
There are always people down the line who don’t hear the caveats. They just hear the big message: The man is illegitimate, the man is a threat to the nation, the man is the equivalent of a Nazi war criminal. Well, you know what we do with people like that, don’t you? We kill them.
The LaRouche organization had nothing to do with Rabin’s assassination, but the tactics used by the Israeli right to whip up hate against Rabin were disturbingly similar to those used by LaRouche against President Obama and, earlier, against Olof Palme.
4. Allying with white supremacists and Jew haters.
Trump enjoyed solid support during his campaign from the white supremacist movement as a result of his strong language against undocumented Mexicans and his promise of mass deportations. This support was enhanced by Trump’s practice of tweeting items taken from Alt-Right media that gave the impression he had more in common with their movement than he was letting on in his speeches. The only white supremacist leader whom Trump has distanced himself from is David Duke, and Trump did that only reluctantly and under strong pressure–and in language that suggested he didn’t really mean it. He avoided criticizing the Alt-Right sentiments expressed at his campaign rallies. He turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the extraordinary hatred that was growing towards Hillary Clinton, both as the archetypal feminist who won’t accept a traditional role and as the presumed Obama “legacy” candidate. “Lock her up!” became the Trumpian war cry, with Clinton as the distilled essence of the Salem witches, the Scottsboro Boys, and Alfred Dreyfus. Hatred of the Hillary caricature and symbol rose to a level of mass hysteria never before seen in Presidential politics.
Commentary magazine editor John Podhoretz told the New York Times (Oct. 19, 2016):
[T]he campaign turned over a rock and a lot of stuff began crawling out from under it. There were these code words and dog whistles that let it appear that people who had been doing things in the shadows could now start marching forward.
The most shocking and cynical example of Trump’s see-no-evil attitude was his response to the neo-Nazi style social media assault that some of his supporters launched after GQ magazine published an unflattering profile of Melania Trump by Julia Ioffe, who is Jewish.
“After Trump [Melania Trump] posted a pushback note on Facebook,” The Washington Post reported (May 17), “Ioffe was targeted by an anti-Semitic hate site and then subjected to all manner of threats on social media.”
The Post gave an example:
Whacha doing kike? You sure make a preeurdy lampshade then it’s….BACK TO THE OVEN [picture of oven included].
And The Guardian gave more examples (April 28):
Ioffe answered a phone call from an anonymous caller who played a Hitler speech. She received another call from “Overnight Caskets”. On Twitter, users posted photos of her face superimposed on a mug shot from Auschwitz. The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist site, attacked Ioffe in a blogpost titled: “Empress Melania Attacked by Filthy Russian Kike Julia Ioffe in GQ!”
When asked about the anti-Ioffe campaign, Melania Trump’s answer was ambiguous. “I don’t control my fans,” she said in an interview. “But I don’t agree with what they’re doing. I understand what you mean, but there are people out there who maybe went too far. She provoked them.”
Melania took some heat (and justifiably so) for the last sentence in the quote, but at least she distanced herself somewhat from the hate campaign. Her husband, however, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, avoided even the mildest rebuke of the out-of-control ranters. The English-language edition of Israel’s Haaretz printed the relevant part of the interview as follows:
“You hated this article in ‘GQ’ about your wife, Melania. Julia Ioffe wrote it. Since then, some of your supporters have viciously attacked this woman, Julia Ioffe, with anti-Semitic attacks, death threats. What’s your message to these people when something like that happens?” Wolf Blitzer asked the presumptive Republican presidential nominee during an interview on Wednesday. “I’ll tell you, I haven’t read the article, but I hear it was a very inaccurate article and I heard it was a nasty article… They shouldn’t be doing that with wives. I mean they shouldn’t be doing that,” he responded. “These death threats that have followed these anti-Semitic,” Blitzer pressed Trump. “Oh, I don’t know about that. I don’t know anything about that,” said Trump. “You’ll have to talk to them about it. I don’t have a message to the fans.”
When Trump said “they shouldn’t be doing that with wives,” he appeared to have forgotten his own statements attacking Heidi Cruz, wife of Republican primary candidate Ted Cruz, and the non-stop Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton during her years as First Lady. And Trump seemed oblivious to the fact that the Daily Stormer and similar sources of the attacks against Ioffe weren’t really concerned with Melania Trump’s public image — they were using Ioffe as a convenient symbol for the entire of Jewry, which they want to exterminate.
Although Trump has not personally used Daily Stormer type language, he avoided throughout the campaign any serious chastising of the haters who were playing such a noisy role in his campaign. Thus, such people were able to tell themselves he was just biting his tongue for tactical reasons.
For instance, at a Trump rally in Kissimmee, FL in August 2016, two men hung a Confederate flag from a rail near the stage. When a Trump campaign staffer and three police officers asked that it be taken down, the two men, who had purchased the flag (with “TRUMP 2016″printed on it) from a vendor outside the event, were upset, but they complied. One of them thought at the time that he would withdraw his support from Trump, but later rationalized away in a conversation with a New York Times reporter:
“It kind of upsets me a little bit,” he said, adding that he didn’t think Mr. Trump himself would have asked him to remove the flag.
“But because of the dishonest media, which he talks about, because of that, it forces them and ties their hands to do certain things,” [he] said, “so that the media doesn’t take something and spin it and turns it into something that it’s not.”
But who is the real Trump? In the Nov. 22 meeting of Trump with Times staffers in New York, the following polite exchange occurred between the President-Elect and Times executive editor Dean Baquet:
BAQUET: As you describe it, you did do something really remarkable. You energized a lot of people in the country who really wanted change in Washington. But along with that — and this is going to create a tricky thing for you — you also energized presumably a smaller number of people who were evidenced at the alt-right convention in Washington this weekend. Who have a very …
TRUMP: I just saw that today.
BAQUET: So, I’d love to hear you talk about how you’re going to manage that group of people who actually may not be the larger group but who have an expectation for you and are angry about the country and its — along racial lines. My first question is, do you feel like you said things that energized them in particular, and how are you going to manage that?
TRUMP: I don’t think so, Dean. First of all, I don’t want to energize the group. I’m not looking to energize them. I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group. They, again, I don’t know if it’s reporting or whatever. I don’t know where they were four years ago, and where they were for Romney and McCain and all of the other people that ran, so I just don’t know, I had nothing to compare it to.
But it’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why.
What we do want to do is we want to bring the country together, because the country is very, very divided, and that’s one thing I did see, big league. It’s very, very divided, and I’m going to work very hard to bring the country together.
What to make of this answer? First off, it would be naive to think that Trump is going to say, yes, I used neo-Nazis and other white supremacists to help me get elected, and I used their rhetoric, and I’m sorry I did that. Second, some of what he says above would suggest that he’s willing to back away from the Alt-Right and its rhetoric, at least for awhile. But look deeper: When asked if he thinks he “energized” the Alt Right, he says “I don’t think so.” [Well, who did energize them?] And then: “if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why.” And just how does he propose to do this? Since his own behavior is off the table, shouldn’t he at least take a look at the media pivot of the Alt-Right, Breitbart News?
And here we come to a far more disturbing exchange. Asked about his top advisor and former Breitbart News CEO Stephen Bannon, he responded:
Um, I’ve known Steve Bannon a long time. If I thought he was a racist, or alt-right, or any of the things that we can, you know, the terms we can use, I wouldn’t even think about hiring him. First of all, I’m the one that makes the decision, not Steve Bannon or anybody else.
What?? Of course Trump makes the final decision! But it’s Bannon’s job to have important input on those decisions through his advice. We thus are expected to take Trump’s word for it that, after a year and a half of spewing bigotry, he’s not going to do it anymore and will stand against anyone who advises otherwise. But if he’s sufficiently concerned that he must reassure the Times that “I’m the one that makes the decision, not Steve Bannon,” why not just get another counselor? And then Trump says:
And if he [Bannon] said something to me that, in terms of his views, or that I thought were inappropriate or bad, number one I wouldn’t do anything, and number two, he would have to be gone. But I know many people that know him, and in fact, he’s actually getting some very good press from a lot of the people that know him, and people that are on the left. But Steve went to Harvard, he was a, you know, he was very successful, he was a Naval officer, he’s, I think he’s very, very, you know, sadly, really, I think it’s very hard on him. I think he’s having a hard time with it. Because it’s not him. It’s not him.
I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a very, very smart guy. I think he was with Goldman Sachs on top of everything else.
Hmmm, unlike the Trumpians in Klan country or in coal-mining districts, Bannon went to Harvard and worked for a time at Goldman Sachs. And gee it’s hard on Bannon, really hard, to have to endure all those unfair accusations from liberals.
Perhaps someone in that room should have reminded Trump that there are minority people who find it hard to endure the racist taunts that emanate constantly from Bannon’s Alt-Right.
And then Trump is asked by an unidentified person: “What do you make of the website he [Bannon] ran, Breitbart?”
TRUMP: The which?
TRUMP: Well, Breitbart’s different. Breitbart cover things, I mean like The New York Times covers things. I mean, I could say that Arthur [Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., publisher and chairman of the board of the Times] is alt-right because they covered an alt-right story.
TRUMP: The New York Times covers a lot of stories that are, you know, rough stories. And you know, they [Breitbart] have covered some of these things, but The New York Times covers a lot of these things also. It’s [he apparently means Breitbart] just a newspaper, essentially. It’s a newspaper. I know the guy, he’s a decent guy, he’s a very smart guy. He’s done a good job. He hasn’t been with me that long. You know he really came in after the primaries. I had already won the primaries. And if I thought that his views were in that category, I would immediately let him go. And I’ll tell you why. In many respects I think his views are actually on the other side of what a lot of people might think.
DAVIS (Julie Hirschfeld Davis, White House correspondent): But you are aware, sir, with all due respect, that African-Americans and Jews and many folks who disagree with the coverage of Breitbart and the slant that Breitbart brings to the news view him that way, aren’t you?
TRUMP: Yeah, well Breitbart, first of all, is just a publication. And, you know, they cover stories like you cover stories. Now, they are certainly a much more conservative paper, to put it mildly, than The New York Times. But Breitbart really is a news organization that’s become quite successful, and it’s got readers and it does cover subjects that are on the right, but it covers subjects on the left also. I mean it’s a pretty big, it’s a pretty big thing. And he helped build it into a pretty successful news organization.
Here we see a viewpoint that the Times should have challenged: The Times covers “things” and Breitbart covers “things.” Sulzberger covers “things” and Bannon covers “things.” Therefore the Times, Breitbart, Sulzberger and Bannon are equal members of some libertarian fraternity for disseminating “things.” And the Times is just a publication and Breitbart is just a “publication,” as if their contents don’t exist or, worse, that their contents are of equal value. Oh, and Breitbart, like the Times, is “pretty successful.” All of this just dodges the issue of (a) Breitbart’s promotion of cynical lies and bigotry; and (b) Bannon’s indisputable responsibility for the contents of Breitbart in his position as executive chair of Breitbart News LLC from March 2012 to August 2016, when he left to join the Trump campaign. It should be clear that Trump’s responses regarding Bannon largely nullify his own supposed disavowal of the Alt-Right.
The only hopeful thing is Trump’s statement: “He hasn’t been with me that long. You know he really came in after the primaries. I had already won the primaries.” This may or may not be a statement that should worry Bannon. In my opinion, the Times should investigate whether Trump’s post-primary campaign CEO cooked up (and/or played a role in approving) the nakedly anti-Semitic Trump ad that started airing on the Friday before the election.
In the final analysis, Trump, although he avoided personally using Klan-style language against African-Americans at his rallies, has revolutionized the politics of hate by focussing on “safer” targets and letting his fans fill in the gaps. What used to be unacceptable in all but coded form is now out in the open, with millions telling themselves they’ve been liberated from the stifling atmosphere of political correctness. Breitbart and the Alt-Right with their anything-goes reader responses and tweets–and the crowds at Trump rallies, with their enthusiastic responses to Trump’s remarks about Mexican “rapists”–have normalized hate speech to a degree not seen for generations, and have done so not just in the South but throughout the country. The Tea Party and the establishment Republicans who enabled them created the conditions, and Trump and Alt Right opinion leaders such as Bannon broke down the remaining, painfully thin barriers on the Right. Their synthetic revolt against political correctness has provided the excuse for taking the rhetoric of bigotry to a new extreme, and even Trump’s family is not immune. As an Alt-Right troll using the name “SnuffAGlobalist” wrote in response to comments by Roger Stone on the globalist plot:
Donald Trump is not helping himself by allowing his Democrat Jew daughter, the skank, Ivanka, and her Democrat Jew husband, Jared, son of a convicted felon, to terrorize the campaign staff, and to run the transition team. The fact that Donald Trump was involved in these administration picks, and, also, wants security clearances for Jared, Jared Kuchner, whose father was sent to prison on 19 counts of fraud related to campaigns, is another reason to question if Trump has the expertise and gravitas to steer this nation away from the clutches of the Shadow Government, aka DEEP STATE.
And the same person in another comment, is inclined to go after Donald himself:
Trump has loaded up his administration picks with GLOBALISTS, NEOCONS, WAR WH0RES, and ZIONISTS…. We are headed for another Israel First administration.
Not very pleased to have a Jeworacy, instead of a Constitutional Republic, but that is where Trump is headed… Shadow Government, Deep State… it’s all there.
Trump’s most infamous tweets in the first weeks after the election concentrated on the supposed nastiness of peaceful protesters at Trump Tower, the alleged rudeness of Hamilton cast members who requested (quite respectfully, in fact) a dialogue with Vice President Elect Pence, and the malevolence of California voters who–Trump claimed without the slightest shred of evidence– committed fraud on a massive basis to deny him the popular vote. It’s curious that our Tweeter in Chief (Elect) has nothing to tweet against a person who suggests it’s time to snuff out members of Trump’s own family based on their religion, and who also implies that Trump himself, as founder of the new “Jeworacy,” should be next.
LaRouche in his heyday in U.S. politics from the late 1970s through the mid 1980s formed alliances with the U.S. neo-Nazi Willis Carto and his Liberty Lobby as well as Nazi scientists brought to the U.S. under Operation Paperclip, Michigan Klan leader and racial-identity “pastor” Robert Miles, and (with varying degrees of success) other figures on what was then still called the “fringe” right. LaRouche hired Klansmen as his bodyguards and used them to intimidate his own followers. He tried to leverage such connections into support for his presidential campaigns, describing the quarter-million readers of The Spotlight (Carto’s weekly) as the “‘Gideon’s Army’ of American nationalism.” In some cases his use of code language and of Jewish and black spokespersons was seen as a reasonable short-range tactic. As Miles wrote in 1984: “[LaRouche] has jews, blacks and other minorities in his organization. Yet, he is White Racist to the core.”
In the 1990s, the LaRouchians sought alliances based on cultural racism in Latin America and Australia. They took over the Citizens Electoral Council in Australia and fought against aboriginal rights. The Mexican LaRouche org worked with culturally racist paramilitary groups in Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas against militants championing the rights of indigenous peoples; the LaRouchians urged a massive military crackdown in which thousands could have been slain. They wrote and published The Plot to Annihilate the Armed Forces and the Nations of Ibero-America (EIR, English translation, 1994), a virtual Mein Kampf for the region, depicting indigenous peoples as blood-thirsty Satanists and cultural subhumans and suggesting policies for the Amazon basin that would have resulted in the virtual extermination of some tribes. (This crushing of the presumed forces of backwardness and darkness would be facilitated, the book suggested, by a wave of coups bringing back military dictatorships in the most threatened countries.)
Then, in 2008, the LaRouchians began once again to whip up racism in the U.S. (this time focussing symbolically on President Obama), producing literature, YouTube videos, and web TV commentary that often seemed calculated to appeal to the germinating Alt-Right–including those in its ranks who wanted Obama dead.
And by the way, LaRouche had his own version of “snuff a globalist” (see above). He called it “Hang a Brit for Freedom” and he sent it out as a suggestion, under his own name, in a Sept. 25, 2009 LaRouche PAC release aimed at the growing far-right movement against Obama and his health care policies. Curiously, LaRouche did not name any specific Brits he wanted killed, but he did name an American Jew–Ezekiel Emanuel, an adviser to Obama on health issues. As so often, LaRouche justified his extreme language against Jews, as well as Obama, by calling them Nazis. “Ezekiel Emanuel is the same thing as Adolf Hitler. People run around claiming Jewish immunity….They are copies of Hitler. They should get the roughest treatment.”
4. Use of the Jewish star as a visual “dog whistle.”
Trump personally tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton and a pile of cash, with a Jewish (six-pointed) star superimposed on the cash. Trump had obtained the image from a neo-Nazi/white supremacist infested message board. When he was called out on this, he said the star was merely a sheriff’s badge (in fact, sheriff’s badges have stars with varying numbers of points and some are not stars at all). Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, was quick to deny that his father-in-law was anti-Semitic.
LaRouche once used a Jewish star to illustrate an article he’d written about the supposedly evil-drenched international “oligarchy.” The face of Queen Elizabeth was at the top of the star with two prominent Jews on either side of her. The caption identified the image as a Jewish star, but also also called it a “pentacle” signifying black magic (in fact the pentacle, which does have occult significance, has five points, unlike the star in the illustration). LaRouche obtained his initial interest in the idea of a London-centered Jewish conspiracy from Willis Carto, publisher of The Spotlight (see above) and co-founder of its successor, the American Free Press. LaRouche’s fascination regarding “British” financiers with Jewish surnames deepened after his followers provided him with Nazi, British Union of Fascists and other tracts of the 1930s and 1940s regarding the alleged Judification of the British Empire.
When the use of the Jewish star and other examples of LaRouche’s anti-Semitism were criticized, Jewish members claimed that neither he nor they were at all anti-Semitic.
5. Appealing to both left and right through a populist message crafted to maximize one’s support.
Tilting to the far right and then to the moderate left, and back again, was an important part of Trump‘s successful strategy in 2016. He managed to sound almost like Bernie Sanders at times, with his attacks on the Iraq war, on NAFTA, and on corporations that were transferring their factories overseas, and with his professed concern for the living conditions of American workers (the same class he’d stiffed throughout his business career). By mixing these themes (not characteristically Republican ones) with promises to cut taxes for the rich and get rid of government regulations on business (standard Republican establishment positions), by pandering to the legions of the Christian Right with promises to overturn Roe v. Wade (although he did not support their crusade against the LGBT community), and by incorporating within his movement the racism and anti-Semitism of the Alt-Right, he was able to maximize his outreach and defeat Hillary Clinton decisively in the “battleground” states. Frank Bruni calls this a pantomime of populism but in fact most populism in recent decades has been a pantomime aimed at herding ordinary white folks into the far right and persuading them to be content with their economic lot of low wages and no unions since, after all, they’re to get back their historic advantages over black folks.
As Steve Bannon, Trump’s senior counselor, said back in 2014 about where the nationalist-populist movement really is heading:
[W]e are strong capitalists. And we believe in the benefits of capitalism. And, particularly, the harder-nosed the capitalism, the better.
LaRouche and his followers, in their most vigorous period of electoral activity in the 1980s, also tilted from right to left and back again in a quasi-populist manner. The public positions of LaRouche’s National Democratic Policy Committee certainly did not fit into the conventional molds of either the Democrats or Republicans of that decade. The NDPC reached out to farmers fighting against bank foreclosures, and it organized in rust belt towns where industries were already shutting down. When an NDPC candidate won the Democratic primary for Secretary of State of Illinois in 1986, she pledged to “roll our tanks down State Street” in Chicago to crack down on narcotics money laundering by the big banks.
In parts of the farm belt, folks would subscribe to Will Carto’s The Spotlight and, in their desire for direct action (or talk of direct action), they would join groups such as the Posse Comitatus. But many were giving their votes to, and even running as candidates for, the NDPC. Meanwhile the LaRouche propaganda network was spreading a smorgasbord of ideas from which farm belt/rust belt voters could pick and choose. The LaRouchians called for giant public works to be built directly by the federal government in the spirit of the Manhattan Project, they urged reversal of the steel industry’s decline (again, through government intervention), they called for a radical transformation of our banking system (in dog-whistle anti-Semitic language), and they sidled up to local and national leaders of unions such as the Teamsters, suggesting that a new American nationalism might have a role for patriotic union leaders as partners of the industrial capitalists (not the financial ones) in a regime that would carry out LaRouche’s plan for top-down economic development.
Just as Trump would later scapegoat undocumented Mexican immigrants and Muslims, LaRouche’s ersatz populism targeted gays, feminists, and pot smokers–all described as part of the supposed oligarchical Jewish plot to weaken America. LaRouche was also strong on law and order (just so long as he wasn’t the target himself), wanted to crush the environmental movement, and switched back and forth on issues of peace and war depending on how the particular foreign policy crisis fit into his conspiracy theory of history and his quasi-pragmatic search for allies.
6. Fascism and proto-fascism.
Tilting from left to right is not just a populist tactic, it has a history on the fascist and Nazi right. After all, Hitler called his party the National Socialist Workers Party and consolidated his power by providing jobs for the unemployed, launching public works projects such as the autobahns, and making factories hum with the production of Volkswagens as well as tanks. Mussolini promised the workers a piece of the action through syndicalist ideas that were supposed to be incorporated into his “corporatist” state–a state that supposedly would modernize the economy, provide jobs and raise living standards.
Some people on the left have called Trump a fascist; I have not used this term for him because he has not articulated a clearly fascist worldview and does not have organized goons in the streets intimidating his opponents. (As to a third element of fascism–the use of police or military forces, or state-sanctioned militias composed of what he calls the “Second Amendment people,” to crack down on dissent in an unprecedented way–that is something which is still a Great Unknown, although I think that the efforts of Alt Right types in the FBI to toss the election to Trump and the fervent attempts of the Alt Rights to unnerve and silence Trump’s critics through personalized hate-speech taunts and death threats do not bode well for what Trump might attempt in the future.)
I do, however, see proto-fascist tendencies in the loosely organized movement that brought about Trump’s victory–not only in the web-based role played by the Alt-Right but in the disturbing interactions between Trump and the mass of people at his rallies. I also see proto-fascist tendencies in some of Trump’s remarks both at the rallies and in other venues.
Duke University law professor Jedediah Purdy argues that Trump senior advisor Steve Bannon and Trump’s Silicon Vally backer Peter Thiel represent a messianic nationalism that is profoundly anti-democratic and that Trump may end up embracing. However, Purdy asks:
Does Trumpism really deserve Trump’s name? Does the president-elect espouse the anti-democratic beliefs that Bannon and Thiel have demonstrated? It doesn’t really matter. What Trump believes is a distraction. Megalomaniacal, appetitive and erratic, he is a demiurge in search of a plan, a would-be king of the world who needs a worldview to fill in the detail. He is a perfect vessel for opportunists whose big ideas can appeal to his sense of grandiosity and mission. This much is clear: Bannon and Thiel believe their ideas have found the perfect host organism. They won’t be the last.
Whether the Trump movement will develop beyond the proto-fascist stage or even continue to exist in any meaningful form if Trump fails to make good on his promises–and whether he will continue ever-rightwards under the influence of the sinister Bannon and his own inner demons–is still an open question (as the subtleties in Purdy’s wording suggest), although I’m not very optimistic about the outcome.
The LaRouche movement represents a definite and distinct form of fascism in its ideology, in its most important alliances over the past 40 years and in the hatreds it manifests so intensely. LaRouche denies being a fascist, but he’s the author of the memorable phrase, “It is not necessary to call oneself a fascist to be a fascist. It is simply necessary to be one!” And here’s a LaRouche statement from 1979 that makes clear where he stands:
“Democracy” is like a farm without a farmer, in which the chickens, sheep, cows, horses and pigs form ‘constituencies’ according to Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau or John Stuart Mill. Each constituency is but a collection of beasts, each with special ‘”self-interests” defined as animals might define self interests. The highest level of law in such a democratic animal farm is the “social contracts” among these bestial constituencies.
The human species is not a collection of chickens, cows, pigs, sheep and so forth. Therefore, “pluralism” and other British notions of “democracy” are fit only for British aristocrats, not for self-respecting human beings such as the citizens of the United States.
The essence of republican organization, including republican parties, is the mobilization of a majority of the citizens as a conscious force engaged in direct deliberation of the policymaking of the nation, of discovering which policies are in fact currently in the interest of the nation and its posterity. By creating a republican labor party of such trade unionists and ethnic minorities, we shall end the rule of irrationalist episodic majorities, of British liberal notions of “democracy.”
The LaRouchians acted out this viewpoint over the years by forming alliances around the world with individuals, parties and regimes that shared LaRouche’s disdain for democracy, including (at various times from the mid-1970s through the late 1980s) the Argentine junta, apartheid South Africa, the Guatemalan military during that country’s brutal civil war, the dictatorship in Panama of Manuel Noriega (they posted articles making fun of the torture-murder of Noriega foe and human rights activist Hugo Spadafora) and unreconstructed Franco fans in Spain’s national police. In more recent years the LaRouchians have been most enthusiastic in their support for President Omar al-Bashir of the Sudan (the bloodiest human rights abuser since Pol Pot) and Vladimir Putin (see Section 1).
Lest anyone think that LaRouche has somehow mellowed over the years, here is what he said in September 2008 in response to the U.S. economy sinking into deep recession:
This is not a democratic situation; this is a time where democracy is the worst factor you can get. You’ve got a democracy in the streets now, they want to kill these guys. That’s the democracy I want to hear from. I don’t want to hear from these so-called Democrats; I want to hear from the killers!
For more on the question of defining LaRouche, see the writings of Chip Berlet, Joel Bellman and Matthew Lyons and see also my book Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism.
7. The art of manipulating crowds.
According to Geraldine Pauling, a psychohistorian, one crucial difference between Trump and LaRouche is that Trump does not lecture the people at his rallies on “what they ought to think, but mirrors what they do think. He senses, from their responses, what is working and what is not. You get a kind of social osmosis, which results in mob fervency and even mob hysteria.” (Informal interview, Nov. 13.) Trump, unlike LaRouche, did not set out to indoctrinate those who flocked to his rallies; he was too absorbed in the process of performing, as if he were still on “The Apprentice.” However, as he constantly repeated his powerful mantra “make America great again,” many of the people at his rallies, and many who watched the rallies on TV, were swept up in what Pauling calls the “group fantasy” of Trumpism–a kind of “trance state” in which participants and viewers projected their anxiety, anger, and sense of personal diminishment onto Trump–the powerful father figure, or rescuer, who they believed would radically fix a world that had profoundly disappointed them.
Undeniably there was a huge element of racial resentment in all this, fueled by eight years of the Tea Party and the Republican establishment portraying President Obama as the symbolic evil black man and hounding him as a moving target. This spirit of resentment was magnified by an explosion of Alt-Right social media that boldly promoted white supremacy and its dog-whistle cousin white “nationalism.” Certainly Trump’s own foray into birtherism had encouraged these trends. But Trump’s main focus at his rallies was on “safer” targets: the relatively small U.S. Muslim population and the millions of undocumented “Mexicans” hiding in the shadows. This was enough to bring the David Duke types to his side.
From that point, as Trump mirrored his crowds, many participants came to see him not only as the father figure who would set things right but also as a kind of savior of the white race. The power of the “make American great again” had, from the beginning, come in part from its subtext: “make America white again.” Now the subtext was no longer a subliminal thing, although one could still pretend it wasn’t there (just as Germans in World War Two could pretend that the nearby camp behind barbed wire was merely a work camp). Certainly the white working class and lower middle class of small town and small city America had (depending on their location) plenty of reason to be angry without the intrusion of bigotry, but it was racism that pushed Trump over the top.
LaRouche has always focused on telling his audiences what they should (indeed, what they must) believe: he has the correct worldview, the only correct worldview, and he wants them to be clear on that. Although he does from time to time attempt to exude hope (in the form of grandiose fantasies about new Manhattan Projects to accomplish this or that), the chief emotion that he evokes is fear. Nuclear Armageddon is coming; a New Dark Age will follow; billions of people will die if the public doesn’t gather around LaRouche’s small organization to stop the evil oligarchy that has been conspiring against humanity for thousands of years. This is not exactly the appropriate message for arenas packed with people looking for jobs and hope, and it doesn’t help that LaRouche’s version of a stump speech is a compulsive reworking of his history of the world, with arcane references to Paolo Sarpi, Nicholas of Cusa or the Black Guelphs (historical figures presented as characters in LaRouche’s comic-book war of the elites).
Trump, by contrast, will take an easy-to-grasp concept (or allegation), condense it into a single phrase and repeat it several times, slowly, to ensure that it sinks into the minds of audience members. LaRouche has never known how to do this.
8. To brainwash or not to brainwash.
Trump is not a cult leader; he is the object of a “cult of personality” of sorts—but that is a very different thing. His lack of interest in achieving tight control of a small core of followers in a cult-like manner should not be surprising given that he’s always been able to gain public recognition, and to amass great wealth, in other, easier ways. Certainly he has the manipulative skills needed for running a cult, and he shows evidence of having some of the narcissistic traits that cult leaders possess. But not every huckster or narcissist founds a cult; indeed, very few do so. I suspect that if alien space bats were to drop a fully formed Trumpian cult into Trump’s lap, he wouldn’t know what to do with it and would just tell some aide, “you deal with these people.”
LaRouche is first and foremost a cult leader, putting the preservation and expansion of his cult (as the vehicle for his own grandiosity) above any mass organizing projects. Whereas Trump obtained public recognition directly, through his own skills (including his skills at self-promotion), LaRouche concentrated on gathering a core of fanatically devoted disciples who came to see him as the vehicle for their own toxicity–a mixture of idealism, hate, sadism, a thirst for power, and a desire to part of what C.S. Lewis called the “inner ring.” LaRouche, not a gregarious person like Trump, let certain of his disciples who had “people skills” exceeding his own mediate between him and the outer world, and he relied otherwise on his prolific writing more than on public appearances (except at events sponsored and tightly controlled by his own organization) to get his ideas to the public.
9. Desire for celebrity, adulation and greatness.
Beginning as a real estate entrepreneur with a flair for self-promotion, Trump became a celebrity in New York and nationwide as he attached his brand name to very tall Manhattan buildings and to casinos and hotels, while also expanding his investments into football, professional wrestling, modeling and the Miss Universe and Miss USA beauty pageants. His name became associated with that of many famous people in entertainment and politics. He developed into a major reality TV star (while continuing as an entrepreneur) through “The Apprentice,” which he hosted from 2004 to 2015. He seems to have been reasonably satisfied, for decades, with his glitzy but superficial celebrity, the success of his brand name, and his reputation for great success in business. He expressed interest in becoming George H.W. Bush’s 1992 vice presidential candidate. Eight years later, he sought the Reform Party nomination for President, but dropped out, he said, because of the party’s dysfunction. He subsequently developed a much stronger desire for direct political participation together with a odd change in his thinking from moderate conservatism to an obsession with conspiracy theories and other crank beliefs. He joined the birther movement against President Obama in 2011, thus moving into a far-right sphere he had earlier denounced. After announcing for president in 2015 he rapidly developed a mass following through rallies where the crowds clearly adulated him, and he responded to them in a way that created a spiral effect. From the beginning of the election cycle, the adulation was linked to Trump’s self-presentation as a powerful male figure who would “make America great again” and indeed as the indispensable man who would save America from sharp decline or even from outright destruction. This may or may not have been anything more than a campaign gimmick at the beginning, but apparently, as a result of his interactions with the rally crowds and their overwhelming enthusiasm for his act, he has accepted his assigned role as their savior (whether he intends to save them in the way they anticipate is another question).
LaRouche had zero interest in being a celebrity in the conventional sense. If someone had asked him to run a beauty pageant or a reality-TV show, he wouldn’t have had the slightest idea of how to begin, and he wouldn’t even have tried—it would have conflicted with his self-image as a serious intellectual. However, LaRouche developed in the early days of his organization a desire (indeed, an almost desperate need) for displays of boundless veneration by his followers and a recognition of the profundity of his ideas by people in high places as well as a conviction that he would one day have a transformative impact on world history. Turning his organization into a cult enhanced his followers’ worship of him and strengthened his sense of being the Man of Destiny (after all, weren’t his followers constantly proclaiming it through his rapidly growing network of publications?).
LaRouche also developed a thirst for meeting with famous political people—which became his version of Trump’s tactic of hanging out with celebrities as a means of gaining celebrity status oneself. LaRouche pressured his followers to obtain meetings for him with world leaders such as Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (in 1982 and again in 1983) and President Jose Lopez Portillo of Mexico (1982). Such meetings did not always go well, although the one with Lopez Portillo appears to have been more of a success than Trump’s meeting in August 2016 with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Regardless of the actual outcome of any particular LaRouche meeting with a powerful person, LaRouche’s publications would tout it as proof of his great influence.
Over the decades, the LaRouche movement had some successes in the public sphere, but more often it had abysmal failures–and LaRouche ended up in prison for five years as a result of various frauds. Gradually he reframed his desire for political greatness into a focus on recognition of the greatness of his intellect–the ineffable source of world-transforming ideas that would be passed on to a new generation of his followers who would one day achieve his goal of final victory over the evil oligarchy.
It is ironic that LaRouche is today witnessing a situation in which Trump is going to be the most powerful person in the world based largely on the intersecting intrigues of Vladimir Putin (whom LaRouche and his followers have long praised) and a cabal in the FBI. It seems as if the 2016 election were straight out of one of LaRouche’s phantasmagoric conspiracy scenarios in which a courageous elite of the good guys from various countries foils the New York-London oligarchy by bringing to power the indispensable hero who will save Western civilization–except that (a) the hero is not LaRouche; and (b) it would stick in his craw to ever acknowledge the FBI as doing something good: he despises the G-men for their role in sending him to prison (1989-1994) for his scams.
10. A history of dealings with organized crime.
Trump, as an entrepreneur involved in major Manhattan construction projects and the Atlantic City casino business, inevitably had dealings with organized crime. But his connections to the mob in New York and New Jersey were unusually extensive and complicated, especially in the 1980s when he juggled relationships with members and associates of both the Genovese, Gambino and Scarfo crime families and with labor hoodlums who were involved with one or more of the these families as well as with the Lucchese family. Trump was tutored in the art of how to work with gangsters by Roy Cohn, the McCarthyite lawyer who was one of the most powerful figures in New York City in the 1970s and early 1980s and who represented many powerful mob clients. Trump used mobbed-up contractors in building Trump Tower and Trump Plaza, and purchased the cement at inflated prices from S & A Concrete, a company controlled by Genovese crime family boss Anthony (“Fat Tony”) Salerno, in order to guarantee there would be no union problems. Salerno was a client of Cohn’s who held business meetings in Cohn’s townhouse/office to evade FBI wiretaps. Investigative journalist Wayne Barrett reported in his 1992 book Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, that Trump had probably met with Salerno at the Cohn residence.
Trump also was connected to John Cody, the president from 1976 to 1984 of Teamster Local 282, the members of which, Wayne Barrett wrote in his book on Trump:
drove the barrel-shaped cement mixer trucks that would feed the Trump Tower job its daily requirement of concrete. The severe access problems at the site–located at one of the busiest intersections in the world, and reachable only from the narrow 56th Street side–made the job utterly dependent on Cody’s cooperation. Concrete can harden if it isn’t used quickly, and Cody’s trucks had to make their deliveries at precise intervals throughout the day. A slowdown–anything from delaying the pours to a full-fledged work stoppage–would have caused costly overruns or possibly even shut the job down.
Cody enjoyed ties to both the Gambino and Genovese crime families and also had a curious relationship with the LaRouche organization (see below). A woman friend of Cody’s with no job or other clear source of income was able to buy three apartments in Trump Tower; Cody invested a half million dollars in the apartments and stayed in the building at times. The FBI had evidence that Cody had obtained free apartments from other developers as well.
The facts about Trump’s mob connections have been presented in the work of some of the top investigative journalists in the United States, including Barrett, David Cay Johnston (author of The Making of Donald Trump, 2016), Tom Robbins, formerly of the Daily News, ABC News’ Brian Ross and others. Their work includes details on how Trump’s “art of the deal” is acted out in the sordid world of payoffs and favors to organized crime figures not only in New York but also in Atlantic City, where Trump made arrangements with two hitmen for Atlantic City crime boss Nicky Scarfo and also with Scarfo’s financial advisor, Kenneth Shapiro. And the gangsters were not only Italians: Michael Daly cites in The Daily Beast a 1992 U.S. Committee on Government Affairs report that a vice president for marketing at Trump’s Taj Mahal casino, Danny Leung, was an associate of the 14K Triad. The report stated that Leung had “given complimentary tickets for hotel rooms and Asian shows to numerous members and associates of Asian organized crime.” And then there’s the mob-linked Russian immigrant fraudster and convicted felon with offices in Trump Tower who tried to get Trump into the real estate world of Putin’s Russia 11 years ago. As David Cay Johnston writes:
Trump’s career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service.
LaRouche and his followers developed, as Trump did, a connection with Cody and Local 282. In 1978, a LaRouchian “truth squad” helped Cody fend off a challenge to his leadership in the local’s election by running a smear campaign against union reformers that obviated the need for heavy duty violence that might have proved legally too risky for Cody. After the mobbed-up slate won reelection, New Solidarity, LaRouche’s newspaper, quoted Cody as saying, “you gave us the ammunition to win.” (When Cody became the target of federal prosecution for extortion and the subject of several unflattering New York Times articles in 1982, the LaRouchians again came to his defense with their communications skills; he subsequently endorsed Melvin Klenetsky, the LaRouche candidate who was challenging U.S. Senate incumbent Daniel P. Moynihan in the Democratic primary that year.)
The LaRouchians also peddled their skills (and pamphlets denouncing government “plots” against the Teamsters) to Teamster national president Jackie Presser, a creature of Trump cement supplier Salerno. And they linked up with Teamster hoodlums in Michigan, paying the business partner of Detroit Teamster leader and Meli crime family associate Rolland McMaster to run LaRouche’s New Hampshire presidential primary campaign (with a cut also going to an associate of New England’s Patriarcha crime family). In addition, the LaRouchians cozied up to Sammy and Nuncio Provenzano, brothers to Genovese capo (and Teamster Local 560 leader) Tony Provenzano, who was in prison for murder.
In 1979, when Trump was already working on his first Atlantic City casino project, the LaRouchians also turned their attention to the future temporary Las Vegas of the Jersey shore. They staged a rally in Trenton, the capital, to launch a statewide campaign to force the New Jersey Casino Control Commission to reject the application of leisure conglomerate Resorts International for a permanent casino license. The LaRouchians had managed to compile in-depth information on Resorts thanks in part to contacts they had cultivated in and around law enforcement. They conceivably could have succeeded in getting the casino (which had opened its doors the previous year) closed for a time, and even have forced its sale. Their campaign petered out, however, after a computer software company controlled by LaRouche received a contract to design software for Resorts’ development division.
I have no evidence that Trump encountered the LaRouchians during the relatively short period (about five years) in which they were dealing with U.S. mobsters (they moved on to work for the likes of Manuel Noriega, the cocaine dictator of Panama). The information in this section is presented only to show how both Trump and LaRouche were willing, during the same time period but for very different reasons, to serve as enablers for some of the worst sociopaths in America society. For more on the LaRouche org’s past links to organized crime, see “Hypocrites! Anti-drug cult linked to mob cronies” and Chapters 34-38 of Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism.
11. Focussing on individuals with Jewish names as a means of suggesting a Jewish conspiracy.
Harry Siegel noted in the New York Daily News (Oct. 16) how Trump “brought up George Soros, Sidney Blumenthal (twice) and Jonathan Gruber” at the Oct. 10 Presidential debate. Soros’ name is no surprise: he has long been a target (see Section 15) for the melange of internet hate sites that coalesced into the Alt Right, as well as being constantly reviled by the LaRouchians, and has also been attacked frequently by conservatives for his support of liberal causes.
Some commentators wondered why Trump used valuable debate time on Blumenthal and Gruber, but Siegel noted that although they “aren’t household names…they are distinctively Jewish ones.” And any close watcher of Fox News would recall Blumenthal as the stock liberal Jew whom Roger Ailes’ crew would sometimes focus on to suggest he was the Rasputin of the Clinton family, exuding an odor of corruption and lies.
One could say that Trump was blowing a dog whistle to those among the listening tens of millions who would hear with approval any negative references to persons with recognizably Jewish names. Indeed, only four days before the election, the Trump campaign rolled out a TV ad that used this trick in an unmistakably anti-Semitic manner.
In commenting on the ad in a Washington Post column, Dana Milbank noted how it repeated lines from an Oct. 13 Trump speech widely regarded as anti-Semitic (albeit only implicitly so), but
this time illustrated with images of prominent Jews: financier George Soros (accompanying the words “those who control the levers of power”), Fed Chair Janet Yellen (with the words “global special interests”) and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein (following the “global power structure” quote). The ad shows Hillary Clinton and says she partners “with these people who don’t have your good in mind.”
Milbank continued, “Anti-Semitism is no longer an undertone of Trump’s campaign. It’s the melody.”
LaRouche was a master of the art of bigoted name-dropping in his conspiracy theories focusing on Jews and Zionism. He often found it more practical (i.e., less hassle from the enemy, which he constantly worried–or pretended to worry–might try to assassinate him) to slam the “Rothschilds” or the “Montefiores” than the “Jews” in general. In 1978 he wrote that the “policy-shaping kernel of the enemy forces centered in the British monarchy is a group of private banking families. These are notably the family interests of the Lazard Brothers, Barings, N.M. Rothschild, Hill Samuel, and other small private banking houses.” (The Barings were the token non-Jews.)
The LaRouchians are constantly seizing for propaganda purposes on the names of Jews famous or not so famous. One of the not so famous was Louis Bloomfield, a Montreal attorney and supporter of Israel whose name had popped up in the fevered world of Kennedy assassination theories. The LaRouchians transferred his name into their own scenario in which Jews, not the Mafia, control the U.S. narcotics traffic on behalf of the “British” oligarchy by way of the Bronfman family (of World Jewish Congress fame) in Canada.
For years, the name of Bloomfield, who died in 1984, would crop up in LaRouchian tracts, articles and leaflets for the sole apparent purpose of inducing readers to think “Jew, Jew, Jew” whenever they ruminated about the Kennedy assassination or drug trafficking. Bloomfield was never a person of international notability (except to conspiracists), but he was to the LaRouchians what Sidney Blumenthal and Jonathan Gruber would become to Trump and the Alt Right–a useful name.
To hammer home in 2010 the idea that President Obama–depicted as the puppet of international “British” forces–should be given the Ides of March treatment, LaRouche inserted underneath the most incendiary passage an image entitled “ROTHSCHILD The Inter-Alpha Group of Banks” and including the logos of 10 alleged Inter-Alpha banks in various countries. Apart from the Inter-Alpha Rothschild conspiracy being a LaRouchian fabrication, the message to Jews that “you’re next” could not have been more clear.
12. Using attacks on “symbolic evil” ethnic figures as a dog whistle form of bigotry.
Even before Trump began his birther campaign, the Tea Party and the Republican establishment had already focussed on presenting President Obama as a Symbolic Evil Uppity Black Man unfit for the Presidency. Trump took it to a higher level with his conspiracy theory about Obama the Muslim mole born in Kenya entering the U.S. with a fake birth certificate and fraudulently becoming President to destroy our country. The New York Times noted in a 2016 article:
In the birther movement, Mr. Trump recognized an opportunity to connect with the electorate over an issue many considered taboo: the discomfort, in some quarters of American society, with the election of the nation’s first black president. He harnessed it for political gain, beginning his connection with the largely white Republican base that, in his 2016 campaign, helped clinch his party’s nomination.
The ploy itself proved to have lasting effect. Although suspicion about Obama’s place of birth were already very widespread, Trump helped to consolidate it in the public mind. As recently as last August, an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll found that 41% percent of Republicans believed that Obama was not born in the U.S. and a whopping 72% were not sure. This stance has given the flagrant unwillingness of Republicans to accept a black man as President a veneer of pseudo-respectability that may last for many years.
When Trump suddenly announced in August 2016 that President Obama was the “founder of Isis” and should get, along with Clinton, the Isis “most valuable player” award, it didn’t seem to hurt Trump in the polls. His followers had already been primed to believe just about any absurd charge against the President.
As noted above Trump’s final ad before the election included a picture of George Soros with the words “those who control the levers of power.” Soros, a U.S. billionaire born in Hungary who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been used for years as a symbolic Jewish hate figure (either explicitly or implicitly) by the Alt-Right, the Tea Party, Fox News, LaRouche and right-wing nationalists in Eastern Europe. Almost certainly, it was the LaRouchians (see below) who created this meme, although others soon picked up on it (and on the LaRouchians’ continuous additions to it) for their own purposes. The success of the Soros meme gives the lie to the widespread claim by people on the far right that LaRouche has no influence in their circles and that the Democrats and the liberal media are the ones promoting him in order to use him as a provocateur on the Right.
LaRouche was a true pioneer in fabricating Symbolic Evil Blacks and Jews. He started with Amiri Baraka in the 1970s, then focused chiefly on Henry Kissinger and, later, on Obama and George Soros. All of these individuals were or are regarded as controversial by substantial segments of the public and sometimes for reasons that weren’t or aren’t motivated primarily by anti-Semitism or racism. It thus was easy to make them symbols, both subliminally and openly, for all (or most) Jews and all (or most) blacks. Such symbols enabled non-LaRouchians who copied the tactic to avoid the “K” word or the “N” word and help to spread hate without unduly embarrassing themselves.
For almost a decade bridging the 1970s and 80s, Kissinger was the LaRouchians’ prime target. The full story is told in Chapter 17 (“Get Kissinger!”) of Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism.
A symbolic evil hate figure doesn’t have to be famous at the outset. The LaRouchians can take anyone and make them notorious if they really work at it for an extended period. During the Bush II years, when Jewish neoconservatives had positions of influence in the administration, LaRouche and his followers focussed on the late Leo Strauss, a philosopher at the University of Chicago. He became their symbolic evil academic Jew who supposedly had organized a conspiracy to take over the country. The people on the list of his cabal members were mostly neoconservatives with Jewish names–the “Straussians.” If neoconservative is a code word for what some traditional conservatives regard as Jewish pseudo-conservatives, then “Straussian” was and is intended, by LaRouche and his followers to be an especially virulent and dangerous brand of neoconservative. And Strauss therefore (even though in reality he wasn’t a conservative at all) was presented as the Satan of the neocon cabal; indeed, the LaRouchians circulated on a massive scale pamphlets about the Straussians calling them the “children of Satan”–a clearly anti-Semitic term. Meanwhile the misleading and even delusional description of Strauss’s philosophical stance set forth in LaRouchian publications obtained far more coverage of an uncritical nature than it should have.
Here is what LaRouche wrote in 2004 about his Symbolic Evil Jewish Philosopher:
Was that behavior of Professor Leo Strauss, to which I referred above, actually human, or a product of some kind of ‘reversed cultural evolution,’ into becoming something less than human?
Who, then, is really human? Should we not recognize that Professor Strauss, Allan Bloom, and their Rumsfeld-Cheney-linked Chicken-hawk followers were, and are collectively insane: human beings who…have reverted to forms of human behavior which are essentially unnatural, forming, in effect, a type of pseudo-human species? They have become equivalent to a species whose very existence is morally, and functionally worse than that of naturally determined lower forms of life. [Emphases added.]
Billionaire and human-rights philanthropist George Soros first became an obsessive target for LaRouche and his followers in 1996, in part because his public stance for drug legalization as an alternative to a clearly failing war on drugs made him controversial (if not as controversial as Kissinger had been). EIR published “The Secret Financial Network behind ‘Wizard’ George Soros,” a relentlessly anti-Semitic screed excerpted from a much larger EIR special report on Soros. The article accused Soros of giant currency and commodities swindles and of involvement in the international narcotics traffic through an offshore hedge fund, as well as of funding efforts to popularize the idea of drug legalization. And the article also leveled at him the “cosmopolitan” canard:
Soros is American only in his passport. He is a global financial operator, who happens to be in New York, simply because “that’s where the money is,” as the bank robber Willy Sutton once quipped…
EIR gave Soros a starring role in LaRouche’s conspiracy drama, depicting him as a wily and trusted operative of the globalist oligarchy centered in London. Soros, EIR proclaimed, is a “golem” for the Rothschilds. And to make sure readers wouldn’t think this was just about a single Jewish family, letting others off the hook:
George Soros is part of a tightly knit financial mafia–mafia in the sense of a closed masonic-like fraternity of families pursuing common aims. Anyone who dares to criticize Soros or any of his associates, is immediately hit with the charge of being “anti-Semitic…”
EIR began to spread their accusations about Soros around the world, with the propaganda attacks coming one after the other relentlessly. The Wall Street Journal and Italy’s Corriere della Sera, noticed the following year how Malaysia’s Prime Minister and strongman, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, was repeating LaRouche’s allegations about Soros. (Mahathir had developed a quite friendly relationship with the LaRouchians that resulted in him consenting to wide-ranging interviews with EIR while still in office and afterwards.)
Soros, a U.S. citizen, was born in Hungary and survived the 1944-45 Nazi occupation of Hungary by going into hiding at age 14. In 1984 he set up the Soros Foundation to promote human rights in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. After the fall of communism, he founded the Open Society Institute (now the Open Society Foundations) to aid the transition to democracy. The LaRouchians’ view of his efforts is expressed in “The Secret Financial Network” (in the section “Soros savages eastern Europe”) and another 1996 EIR article, “George Soros’s Cultural Offensive against Russia,” which appear to have been aimed at deepening the LaRouche org’s ties with Russian “nationalist” circles (see Section 1).
LaRouche was quite frank about his anti-Semitic attitude towards Soros in a 1998 speech entitled “How the top one percent of American citizens think”:
So, a British agent by the name of George Soros, a man of very unpleasant antecedents, in terms of his personal history and practices, together with a few other hedge funds, all centered around London, but largely operating on the basis of drug-money laundering…targeted Myanmar, and Thailand, and, also, Malaysia….
So, this entire region of the world is about to blow up, for no good reason: because we allowed a bunch of speculators, thieves like George Soros, with the blessings of our Secretary of State [LaRouche is referring to Madeleine Albright who, like Soros, is from a World War Two Jewish family that escaped the Holocaust–DK], who, between dances, does some other terrible things, other exhibitions. When she goes to Israel, she dances the Hora. It’s called a ‘Hora show.’ So, they got this Soros going…. [emphasis added].
Author Michael Wolraich wrote on what happened to the Soros meme after George W. Bush took office:
LaRouche’s audience is small, and most Americans paid little attention to George Soros. In 2003, everything changed. Infuriated by the policies of George W. Bush, Soros sent his philanthropy homeward, donating $23 million to political action groups during the 2004 election. Suddenly, George Soros became the most powerful, evil mastermind in the world.
First, the influential conservative magazine NewsMax ran a story that cribbed LaRouche’s conspiracy theories and accused Soros of secretly plotting a “regime change” in the United States. Then Fox News host Bill O’Reilly discovered that Soros’ foundation had donated to the ACLU and therefore reasoned that the billionaire and the civil liberties organization were conspiring to destroy Christmas.
When former Republican majority leader Tom DeLay ran into trouble for ethics violations, he blamed Soros for masterminding critical coverage by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, Time magazine, and Newsweek. And former speaker of the House Dennis Hastert insinuated to an incredulous Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that Soros got his money from drug operations. (Hastert did not mention Queen Elizabeth II, however.)
By the time Obama won the Democratic primaries in 2008, Soros was sufficiently demonized on the Right, and his influence sufficiently exaggerated, that the LaRouchians could regard it as useful to depict him as the Jew assigned by the Rothschilds to be in direct control of a U.S. President. They published in June (the same month that Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign), a special report from LaRouche PAC entitled Your Enemy, George Soros.
LaRouche states in the Introduction:
George Soros is not a top-ranking financier, he is like the mafia thug , without a real conscience, like a thug sent to kill a friend of yours, but only a hit-man for the really big financial interests, hired out to rob your friends, and you, of about everything, including their nation, and your personal freedom.
George Soros does not actually own Senator Barack Obama; some other people do; but, Soros is a key controller, and seemingly the virtual owner of both Democratic Party Chairman Howard “Scream” Dean, that Party, perhaps your political party, and, in fact, your nation, which are both what political-economic hit-man George Soros is aiming to destroy.
In 2010, the LaRouchians published a new edition of the widely read anti-Semitic screed Dope, Inc. According to an EIR article by LaRouche intelligence adviser and security chief Jeff Steinberg, the book had been updated to “highlight the role of London’s own George Soros.” And he makes an odd prediction of the collapse of the “Inter-Alpha Group-centered global financial system of the current British Empire,”which he say is controlled by the Rothschilds and “thrives on the dope revenues, as vampires thrive on human blood.”
Steinberg’s Rothschild-controlled dope-pushing Inter-Alpha is apparently a hollow fabrication. Certainly all the Google links to Inter-Alpha that depict it as anything more than a consultative group between several major EU banks are to LaRouche publications and to various conspiracists who thrive on LaRouchian reports; for instance, the New Age loon David Icke, who claims that the Jews are lizard people from outer space.
Steinberg continues with his absurd description:
The Inter-Alpha Group, since its founding in 1971, as a European-wide banking cartel run by the circles of Lord Jacob Rothschild, has been at the very center of the British monarchy’s City of London and offshore monetarist empire. At their recent peak, Inter-Alpha controlled 70% of the world’s banking assets. The trillions of dollars per year in dope money and other criminal funds, that fuel the current British Opium War against the world, constitute a vital part of that offshore system.
The important thing here is not the reality of international finance but what Steinberg claims is the reality. And what he claims in effect demolishes his org’s long-standing insistence that when they talk about a global “British” conspiracy they are not really attacking the Jews (in spite of the omnipresence of Jewish villains in their writings on the topic), but just, um, the British.
Here you have it: not a scenario in which the Hofjuden are the mere servants of the British monarchy, but a clear assertion by Steinberg that the Rothschilds–and, presumably, “the closed masonic-like fraternity of families” referred to in the 1996 Soros dossier–control the whole kit and caboodle. In other words, they are the “British” in LaRouche’s dog whistle language, just as in the image in LaRouche’s New Solidarity in 1978 of a Star of David with Queen Elizabeth at the top flanked by two Svengalis: Henry Kissinger and economist Milton Friedman.
By late 2010, the propaganda campaign against Soros had managed to gain the attention of Fox News’s talk show host and conspiracy maven Glenn Beck, who coincidentally had begin to allude to dark “British” forces. In a two-evening show, he alleged that Soros was a menace to America. For the first time, the scare tactics against Soros were being taken to millions of viewers. As Wolraich described it:
He told his audience that Soros has a five-step plan:
1. Create a “shadow government” under the guise of humanitarian aid.
2. Take control of the media.
3. Destabilize the state by building anti-government sentiment. (Yes, Beck attacked his opponent for building anti-government sentiment.)
4. Subvert the American electoral system.
5. Take over the world, of course.
Michelle Goldberg wrote in the Daily Beast regarding Beck’s Fox News performance:
If you know [the history of anti-Semitism], you’ll understand why Glenn Beck’s two-part “exposé” on George Soros, whom Beck calls “The Puppet Master,” was so shocking, even by Beck’s degraded standards. The program…was a symphony of anti-Semitic dog-whistles. Nothing like it has ever been on American television before.
When the Trump campaign chose to highlight George Soros in their final TV ad before the election they were buying into a profoundly anti-Semitic meme, whether they got it directly from the LaRouchians or from David Duke (see Section 3.11) or some other intermediary sources on the Alt Right.
That the use of this meme may have had a significant impact on voters is suggested by a curious finding in a January 2017 PPP poll which asked Trump supporters if they believed that most of the women who participated in the nationwide marches against Trump the day after his inauguration were paid by George Soros to do so. Thirty-eight percent said yes.
13. Claiming that one has been or will be a victim of vote fraud and rigged elections.
Trump claimed that international financiers and the Democrats, in collusion with the media, were plotting to “fix” the election; he thus refused to say that he would accept the results (if he were to lose). He also made statements suggesting that his followers should get ready to protest the “rigged” results. After the election, when it became clear that Clinton had won the popular vote by a substantial margin (while Trump, as of Nov. 30, had won on electoral votes 306 to 232), Trump’s ego could not accept the reality of the popular vote deficit even though Clinton had conceded the election without delay. He tweeted on Nov. 27: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He offered no evidence for his charge of massive vote fraud (and of course his reference to a “landslide” victory was untrue on the face of it). As Clinton’s popular vote margin was well over 2 million at that point (it would be almost 2.9 million by the time the final vote from all 50 states and D.C. were certified), it appeared that the only way Trump could sustain his charge of illegal voting would be by stating that voting against Trump is inherently illegal (which he may very well believe in his delusional inner life). Indeed on the Monday after his inauguration, Trump returned to this obsession in a meeting with congressional leaders, claiming that he had actually won the popular vote by three to five million legal votes but had been deprived of victory only because five to six million ineligible immigrants had voted unlawfully for Clinton. Why so many immigrants would be willing to risk jail and certain deportation if caught committing such a crime was not explained by our new President, who presented no evidence for his claim. (He apparently took it–as he did his claims of vote fraud shortly after the election–from InfoWars, the website of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who is a strong supporter of Trump, frequently hosts informal Trump adviser Roger Stone on InfoWars, and is a longtime admirer of some of LaRouche’s ideas.
LaRouche ran for President eight times, first in 1976 on the line of the now defunct U.S. Labor Party and seven times in the Democratic primaries. In 1992, when he was in federal prison, he not only ran in the Democratic primaries but also won ballot status as an independent in 11 states. Generally his response to disappointing vote totals was to claim he’d been victimized by a conspiracy of the Democratic Party leadership, the media and the international financial “oligarchy” (roughly the same thing as Trump’s “globalists”) to steal his votes and personally discredit him. In a March 4, 1980 EIR article and then in a May 11-17, 1980 EIR special section, the LaRouchians attempted to put the spin on the fact that their man received only 2.2 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire Democratic primary after they spent very large amounts of money and saturated the state with leaflets and pamphlets. These articles and others from LaRouche publications during that period, seem remarkably similar to what Trump would tell his audiences in the weeks prior to election day 2016. Of course Trump has a certain genius for condensing into a few colorful phrases, or a tweet, what the LaRouchians had spent page after page of dense verbiage to elaborate 36 years ago. Still, the headlines and key phrases in EIR in March 1980 closely resemble Trump’s tweets and his quips at his rallies: “Fraud in New Hampshire”…”the crookedest election on record”…”the ‘fix’ began with the national media”…”the wholesale defrauding of LaRouche”…”one of the dirtiest elections in U.S. history”…”Washington’s involvement in the anti-LaRouche conspiracy…” and “the combined election-rigging and vote-fraud against [LaRouche].”
The LaRouchians also showed concern over the Trilateral Commission’s role in the 1980 elections. At that time, the Trilateral Commission was a frequent target of conspiracists who reviled it as a combination of globalists and Eastern Ivy League Republican establishment types. Thus, the 1980 EIR article “Will Trilateralists be able to stop Ronald Reagan?”–which targeted Reagan’s chief rival in the primaries, George H.W. Bush–is roughly the equivalent of a hypothetical 2016 Alt Right headline asking “Will Globalists be able to stop Donald Trump?” or “Will the Republican establishment be able to stop Donald Trump?”
Essentially, the LaRouchians claimed in 1980 that 16,000 votes “at a minimum” had been “stolen” from their candidate and assigned to Sen. Ted Kennedy, who received 36 percent of the vote. They demanded a state-wide recount and filed what they described as “criminal complaints” against election officials and politicians in two towns, while vowing a “wave of litigation.” But their evidence in EIR was nothing but anecdotal statements by members of LaRouche’s cult and vague descriptions of phone canvassing by cult members who had no experience in polling methods but were prepared to say whatever they were told to say.
As “proof” that LaRouche’s votes had been stolen by Senator Kennedy, EIR offered a claim that the LaRouche campaign had helped Reagan defeat Bush in New Hampshire through its successful efforts to link Bush to the Trilateral Commission (with such vast influence–they argued–how could they only get 2.2 percent of the vote?) and had saturated the state with campaign workers and campaign literature, giving LaRouche wide name recognition.
These arguments were as delusional as anything Trump has said about vote rigging and vote fraud. First, LaRouche was not running in the Republican primary, but in the primary of the other party, thus rendering his influence on the Republican primary, such as it was, irrelevant or indeed a negative factor, since all his followers’ efforts to help Reagan detracted from any efforts to attract Democratic voters to LaRouche.
Second, they behaved in such an obnoxious manner on the streets and on the phones, and displayed such a hostile and litigious attitude in general, that they probably created far more enemies than friends. It sure didn’t help when they marched into the offices of the Manchester Union Leader to threaten violence against a reporter who was preparing an article critical of LaRouche (or when the reporter’s two cats were killed, apparently as a further warning).
Third, as ex-LaRouchians have described, LaRouche himself was too timid to campaign aggressively.
Fourth, the LaRouchians totally ignored the huge name recognition of Ted Kennedy, the mystique of the Kennedy name in general, the widespread popularity of Ted Kennedy among Democrats, and the fact that he was the most important Democratic elected official in Massachusetts, which shares a large media market with southern New Hampshire. These considerations along were enough to get him 36 percent of the vote. Indeed, Kennedy’s vote percentage for all primaries that year, in none of which the LaRouchians made an effort comparable to their one in New Hampshire, was 37.6 percent.
Over the following years, other versions of the conspiracy theory they’d used in New Hampshire– involving allegations of media hostility, wealthy Jewish puppeteers, etc.–served to keep LaRouche’s followers from questioning his lack of success. Just as Trump could not accept that he was underperforming in certain 2016 polls because of his foolish tweets and other misbehavior, or that he had lost the popular vote in the general election, LaRouche could not accept the low vote totals he received in the three Presidential primaries of the 1980s because those totals did not support his fantasy about being a revered world figure. Ironically, LaRouche ignored or downplayed the significant vote percentages that some of the Democratic primary candidates of his “National Democratic Policy Committee” were getting in Congressional and state legislative races. It was as if he was jealous of them.
The media ceased to follow the machinations of the LaRouchians once their leader went to prison. No one in the media paid any attention in 1996 when LaRouche (out of prison for only two years) received 596,422 votes in the primaries against Bill Clinton. Although this was only 5.5 percent of the vote, surely it was a sign, even in the “good” times of the 1990s, that something was brewing in the Democratic party base–almost 600,000 people voted for a notorious convicted felon who was only on the ballot in less than half the states but was strongly opposed to the party establishment’s direction.
I recognize that a lot of LaRouche’s votes were probably just a knee-jerk expression of opposition to the party’s status quo–but so was a lot of the Trump vote in the 2016 Republican primaries. In the 1996 primaries, for example, LaRouche received 8.16 percent in Ohio (63,377 votes), 7.95 percent in Pennsylvania (57,583), 7.15 percent in North Carolina (40,936 votes), 6.89 percent in California (173,953 votes) and 13.47 percent in West Virginia (40,034 votes). Then in 2000, running against Gore in the primaries, LaRouche received, e.g., 4.53 percent in Pennsylvania (32,047 votes), 21.53 percent in Arkansas (53,150 votes) and 29.42 percent in Michigan (13,195 votes against “Uncommitted”). None of this showed strong support for LaRouche personally, but it did suggest he was being used as a way station for people moving towards the Republicans or as an outlet for protest by people angry at the status quo in general.
If someone had asked the right questions about this, especially in Ohio and Pennsylvania and in southern states where the Democrats still had substantial loyal white support, maybe the party would have started thinking about the need to reconnect with, or maintain the loyalty of, the most disaffected and vulnerable part of its traditional base, thus preventing the trickle from becoming a flood in later years.
14. At war with the media and their news sources.
Trump loved the free publicity that the media gave him throughout the campaign, but from the beginning he also bashed them as liars. Whenever they focussed on his business record and his extremism, he would raise the specter of a giant liberal-media/international financier conspiracy, thus keeping his followers’ attention directed away from the contents of what the media was revealing.
He vowed to initiate libel suits against the New York Times and other publications for reporting the stories of women who had come forward with claims that he had groped them or otherwise sexually harassed or abused them. His campaign hinted that “politically motivated accusers,” as well as Times reporters and editors, “better lawyer up.” The Huffington Post speculated that this extension of his threat “to individual women, putting them at risk for costly legal bills, may make new accusers hesitate before coming forward.” The tactic probably worked: MSNBC reported indications that “many, many more” women didn’t come forward, because they were fearful of being sued.
Trump also made clear through his tweets and the actions of his campaign staff and surrogates that those thinking of making complaints could expect public humiliation. The Times reported on Oct. 15:
Even as two more women came forward on Friday to say he had groped them, Mr. Trump dismissed the mounting allegations as “total fiction” and “lies, lies, lies.” He assailed the motives of the women speaking out against him, and seemed to mock two of them as not attractive enough to draw his interest.
It was the classic tactic used by defense attorneys in rape cases, hoping to get the woman to withdraw her charges or to stop cooperating with prosecutors.
Trump and his staff had already slimed Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe from Venezuela who had come forward in September with information about how Trump, who ran the contests, had demeaned her in 1996 by calling her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping,” among other things. Trump struck back with tweets calling her “a con,” “disgusting,” etc. and saying the public should “check out [her] sex tape and past.” His campaign then generated a bewildering array of accusations against her that were eagerly spread by the Alt-Right, including the LaRouche admirer Alex Jones.
Asawin Suebsaeng reported in the Daily Beast (Sept. 28):
Infowars, the conspiracy-theory-mongering website run by the Trump-supporting radio host Alex Jones, declared Machado a “PORN STAR” who did “anal porn scenes for cash,” and was also “reportedly the incubus for the child of a notorious Mexican drug kingpin.”
Other right-wing sites, including The Daily Caller, ran with the porn-star rumors. Outlets such as far right birther website WorldNetDaily and Fox News regurgitated the death-threat allegation and the murder-conspiracy angle. Tuesday evening on CNN, Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes knocked Machado for appearing in Playboy magazine. And Breitbart—Trump’s staunchest media ally and defender, and whose honcho is currently the “CEO” of the Trump campaign—went all-in with the cartel “lovechild” accusation.
Conservative talk-radio icon Rush Limbaugh boldly dubbed her the “porn-star Miss Piggy.”
Most of this material turned out to be either fabricated or without any proof, although Machado had posed for Playboy. Machado correctly pointed out that the rumors were being spread “with the purpose of humiliating me,” and she continued speaking out. But Trump’s tweets and some of the Alt-Right rumors made it into the mainstream media. Although reported there with the intent of showing how nasty and misogynistic Trump can be, it inevitably sent the message that Trump is a take-no-prisoners fighter–and that any more women coming forward could expect extremely aggressive questioning in court by his attorneys.
In other words, those speaking out might not only face the financial costs of defending themselves in a libel action but also the psychol0gical, reputational and career costs of being publicly trashed by a nearly untouchable billionaire. (In the upshot, the women who did come forward now have to deal with the fact that Trump’s macho counterattacks helped to encourage millions of white male misogynists to march to the polls to vote for their idol–the tough tycoon who was standing up for them against the symbolic evil b**** Clinton and all women who fail to settle into traditional roles and keep quiet about abuse.)
Similar considerations, rooted in Trump’s long record of aggressive litigation, may also have inhibited potential sources from talking to the media about Trump’s sleazy business dealings and his mistreatment of employees, consultants and contractors. Here the revelations of Trump’s history with organized crime and his current connections to verbally unrestrained and potentially violent white supremacists could also have worked to keep people silent.
Certainly Trump attempted to use his reputation for litigiousness, which dated back decades, to dampen media criticism of any aspect of his personal, business or political life. Trevor Timm wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review, Oct. 3:
After the Times’ huge scoop detailing how he took an almost billion-dollar loss on his 1995 taxes, Trump’s lawyer threatened “prompt initiation of appropriate legal action” against the Times once more. By my count, it is at least the 11th time Trump has threatened to sue a news organization or journalist during his campaign for president.
I had intended to quantify how many journalists or news commentators Trump has threatened to sue over his lifetime, but that quickly turned into a fool’s errand. A simple Google search of “Trump threatens to sue” will return an overwhelming number of stories. In the past decade alone, he’s sued a former Times journalist who wrote a book about him that he later admitted he didn’t even read; he’s threatened to sue former View host Rosie O’Donnell for allegations that have been shown over and over again during this campaign to be correct; he’s sued HBO’s Bill Maher over a joke bet that involved proving he was not, in fact, born an orangutan.
He threatened to sue a journalist at the Village Voice as far back as 1979, and he actually sued a newspaper as early as 1984: the Chicago Tribune, for calling building plans of his “aesthetically lousy.” My personal favorite was his threat to sue The Onion, the popular satirical news site.
This is a small sampling of the times in his career Trump has threatened to sue or actually sued journalists or news commentators, so I am limiting my count to news organizations or journalists he himself has threatened to sue based on stories they’ve written about him, or surrogates that have done so on his behalf during this campaign.
Over the years Trump has also used intimidation tactics against journalists that go beyond lawsuits. The late Wayne Barrett recalled an incident that occurred while he was doing research for Trump: The Deals and the Downfall (1992):
While I was reporting that book in 1990, I was muscled out of Trump Castle and handcuffed overnight to a wall at the Atlantic City jail. I haven’t done much reporting about him since the book, but when his numbers shot to the top in recent presidential polls, I took another look and asked his office for an interview. His response was a letter threatening a libel suit.
In a late October interview with a Miami TV station, Trump stated–and not for the first time–that he wants to change U.S. libel law to resemble that of Britain, thus making it easier for U.S. public figures to sue the media. Although his description of British libel law was muddled, Britain does allow for suing over a mistake in a news article without having to prove “malice.” Introducing that change would cause, within the U.S. context, a vast weakening of investigative journalism. In a country where all three branches of our system of checks and balances are now or soon will be under the control of a single party, the removal of this additional check would bring closer the specter of authoritarian rule by our new President– and Putin fan–who seems to be oblivious to the normal restraints of a democratic society.
Trump’s hostility to the press took a darkly bizarre form at his rallies. Time magazine reported in February 2016:
Unlike other presidential campaigns, which generally allow reporters and photographers to move around at events, Trump has a strict policy requiring reporters and cameramen to stay inside a gated area, which the candidate often singles out for ridicule during his speeches.
The situation at the rallies got worse during the final weeks of the campaign as Trump kept emphasizing a vast media conspiracy to foist “Crooked Hillary” on the American people. The Washington Post reported on Oct. 14:
Reporters who cover Trump on the campaign trail say his supporters have become more surly and abusive in the past week, egged on by a candidate who has made demonizing journalists part of his stump speech.
Trump’s traveling press contingent of about 20 has been met with boos, shouts and obscenities as it entered — as a single group — the venues where Trump has spoken this week. One reporter who is part of the traveling group described it as “a mob mentality,” particularly at larger rally sites.
“We’ve been on the receiving end of that throughout the election, so we’ve largely become numb to it,” he said. “But in the last few days it’s just been so much louder, so much angrier. The people who are shouting look at us like we’re their immediate enemies….”
At Trump’s rally in Cincinnati on Thursday, the crowd chanted, “Tell the truth!” as reporters trooped into the designated pen that the campaign has long used to corral reporters. Another recurring chant this week: “CNN sucks!”
Some 15,000 Trump supporters showered the small group with prolonged boos and heckling during the Cincinnati rally. Several people approached the press barrier to yell directly at the group and to make obscene gestures, “which has made a lot of people uncomfortable,” according to one journalist.
Reporters are now concealing or removing their press credentials when leaving the pen to avoid confrontations with Trump’s supporters. The atmosphere is particularly threatening to female reporters and to female TV reporters whose faces are well known, reporters say. (“The camera draws the hate,” as one put it.) Some reporters have wondered aloud about the need for more security, or at least more barriers to separate them from the crowd as they enter and exit Trump’s events….
Several journalists attributed the increasingly chilly climate to Trump’s stepped-up criticism of the media.
BuzzFeed political reporter McKay Coppins said Republican candidates have long been skeptical of the news media, and “some of their criticism has merit.” But, he added, “what Trump’s doing seems different. He’s trying to convince his followers that reporters are not just unfair or incompetent, but part of some kind of sinister global conspiracy. I covered the Romney campaign in 2012, and we heard plenty of gripes about press bias, but we weren’t walking into arenas with thousands of people angrily booing and heckling us while we worked.”
Pro-Trump social media took the hate to a far more intense level, in a rhetorical sense, when journalist Julia Ioffe wrote a less than adulatory profile of Melania Trump for GQ. The Guardian reported that Ioffe, who is Jewish,
received a torrent of antisemitic, vitriolic and threatening messages from supporters of the Republican frontrunner.
In the deeply disturbing response to her piece, Ioffe said she sees a frightening future of what freedom of the press – and the country – might look like under President Trump.
“What happens if Donald Trump is elected?” Ioffe said. “We’ve seen the way he bids his supporters to attack the media, his proposal to change libel laws to make it easier to sue journalists.”….
“This [the profile of Melania Trump] is not a heavily critical article. There is nothing in it that is untrue,” Ioffe said. “If this is how Trump supporters swing into action what happens when the press looks into corrupt dealings, for example, or is critical of his policies?”
Trump’s intimidation tactics, including his multiple threats as a candidate to file libel suits, his encouragement of aggressive anti-media behavior at his rallies, his insistence that members of the media stay in the designated press pen so he could all the more easily make them targets for scapegoating, his personal vitriol against (and his unwillingness to reign in the vitriol of his Alt-Right surrogates against) both the media and its sources (including individuals claiming to have special knowledge of his character and behavior)…all these tactics represent something that has not been seen in the playbook of any other major party nominee in our time.
The tactics towards the press are part and parcel of Trump’s unprecedented refusal to release his tax returns, his equally unprecedented threat to indict Hillary Clinton if he won (he has now backed off the indictment threat, at least temporarily), his unseemly victory rallies where the crowds still appeared to be out for blood, his continued use of tweets to ramp up the temperature on the Alt Right, his legitimizing of white “nationalism” and fake-news conspiracism through appointing the likes of Steve Bannon and Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn to his inner circle, and his presumptuous attempts to take over foreign policy while Obama was still in office and, under the U.S. Constitution, still our President.
LaRouche identified the mainstream U.S. media as his enemy as early as the 1970s. He threatened to sue and sometimes did sue over unfavorable coverage of his anti-Semitism, his demagogic Presidential campaigns, and his antics as a cult leader. LaRouche filed a suit against the New York Times and others in 1979 for articles that he believed were part of a plot to undermine his 1980 bid in the Democratic primaries. The judge dismissed the case against the Times, but LaRouche continued it against the Manhattan weekly Our Town only to drop it rather than answer questions under oath about Nazi style rhetoric he had used. In 1984, again while running for President, he filed suit against NBC Broadcasting, the Anti-Defamation League and assorted journalists. The case went to trial that year, and LaRouche suffered a humiliating defeat when the jury concluded, among other things, that he had not been libeled when an Anti-Defamation League official characterized him, on NBC’s First Camera, as a “small-time Hitler.”
LaRouche and his followers also went after journalists with death threats and dirty tricks. In one of many instances of harassment, a 22-year-old researcher for NBC-TV’s Chicago affiliate who was working on a LaRouche story found that leaflets had appeared on car windshields on the block where she lived with her parents; the leaflets said she was a prostitute and gave her parents’ phone number.
The libel suits and harassment, in spite of their ultimate failure, served a purpose up through the mid-1980s by suppressing media criticism of LaRouche to a significant extent. After the libel case against the Times was dismissed, the Times became exceptionally cautious in its remarks about the LaRouche org’s sinister and rather effective involvement in New York City politics, and failed to press for prosecution after LaRouche followers published a bogus Times supplement and brazenly inserted it in the Sunday Times at newstands. Because of the libel suit against NBC, a large percentage of NBC’s affiliated stations refused to carry First Camera’s segment on LaRouche out of fear of being added to the list of libel defendants. A desire to avoid nasty forms of harassment may also have been an important factor in the decisions of some of these stations.
Further, as a journalist who for years interacted with ex-LaRouchians, I observed how LaRouche’s litigiousness had a suppressive effect on the willingness of individuals who left the his organization to speak out. Most who spoke to the press would decline to let their names be published, although the reasons for this were complex and included factors other than fear of LaRouche (e.g., a desire to avoid public embarrassment and/or lingering loyalty to the group’s ideas if not to LaRouche personally). LaRouche kept up the pressure on ex-members by, from time to time, accusing one of them of being a snitch for the media or the ADL, just to remind the rest of them that he’d add them also to his list of active enemies if they didn’t keep their mouths shut. Some of them were in a state of trauma after leaving the cult and were extremely concerned about the possibility of harassment or a libel suit. (Anyone who doubts the effectiveness of such tactics should simply look at the history of the Church of Scientology.)
Even when choosing not to sue, LaRouche would claim that the publishers, editors and journalists who’d criticized him were acting as agents of an evil international oligarchy. (Trump would suggest something quite similar in 2016, although he used less vehement language.) A good example is the LaRouche org’s reaction to being hit by successive waves of negative coverage in the U.K. media regarding the mysterious death in 2003 of Jeremiah Duggan, a young Jew from London, while attending a LaRouchian training program in Germany. LaRouche and his followers blamed the media “slanders” on a conspiracy involving Tony Blair, Queen Elizabeth, and various other powerful people who supposedly regarded LaRouche as such a gigantic threat that they were working night and day to stop him. Articles on LaRouche’s websites labelled the parents of the young man, who were desperate to find out what really happened to him, as pawns of the supposed LaRouche-haters in high places, ignoring the fact that the British government was doing nothing at that point to help the parents.
The conspiracy mongering diverted LaRouche’s followers from thinking about the possibility that the org had been responsible for Duggan’s death. Again, LaRouche’s tactic was similar to that used by Trump in handling news accounts about his unsavory past and present. Trum would everything on media lies orchestrated by a vast conspiracy, thus keeping his fans single-mindedly focused on stopping “Crooked Hillary” and “making America great again” (in LaRouche’s case, it was stopping the “satanic” George Soros and the unspeakably evil “oligarchy” and saving the world from an impending nuclear war and a new Dark Age).
15. Inability to apologize.
One of Trump‘s basic rules in his new career as a politician is to never apologize in a serious manner for anything hateful or deranged he’s said, just as he’s never apologized to any of the victims hurt by his multiple bankruptcies and his Trump University scam. (Such obstinacy should be seen as separate and apart from his willingness to make or pretend to make adjustments to his policy proposals, which he has done on several occasions.)
Also, Trump has shown an ability to concocts excuses for his behavior that are clever in a childlike way, as when he said his success in avoiding paying taxes is proof of what a smart businessman he is and (by implication) what a smart president he would be.
A month before the election, an audio and video recording from 2005 surfaced in which Trump bragged about his mistreatment of women in graphic language, and he was forced to give a pretense of an apology. He described his remarks on the tape as having been wrong, but immediately veered into an attack on Bill and Hillary Clinton, saying they’d both done much worse–and he also dismissed the recording as a mere “distraction” from more important issues. As more and more women came forward to corroborate that his remarks on the tape had not just been empty talk, Trump called them “liars” and suggested that some were too ugly to have attracted his interest. Earlier (Sept. 30), after former Miss Universe Alicia Machado accused him of systematically demeaning her, he sent a 5:30 AM tweet calling her “disgusting” and asking if “Crooked Hillary” had helped her become a U.S. citizen in return for her supposed lies.
Trump may find it psychologically impossible to acknowledge to himself that he’s made a mistake, even after he’s had to make a show of backing off. Richard Cohen in the Daily News (Sept. 20, 2016) speculated on this after Trump’s grudging acknowledgment that President Obama was born in the United States, which Trump framed within an imaginary scenario in which Hillary Clinton had started the lie during the 2008 campaign and that he himself had actually done Obama a favor by persuading him to produce his birth certificate and thus put Hillary’s lie to rest. Cohen wrote:
It was not, as far as he’s concerned, a lie. It was a strongly felt truth that he abandoned only last week and then only under intense pressure–not out of conviction. To Trump, the lie was not what he had been saying about Obama’s birthplace, it was the one he had told when he finally was compelled to say Obama was born in the U.S.A. The reason he did not apologize for having so long insisted otherwise is that an apology would have crossed his personal red line. Like a child, his fingers were crossed.
LaRouche never publicly apologizes for anything or admits a mistake. A poorly educated man, he has made vast numbers of egregious errors of fact in his published writings and speeches; but if he has ever corrected an error he has done it surreptitiously and without reference to his initial mistake. Most of his followers do not dare to openly criticize him–or express ideas different from his–knowing they will be demoted or otherwise punished (e.g., by an “ego stripping” session).
In 2007 LaRouche told one his aides, who was writing a daily briefing to be sent to members worldwide, that a longtime Jewish member of the org, Kenneth L. Kronberg, who ran the printing business that produced most of the org’s literature, was a worthless person who might as well commit suicide. LaRouche said this in full knowledge that Kronberg was facing bankruptcy and serious legal difficulties as a result of LaRouche’s refusal to pay the org’s bills. Within hours of reading the briefing, Kronberg drove to a highway overpass where he jumped to his death. LaRouche not only refused to acknowledge his own complicity, he called Kronberg’s suicide an act of betrayal of the org. When Kronberg’s wife then criticized LaRouche, he denounced her as a traitor and a “witch”–and started telling members that she was the real cause of her husband’s suicide. He issued a statement dripping with anti-Semitism in which he referred to her husband as a “Judas” who had proven himself to be less than human. LaRouche expressed no regret whatsoever about his own cruel trigger-remarks.
Likewise, LaRouche has never acknowledged any error in his organization’s dealings with Latin American death squads and its attempts to whip up violence against indigenous peoples in Guatemala, Mexico’s state of Chiapas, and elsewhere. Nor has he expressed the slightest regret over his org’s 10-year intensive campaign of hate and vilification in Sweden against Olof Palme, which ended only with Palme’s 1986 assassination. LaRouche has constructed his cult above a giant memory sewer–any outrageous deeds are dropped into it and the cover slammed shut.
16. Blaming one’s real or anticipated electoral setbacks on a giant and implicitly Jewish conspiracy.
To avoid acknowledging mistakes, and to prepare his followers for the ongoing battle if he should lose the election, Trump alleged in a mid-October speech in West Palm Beach, FL that an international conspiracy was responsible for his campaign woes. It was, he said, the fault of the “global power structure” in which the “Clinton machine” supposedly was playing a central role: “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends, and her donors.” The speech drew an immediate response from the ADL and media commentators, who suggested that Trump was trafficking in anti-Semitic conspiracy memes in a sly way. Trump then followed up with an incendiary conspiracist ad less than a week before the election, focussing on Jewish names and on the symbolically evil Soros (who had once been Trump’s friend, as the Clintons had been).
LaRouche has incessantly used this same tactic over the years. Whenever he has a setback, whenever a President does something he doesn’t like, whenever the media criticizes him, it’s all because of the hidden hand of a giant conspiracy featuring people with Jewish surnames. During the 1980 Presidential campaign, the LaRouchians published numerous articles that in some respects strongly resemble what Donald Trump has been saying, although elaborated in much greater detail than Trump’s attention span could possibly muster. One article claimed that Sir Keith Joseph, an economics adviser to U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, had played a major role in the vote fraud (see Section 13) that the LaRouchians alleged was responsible for their candidate receiving only 2.2 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary. The article presented no hard evidence for this, but Joseph was Jewish–and not only Jewish but a British Jew. That apparently was enough for explaining away LaRouche’s failure, but Joseph was too obscure to be useful otherwise as a symbol of the Jews. LaRouche focussed most of his attacks for several years on the mega-famous and highly controversial Henry Kissinger, and then played a crucial role in the international demonizing of George Soros in the 1990s, which his organization has continued to the present (with Alex Jones, David Duke and other Alt Right figures piling on), thus making it almost inevitable that Soros would become a target for the Trump campaign.
This blame-a-Jew tactic not only helps LaRouche to evade any responsibility for his own mistakes; it also boosts his sense of self-importance, and his importance in the eyes of his followers, by depicting him as such a pivotal figure–and such an existential threat–that the supposedly most powerful elite in the world is working night and day to foil his attacks on them. His continued relative obscurity and powerlessness is thus transmuted into proof of his greatness.
It must be admitted that this is a depth of narcissistic nuttiness to which Trump has never descended–and doesn’t need to descend, being right now, indisputably, the most famous and powerful narcissist on this planet.
17. “Free association” as a form of political rhetoric.
Trump expressed during the campaign whatever came into his mind at his mass rallies, in early morning tweets and even in media interviews. This was seen in his “why not” moment with Chris Matthews when, asked if he would punish women for having abortions, he thought for a brief moment (a too-brief moment) and then blurted out, yes, there should be “some form” of punishment (the idea had probably not occurred to him until that moment and he backed off it the next day).
Trump would repeat himself over and over in his speeches, gnawing on his tropes and memes like a dog on a bone. He was prone to sending out multiple tweets about his enemies in an unrestrained fashion day after day. He constantly embarrassed himself in ways that would have doomed his campaign in a normal election cycle.
After the campaign, Trump continued this pattern, tweeting that Clinton’s large margin in the popular vote was due to massive vote fraud (of which there is not the slightest evidence), calling the evidence of Russian interference in the election completely false and/or of trivial importance, comparing the U.S. intelligence community to the Nazis because of its insistence that the Russians had tried to influence the election, and calling Meryl Streep “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” and a “Hillary flunkey” in obsessive tweets after she criticized him in her Golden Globes acceptance speech.
After his inauguration, Trump continued in the same vein, saying that CNN traffics in “fake news” [but of course his friend Alec Jones doesn’t–DK], that journalists for the mainstream U.S. media “are among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” that torture “absolutely” works, and that the U.S. “should have kept the oil” in Iraq but “maybe we’ll have another chance” (the last quote essentially paints a bull’s eye on U.S. troops fighting side by side with Iraqi troops against Isis). Yes, from President Elect Trump and now President Trump, Commander in Chief Trump–we are seeing a steady stream of unstable pronouncements ranging from the petty to the dangerous, from the undignified to the out-and-out authoritarian.
LaRouche is similarly unrestrained in his speeches–and in his writings–leveling conspiratorial charges, out of the blue and in nasty language, against today’s political leaders and also against notables who lived hundreds or even thousands of years in the past. Whether it’s Aristotle or Barack Obama, they’re all the same to LaRouche. And even in his heyday, he would fire off bitter remarks about people he believed had mistreated long ago. In his speeches and at the typewriter and later the keyboard, he would erupt with aggrieved comments about the girls in his old high school (including his two sisters); the teacher who had the temerity to challenge his exceedingly odd views on plane geometry; and a fellow college student (in the late 1940s) who supposedly treated him in a patronizing manner. He continued for decades to excoriate an economics professor who had disagreed with him in a 1971 debate at Queens College in New York; the obsession continued long after the man’s death. He was also prone to launching tirades against a former top aide who broke with him in 1980-81.
In a morning briefing of his organization circa 2008, LaRouche summed up his unrestrained style: “I’m a free spirit! I say what I think needs to be said. I don’t worry about who hears it. The more the merrier! I consider myself accountable for whatever I say. I’m pleased to be accountable for what I say. Not ashamed of anything.” (Quoted by Matthew Feldman.) This remark pretty much sums up Donald Trump’s rhetoric as well (except for the part about always holding oneself accountable, which clearly doesn’t apply to either Trump or LaRouche).
18. Unrealistic public works proposals.
Trump promised to build a giant wall along the entire Mexican border and also promised that Mexico would pay for it. After the election he began to suggest that portions of the wall would merely be a fence. In his first week as President he announced that the wall would indeed be built but it is unclear if even a Republican-dominated Congress will be willing to allocate sufficient funds for the 1,000 mile, 50 foot tall concrete structure that Trump now envisions. He says natural obstacles will take care of the other 900 miles, an evasion that vastly underestimates the determination and ingenuity of people who want to cross the border. Also he has yet to explain how the wall–interrupted in places by the natural obstacles–could be made tunnel proof or even ladder proof (certainly the worst of the natural obstacles could be dealt with by guides using ropes, implanted pitons and window-cleaning devices such as bosun’s chairs). He also hasn’t explained why the wall (which the Washington Post estimates would cost up to $25 billion) would do a better job than a vastly less expensive upgrading of electronic sensors along the border, the hiring of more border patrol staff and the use of more surveillance drones. Finally, he has not explained how Mexico could be induced to pay for the wall short of a replay of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. The entire scheme, which in fact working class and middle class taxpayers will have to pay for, is nothing but a vanity project for the ego of one man, and is based on a medieval concept of fixed defensive structures that stupidly ignores modern electronic technology.
LaRouche wants to build magnetic levitation bullet trains across Siberia to the Bering Strait, then build (on the edge of the Arctic Circle) a tunnel under the strait to Alaska and an extension of the mag-lev line down to the lower 48. Others have set forth variations of this scheme: one proposal is for a 120-mile tunnel; another is for two 25 mile bridges and a 50 mile tunnel. And then there’s the scheme for a superhighway across Siberia, under the strait, and all the way east and south to New York City. LaRouche has no convincing explanation for why any of this multi-trillion dollar stuff would be needed, given the massive trade that is already being conducted with relative ease by way of bulk carrier ships and super-sized container ships. Currently, trade between the Far East and the U.S.-Canadian west coast goes directly across the Pacific; the Bering Strait idea would add thousands of miles of unnecessary distance as well as posing engineering problems across the tundra that might be insurmountable thanks to the global warming that LaRouche, like Trump, thinks is a hoax. Furthermore, the proposal totally ignores the Third Set of Locks Project at the Panama Canal (completed in early 2016), which doubled the Canal’s capacity and allows for much larger ships. Nevertheless, I can’t say that LaRouche’s idea is any stupider than Trump’s.
19. Attempting a hostile takeover of a major political party from outside.
Trump inclined to Republican candidates on the national level ever since he was a young entrepreneur, but for decades he also had close connections with Democrats, including, for a time, the Clintons and George Soros. He ran explicitly as an outsider, expressing constantly his hostility to the party establishment and most of the party’s leaders, and sometimes attacking them in very harsh words. He rapidly accumulated a base of support among white blue-collar workers and other white men and women (many of them middle class) in Main Street America. Some were in desperate economic difficulty; others were just angry and fearful about the direction of the country under a Democratic party that appeared, along with the Republican establishment, to have abandoned them. At his rallies, Trump strove to pit them against various scapegoats: Muslims, undocumented immigrants, Hispanics, African-Americans…and feminists in the form of the Symbolic Evil Witch Hillary. He promised to send cops into the inner cities for a massive “Law and Order” crackdown on Black Lives Matter, to round up 11 million undocumented immigrants and deport them quickly, and to ban Muslims from entering the United States. (He has modified his plans on the last two points, although he appears to be on track in the first days of his Presidency to carry out a scaled down version.)
LaRouche in the early 1980s, while strongly supporting the Reagan administration, set up the National Democratic Policy Committee (a name chosen to suggest that the org was officially connected with the Democrats). Over the next few years, the NDPC would run many hundreds of candidates in Democratic primaries as well as supporting LaRouche’s Democratic Presidential primary efforts. LaRouche–like Trump today–constantly railed against the party establishment and most party leaders, often describing them in abusive language. His candidates did best in the Midwest, which was wracked by farm foreclosures and by an industrial decline that even then had given rise to the term “rust belt.” People were losing their farms and/or their jobs. LaRouche and his followers, like Trump today, proposed large scale crackdowns on a variety of scapegoats: gays (he called for herding them into quarantine centers, just as Trump would call for rounding up undocumented immigrants), feminists (he equated feminism with lesbianism), Jewish bankers (one of his candidates promised to send “tanks” down Chicago’s State Street)–and then there were the environmentalists, the New Agers, the Satanists, the “hippies,” and of course the media. LaRouche’s list of the categories of evildoers grew and grew.
Caveat: Trump succeeded because the time was ripe and he had a skill at audience manipulation honed by years as a reality-TV star. LaRouche, whose rhetorical skills were tailored towards a much narrower audience predisposed to elaborate conspiracy theories, was operating in a Democratic party where the right wing was in a minority. If he’d entered the right wing of the Republican Party he would have faced ferocious rivals; in the right wing of the Democratic Party he had very little competition. Unfortunately for him, the majority of the people predisposed to a Presidential candidate with a message such as his were already either Republicans or “Reagan Democrats” geared to voting Republican on the presidential level. Still, the NDPC gained substantial grassroots support for several years via organizing efforts for its many local candidates that were conducted beneath the media radar, culminating in surprising victories in the Illinois Democratic primaries for statewide offices in 1986 that alarmed Democratic Party leaders, who, like the media, had simply not seen it coming. (For details on the history of the NDPC, see Chapters 12-14 of Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism.)
20. Encouraging the spread of nuclear weapons and a new arms race.
Trump intimated in early 2016 that Japan and South Korea aren’t helping the U.S. sufficiently for the nuclear umbrella we provide. He suggested–in defiance of longstanding bipartisan concern over nuclear proliferation–that both countries should develop their own nuclear weapons, and that the world might be safer if they did so.
A month and a half after the election, President Elect Trump tweeted (Dec. 22): “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” He then followed up with an off-air remark to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”: “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”
LaRouche and his followers published in 1981 a book on the theoretical underpinnings of how to make an H-bomb written by a German-American scientist who would be a vigorous defender of accused Nazi war criminal Arthur Rudolph. The book apparently helped LaRouche’s followers to gain increased access to intelligence and military circles in a number of countries with motives for either developing nuclear weapons or gaining the capacity to develop them if necessary, e.g., Taiwan, apartheid South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina. LaRouchian publications reported favorably on the Argentine military’s quest for nuclear technological autonomy in the late 1970s-early 1980s, when operatives of LaRouche’s private political intelligence service were active in the country.
In a series of articles in 1978, LaRouche argued that nuclear weapons were not sufficient. He suggested that the U.S. base its plans for war with the Soviet Union on the development of a capability for combined atomic, biological and chemical warfare (ABC warfare) that could “pave” the line of march through Eastern Europe. According to LaRouche’s former science advisor, Dr. Steve Bardwell, LaRouche–who has no more scientific training than Donald Trump–discussed at that time a mad scheme for “cobalt bombs with fans.” Bardwell quit soon thereafter.
21. Holding deceptive and/or highly ambiguous positions on abortion.
Trump was a supporter of a woman’s right to choose for decades and only publicly changed this stance recently. His position is still rather confused; he says he is in favor, like Reagan, of exceptions for rape, for incest and to save the life of the mother, but he has promised to appoint ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices who might not recognize these exceptions. In a debate with Clinton, he gave a lurid and scientifically unfounded description of a late-term abortion, thus helping to solidify his support from the Christian Right, which ended up being a major component of the voter convergence that produced his victory.
LaRouche formed an organization called the “Club of Life” in the early 1980s that pretended to be against abortion but actually was mostly concerned with stopping mass birth control and denouncing proposals for voluntary euthanasia. The Club of Life proved successful for awhile in opening doors to far right-wing Catholic circles in Spain and Latin America and within or near the Vatican hierarchy. But it was all a deception: the LaRouche organization had a policy that women in the org, if they became pregnant, should be coerced into having abortions so they and their husbands could continue to work full-time for LaRouche in return for minimal pay. Ex-LaRouchians say that Helga Zepp-LaRouche, the international leader of the Club of Life, told those who wanted children to get a dog instead; and that Nancy Spannaus, the head of the U.S. Club of Life, had been the chief figure in an informal “coat hanger brigade” that accompanied women to the abortion clinic to make sure they went through with it. There were hundreds of these coerced abortions in the LaRouche org, former members say, and the policy has been applied in recent years to women in the LaRouche Youth Movement.
22. Holding, over the years, ambiguous attitudes towards the Clintons.
Trump was a supporter of the Clintons and of some but not all of their liberal policies, and he made five donations to Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign chest between 2002 and 2006. He and Bill Clinton were longtime friends. Trump opposed the impeachment proceedings against Clinton as hypocritical. Hillary had a front-row seat at Trump’s 2005 wedding to Melania Knauss, and Bill came to the wedding reception. Even after disagreements developed, Trump wanted to attend the 2010 wedding of Chelsea Clinton, who is a friend of his daughter Ivanka. Trump agreed with the Obama administration’s decision, when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, to join with NATO allies in conducting air strikes in Libya to prevent a bloodbath. Trump now says that he, like many other wealthy businessmen, made contributions to the Clintons’ political campaigns for purely pragmatic reasons–to gain access when necessary.
In 2015-16, Trump waged one of the most ferocious campaigns in the history of U.S. presidential politics against his former friends, including the use of the most unseemly and excessive rhetoric against Hillary Clinton at rallies where the audience chanted “Lock her up!” and things a lot worse.
LaRouche blamed President George H.W. Bush for the federal prosecution that sent him to prison, and for years thereafter his organization demonized Bush. Not surprisingly, LaRouche and his followers expressed no displeasure when Bill Clinton defeated Bush in 1992, even though they had cooperated with the political consulting firm of Black, Manafort, Stone & Atwater in helping Bush defeat Dukakis four years earlier. When LaRouche was let out on parole during Clinton’s first term after serving five years of a 15-year sentence, he began to intimate, without evincing any evidence, that the Clintons were behind his release because he was such a powerful person. (In fact, it is quite common for a first-time nonviolent white-collar offender to win parole after serving his or her minimum sentence without having any special political pull.) During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, LaRouche supported the Clintons, and his publications suggested that Lewinsky was a Mossad agent who had entrapped the President. In the 2015-16 Presidential race, LaRouche’s followers were slow to join the Trump bandwagon, but they did focus most of their bile, from the beginning, on Hillary Clinton and President Obama.
23. Attempting to build a movement based on Obama-hatred as a coded form of bigotry.
In 2011, Trump started pushing the idea that Obama was not an American citizen and thus not qualified to be recognized as President. This was merely a coded version of the idea that a black man can never be fit to be our president. Trump disguised this unspoken assumption behind an elaborate conspiracy theory that caught on with Republicans. The “birther” movement, based on this theory, became a powerful part of a broad and multilayered campaign against Obama–a unique campaign of revilement and hate such as no previous president had faced.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was right when he said “the whole birther movement was racist.” And the birther canard gave bigots of the shamefaced type (those unwilling to wear a hooded bed sheet or a swastika armband) a “polite” way to unleash, safe from harsh social disapproval, their Inner Klansman. Although Obama produced his Hawaii birth certificate and Trump stopped pushing the birther theory with any great vigor, an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll in the summer of 2016 found that 41 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement that Obama was not born in the United States while an additional 31 percent were not sure. Probably, many will never acknowledge that he was anything more than an imposter.
The toxicity of the Republican view of Obama was such that the Senate Republican majority felt free to take the historically unprecedented step of refusing to even consider Obama’s March 16, 2016 Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat.
LaRouche used a similar dog-whistle tactic two years earlier. He started putting up posters of Obama wearing a Hitler mustache and claimed that Obama represented fascism and/or Nazism and was planning to do things to America worse than anything Hitler had done (like, start a nuclear war in which billions would die and our civilization be destroyed). LaRouche didn’t dream up this meme on his own, at least not entirely: Ann Coulter and talk show hosts Michael Savage and Mark Levin were already comparing Obama to Hitler. But LaRouche’s street version appears to have been rather effective in helping some whites to justify their reluctance to accept a black man as their President, and it also may have empowered some to go on the offensive against Obama. If opposing Obama down the line on everything and doing so with passion and anger is actually a case of opposing fascism or Nazism, well, you don’t have to worry about your underlying racism. You can vent your rage against the “Nero” in the White House (LaRouche’s term) armed with a magic get-out-of-guilt card: opposition to the Symbolic Evil Black Man’s Hitler mustache!
I believe this trick played a significant role in whipping up the 2009-10 wild hatred of Obama in its early stages. But once the Obama hatred had reached a certain pitch and become legitimized by the Republican establishment, the ersatz antifascism was no longer necessary. “Birtherism,” of which Trump was the primary but by no means the only champion, became the name of the game. Still, there’s a good reason that the LaRouchians continued to display the Obama-with-a-Hitler mustache posters at their street tables throughout the United States–the posters attracted passersby; they stopped and unloaded their feelings about Obama; they bought LaRouchian literature and made donations. Obama as Hitler was still a useful trope (with Hitler’s name turning subliminally into the “N” word), although it was never something to build an effective Presidential campaign around.
24. Acting out hostility to women while also using them in leadership positions and being dependent on them.
Trump‘s backward attitude to women went viral as a campaign issue after the release of the 2005 audio and video recording in which he bragged about his abusive behavior. Almost a dozen women then came forward with allegations about him. Trump fanned the flames through tweets in which he further disrespected them, calling them liars and suggesting that they were paid by the Clintons, or that they were so ugly he would never have been sexually interested in them. Earlier, he had expressed his one-dimensional view of women by saying, about Republican primary candidate Carly Fiorina, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” He also revealed a strange revulsion regarding women’s bodily fluids. After Fox News’ Megyn Kelly questioned him sharply about his attitude towards women, he complained: “There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her whatever.” When he learned that Hillary Clinton had been late returning to the stage during a Democratic debate, he suggested that she’d been doing “disgusting” things in the bathroom.
LaRouche had a theory about women turning into “witch mothers” and destroying both their children and their husbands. The worst of the witch mothers, he suggested, were the Jewish mothers and the “black welfare” mothers. Even stranger than the witch mother theory was LaRouche’s opinion that because women do not have external sex organs, they are inherently unclean given the proximity of the vagina and the anus. And he has a tendency, like Trump, to use odd language in describing women he disagrees with; for instance, when Putin opponent Boris Nemtsov was assassinated in Moscow in 2015, LaRouche said the crime “smells like Nuland” (Victoria Nuland, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and the department’s point person on the Ukraine crisis from September 2013 until her resignation in January 2017, several days after Trump’s inauguration). The remark was similar to Trump’s about “blood coming out of her [Megyn Kelly’s] whatever” and his comment into the microphone about Clinton (while she was talking) during the final Presidential debate: “such a nasty woman.” Also, like so many of Trump’s remarks against Clinton, LaRouche’s accusation re Nuland made no sense–why would she want to assassinate a man who was organizing against Putin’s aggression in Ukraine? And since when do high-level State Department officials orchestrate assassinations?
At one point, LaRouche told the men in his org to go home and beat their wives in order to prove their masculinity. He also initiated a policy of forced abortion, which was probably the cruelest thing he did to his women followers, many of whom were so brainwashed that they could not free themselves from the LaRouche cult until they were well past child-bearing age.
LaRouche, unlike Trump, was not a rampant womanizer and would have found the job of running beauty pageants incomprehensible. His own backward views on women took a cultic and ideological form. But both LaRouche and Trump displayed at times an almost childlike connection to the women closest to them and allowed them much authority over the years (in Trump’s case in his businesses, and in LaRouche’s case in his cult and its various publications and political entities). Trump was deeply dependent in business matters on his first wife, Ivana, and their daughter Ivanka would grow up to play a major leadership role in his business empire (she is now in the process of disentangling herself from the business because of the appointment of her husband, Jared Kushner, as a Senior Advisor to the President).
Trump listened to and relied on Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager during the last two and a half months of the campaign. She, along with Kushner, managed to instill the minimum necessary discipline into his behavior to enable him to win the White House. He has now given her the title of Counselor to the President.
In comparison, LaRouche, even before his recent decline, was heavily reliant on Helga, his wife of the past four decades, who has largely replaced him as the central figure in their organization.
The “intellectual” side of LaRouche’s misogyny was a theory of the evilness of feminine influences that he traced back thousands of years. His publications expressed an intense hatred of ancient goddess religions, regarded as a root cause of the involvement of women today in New Age groups, which supposedly turn them into witches in the Satanic sense, and the feminist movement, depicted as a lesbian cabal. The LaRouche org engaged in smear campaigns against women running for public office, such as Maryland’s Barbara A. Mikulski, who, in spite of lesbian baiting by both the LaRouchians (openly) and the Republicans (in code language), went on to become one of the most distinguished and effective U.S. Senators of our time.
25. Dealing with humiliation, real or self-perceived.
For Trump, the self-perception of being humiliated is often difficult to tolerate, even though both have a history of humiliating people in their respective entourages. In 2011, President Obama delivered a flawless but ill-advised stand-up-comic ridicule of Trump and his birtherism the White House Correspondents Dinner, with Trump present in the middle of the room. Some journalist have suggested that this was when Trump’s campaign for the Presidency was born. McKay Coppins wrote on BuzzFeed News, July 17, 2016:
When host Seth Meyers took the mic, he piled on with his own rat-a-tat of jokes, many of which seemed designed deliberately to inflame Trump’s outer-borough insecurities: “His whole life is models and gold leaf and marble columns, but he still sounds like a know-it-all down at the OTB.”
The longer the night went on, the more conspicuous Trump’s glower became. He didn’t offer a self-deprecating chuckle, or wave warmly at the cameras, or smile with the practiced good humor of the aristocrats and A-listers who know they must never allow themselves to appear threatened by a joke at their expense. Instead, Trump just sat there, stone-faced, stunned, simmering — Carrie at the prom covered in pig’s blood.
But the correspondents’ dinner was not the last of the blows to Trump’s ego, and Coppins blames himself for one of them. He begins with an account of Trump’s tirade against BuzzFeed at the Detroit Republican primaries debate in March 2016:
About 30 minutes into the debate, [Fox’s News Megyn Kelly] asked Trump to respond to a recent BuzzFeed News report about his position on immigration.
“First of all, BuzzFeed?” Trump said, waving an index finger in the air. “They were the ones that said under no circumstances will I run for president — and were they wrong.” My phone lit up with a frenzied flurry of tweets, texts, and emails, each one carrying variations of the same message: This is all your fault.
Trump was referring to a profile I’d written two years earlier in which I chronicled a couple of days spent inside the billionaire’s bubble and confidently concluded that his long-stated presidential aspirations were a sham. He had tweeted about me frequently in the weeks following its publication — often at odd hours, sometimes multiple times a day — denouncing me as a “dishonest slob” and “true garbage with no credibility.” Breitbart published an “EXCLUSIVE” with Trump and his employees claiming I’d boorishly harassed various women during my brief stay at his Palm Beach estate Mar-a-Lago. (“I don’t know how to say it — he was looking at me like I was yummy,” complained one hostess named “Bianka Pop.”) There were a lot of things about Trump’s wrathful, wounded reaction that seemed weird at the time, but in retrospect, the weirdest was that it never really ended; for two years, Trump continued to rant about how I’m a scumbag or a loser or “just another phony guy.”
Many examples of Trump’s wounded-ego outrage over negative media coverage can be cited; indeed, he continues to tweet his outrage from the White House and blast the media (or have his press secretary, Sean Spicer, and Kellyanne Conway blast the media) in a most unseemly fashion.
LaRouche has the same problem although he’s never been able to act out his outrage on an Olympian scale. His writings are peppered with resentment of people who’ve wounded him throughout his life: girls in his high school (including his two sisters), a student in college who treated him in a patronizing manner (or so he thought) and later became a distinguished journalist, a Queens College professor who disagreed with him in a debate in the early 1970s (years after the man died, LaRouche was still demeaning his memory). In 1980-81 he drove his own top aide out of the organization, because he perceived that the man was gaining greater respect from some of the members than he himself was. Decades later, LaRouche was still popping off with denunciations of this individual as the arch-traitor. For people in high places, it is not always possible to shut up LaRouche up by simply ignoring him, which may be perceived by him as the greatest insult possible, given his self-perception as a world-historic figure.
Perhaps the worst humiliation for both Trump and LaRouche is that which comes from a woman. Trump’s war with Megyn Kelly is too well known to address here, but there is also his ongoing grievance against Clinton. His victory in the election has not banished the ego wounds of his self-perceived humiliation by Clinton. Although he won the Electoral College votes against her 306 to 232, she in fact won the popular vote by almost 2.9 million. This symbolic “victory” over him, coming after her treating him for months as if he were an unruly child, was something he just couldn’t accept. Clinton had promptly conceded the election and removed herself from the fray, but that was not enough for him. He tweeted on Nov. 27: “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
This amazing assertion, for which Trump had no proof (I’m discounting the ravings of Alex Jones and other Alt Right conspiracy theorists), did considerable damage to his public image as President Elect, and yet he persisted in it in. The second day after his inauguration, in his first official meeting with the leaders of Congress, Trump took the occasion to tell them that three to five million immigrants had voted illegally, thus giving Clinton a false lead in the popular vote. In a historic first in The New York Times coverage of a President, its headline on the incident accused him of lying (“Trump Repeats Lie…”). The article commented on his “obsession with” and “anxiety” over the popular vote totals, and his repeated complaints “that adversaries were trying to undermine him,” and reported: “Voting officials across the country have said there is virtually no evidence of people voting illegally, and certainly not millions of them.”
Trump even wants an official investigation, according to The Times (Jan. 25):
President Trump intends to move forward with a major investigation of voter fraud that he says cost him the popular vote, White House officials said Wednesday, despite bipartisan condemnation of his allegations and the conclusion of Mr. Trump’s own lawyers that the election was “not tainted.”
In his first days in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump has renewed his complaint that millions of people voted illegally, depriving him of a popular-vote majority. In two Twitter posts early Wednesday morning, the president vowed to open an inquiry to reveal people who are registered to vote in multiple states or who remain on voting rolls long after they have died.
“We have to understand where the problem exists, how deep it goes, and then suggest some remedies to it,” said Sean Spicer, the president’s press secretary. He said the White House would reveal more details this week.
But voting officials in both parties across the country said the answer to those questions is already clear: Fraudulent voting happens in tiny, sporadic episodes that have no impact on the outcome of elections. It is virtually impossible, several state election officials said, that millions of people voted illegally in last year’s presidential contest.
LaRouche suffered a profound humiliation when a long-time live-in partner, Carol, left him in 1973 for a younger man, Chris, also a follower of LaRouche. They moved to England, got married, and started to build a branch there. LaRouche, however, ordered them back to the states. Chris was understandably nervous and began behaving strangely on the plane, especially after watching a movie with a brainwashing theme. He was taken to LaRouche, who practiced his amateur brand of therapy on Chris that turned into coercive “deprogamming” when LaRouche decided his hapless disciple must have been brainwashed in London by MI-6 and/or the CIA and turned into a Manchurian candidate assassin who would try to kill LaRouche on the utterance of a trigger word.
LaRouche developed an elaborate scenario (based on vague replies to his questions by Chris) that his organization was filled with Manchurian candidates who had been programmed by way of sexual tortures, including anal rape with coke bottles and forced sex with animals, and were suffering from induced amnesia about these events. He persuaded Carol to prepare a report on how to tell if someone had been programmed (listen for hissing sounds, etc.). LaRouche held public meetings on this and his followers circulated hundreds of thousands of lurid leaflets. I attended a meeting where LaRouche was going to reveal all, but his rambling account offered few details and no proof. And Chris, once he was free of his captivity, denied it all. LaRouche, who apparently had suffered a temporary psychotic break, then just dropped the subject and never referred to it again. He started a relationship with another woman and soon met and married Helga Zepp. Chris and Carol continued as his followers with positions of importance in the org.
If you compare Trump’s post-election reaction to Hillary’s combative campaign against him with LaRouche’s reaction to what he perceived as a personal betrayal by his lover, the first instinct is to say LaRouche behaved in a far crazier way. I would disagree. LaRouche’s delusion was a very short-term one and in the speech in which he laid out his Manchurian candidate theory in its most elaborate form, there are comments that suggest he’s making fun of his followers’ gullibility–as if he were already getting himself under control. Also the incident ended up serving a useful effect, from his point of view, by solidifying his org irretrievably into its final form as a political cult and also enabling him to work through his break with Carol and move on, while getting a bit of revenge on Chris.
Trump’s reaction, apart from the scale of its impact coming post-election from Trump Tower and then from the White House, appears to me to be far crazier. First because the claim came from Alt Right websites that traffic in conspiracy theories so demented that even the LaRouchians won’t repeat them (although they are happy to appear on, say, the Alex Jones show to attack the “British”). Second the reaction has been one of massive rejection; voting officials in U.S. states, whether Red or Blue, have rejected Trump’s theory of immigrants giving millions of illegal votes to Clinton. The Republican leadership in Congress have refused to support Trump’s claim. He has already persisted in this delusional obsession for a much longer time (by months) than LaRouche persisted in his Manchurian candidate scare. It serves no purpose except to undermine Trump’s credibility. If Trump persists in using taxpayer money to conduct his vaunted investigation, he will end up looking like an absolute fool. So I’ll say it again, Trump, in his reaction to self-perceived humiliation by a woman, is crazier than Lyndon LaRouche. What will he do when Angela Merkel faces him down?
26. No concern for facts and for critical thinking.
Trump makes things up as he goes along. Sometimes he will make dozens of egregious errors of fact in a single speech. If he is refuted on a point, he may get mad at his critics but rarely backs down. Often he continues to repeat the false or unproven statement in a compulsive manner. Occasionally, he will disengage from a controversy by simply claiming that he never said what, in fact, he did say. He has made illogical and ridiculous connections; e.g., China is the main rival of the U.S. and wishes to weaken it; therefore, scientists who push for action against global warming must be part of a Chinese plot to use this “hoax” to prevent America from becoming great again.
LaRouche concocted an elaborate conspiracy theory of history in which secret elites have been fighting each other for thousands of years. He asserts that the struggle goes back to the lost continent of Atlantis (about which he has invented a history, of sorts) and has been peppered with secret world-transforming crimes; for instance, he claims to have knowledge that the philosopher Aristotle poisoned Alexander the Great to deliberately prevent humanistic progress in the ancient world. His proof is a series of suppositions based on the flimsiest of circumstantial evidence (e.g., Aristotle was alive at the time Alexander died, had been Aristotle’s tutor when the latter was a child, and advocated a philosophy that, in LaRouche’s vague opinion of it, would have caused Aristotle to hate Alexander the supposed bearer of humanistic enlightenment to the East.
In fact LaRouche is completely ignorant of large chunks of history and what he does know is only a smattering of factoids held together by the most dubious of generalizations. He scrambles his factoids like a short-order cook in a diner scrambles eggs. He confuses the Anglo-Saxons with the Celtic Britons. He says that Euclid’s plane geometry and Isaac Newton’s discoveries in physics and mathematics were hoaxes put forth to stop the emergence of scientific thinking. He weaves in preposterous plots, e.g., that the Rothschilds and other “British” bankers put Hitler into power to serve their needs, but he went rogue and thus the rich Jews of the City of London (Britain’s financial district) are responsible for whatever bad things happened to their fellow Jews.
LaRouche’s entire theoretical system is based upon certain premises (unproven by LaRouche and unquestioned by his followers) regarding the origin, existence and characteristics of the two elites. The “oligarchical” elite is utterly evil, usurious, enamored of Aristotle, and having the traits of an alien biological species; it’s the folks who also cooked up the “hoax” called the Old Testament (wink, wink). The leaders of the “humanist” elite are the good guys, embracing science and engineering, and infatuated with Plato.
LaRouche has not offered any proof for the existence of the two elites; he and his followers just pile up more and more factoids and spin out more and more imaginative scenarios. Most absurd is their assumption that, in ancient and medieval times, each of the two elites was able to communicate and conspire within its own ranks across vast distances and centuries of time–which would not have been possible without telephones, radios, trains, steamships, and printing presses, none of which existed.
Here we see yet another important difference between LaRouche and Trump: LaRouche has a compulsive need to fit together all his unproven and preposterous assertions into a vast system rather than simply moving on to the next absurdity, as Trump does, with the previous ones often forgotten or simply ignored.
27. Greed and sociopathy.
Trump refused to release any of his tax returns, in defiance of a long-standing practice among Presidential candidates. The only relevant document he’s offered up is a 2015 campaign financial disclosure form in which the self-styled billionaire claimed only $14,000 in salary (which, if that were his only income, would put him below the poverty threshold). A New York Times op ed on Nov. 3, co-authored by a former IRS commissioner and a former Treasury official, noted that Trump had not filled out the part of the form for “Sources of Compensation Exceeding $5,000 in a Year,” which he marked as “not applicable,” thus indicating, according to the authors, that “he was paid no salary by the more than 200 corporations that he owns and run.” The authors also stated that by “declaring such a low salary, Mr. Trump, we believe, avoided paying millions of dollars of Medicare taxes that should have gone to support senior citizens and their families.” (And this is the same President Trump who has named as his Secretary of Health and Human Services a Georgia Congressman, Tom Price, who is a ferocious opponent of Obamacare and an advocate of privatizing Medicare.)
Is too much being made of a single disclosure form? The New York Times obtained from an anonymous source Trump’s 1995 income tax returns and reported (Oct. 1, 2016) that he’d declared a $916 million loss that year which would have enabled him to legally avoid paying taxes for 18 years.
As to Trump’s multiple bankruptcies in Atlantic City, Bryant Simon writes in Boardwalk of Dreams (2004) that “a lot of people got stuck holding the bag, and he didn’t. So people resented him for that and felt serious financial pain.” Reuben Kramer and Christian Hetrick, writing in The Press of Atlantic City, commented on Simon’s observation:
[I]t wasn’t just faceless bankers who got burned in the bankruptcies.
In the 2009 case, unsecured creditors — low-level investors, contractors, small-time vendors — got less than a penny on the dollar for their claims against Trump Entertainment Resorts (Trump resigned as chairman four days before the bankruptcy filing).
Patrick Caldwell reported in Mother Jones how casino workers lost millions in retirement savings as a result of the 2004 bankruptcy of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts. They had been persuaded to invest their 401(k)’s in company stock and then, with the company on the brink of bankruptcy, they had to sell at a giant loss.
Trump’s answer to a question about his casino bankruptcies by Fox News’ Chris Wallace during an August 2015 Republican candidates’ debate was: “I made a lot of money in Atlantic City and I’m very proud of it I want to tell you that. Very very proud of it.”
In addition, Trump has used his private foundation for personal gain and to donate a campaign contribution to the Florida secretary of state, who then dropped an investigation of the now-defunct “Trump University”–a scam that raked in millions of dollars from people who thought they would be learning how to succeed in the real estate business. On Nov. 18, 2016, Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle two federal court class action cases in California and a New York State fraud case (representing altogether about 7,000 victims of Trump U.) shortly before the first trial was to begin. He also agreed to pay up to $1 million to the State of New York for operating an unlicensed educational institution in violation of New York law.
The New York Times started in a Nov. 25, 2016 editorial:
Donald Trump will take office as president facing a tsunami of litigation over his business practices and personal behavior. He may have settled the fraud suits involving Trump University but least 75 other lawsuits are underway against him or his companies, according to USA Today. Its investigation found more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades, ranging from contract disputes to real estate battles to harassment and discrimination claims.
As these cases wind their way through the courts, hopefully under greater media scrutiny than in the past (insofar as the Trump administration is unable to suppress such coverage), more documentation may come forward about how Trump and his companies have been systematically destroying–for decades–the electronic and hardcopy evidence requested from them under discovery or by subpoena in civil cases (the very type of questionable behavior Trump had emphasized most strongly in his attacks on Clinton).
Only eight days before the Presidential election, in a major feat of investigative journalism, Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek revealed the huge extent of the Trump empire’s destruction of legally important emails and other documentation. Eichenwald’s article, a classic example of too late but not too little, begins with the following summary:
Over the course of decades, Donald Trump’s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. These tactics—exposed by a Newsweek review of thousands of pages of court filings, judicial orders and affidavits from an array of court cases—have enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump. In each instance, Trump and entities he controlled also erected numerous hurdles that made lawsuits drag on for years, forcing courtroom opponents to spend huge sums of money in legal fees as they struggled—sometimes in vain—to obtain records.
The greed of Trump and his family may now have national security implications. Apart from their long-standing and until now unsuccessful efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, there was Trump’s precedent-breaking acceptance of a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, on Dec. 2, 2016. The Washington Post reported, based on interviews with persons involved that the phone call “was the product of months of quiet preparations and deliberations among Trump’s advisers about a new strategy for engagement with Taiwan that began even before he became the Republican presidential nominee.” The Post also was told that the call was “an intentionally provocative move.”
But was this strictly a foreign policy matter? According to the New York Times:
Newspapers in Taiwan reported last month that a Trump Organization representative had visited the country, expressing interest in perhaps developing a hotel project adjacent to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, which is undergoing a major expansion. The mayor of Taoyuan, Cheng Wen-tsan, was quoted as confirming that visit.
A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, Amanda Miller, said that the company had “no plans for expansion into Taiwan,” and that there had been no “authorized visits” to the country to push a Trump development project. But Ms. Miller did not dispute that Anne-Marie Donoghue, a sales manager overseeing Asia for Trump Hotels, had visited Taiwan in October, a trip that Ms. Donoghue recorded on her Facebook page.
Steve Benen commented on the MSNBC blog on Dec. 5:
[I]t’s unsettling to think of the president-elect trashing four decades of U.S. foreign policy to help give his business interests a boost, but so long as Trump ignores his conflict-of-interest controversies, there’s no reason to think questions like these will go away.
And I’d add: as Trump and Tillerson heat up the conflict with China for other reasons (like, creating an excuse for wooing Russia as a necessary ally against China and thus getting the huge Exxon-Gazprom deal back on track and killing any serious investigation of Putin’s role in getting Trump elected; see Section 3.31), why should U.S. taxpayers have to foot the bill for a military buildup in the Pacific, and why should we run the risk of military clashes, because not only of the above sinister reasons but also because of our tacky new royal family’s desire to invest in Taiwan?
LaRouche went to federal prison in 1989 after a jury conviction on one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud, 11 counts of actual mail fraud, and one count of conspiring to commit federal income tax fraud. It is believed that he and his followers raised as much as a half billion dollars over a ten-year period, although only $30 million was included in the conspiracy charge re mail fraud. Much of the money came via the solicitation of loans from senior citizens in states from Alaska all the way to Florida; in some cases, the victims were promised 20 percent interest–when they asked for repayment they were told that their loans were actually donations. Several of the victims had dementia. One elderly woman gave over her stocks after being promised a trip on LaRouche’s first rocket ship to Mars.
LaRouche also looted businesses run by his followers, driving them into bankruptcy. He lived in fancy homes throughout the 1980s, first in a town house on Sutton Place in Manhattan, then in country mansions in Virginia. He claimed in a 1984 deposition that he had no income and that he relied for his clothing and food on the charity of his philosophical associates, which is about as good an excuse for not paying taxes as Trump has come up with.
28. Psychological projection and the “Big Lie.”
Trump projects onto other people qualities that he cannot acknowledge in himself. According to Freudians this is an unconscious process, but it can also have a conscious component: Trump or any other person who uses projection can be doing it to divert attention away from himself–like a criminal suspect who eagerly tells the police that the other suspect did the crime. (And for our purpose it is irrelevant if the person onto whom Trump projects is actually a holder of the qualities in question, although in politics it is most useful that the person either have these qualities to a discernible degree or is believed by a significant portion of the public to have them.) I leave it to the reader to speculate on the degree to which Trump does this consciously, unconsciously, or both at once, or both serially.
The best known example is Trump constantly calling his Republican primary opponents liars, e.g., “Lyin’ Ted.” In June 2016 he called Hillary Clinton a “world-class liar.” The women who accused him of groping them are all “liars,” without exception. The New York Times staff are liars. CNN is a pack of liars. Indeed the entire of the mainstream media is composed of liars. Such is the world according to Trump. “Liar” is perhaps his favorite epithet, together with “crooked”–which is used to divert attention from Trump University, the Trump casino bankrupties, the Trump avoidance of income taxes, and Trump the erstwhile deal-maker with associates of the Gambino, Genovese and Scarfo crime families.
Trump’s pathological lying is recognized even by many of his supporters, who rationalize it away by saying truth doesn’t really matter in politics (Kellyanne Conway is now calling Trump’s fibs “alternate facts”). Chez Pazienza stated the case against Trump (and implicitly, against the rationalizers) with delicious eloquence in the Daily Banter on June 2:
Donald Trump is a liar. Actually, that’s an understatement. Trump is, in reality, a pathological, serial liar of a magnitude that’s mathematically inexpressible. He lies from minute to minute without an ounce of shame or compunction, often about subjects and incidents that are well-documented and can be recalled at a moment’s notice and held up to the light. It’s so easy to disprove a faulty Donald Trump statement that it can really only be a personality disorder that would lead Trump to believe he can get away with such a relentless belching of utter bullshit. The problem is, his lies come in such overwhelming waves — they’re so audacious that it’s literally stunning — that it’s difficult for the news outlets theoretically tasked with correcting the record to keep up. Trump lies and then lies about the lie, then doubles-down on the lie, over and over again, to the point where calling him on it almost feels like a waste. Because to Trump, there is no truth other than what he says at any given minute and reality is something that can be disputed to death just like in any other negotiation.
Pazienza cited a rally that day in Sacramento where Trump denied ever saying that Japan should get its own nuclear weapons. In fact he had said it, and for once CNN dropped its craven and disgusting ratings-above-all approach to the election, and put on the screen a disclaimer that stated the truth.
In Trump’s speeches, interviews and tweets viewed as a totality, one sees a curious mixture of deliberate lies and of off-the-cuff concoctions presented as fact (I guess you could call the latter a generalized form of lying rooted in Trump’s inability either to recognize his own ignorance or to distinguish between demonstrable fact and the rantings of conspiracists and ideologues).
Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times (Aug. 6) commented on various comparisons of the truthfulness and factual accuracy of statements by Trump and Clinton:
One metric comes from independent fact-checking websites. As of Friday, PolitiFact had found 27 percent of Clinton’s statements that it had looked into were mostly false or worse, compared with 70 percent of Trump’s. It said 2 percent of Clinton’s statements it had reviewed were egregious “pants on fire” lies, compared with 19 percent of Trump’s. So Trump has nine times the share of flat-out lies as Clinton.
Likewise, The Washington Post Fact-Checker has awarded its worst ranking, Four Pinocchios, to 16 percent of Clinton’s statements that it checked and to 64 percent of Trump’s.
“Essentially, Clinton is in the norm for a typical politician,” says Glenn Kessler, who runs Fact-Checker, while Trump “is just off the charts. There’s never been anyone like him, at least in the six years I have been doing this.”
When Trump projects his own qualities onto others one can get what is called the”Big Lie.” During the campaign, Trump focussed like a laser on Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, the ostensible cause of the “Lock her up!” chants at his rallies. But Trump’s own seeming immunity from civil judgements or from prosecution was built on a 40-year history of destroying documents and, with the development of the personal computer, the deleting of electronic messages and files to avoid discovery requests, court orders and subpoenas. This was uncovered by Newsweek but not published until shortly before the election; few of Trump’s fans who were shouting “lock her up” ever noticed, or would have cared if they had.
But sometimes the Big Lie is just an ordinary lie repeated over and over. When the media reported that Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote by over 2 million (by the end of the tallying, it would be almost 2.9 million), Trump drew on the baseless conspiracy theories of his (and LaRouche’s) Alt Right friend Alex Jones in a tweet stating: “In addition to winning the electoral college in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Trump has yet to produce the slightest evidence for his charge of illegal voting. Nor has he clarified his peculiar use of the term landslide.
LaRouche has been projecting his own flaws and misdeeds onto his enemies for decades. His classic example is to call his enemies “fascists” and “Nazis” when he himself is the one espousing dog-whistle versions of the same (and having a history of forming alliances with such folks both in the U.S. and around the world). To LaRouche, Obama is the new Hitler complete with the moustache, but it’s LaRouche and his followers, not Obama, who:
denied the Holocaust and speculated about dropping nuclear bombs on Israel and “London” (the later as the supposed HQ of the international Jewish bankers);
urged massive military repression of indigenous peoples in Central America on grounds that they represents a Satanic culture at war with Western civilization;
encouraged skinhead violence against gays, stating that the persons engaging in such violence might be hailed in the future as the saviors of western civilization; and
claimed that the international bankers have, through their practice of usury, mutated into an alien species that parasites off the human race and must be destroyed.
In “The Elite That Can’t Think Straight” (1978) LaRouche portrayed the biological struggle as a relentless personal contest between himself and the top oligarchs. Their “inner circles,” he says, recognize him as “the ancient and feared adversary of their own evil species” and as their “potential destroyer.” When they see the influence of his work, “they tense, growling such phrases as ‘potential danger,’ ‘more dangerous than Hitler,’ ‘kill it before it succeeds in getting a real foothold in shaping events.'” In other words, the issue becomes not his hateful views on them, but their supposed desire to crush him–a complete inversion–and thus a LaRouche follower has reason to either embrace or forget (depending on his or her degree of sadism) the org’s own extermination fantasies, e.g., in the pamphlet The Noble Family:
Let us speedily expedite the urgently necessary task of freeing humanity from the grasp of that specific form of lower life before we are destroyed by them or enslaved by them. Let us joyfully ensure that the representatives of the British system are destroyed so that humanity might live….Those of us who should know better have been tolerant of such creatures for far longer than has been good for the rest of us. Let us, with ruthlessness, ensure that the job is done correctly now. [“now,” meaning this time–DK].
“[B]efore we are destroyed by them or enslaved by them…” projects the hatred outwards, thus enabling LaRouche’s followers to see themselves as both potential victims and as the saviors of others–billions of others–from victimhood. It is the ultimate fraudulent validation of the hate they themselves harbor.
Such language has continued down through the years, often targeting Jewish individuals or families depicted as symbols of oligarchical evil, such as Kissinger, George Soros, philosopher Leo Strauss, the Rothschilds, or the Bronfmans. In 2003, LaRouche wrote, regarding Strauss, scholar Allan Bloom (also Jewish) and the mostly Jewish neo-conservative movement:
Who, then, is really human? Should we not recognize that Professor Strauss, Allan Bloom, and their Rumsfeld-Cheney-linked Chicken-hawk followers [the neocons–DK] were, and are collectively insane: human beings who…have reverted to forms of human behavior which are essentially unnatural, forming, in effect, a type of pseudo-human species? They have become equivalent to a species whose very existence is morally, and functionally worse than that of naturally determined lower forms of life.”
A 2012 LaRouche PAC release by Dennis Small, entitled “Their Species and Ours” and quoting in several places from LaRouche, attacks the oligarchs aka the “British” Empire for their
utter disdain for human life, the belief that the world’s population must be reduced down to a billion people, the willingness to unleash even thermonuclear war to stop any change that threatens the oligarchy–these are the hallmarks of a species whose extinction, like that of the dinosaurs, is assured. But will they take down the entire human species with them?
LaRouche is then quoted as posing a “scientific” question re “factors in the populations of species. Which species are going to survive, and which are not.” But in context, he’s not speaking of spotted owls, redwoods or dinosaurs: the “British” species (“their” species) is trying to start a world war with Russia and China, and they are using reformers and dissidents inside Russia as their agents, and these people are “traitors” to Mother Russia. “This is war,” LaRouche is quoted as saying, “and the Russians [i.e., the Putin government–DK] know it.”
As to the U.S. circa 2012, LaRouche is described as saying, in another striking case of projection:
[P]eople who capitulate to Obama [designated in many LaRouchian articles as a “British” agent or puppet–DK] have already lost their membership in the human race If we survive this crisis, people will hate those people more than anything else. Traitors are hated more than enemies–and that holds both for the U.S. and Russia.
Another type of projection is seen in the LaRouchian accusation that the international Jewish bankers control organized crime and the narcotics traffic, that journalists who write articles critical of LaRouche are “lobbyists” for the traffickers, and that anyone who is soft on the “war on drugs” or smokes pot or listens to supposedly drug-induced rock music is part of the enemy conspiracy. To oppose the conspirators, LaRouche set up the National Anti-Drug Coalition and started publishing a magazine called War on Drugs (both are now defunct).
In fact, the LaRouchians themselves were involved with organized crime and labor hoodlums in that same period (late 1970s and early 1980s), working directly with people who were associates of drug trafficking Mafia entities such as the Meli family in Detroit and the Genovese family in New York. They sucked up to Carlos Marcello (Louisiana), Santo Trafficante, Jr. (Florida) and the Provenzano brothers (New Jersey and New York). They developed a relationship with jailed Mafia drug banker Michele Sindona, who had managed heroin profits for the Gambino crime family and also had a close relationship with Sicilian mobsters.
“LaRouche was ‘connected,'” says Ron Fino, an FBI informant in mob-influenced labor circles during the 1970s and 1980s. “They viewed him and his followers as a support group.” In fact there is abundant documentation that the LaRouchians produced news releases, reports, booklets and news articles–and gave oral presentations to union leaders and members–to counter the actions of prosecutors and union reformers, and to try to refute the findings of investigative journalists. “They’d be there when someone was indicted,” Fino said.
They also provided investigative services, as for Reagan’s Labor Secretary, Ray Donovan, when he was probed by a special prosecutor regarding allegations that he had Mafia ties. Some of the LaRouchians were very good at what they did. One of them, Richard Leebove, quit the LaRouche org (out of sincere disagreement, I believe, with its anti-Semitism) and ended up a top advisor to Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. after engineering the downfall of Teamster reform chief Ron Carey so Hoffa could become president in 1998. (Hoffa has won every five-year election since then and is widely considered one of the most effective leaders in the U.S. labor movement, although the union under his leadership has not been scandal-free.)
Early on in the org’s “mob” period, LaRouche hired as his security advisor one Mitchell WerBell III, a self-styled mercenary and reputed former CIA contract agent who was better connected than LaRouche. WerBell, shortly before being hired by the supposedly “anti-drug” LaRouche, had been a defendant, along with John Nardi, the head of organized crime in Cleveland, in a Florida drug smuggling case in federal court in Miami. The defendants were acquitted after the key government witness died in a mysterious small plane crash.
For awhile, LaRouche fancied his cult as a crime family in the making. “I am the boss,” he told his followers and threatened them with “cement shoes” if they didn’t toe the line. He told Fino that his favorite restaurant in New York was Ponte’s (F. Illi Ponte Ristorante, a notorious Lower West Side mob hangout, now closed, where deals were done by the crime families and union bosses), although Fino never actually saw him there. But then LaRouche figured out a safer way of making huge amounts of money–white collar telephone scams to senior citizens. At the same time, however, he steered some of his most talented people into doing for Panama’s cocaine dictator, Manuel Noriega, what the org had been doing for the mob–public relations and intelligence gathering.
The projection in the above examples helped both LaRouche and his followers to continue to engage in sleazy activities; it was a collective projection, so to speak. But we’ll end here with an example that is so obvious, on the face of it, as to be almost ludicrous. LaRouche and his followers denounced Obama as a pathological narcissist in a string of YouTube videos and EIR articles, e.g., from 2011,”Will Narcissist Obama’s Fall Bring Down the U.S. As Well?” In other words, they accused Obama of having the very affliction that LaRouche manifests to perfection! LaRouche’s followers even devoted an issue of EIR in 2015 to the “Obama Murders,” about which the synopsis states:
Within the defined, common “type” of the narcissistic mass-murderer and torturer, the uncanny parallelism between Obama and the Roman Emperor Nero (37-68 AD), has been widely noted. But fewer stop to consider both men’s proneness to suicide. (Compare also the suicide of Adolf Hitler.) … Very early in life—or rather, even earlier—both Nero and Obama were guilty of a disastrously wrong choice of mother.
In this reference to a “disastrously wrong” [choice???] of mother, we again see the Symbolically Evil Black President as a projection of the Actually Evil White Fascist Cult Leader’s qualities. LaRouche started writing about “witch mothers” in the early 1970s–long before he ever heard of Obama. The mother still causing him distress is neither Obama’s nor Nero’s.
29. Apocalyptic thinking.
By apocalyptic thinking, I mean any attempt to communicate in words or images one’s “foreboding of imminent disaster or final doom” (Merriam-Webster). It can also include warnings about a conspiracy of evildoers to bring about the dreaded outcome, and calls to foil said conspiracy through any means necessary.
Four weeks before the election (Oct. 13), The Nation noted Trump’s attempts to whip up fear and anger based on confused but powerful apocalyptic suggestions:
The world according to Donald Trump is very dark indeed. The American economy has tanked. Mexico has sent a horde of criminals over the border to steal jobs and rape women. The Islamic State, cofounded by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, is taking over the globe. “Our country’s going to hell,” he declared during the Republican primaries. It’s “like medieval times,” he suggested during the second presidential debate. “We haven’t seen anything like this, the carnage all over the world.”
For Trump, it’s not morning in America, it’s just a few seconds before midnight on the doomsday clock. Although his campaign doggedly continues to promise a new beginning for the country, the candidate and his advisers are sending out a very different message: the end is nigh. These Cassandras all agree that, although Obama’s two terms were no walk in the park, the stakes in 2016 are world-destroyingly higher. If Clinton is elected, the future could be, as conservative political operatives Dick Morris and Eileen McGann titled their recent book, Armageddon.
Two days later, the New York Times noted how Trump had just “unleashed a barrage of near-apocalyptic warnings about the potential destruction of the country, broad accusations about the illegitimacy of American democracy, and crude innuendo about his opponent that is almost without precedent in modern presidential history.”
Although it is unclear the extent to which Trump has a spontaneous bent for apocalyptic thinking, he is known for making decisions based on what the last person to talk to him says. Steve Bannon was at the time the CEO of his campaign and is now his senior counselor and strategist. And Bannon is definitely into an apocalyptic world view to judge from a talk he gave via Skype to the conservative Catholic Human Dignity Institute at the Vatican in 2014:
[W]e’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years….
They have a Twitter account up today, ISIS does, about turning the United States into a “river of blood” if it comes in and tries to defend the city of Baghdad. And trust me, that is going to come to Europe. That is going to come to Central Europe, it’s going to come to Western Europe, it’s going to come to the United Kingdom. And so I think we are in a crisis of the underpinnings of capitalism, and on top of that we’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.
After saying some nice things about the Judeo-Christian tradition and the Jews as competent capitalists, he suddenly suggests there’s another enemy out there that may be part of the doomsday scenario:
The central thing that binds that all together is a center-right populist movement of really the middle class, the working men and women in the world [elsewhere in the presentation he includes Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France as part of this movement] are jut tired of being dictated to by what we call the party of Davos. A group of kind of — we’re not conspiracy-theory guys, but there’s certainly — and I could see this when I worked at Goldman Sachs — there are people in New York that feel closer to people in London and in Berlin than they do to people in Kansas and in Colorado, and they have more of this elite mentality that they’re going to dictate to everybody how the world’s going to be run.
One wonders it it’s just the party of “Davos” (i.e., the World Economic Forum that meets in Davos, Switzerland each year) that he’s referring to…or the party of David (as in the image of the star of David aka the “sheriff”s badge” on top of a pile of cash beside the face of Hillary Clinton that Trump would tweet to the world two years later).
Bannon then returned to the Isis problem, but set forth a scenario that appeared to relate to an enemy much more powerful than Isis:
[T]here is a major war brewing, a war that’s already global. It’s going global in scale, and today’s technology, today’s media, today’s access to weapons of mass destruction, it’s going to lead to a global conflict that I believe has to be confronted today. Every day that we refuse to look at this as what it is, and the scale of it, and really the viciousness of it, will be a day where you will rue that we didn’t act [unintelligible].
This apocalyptic viewpoint, at least as related to Islam, apparently has influenced Trump’s choice for national security advisor, who appears to buy into the “clash of civilizations” doctrine and has made broad, sweeping and bigoted judgments against Islam that generally are rejected by counter-terrorism experts. Michael Hirsch reported (Nov. 20) in Politico:
Last February Mike Flynn, the incoming national security adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, tweeted: “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” He urged his tweeps to “please forward” a Muslim-bashing video by one I.Q. al-Rassooli, a Britain-based, Iraqi-born polemicist who argues that Islam is less a religion than a cult in perpetual war with the West, that the Prophet Muhammad “committed crimes against humanity on a massive scale” and the Koran is “a rambling, incoherent, jumbled scripture of hatred and enmity that no true God would have ever revealed to anyone.”
LaRouche is the Paul Revere of apocalypse messengers. Unlike Revere, who made his midnight ride only once, LaRouche has been making it practically every month for over 50 years–in the form of his constant predictions of doom. For instance, he predicted on numerous occasions that President Obama was going to start World War Three. He also predicted, successively, that Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush were going to start a nuclear war–not as self-motivated individuals but, like Obama, as agents of the international “British” oligarchy. (He was softer on Reagan and Clinton, but seemed to worry that someone around them–or the “British” acting independently of them–would trigger the war.)
The underlying idea is that the oligarchy–with Jewish surnames and the names of real or fancied Jewish businesses–wants nuclear war and the resulting famines and plagues (or in the interval, contraceptive pills, Obamacare death panels and environmentalist checks on industrial growth) to destroy Western civilization and leave us in a New Dark Age with most of the world’s population gone. The oligarchs would then rule the survivors as serfs in a world without scientific creativity or German classical music. They have been plotting this for thousands of years, he says–and that’s how his followers understand history: the oligarch are plotting and the heroic “humanist” elite at LaRouche headquarters is counter-plotting.
LaRouche has never explained why his war of the “inner elites” has continued since Babylonian times without ever being resolved one way or the other. Likewise, he has never explained why all those Wall Street bond traders, City of London merchant bankers, the Rothschild dynasty, and the British Royal Family would possibly want to go back to the Dark Ages. He suggests that the oligarchical elite has evolved into a separate alien species of parasites (by practicing usury generation after generation), but still, why would they want to give up the amenities of the modern world?
His followers write up reports about the imminent disaster and how to counter it. They include charts, graphs and intriguing photos. They also provide, as backup, fantastical accounts of the historical battles of the elites that draw on the vast wealth of factoids which they’ve accumulated and put together in arcane ways, as in the design of a computer game. This stuff can be convincing to people prone to conspiratorial modes of thinking and can get them sufficiently upset that they give LaRouche large amounts of money (he went to prison in part because of the alarming predictions his fundraisers and loan solicitors fed to senior citizens and other vulnerable persons).
Those of LaRouche’s followers who spent most of their waking hours raising money on the phone or on the street were being guilt-tripped: if you don’t meet your daily quota, you’re showing that you care more about yourself than about the survival of civilization. If the war comes because of your unwillingness to go the limit to stop it, you’ll be personally responsible for billions of deaths!
Conversely, the fact that the oft-predicted crash or war never happened could be explained away by the fact that the individual had, along with other members of the fundraising team, done everything he or she could to stop it–and had temporarily succeeded! But for many of these cult followers, the ultimate apocalypse was not nuclear war but the prospect that LaRouche–the genius who alone could lead the world away from the brink of disaster–might be assassinated, thus dooming the world (or at least making its salvation far less likely). Warnings of this odd form of apocalypse often were extremely effective, inducing LaRouche followers to tell lies even more preposterous than those of Donald Trump to gain sufficient money from vulnerable people to pay for expensive security guards to protect LaRouche from supposed conspirators in high places who regarded him as the number one threat to their plan for the New Dark Age.
The apocalyptic fear-mongering of LaRouche may not be as convincing as the poetic riches of the Book of Revelation, but among secular apocalyptic scenarios it is surely the most elaborate and arguably the most effective for motivating a relatively small group. Trump of course didn’t need anything like this during his campaign. He just mirrored his audiences and let them merge his own extremely vague warnings of the disaster that would befall them if he weren’t elected into their preexisting fears, fantasies and prejudices.
30. The Big Con.
According to Wikipedia, the big con or the long con, or long game,
is a scam that unfolds over several days or weeks and involves a team of swindlers, as well as props, sets, extras, costumes, and scripted lines. It aims to rob the victim of huge sums of money or valuable things, often by getting him or her to empty out banking accounts and borrow from family members.
But there are also cons that are much MUCH bigger and longer lasting, conducted by people who plot on a scale vastly grander than any confidence operator. In finance, there are pyramid schemes that go on for years. In politics, there are long-range cons that bring to power (and provide with a capacity to gain or increase vast wealth or other gratifications) a sociopathic and sometimes narcissistic politician and his cronies (like Putin and his circle). In the world of cults, you have a con that can last for decades, inducing people to continuously, year after year, turn over most of their money and labor time, and provide other gratifications, to the narcissistic cult founder and his or her inner circle.
Trump convinced tens of millions of people that he was going to solve their economic problems through a populist program–put the screws on Wall Street, avoid international entanglements and any replay of the Iraq war, bring back the coal mining industry, revive the industrial heartland, stop the flight of factory production to countries with lower wages, create a new sense of self-respect and hope for white working class and middle-class men, put minorities and non-white immigrants back in their places. Trump’s rallies, in which he ranted in an extremely crude way about minorities and women, were the icing on the cake, making his audiences forget (or dismiss as unimportant) that he was a billionaire who had never shown the slightest concern for the working class, family farmers or small businesses, instead spending his entire adult life exploiting and scamming them.
But now, even though the folks at his victory rallies are still cheering his red meat rhetoric and chanting “lock her up” as their victory cry, it is becoming increasingly clear that the entire Trump campaign was a giant con. Crack down on Wall Street? He’s named four Wall Street figures (including three from Goldman Sachs, which he had pilloried Clinton for accepting speaking fees from) to his administration in waiting.
His appointee for Secretary of Commerce, billionaire Wilbur Ross, is notorious for outsourcing U.S. factory operations overseas (precisely what Trump told workers at his rallies he was going to stop), stripping assets from distressed properties, and voiding union contracts (and union pension and health benefits) by way of bankruptcy court. Ross and his International Coal Group (ICG) ran the non-union Sago Mine in West Virginia where 12 miners were killed in 2006 as a result of inadequate safety standards. According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail that year, based on checking court records and other public documents, “Ross has controlled the company that owns the Sago Mine since at least early 2001.”
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, writes:
On Jan. 2, 2006, 12 miners perished at Ross’s Sago Mine. Just a year before the disaster, the Mine Safety Administration of the Department of Labor cited the mine for 208 safety violations, 96 considered “serious and substantial,” including roof falls, improper ventilation, blocked escape passages and piles of combustible materials. Nineteen days before catastrophe struck, a federal inspector cited the company for “a high degree of negligence” for allowing potentially explosive coal dust to accumulate in the mine. After the Jan. 2 underground explosion trapped miners in a smoke-choked shaft, they discovered their emergency air packs were inoperable. (The mine foreman was later indicted for falsifying safety check reports.)
But despite the findings that the mine was unsafe, Ross refused to shut it down. The mine’s executives said Ross had been intimately involved with the company and knew all about its safety problems, but pushed them to show profits…
One person who must share blame for this disaster (and for the Crandell Canyon Mine disaster the following year in which nine died) is Elaine Chou, Secretary of Labor from 2001-2009, who had slashed the annual number of Mine Safety and Health Administration inspections in 2004 . Chou, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has been nominated by Trump to be his Transportation Secretary.
When ICG was negotiating to buy 12 Horizon Natural Resources Co. mines, mostly in Appalachia, after Horizon filed for bankruptcy protection, ICG was unwilling to buy the mines that had union contracts and health insurance benefits for working and retired miners and their families. Horizon urged the bankruptcy judge to allow it to sever its union contracts and no longer be responsible for health benefits (regarded as “legacy costs” in the Orwellian language of Wall Street). The judge did so, thus leaving thousands without health insurance. Ross and his associates then snapped up the rest of the mines.
It could be argued that the primary responsibility for the health care insurance losses at previously unionized mines lay with Congress and with our country’s inadequate bankruptcy laws, not with Ross. But in Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Treasury we have someone for whom there is no excuse–Steve Mnuchin, formerly a partner and Chief Information Officer of Goldman-Sachs, whose greed and ruthlessness stood out as unusual even in the chaos following the 2008 mortgage meltdowns. According to BloombergPolitics:
In 2009, during the depths of the financial crisis, Mnuchin joined with a group of former Goldman Sachs colleagues and billionaires to buy the remnants of IndyMac, which had collapsed after bingeing on reckless home loans during the frenzy of California’s subprime-mortgage boom. They changed the name to OneWest, turned it around and sold the bank for a big gain last year [to CIT Group, with Mnuchin having a seat on the CIT board–DK]. Mnuchin may have personally gotten more than $200 million in proceeds from the sale, according to Bloomberg calculations. That doesn’t count any dividends or payments he might have received as chairman and chief executive officer of OneWest’s parent company.
The bank carried out more than 36,000 foreclosures during Mnuchin’s reign, according to the California Reinvestment Coalition, a San Francisco-based nonprofit whose deputy director, Kevin Stein, dubbed the bank a “foreclosure machine.” The group has accused OneWest of shoddy foreclosure practices and avoiding business in minority neighborhoods, claims the bank has denied.
According to David Dayen in New Republic:
Even among the many bad actors in the national foreclosure crisis, OneWest stood out. It routinely jumped to foreclosure rather than pursue options to keep borrowers in their homes; used fabricated and “robo-signed” documents to secure the evictions; and had a particular talent for dispossessing the homes of senior citizens and people of color
OneWest “disproportionately foreclosed on senior citizens,” according to The Daily Beast, citing a report by California Reinvestment Coalition.
Using a Freedom of Information Act request, the [coalition] determined that OneWest’s reverse-mortgage servicing subsidiary Financial Freedom was responsible for 39 percent of reverse-mortgage foreclosures nationwide, typically something that goes to senior citizens. But Financial Freedom only serves 17 percent of the market, so OneWest was foreclosing at twice the rate one would expect.
According to the coalition, OneWest foreclosed on more than 36,000 homeowners under Mnuchin. During that time, the FDIC made payments to OneWest totaling more than $1 billion. Those payments went to the “billionaire investors of OneWest Bank,” says Stein, “to cover the cost of foreclosing on working-class, everyday, American folks,” many of whom lived in California.
Mnuchin’s OneWest merged with CIT Group in 2015, with Mnuchin having a seat on CIT’s board. Now, he’s hoping to roll back the 2010 Dowd-Frank Act’s restrictions on lending, thus potentially enabling once again some of the abuses that led to and were rampant during the great recession.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D.-Ohio) of the Senate Banking Committee, in comparing the nomination of Mnuchin to Trump’s earlier promises to clean up Washington, stated on Nov. 30: “This isn’t draining the swamp–it’s stocking it with alligators.”
The grotesque differences between what Trump promised his working class audiences during his campaign and what is being revealed by his cabinet and advisor choices keep getting starker and starker:
Create jobs? He’s appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a climate change denying oil industry shill as the head of the EPA, thus suggesting that the U.S. government will not vigorously support, and may even attempt to block, our burgeoning alternate energy industry and thus guarantee that the lead in the new technologies will be taken by China and various European countries.
Bring back coal? The market economics of coal have already doomed it–the best Trump can do is toss some federal funds at strip-mining companies that produce very few jobs.
Stop the outsourcing of production? Trump put on a show of getting Carrier to halt the move of a few hundred Indiana jobs to Mexico in return for tax breaks that working people will have to pay for, lied about the number of jobs actually saved, and then….? A Carrier spokesperson revealed that the company has plans for further automation of the plant in question, thus getting rid of a large percentage of the jobs supposedly saved. Trump’s Indiana stunt did not, and similar stunts in the next few months will not, address in any meaningful way the outsourcing problem.
Help uplift the white working class after its supposed eight years of oppression under a President who was never really their because of the color of his skin? Trump has their reward already prepared: Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder, a fast-food mogul who is against the minimum wage, opposes laws requiring overtime pay and paid sick days, dreams of replacing the workers in his food joints with robots and (oh, yes) is in favor of an employer-friendly version of the very immigration reforms that Trump denounced in rally after rally.
Help the workers a bit with their medical expenses while Puzder keeps down wages? Trump has nominated Rep. Tom Price (R.-Georgia) as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price is not only a big foe of Obamacare but wants to privatize Medicare.
Meanwhile Trump is preparing the repeal of Obamacare as his first act as president, which may mean millions of white workers as well as minorities losing their health care over the next few years, and, if the Republican plan for privatization of Medicare succeeds, millions of retired white workers as well as minorities with far scantier care than they enjoy today. Harvard sociologist Theda Skocpol points out:
Conservatives often point to poor blacks and Latinos as the primary beneficiaries of federal health insurance programs. But such rhetoric obscures the enormous importance of Medicaid, Medicare and Obamacare subsidies to economically struggling white Americans living in small cities and rural areas. In Pennsylvania, where Mr. Trump narrowly beat Hillary Clinton with overwhelming support outside big cities, about 17 percent of residents are 65 or older, above the national average. Meanwhile, some 16 percent of Pennsylvanians benefit from Medicare, and 18 percent from Medicaid. With the bulk of Medicaid going to elderly and disabled residents, that program is the single largest federal subsidy flowing into the Keystone State.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act would also hit Pennsylvania hard. Under the act, some 468,000 low-income Pennsylvanians had gained Medicaid coverage by August 2016, and another 439,000 bought private coverage on the Obamacare marketplace, with more than three-fourths of those people getting tax credits averaging $251 per month. Health care is often sparse in nonurban areas, and the providers that do exist depend on federal insurance programs that help many patients pay for care. If radical Republican cutbacks in federal contributions to health insurance are enacted, Pennsylvania hospitals and health care businesses will lose vital revenues, leaving many lower-income and sick Pennsylvanians at risk of losing access to care.
This is the case in other states as well, meaning many rural and small-town Trump supporters may soon see that Make America Great Again means accelerating economic decline and social devastation.
While this ripoff of working people unfolds, Trump and his family will be getting richer and richer. He continues to refuse to release his income tax returns and put his holdings in a blind trust. He has instead turned his financial empire over to his sons. The Trump family, as things stand now, will continue to make private deals backed by the power of the Presidency all over the world–and the Trump enthusiasts who still want to “lock up” Hillary Clinton and who continue to remain isolated in their Fox News/Alt Right bubble of lies, will mostly never obtain a clear picture of the degree to which the Trumps enrich themselves off the Presidency, along with what Exxon will gain having their CEO as our Secretary of State. The narrow range of media the Trumpists consume either will not tell them at all about what’s going on or will put an Orwellian spin on it (which amounts to the same thing), or will simply change the subject to rant against transgender bathroom access rules. For sure, the bubble media and Trump himself will continue to warn their self-entrapped audience not to listen to the “lies” of the “liberal media.”
In other words, Trump has just pulled off the biggest confidence game in American history, and many of the victims of his snake oil salesmanship will be a long time figuring it out. Indeed, many of them (like so many of the victims of LaRouche’s version of the long con described below) will never admit to themselves just how foolish they’ve been.
LaRouche‘s big con is also political but otherwise is of a very different type. In the late 1960s, LaRouche was one of many adult Marxists who hung around college campuses hoping to win a following among idealistic young people. At one point in the early 1970s a few thousand students and others were interested in LaRouche’s ideas, but most would find his group’s cultishness off-putting and would drop away. It gradually became obvious to LaRouche that Marxism was not a marketable product on a large scale. He moved to the far right, and managed to take several hundred leftwing young people with him by using Orwellian (war is peace, freedom is slavery) semantics and reframing his ideology so that leftism was fascism and fascism was leftism and as to anti-Semitism, well, the Jews were the new Nazis and indeed were much worse than Hitler, whom the Rothschilds and other rich Jews had (so LaRouche claimed) installed in power in Germany.
LaRouche was able to solidify this absurd upending of reality and history by turning his org into a full-blown “destructive cult” using groupthink, a thuggish security staff, and “ego-stripping” sessions targeting recalcitrant members, as well as a spontaneous system of carrots and sticks. For some years thereafter, LaRouche hoped that the devotion and energy of his followers could help to propel him into a position of vast ideological influence, if not one where he could directly exercise the dictatorial powers that he ferociously fantasized about in his writings.
One part of the above process–the semantic and cognitive upending of reality in a profound way–can also be seen in Trump‘s rallies, tweets and other modes of communicating with his base. It is not a total replacement of world view, as with LaRouche, but is none the less dramatic in what it focusses on: persuading working class whites that Trump, a billionaire who has never shown the slightest concern for anyone except himself and his family, and who has ruthlessly exploited and ripped off his workers (insofar as mob-influenced unions would allow him to do so), had suddenly become their great champion who would rescue them from the clutches of his fellow billionaires (the ones who were shipping the jobs overseas and giving the jobs at home to illegal immigrants, as Trump himself had sometimes done).
In both cases, there is a claim of infallibility, including an unwillingness to acknowledge any past mistakes (see Section 19). In one case (LaRouche) there is reliance on a cooked-up ideology; in the other case (Trump) there is reliance on a convenient external ideological source–the white “nationalist” alt-right. In both cases, there is intimidation of and the projection of hate against those won’t go along–Trump called on followers at his rallies to isolate and throw out peaceful protesters and indeed incited his followers to violence in such cases (thus making them complicit with his intolerance and psychologically anchoring their support for him); LaRouche did something similar (in smaller settings) by getting followers to engage in ego-stripping of a single hapless victim. In both cases there is an us-versus-them rhetoric, with followers being made to feel beleaguered by hostile forces that are unremittingly evil. In both cases, preexisting prejudices are used as the “engine” for growth–in the size of the foll0wing (Trump) and in the intensity of the followers’ commitment (LaRouche).
Perhaps the greatest difference is in the main target for scapegoating: Trump focussed on Muslims (a population sufficiently small in terms of citizens that it couldn’t harm him much at the ballot box) and undocumented immigrants (who hide in the shadows, can’t vote and have limited capacity to strike back); regarding blacks, Jews and Hispanic citizens, Trump mostly used dog-whistle language and other cautious tactics (those of his rally attendees who already had prejudices against these categories didn’t need further instruction on the subject, and the rest of the audience could be relied on to rationalize away the hate as just a reality-TV act). LaRouche, on the hand, put his chief focus on Jews and gays, using a combination of open and dog-whistle tactics. His followers could easily be induced on both scores–including his Jewish followers, many of whom came from anti-Zionist leftwing families or from a campus (or post-college activist) milieu where anti-Zionism was already quite common.
LaRouche and his inner ring told the membership of his org that humanity was threatened by an unspeakably evil international oligarchy that was plotting to kill off most of the human race and start a new Dark Age. Only he and his followers knew the truth about this and could stop the plot. They had an absolute moral imperative to devote their lives, night and day, seven days a week to saving the world. They must display absolute loyalty to LaRouche–the only man with the vision and will to lead the salvation movement. They must alert the word and organize all non-contaminated “humanist” elites to join with them. Soon there was a stream of warnings from LaRouche–the world is on the brink of human war! Famines and plagues are coming! The oligarchy fears LaRouche, regarding him as the new Hitler, and are plotting to assassinate him, thus leaving us without the indispensable leader the humanity so desperately needs. Each dire warning would be accompanied by a security-alert “mobilization”–at first to pass out vast numbers of leaflets and hold demonstrations in as many locations as possible and later….to raise money. to expand the literature network, put LaRouche on TV, and pay for his bodyguards and security consultants.
You take a thousand young people, for the most part very bright and well-educated, and set them to using their creativity in fundraising, loan solicitation, wire transfers of funds, check kiting, private espionage work for outside clients, dirty tricks for organized crime and Republican political candidates, and the building of a network of businesses. You frame things so this is all part of saving the world, thus making dishonest and often illegal behavior an expression of a “higher” morality.
Increasingly, however, the devotion to this higher morality was diverted into simply serving LaRouche’s personal need to boost his ego through through a vast propaganda network, TV ads for interminable Presidential campaigns, international conferences with speakers that could be portrayed (with some exaggeration) as important policy makers, and by surrounding himself with bodyguards and security consultants. Over a ten year period, the LaRouche org took in hundreds of millions of dollars for their leader, perhaps as much as a half-billion.
That he chose to spend the majority of it on further boosting of his ego rather than in Wall Street investments is irrelevant. He was still a confidence man using the “long con” (the long-long con) to squeeze the last penny out of enthusiastic new recruits and robotic older members alike. And his con was ultimately based on a lie. LaRouche 3,000 year old oligarchy was a fabrication and his constant claims that he and only he could save the world from the latest oligarchical plot to trigger a nuclear holocaust were ludicrous, just as Trump’s recent promises to save the working class from his fellow billionaires and the Wall Street sharks (now his cabinet cronies-to-be) were contrived, hollow and, yes, ludicrous.
31. Dangerous and even demented ideas on foreign policy.
Trump kept telling the crowds at his rallies that he’d opposed the Iraq war from the beginning (not true), thus implying he would keep us out of unnecessary foreign policy adventures in the future. But he also said some very puzzling things that could make the world a lot more dangerous for Americans. For instance, he suggested downplaying our role in NATO (which he said was an outdated alliance). He also suggested that we were spending too much money on defending South Korea and Japan, both of which should develop their own nuclear weapons. He even suggested that we should embrace Putin’s Russia as an ally, in spite of its annexation of the Crimea and its ongoing aggression in Ukraine. Since the election, President-Elect and now President Trump has failed to consistently modify his off-the-cuff views on NATO and nuclear proliferation and has yet to clarify his consistent support for–and unwillingness to strongly criticize–Putin.
First, he named an Alt-Right lunatic, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, as his national security advisor, and it was down hill from there:
Trump took a call from the President of Taiwan on Dec. 3, 2016 (a no-no for recent American presidents under a long-standing diplomatic protocol that makes the U.S. defensive umbrella over Taiwan easier for the Chinese to tolerate). Although some foreign policy experts regarded the phone call as a reasonable challenge to a too-rigid arrangement (and the Chinese seemed more upset at first with Taiwan’s president than with Trump), Trump didn’t know when to stop. According to the New York Times:
[T]he president-elect has done nothing to defuse the tensions stirred by the call. A string of vituperative Twitter posts by Mr. Trump over the weekend on China’s trade and military policies has fanned questions about whether he wants to reset the relationship with Beijing more fundamentally.
And surely the Chinese (and the rest of the world) were not pleased when Trump made confused and wildly irresponsible remarks about nuclear weapons on Dec. 22. Madeline Conway of Politico reported:
In a series of impromptu statements about nuclear weapons, Donald Trump is threatening to upend longstanding U.S. nonproliferation policy, even as his advisers contradict him and muddy his intentions.
The president-elect had alarmed and perplexed some experts and others in Washington when he pronounced, without offering more details, via Twitter on Thursday that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
He further escalated his call on Friday, telling the MSNBC program “Morning Joe” that he is fine with the country taking part in an “arms race” if it puts the U.S. in a stronger position against foreign adversaries.
“Let it be an arms race … we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all,” Trump said in an off-air conversation on Friday.
After this, the unnecessary taunting of China continued. Result? On Jan. 10, China sent its aircraft carrier into the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan scrambled its jets. The carrier didn’t linger, but…
One Jan. 11, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Exxon CEO Rex W. Tillerson, stated as his confirmation hearing that “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building [in the South China Sea] stops, and second, your access to those islands also not going to be allowed.”
This is the same Tillerson who’s already demonstrated, in his opposition to U.S. sanctions against Russia, that his loyalty is to what’s good for the oil industry, not what’s good for the country; thus it is possible that his suggestion of a hard-nosed policy towards China is intended to justify a further softening of relations with Russia so the sanctions can be lifted and the half-trillion-dollar deal between Exxon and Gazprom, a private company in which the Russian government holds a majority stake, can be finalized.
And of course forming a phony temporary alliance with Russia against an artificially created Chinese threat is the perfect excuse for the U.S. intelligence community to halt its investigation of the Russian government’s role in hacking Democratic Party email accounts and making Trump president. And it will also give mainstream Republicans such as Sen. John McCain the necessary cover to back away from anything more than a pro forma once-over congressional investigation of this unprecedented foreign interference in our electoral process.
On Jan. 23, only two days after Trump’s inauguration, the White House stoked the fires in the Far East again. According to the Washington Post:
[N]ew White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the United States would prevent China from taking over territory in international waters in the South China Sea.
His comments were widely interpreted as doubling down on remarks by Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, on Jan. 11 that the United States would not allow China access to islands it has built in the South China Sea, and upon which it has installed weapons systems and built military-length airstrips.
And in regard to the world’s most problematic trouble spot–Chinese allied North Korea–Trump intervened with a dangerous three-word tweet on Jan. 3 after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced his country’s intention to test a long-range ballistic missile. “It won’t happen,” Trump tweeted. Well, what about Trump’s previous claim that he had a magic plan for defeating Isis but wouldn’t reveal it ahead of time? Why did he then reveal to North Korea what he’s going to do, and allow them to prepare countermeasures?
Does Trump know anything about the Korean peninsula? Is he aware that Seoul, South Korea, with a population of 24 million is only 35 miles from the border and that North Korea’s 700 long-range artillery pieces–Koksan 170 mm howitzers and 240 mm multiple rocket launches–could do damage to Seoul in an opening exchange that would make 9/11 look like a minor event? Does Trump know that there are 28,500 U.S. troops who will have to help the South Korean military deal with the results of a crazed North Korean reaction if Trump and his national security advisor (Gen. Fake News/Fake Intelligence) go through with the “it won’t happen” tweet against a test missile that might very well be another of the bankrupt regime’s humiliating duds?
During a Jan. 21, 2017 speech at CIA headquarters, President Trump suggested that in the Middle East the U.S. might start seizing the oil fields for its own use (or should I say Exxon’s use? or the Koch brothers’ use?). This imperialist rhetoric redolent of the era of colonialism, threatens to drive a dangerous wedge between the U.S. and Iraqi troops fighting against ISIS and is a surprise wedding present for the new Russia-Turkey-Syria-Iran alliance developing in the Middle East.
If that isn’t bad enough, President Trump also has nominated as ambassador to Israel his former casino bankruptcy attorney, David M. Friedman, who advocates the expansion and annexation of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and an end to efforts for a two-state solution (which he regards as an “illusion”) and who thinks that U.S. Jewish liberals who oppose the West Bank settlements are worse than Nazi “capos” in the death camps. And Trump has also indicated he will move the U.S. Embassy to Tel Aviv. The response from a delighted Netanyahu is to strike while the iron is hot. The New York Times reported on Jan. 25 that:es
In a pointed act of defiance against international pressure, Israel on Tuesday approved a huge new wave of settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.
The announcement made clear that just a few days into the Trump presidency, the Israeli government feels emboldened to shake off the constraints imposed by the Obama administration and more willing to disregard international condemnation.
Consider: The United States is at war with Isis and other terrorist groups in the Middle East. The troops we are relying on are Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Iraq, Sunni Muslims in northern Syria, and Kurdish parastates in both northern Iraq and northern Syria. The Kurds in northern Iraq are deeply concerned about keeping their share of Iraq’s oil wealth. In future crises in the region, we will have to continue working with these forces, and with troops from other Muslim nations currently not directly involved on the front lines, or else send in tens of thousands of U.S. troops. Our new commander in chief has now signaled (a) that we may seize their oil; and (b) that we are going to help the Israeli right take over vast new portions of the occupied West Bank and to hell with any two-state solution. Does Trump have any idea how Islamic radicalism will use this in an attempt to overthrow relatively moderate regimes as in Jordan and Egypt? And how Russia, Iran and their allies will use this to edge out U.S. influence in the regime? And how it gives a new meaning to the phrase “in harm’s way” for our troops in Iraq, Syria and even Afghanistan? What do Trump’s Alt Right advisors Flynn and Bannon want? A messianic war of civilizations between the Christian West and the Islamic world? I’m afraid they do.
And on another front, we hear that Flynn–who’d been cozying up after his military retirement to both Putin and Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan–recently met at Trump Tower with Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of Austria’s Freedom Party, thus appearing to encourage a neo-Nazi tinged movement and playing along with Putin’s plan to weaken the European Union and NATO by financing pro-Russian parties of the far right throughout Europe. (Putin has lent millions of dollars to France’s sinister National Front, whose leader, Marine Le Pen, popped up at Trump Tower on Jan. 12, 2007 to confer with a friend of Trump’s. The President Elect’s “chief strategist,” Bannon, had advance knowledge but apparently did nothing to stop or divert the meeting.)
It would appear that on all foreign policy fronts Trump is doing things and preparing things that will make the United States less safe, and in some respects radically so, in a world in which extreme nationalism and strongman rule are both on the rise and may end up posing a greater danger than Islamic extremism.
Whereas Trump has transformed our most dangerous enemy, Putin’s Russia, into our friend; LaRouche would transform our most loyal ally, Britain, into our worst enemy on the grounds that it is supposedly controlled by a parasitical elite of Jewish oligarchs (the people sometimes referred to as the “globalists” in Trump’s and Steve Bannon’s terminology).
All this is based on a simple-minded view of elites as being divided into two completely separate groups: those who practice usury and swindling (LaRouche’s view of the essence of finance) and those who produce industrial goods and are responsible for real economic development. In fact, finance (which is a lot more than “usury”) and industrial production have been inseparable as two side of the same economic process ever since the beginning of the capitalist system hundreds of years ago, and with every passing century and decade have become more and more inseparable. LaRouche believes that financial investment is parasitical, but where does the money come from for starts-up and for research and development? And for expansion of a company’s production facilities?
By absurdly dividing finance and production into two separate realms controlled by two separate elites at war with each other, LaRouche ended up with an apocalyptic scenario that rendered his views on foreign policy even weirder than those arising from Trump’s equally simplistic albeit less doctrinaire populism/protectionism. And the anti-Semitism underlying the LaRouche viewpoint gave rise in LaRouche’s mind and in those of his followers some fantasies of the most extreme variety. For instance, his newspaper New Solidarity suggested in 1978 that the U.S. should do to London what was done to Hiroshima in 1945.
There were also calls in his publications for cooperation with the Soviet Union against Britain and also against Israel, defined as Britain’s puppet colony. New Solidarity even raised the idea of the U.S. or the Soviet Union dropping an H-bomb on Tel Aviv. (The authors only suggested that this be done if the Israelis used nuclear weapons against their neighbors, but it was still an extraordinary example of anti-Zionist hate–a call for a change in superpower doctrine that would have erased the deterrent effect of Israel’s nuclear weapons.)
The suggestions for cooperation with the Soviets against the “British” were not proof that the LaRouchians were still leftists; they had made a permanent move to the far right and their idea of working with the Soviets against international Jewish influences had earlier been promoted by the post-World War Two Neo-Nazi Francis Parker Yockey (the late Willis Carto, grandfather of the Alt Right, was a disciple of Yockey).
The obsession with identifying two opposing “factions” within the elite of each country–a faction manipulated by the British-Jewish conspiracy and a relatively independent and potentially pro-LaRouche faction–didn’t prevent the LaRouchians from becoming effective Cold Warriors (they claimed during the Reagan years that they reported back to U.S. intelligence on any contacts with the Russians, which may or may not be completely true). But as perestroika emerged in the Soviet Union under Gorbachev, the LaRouchians began to distance themselves to a far greater degree from official U.S. policy. They rabidly attacked Gorbachev and expressed strong support for his hard-line opponents on grounds that Gorby was a “British” puppet.
Certainly in the 15 years preceding the fall of the Soviet Union, the LaRouchians evolved into ferocious Cold Warriors, waging war on the propaganda front against leftist movements in Europe and supporting far-right death squads in Latin America. But they continued to reach out to some elements in the Soviet Union because of the peculiar nature of LaRouche’s conspiracy theory: he believed there were bad factions and good factions in all developed countries, a view which ultimately could be parsed down to those who were subservient to the British-Jewish oligarchy and those who were not (i.e., those who could potentially become allies of his own movement).
The LaRouchians identified the Soviet hard-liners as the good guys and the more liberal elements as the bad guys–the ones supposedly under the thumb of the “British.” Over the years, LaRouche communicated the nature of the bad Soviet faction (and later of the bad anti-Putin faction in the Russian Federation) through references to “British” doctors who were supposedly responsible for poisoning various Czars–a meme redolent of Stalin’s Jewish doctors’ canard. LaRouche’s views, published almost entirely in his own publications, had only a minuscule number of readers in the Soviet Union, mostly in its intelligence entities, but subsequently reached a much larger, and mostly right-wing nationalist, audience in the Russian Federation.
Although some people on the Alt Right claim that LaRouche’s support for the Putin regime is proof that he is still a leftist, his org’s closest contacts in Russia are with the likes of Sergei Glazyev–a founder of the fascist Rodina (or “Motherland”) party and now a top advisor to Putin–and former KGB agent turned billionaire Vladimir Yakunin, until recently in Putin’s inner circle and still a supporter of Putin’s aims through his Center of National Glory of Russia and his promotion of Russian Orthodox anti-gay agitation. (Yakunin also is a supporter of the most extreme wing of the U.S. “Christian Dominionist” movement–the wing that believes in infiltrating the U.S. government in preparation for an eventual Dominionist takeover. Don’t expect Donald Trump’s FBI director to pay any any attention to that.)
After the end of the Cold War, with the U.S. supporting the ongoing transition from authoritarianism to democracy throughout Latin America, the LaRouchians ended up in a strange space–urging the return of military dictatorships through their 1994 EIR tract, El complot para aniquilar a las fuerzas armadas y a las naciones de Iberoamérica (The Plot to Annihilate the Nations and the Armed Forces of Ibero-America) with a preface by Col. Mohamed Alí Seineldín, a two-time unsuccessful Argentinian coup leader serving a life sentence in a military prison. The book painted an apocalyptic picture of the region, with multiple super-deadly threats emanating from Mayan indigenes in Central America and Mexico, Amazon tribes, environmentalists, U.S. anthropologists, communist guerrillas (said by the LaRouchians to be growing, not declining, after the fall of the Soviet Union) and “British”-controlled narcoterrorists. In Mexico, the LaRouche movement did its best in the mid and late 1990s to whip up a major military crackdown on the indigenous peoples in Chiapas and (in alliance with landowner-dominated paramilitary groups) almost succeeded.
Also in the 1990s, the LaRouchians opposed attempts to strengthen democratic tendencies in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, describing such efforts as an evil plot by George Soros (today their number one Jewish hate figure) and his Open Society Institute. In 1999, the LaRouchians opposed the NATO bombing of Slobodan Milošević’s Serbian regime, taking the pro-Serbia line of the Russian government. After Putin came to power, the LaRouche org stepped up its direct support for Russian policies. An interesting example is seen in a “This Week in History” article on Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s Schiller Institute website in March 2015 remembering the NATO bombing of Serbia and linking it to the EU states’ opposition to Russia’s actions in the Ukraine:
[I]nsightful strategic thinkers could read the handwriting on the wall. Among them was Lyndon LaRouche, who issued a series of memoranda on the dangers of the unilateral bombing, as a potential step toward global war. Others included the leadership of Russia, which, to this day, cites the Serbian precedent both in contrast to the peaceful, electorally ratified accession of Crimea back to Russia, and as an example of the philosophy of NATO’s claim to unilaterally enforce its will, in contravention of international law.
Is that the Schiller Institute–or is it Putin’s Foreign Ministry–speaking? I note the evocation of a “global war” threat, which the LaRouchians, and the Putin regime itself, often reference whenever the U.S. or NATO takes strong issue with Russia’s bad behavior.
In 2016, LaRouche and his followers virtually pledged allegiance to Putin. “The Future off Mankind Will be Determined by Putin’s Creative Interventions Over the Coming Period,” stated the headline of a June 22, 2016 LaRouche PAC release quoting LaRouche himself. The release appeared while the LaRouchians were conducting a petition drive in several European countries that called for the continental member states of the alliance to drop out and ally themselves with Russia as the only means of avoiding global war.
Although the LaRouche org’s foreign policy pronouncements and its political initiatives based thereon were strongly at variance with official U.S. policy for the quarter century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, that has now changed insofar as President Trump has adopted an attitude to Putin that is not too different from LaRouche’s. And the LaRouchians have now proclaimed their allegiance to Trump on many issues, including his opening to Russia, although they probably will not express much enthusiasm for his policy on China, where they are also trying to cultivate, as in Russia, the will-o’-the-wisp of a proto-LaRouchian faction by promoting giant transportation projects and giving knee-jerk support to whatever atrocities the PRC inflicts on the people of Tibet.
33. Invincible ignorance and the illusion of infallibility.
Throughout his campaign, Trump spewed forth preposterous claims and also cited as facts things that may not have been proposterous but nevertheless were simply not true. Nicholas Kristof commented in The New York Times (“Clinton’s Fibs vs. Trump’s Huge Lies,” Aug. 6, 2016) on the wide disparity between Trump’s unfounded claims and those of Hillary Clinton, and the fact that were trustworthiness ratings and those of Trump were about even. “If deception were a sport,” wrote the frustrated Kristof, “Trump would be the Olympic gold medalist; Clinton would be an honorable mention at her local Y.” He continued:
One metric comes from independent fact-checking websites. As of Friday, PolitiFact had found 27 percent of Clinton’s statements that it had looked into were mostly false or worse, compared with 70 percent of Trump’s. It said 2 percent of Clinton’s statements it had reviewed were egregious “pants on fire” lies, compared with 19 percent of Trump’s. So Trump has nine times the share of flat-out lies as Clinton.
Likewise, The Washington Post Fact-Checker has awarded its worst ranking, Four Pinocchios, to 16 percent of Clinton’s statements that it checked and to 64 percent of Trump’s.
“Essentially, Clinton is in the norm for a typical politician,” says Glenn Kessler, who runs Fact-Checker, while Trump “is just off the charts. There’s never been anyone like him, at least in the six years I have been doing this.”
In a typical rally Trump set forth dozens of falsehoods, often repeating them over and over. Fact-checking organizations and the mainstream media would point this out, but only people already opposed to Trump would listen. If something was outrageous enough to become a significant news item, there was still no stopping Trump. He seemed more interested in maintaining his pretense of infallibility with his followers than in containing the damage to his public image.
Very occasionally he would simply stop spouting a particular lie (which may already have served its purpose anyway), but he would not take serious step to correct the record and he would not acknowledge any responsibility. When he finally conceded that Obama was born in the United States, he framed it within an absurd narrative (Hillary Clinton had started the birther idea, not Trump, and the latter had actually done Obama a big favor by stimulating him to release his birth certificate and thus put Hillary’s lie to rest). That Hillary never used the birther canard in her 2008 campaign and that there was a four year gap between Obama releasing his birth certificate and Trump acknowledging it was of course something many people in Trump’s rally audiences would not know, since they neither consumed nor trusted any media except Fox News and the Alt Right outlets.
Trump also used numerous false claims against his opponents in the Republican primary debates, and their attempts to set the record straight were drowned out by his reality-TV bullying and abuse directed at each of them and including weird advertising in reverse labels (low-energy Jeb, lyin’ Ted, etc.). The labels he put on them stuck, but their attempts to unmask his trickery went nowhere.
On issues of policy he spouted off the cuff opinions with no knowledge to back them up–many of his statements seemed to be based just on something he’d heard recently (as from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ InfoWars) that he thought might keep his audiences entertained and loyal to him. His use of tweets as a campaign tool fit with his know-nothing style–tweets don’t allow don’t allow for any direct informational backup (except links to other tweets or, in Trump’s case, to Alt-Right rants). It was garbage in and garbage out by a mogul who claimed that he knew more than the generals or the diplomats or the scientists (certainly the climate scientists) or the media or the government bureaucracy or anyone else. Trust him–he would make America great again through the magical art of real-estate deal making.
Running through all of this was and is a constant need to affirm his own infallibility–those who challenge him become the focus of early-morning tweets that strike back obsessively, over and over, keeping alive and amplifying incidents that otherwise would be quickly forgotten. He doesn’t have Putin’s secret police to go after his enemies and muzzle the press, but he does have his tweets. In his presidency the range of his intimidation tactics include verbal bullying at press conferences (and those of his press secretary Sean Spicer), off the cuff remarks in his speeches (often at grotesquely inappropriate places, as in front of the fallen heroes wall at CIA headquarters), and in the continuation of his obsessive tweets, including ones in which the President has taken issue in incredibly petty ways with Saturday Night Live skits, the cast of Hamilton, Meryl Streep, etc. He even used Presidential tweets to mock the ratings of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the host of the New Celebrity Apprentice show–a show in which the President continues to have a financial stake.
LaRouche likewise is unrestrained in his off the cuff remarks, his failure to learn anything about a subject before expressing an opinion, his artful skill in concealing his lack of knowledge behind a wall of verbiage and the names of historic thinkers that most of his audiences know even less about than he does, and his weaving together of his witting or unwitting misinformation with abusive language against people on his enemies list, i.e., those he regards as part of the evil international oligarchy or those he regards as oligarchical agents, from Obama on down through obscure individuals who once rubbed LaRouche the wrong way or exhibited a liking for music he doesn’t like and hence became defined by him as enemies. Like Trump, LaRouche becomes outraged at any who fails to recognize his infallibility, but LaRouche takes the outrage back to incidents from his adolescence in the 1930s–Trump might take it back to something a journalist wrote about him a quarter century ago if the same journalist gave him a call today.
LaRouche has not taken to twitter, but he has evolved a number of vehicles and venues over the years to express his ego needs and provide proof that he is truly a world historic genius. First, there are his org’s daily briefings in which he can present his unfiltered thoughts to his followers; second, articles in his Executive Intelligence Review (his weaponized version of Newsweek), in which there is certain amount of filtering–very cautious filtering–by whichever follower edits his article; third, his ramblings on web TV or on conspiracy talks shows; and fourth, his speeches before his followers at their incessant international conferences often sponsored by the Schiller Institute, a think-tank (of sorts) headed by his wife and warmly encouraged by the Russian government.
The big difference between LaRouche and Trump is that the former has systemized his monstrous narcissism into a conspiracy theory of history. This theory was conceived by LaRouche in the 1970s and would be buttressed by a vast trove of dubious factoids gathered by his followers over the years since and woven together by deductions based on deductions based on deductions into a grim armageddon of hate (Steve Bannon on steroids).
Whereas most of the conspiracy theories that Trump hears about from InfoWars and its like are centered on the contemporary world, LaRouche takes it all back to ancient Babylon with proto-LaRouchians and proto-Rothschilds fighting it out century after century. LaRouche views this ongoing war as leading up, in a Hegelian sense, to an inevitable final conflict between LaRouche himself (or, now that he is in his 90s, between the organization founded by him that will carry out his humanity saving and world transforming destiny for him) and the unspeakable oligarchical species–a collective entity far worse than anything Trump has ever imagined.
Within this framework, there is a curiously timelessness to LaRouche’s writings and speeches–if he is talking about the crises of today he is also talking about the battles of, say, Renaissance times or even Athenian times. Since the villains of the past are part of the Hegelian process leading to the villains of today–the enemies of LaRouche today–he hates them with the same passion as living persons he has defined as enemies. And thus, his speeches and writings are filled with bitter remarks about long-dead political or intellectual figures as is they had come up to him in public and spit in his face a few days previously.
But remove the three thousand years of folderol and there’s not so much difference between LaRouche and Trump. Here’s an example from a speech LaRouche gave in Moscow in 2001, in which he claims that 17th century natural philosophers opened up the “question of relativistic time and relativistic physical space-time” over 200 years before Einstein…but evil forces were at work:
[T]he Leibniz calculus, and also Leibniz’s Monadology, are key to understanding what came out of these kinds of discoveries by Leonardo da Vinci, then by Kepler, and then by Fermat. The problem came as this: You had a problem with Leonhard Euler, who was a formalist, and you had a problem with a protege of LaPlace, Augustin Cauchy. The Newton calculus was discredited, so Cauchy tried to save Newton by revising the differential in the Leibniz calculus. The result is, that legions of people after Cauchy, because of that school, and particularly the British school, have been fraudulently teaching, and practicing the calculus for almost two centuries. Because the differential value, in the Leibniz differential calculus, is not a linear interval….
Name-dropping of historic names doesn’t make LaRouche any more knowledgeable than Trump. LaRouche is not an educated man, and I suspect that he’s just piling on the names and accusations to cover up his ignorance. The later physicist Edward Teller once met with LaRouche, and told Ronald Radosh and me, when we interview him for an article, that LaRouche was “a poorly informed man with fantastic conceptions.” It is perfectly valid to draw comparisons between LaRouche’s ramblings above and certain fantastic conceptions of Trump’s. On the one hand, we have allegations of mathematical fraud, about which LaRouche feels strongly because he regards Leibniz (1646-1716), the alleged victim of the fraud, as a proto-LaRouche victimized by the “British.” On the other hand, we have Trump’s allegations of a plot by Clinton, George Soros & Co. to steal the election via vote fraud, and his later allegation that Clinton’s “victory” by almost three million in the popular vote was the result of millions of unqualified immigrants somehow getting undetected into the polling booths as part of what would have to have been the most gigantic conspiracy in world history.
And note LaRouche’s trashing of his historic proto-competitors in comparison to Trump’s sleazy labeling of his opponents in the Republican primaries and the general election. Go through LaRouche’s list of scientific bad guys and simply transfer the names: “Little Marco” for Euler, “Lyin’ Ted,” for Cauchy, “Crooked Hillary” for Newton, and let’s put in “NAFTA” for calculus and the “globalists” for the British. Hypothesis: When two narcissists develop political ambitions of an expansive variety, eery parallels in their thought and behavior become almost inevitable no matter how profound the differences between them.
34. Orwellian doublethink.
35. No concern for the environment.
Trump declared global warming to be “bullshit” and said he would repudiate the Paris climate agreement as well as roll back Obama’s executive actions on climate change. Indeed, Trump chose a notorious climate-change skeptic, Myron Ebell, to head the EPA working group of his transition team. Ebell has said, “There has been a little bit of warming…but it’s very modest…it’s nothing to worry about.” Many observers worried that Ebell might be chosen to head the EPA, but Trump someone at least as bad, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who not only is a climate change denier but also has a history of hostility to the EPA. He has filed a number of suits against alleged EPA overreach and is best known for his role in encouraging legal actions nationwide against Obama’s Clean Power Plan for slowing global warming. Rolling Stone termed Pruitt the “fossil-fuel industry’s con man” and reported:
As attorney general, he once sent a three-page letter to the EPA accusing the agency of grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by fracking rigs in his state. The letter had been written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies. All Pruitt did was put his name on it and pass it along.
Subsequently, Trump nominated Rex W. Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, as Secretary of State, where he will be in charge of interacting with foreign governments on climate issues and managing U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement (if Trump goes through with his threat on this). Exxon, the world’s largest energy company, has known for decades that climate change is real, but it chose to cover up the facts, cynically promote global warming denial quackery, and oppose efforts to get a handle on the problem. When Tillerson became CEO, the company began to acknowledge on its web site that global warming is real, but Tillerson still questions the views of scientists on how urgent the situation is, basically taking a position that the Washington Post describes as “non-denialist optimism“–if the situation gets really bad, there will be an engineering fix that won’t require a sharp cutback in the use of the profitable forms of energy that make matters worse. But when to identify the clear and present threat that almost all climate scientists have already detected? Tillerson, unfortunately, has spent his entire working life at Exxon; he knows no world but that of the oil industry uber alles.
For the Department of Energy, Trump nominated Texas Governor Rick Perry, another climate denier and a man utter lacking in the scientific background for arguing a coherent position on the subject. According to Mother Jones:
Unlike every energy chief in both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, Perry disputes that climate change is both happening and is a consequence of human action. In his 2010 book, Fed Up!, he wrote that “we have been experiencing a cooling trend” and railed against Democrats who have embraced “so-called science” on climate change. He complained the Department of Defense had devoted three whole pages to the subject in an official threat-assessment report. He kept up his climate change denial during his ill-fated 2012 presidential campaign. “There are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects,” he alleged during one campaign appearance.
For the Department of Interior, Trump nominated first-term Congressman Ryan Zinke (R.-Montana) who presents himself as a traditional Teddy Roosevelt conservationist on hunting and fishing matters. He expresses climate denial in the coded form of climate skepticism: “It’s not a hoax, but it’s not proven science either.” Much of the media, unfortunately, takes this stance at face value, just as it takes Breitbart News’ “white nationalism”– a coded renaming of white supremacism–as somehow representing something of less toxicity. In fact, in both cases, the softened terminology makes the underlying message more toxic by enhancing its ability to influence the public.
And then there’s Stephen K. Bannon, the former CEO of Breitbart News who will be Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor at the White House. Bannon appears to be a climate change denier of the most fanatical type. Inside Climate News reports that he:
has called government support of alternative energy “madness.” His conservative website, Breitbart News, relentlessly pursues the idea that global warming is an invention of activists, university researchers and renewable energy industry profiteers determined to assert global governance for their own gain.
“Pure scum” is how Breitbart News describes the alleged schemers, and the site suggested that the Vatican had been taken over by Marxists after Pope Francis urged the world to protect the environment and slow climate change. Bannon has cited a faked TIME magazine cover, purportedly from the 1970s, as evidence that scientists once thought the world was cooling.
President Trump and Steve Bannon just couldn’t wait for the comfirmation of Scott Pruit. The authoritarian ban on science and environmentalism began immediately. Mark Sumner at the Daily Kos reports:
Without Scott Pruitt on the ground at the Environmental Protection Agency to provide the appropriate set of alternative facts, there’s a chance someone at the EPA might reveal an actual fact. And Donald Trump is having none of that.
- No press releases will be going out to external audiences.
- No social media will be going out. A Digital Strategist will be coming on board to oversee social media. Existing, individually controlled, social media accounts may become more centrally controlled.
- No blog messages.
- No new content can be placed on any website. Only do clean up where essential.
And while the flow of information out of the EPA has been locked down, it’s far more than press releases that have ceased to flow.
EPA staff has been instructed to freeze all its grants ― an extensive program that includes funding for research, redevelopment of former industrial sites, air quality monitoring and education, among other things ― and told not to discuss this order with anyone outside the agency, according to a Hill source with knowledge of the situation.
These grants power everything from sampling pollution around Superfund sites to community recycling programs and environmental education programs used in schools. The grant lockdown follows reports that Trump intends to cut $815 million from the EPA’s budget, destroying not only the ability to fund research, but to enforce existing standards.
A “March for Science,” triggered in part by the EPA crackdown, is being organized, and will include not only a march on Washington but regional and local marches across the country along the lines of the Jan. 21 Women’s March. The events are scheduled for Earth Day, April 22. According to The New York Times (Feb. 2):
Within a week of its creation, the March for Science campaign had attracted more than 1.3 million supporters across Facebook and Twitter, cementing itself as a voice for people who are concerned about the future of science under Trump.
LaRouche has denounced all environmental concerns and initiatives ever since the early 1980s. He and his followers revile environmentalists and have heaped abuse on them, linking them to satanism, homosexuality and a giant plot by British-Jewish bankers to reduce the world’s population to a few million people through nuclear war, famine, usury, the encouragement of sodomy, etc. and create a “New Dark Age.” As to the science that affirms the existence and seriousness of global warming, the LaRouchians see any science that disagrees with their ideology to be part of the oligarchical conspiracy dating back thousands of years. Considering that they regard Aristotle’s logic, Euclid’s geometry, Isaac Newton’s physics and Darwin’s theory of evolution to have all been devised as part of political operations to help the oligarchs against the “humanists,” then it should be no surprise that they regard today’s climate change science and other aspects of environmental science to be part of yet another attempt to bring about the New Dark Age. In 1994, the LaRouche org, working with the right-wing “Wise Use” movement, played a key role in stopping the U.S. Senate from ratifying the multilateral Convention on Biodiversity, and the Senate has not revisited the issue since then. At present, the United States is the only UN member not to have ratified the convention.
Prior to the Dec. 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, the LaRouchians called it an example of “green fascism” and said it should be called off, and that the “conditions of life for billions of people depend upon rejecting [its] agenda.” LaRouche’s EIR issued a special report, “Global Warming” Scare Is Population Reduction, Not Science. EIR also denounced Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si, which calls for reducing carbon emissions and other measures to save the planet. The LaRouchians, almost none of whom are Catholics (they kicked out most of those who had converted to Catholicism years ago) said that Laudato Si was not really Catholic and represented the “Satanic” influence of an agent of the global “British” oligarchy.
33. Paranoid thinking.
Since paranoid type accusations can be so useful when one is dealing with people influenced already by conspiracy theories, it is unclear the degree to which real paranoia motivates either LaRouche (who has used his concerns about being assassinated to get his acolytes to conduct frantic campaigns to raise money to pay, ostensibly, for security guards) or Trump (who, during his campaign, used accusations regarding a giant election-rigging plot to get his followers to ignore the many mistakes he’d made and to prepare them for robust protests if he were to lose). I suspect from years of studying LaRouche that he has real paranoid tendencies but has learned to use his affliction to manipulate people and achieve non-paranoid goals. In the case of Trump, however, the expressions of concern regarding a rigged election and other conspiracies against him may just be part of his politicized reality-TV act. (Caveat for this entire study: I am not a psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist or any other type of mental health professional.)
 The term “Golem” has several meanings in Jewish lore; one is of a creature similar to a zombie, which might correspond to Steinberg expressing a personal contempt for Soros. But most people have only heard of the tale about a single Golem–the one said to have been created by a rabbi in Prague to protect the Jews against pogroms. Thus Steinberg’s use of the term would amount, for those who don’t know the full range of meanings, an Orwellian inversion of the Golem of Prague tale and a mocking of the Jews and their historic travails.
 The lengths to which such absurdity can go is seen on a website called Realities Watch, which provides a list of Rothschild controlled banks that includes the central banks of just about every nation in the world from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The list is supposed to show how the Rothschild family has “slithered its way into each country on this planet, threatened every world leader and their governments and cabinets with physical and economic death and destruction, and then emplaced their own people in these central banks to control and manage each country’s pocketbook.”