Friday 28 December 2018

The Deposition Of "Mad King Donald"?

Heading For A Fall? Will the reign of “Mad King Donald”, the 45th American President, end as tragically as that of Ludwig II, the "Mad King of Bavaria"? Over the Christmas period, newspaper articles and blog postings have appeared in the US media alleging that President Trump’s increasingly erratic behaviour and his refusal to accept professional guidance is placing the Republic in danger.

IT RISES like a piece of romantic confectionary from the fir trees that crowd around its base. The conical rooftops and soaring white-stone towers epitomising the fairy-tale castle. So much so that a scaled-down version became the centrepiece of Walt Disney’s “Fantasyland”. It is called “Neuschwanstein” – the new swanstone castle – and it is the most enduring legacy of Ludwig II: the “Mad King of Bavaria”.

So erratic, so spendthrift, so megalomaniacal, had Ludwig II become that in the early hours of 10 June 1886 a Bavarian Government Commission arrived at the gates of Neuschwanstein bearing a document officially deposing the King, and under orders to take the allegedly “insane” Ludwig into custody.

At first, the King resisted. Police officers loyal to Ludwig drove the Commissioners from the castle gates at gunpoint. For a few hours, the opportunity existed for the King to rouse the Bavarian people against his enemies. But, Ludwig hesitated and the moment was lost. A new detachment of Bavarian police soon relieved the King’s defenders and Neuschwanstein was sealed off. By 12 June a second Commission had taken the King into custody and Ludwig’s uncle, Luitpold, was proclaimed Regent. A day later, Ludwig’s body (and that of his psychiatrist, Dr Bernhard von Gudden) was found in Lake Starnberg, 11kms south of the Bavarian capital. Officially, Ludwig had committed suicide. Unofficially …. ?

Ludwig II's spectacular legacy - Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria.

Will the reign of “Mad King Donald”, the 45th American President, end in such tragic circumstances? Over the Christmas period, newspaper articles and blog postings have appeared in the US media alleging that President Trump’s increasingly erratic behaviour and his refusal to accept professional guidance is placing the Republic in danger.

It was Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria against the advice of his Secretary of Defence, General James Mattis, that constituted the final straw for Pulitzer-Prize winning NY Times columnist, Thomas Friedman:

“It was the moment when you had to ask whether we really can survive two more years of Trump as president, whether this man and his demented behaviour — which will get only worse as the Mueller investigation concludes — are going to destabilize our country, our markets, our key institutions and, by extension, the world. And therefore his removal from office now has to be on the table.”

Accordingly, Friedman is calling upon the Republican Party to stage an “intervention”. Essentially, what he and a growing number of like-minded American opinion formers are demanding is that, for the remaining two years of his presidency, Trump becomes a mere figurehead – guided by a responsible Cabinet of the Republican Party’s own choosing. If Trump refuses, then Republicans and Democrats must join forces and impeach him.

All of which raises the question: Can Mad King Donald be removed from office (and this world) as expeditiously and bloodlessly as Mad King Ludwig?

Twitter was not available in 1886, which meant that the Bavarian Government could control the flow of information concerning Ludwig’s deposition. Such scattered resistance as did occur when rumours of the King’s predicament eventually filtered out to his faithful peasant subjects was easily dispersed. In 2019, by contrast, any attempted Republican Party “intervention” would be revealed instantly in a Presidential “tweet” – thereby mobilising tens-of-millions of Trump’s loyal followers. How easily these “peasants” could be dispersed is an interesting question. They would not be carrying pitchforks.

Much now hinges on how determined the American ruling-class is to “fire” its rogue CEO. Trump has initiated a trade war with the Chinese that is unnerving the world’s free-traders. He has openly attacked the US Federal Reserve – prime defender of the global neoliberal order. Wall Street is not impressed. Not since 1931 has the stockmarket fallen so precipitously in a single week. Bad enough, one would think, but include the strategic signal contained in the Syrian withdrawal and everything gets much worse. American markets are secured by American arms: weaken one and you weaken the other. Weaken both, and you become a “clear and present danger” to the national security of the United States.

And all those Trump loyalists bearing arms? One suspects the American military is just itching to give them a Napoleonic “whiff of grapeshot”. The Second Amendment notwithstanding, there is room for only one army in the USA.

And Mad King Donald’s legacy? Not a Neuschwanstein, certainly. Just possibly, a half-constructed Mexican border wall.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 28 December 2018.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

" One suspects the American military is just itching to give them a Napoleonic “whiff of grapeshot”. The Second Amendment notwithstanding, there is room for only one army in the USA."

I suspect that the army will be split. Many of those Second Amendment fanatics are in fact ex-military. It is not these days recruited from a cross-section of society so much is from the poor, and officered by the middle class. And many of these working-class people cling to their guns because they don't have a lot else. On the other hand, the US Army swears allegiance to the Constitution not the president. But even so, I suspect there will be a proportion that would refuse to fire on its own citizens, rabid though they may be. It certainly will be a test of their discipline one way or another.
Interesting isn't it how the rabid right's take on Trump has changed from fawning over him to outright alarm in some circles given the terrible thrashing Republicans talk in the house. Retirements, resignations, defections – if it wasn't so dangerous it would be providing me with hours of innocent amusement. It certainly confirming my cynicism about politicians. But perhaps we should call it realism instead.

David Stone said...

The trade war is in US domestic economy's interest. The imbalance of trade isn't a figment of Trump's imagination, it is bankrupting America and the investors know it even if those among them who are personally benefiting from industries relocated overseas and selling back into the US might be stung by it .
The FED has precipitated the share market slide with interest rate hikes and QT without a real recovery, and I bet it was more to do with killing the one thing Trump was getting some credit for than any need to curb growth stimulus. Now I wager they are trying to arrest the slide before it gets out of hand with fiat money inserted into the market.
I concur with the interesting prospect of a "yellow vest" style uprising in the US with the yellow vests all packing. It will be something for the impeachers to contemplate . Various polls suggest 60%-75% or 86.4% of yanks agree with Trump about America's wars to spread freedom and democracy. I think America might be ungovernable.
It is interesting that for all the 2 years of the Meullar enquiry , and the constant vilification of the man by the MSM his popularity ratings have been the most consistent (not the highest) of any president of the US ever through the first 2 years. Those who backed him have stuck to him through it all. Are they going to desert him now he is finally defying his minders to do what they elected him to do?
What an interesting year it is going to be! The popcorn sales should go through the roof. Have you got a few crates in?
One aspect of the reaction to the troop withdrawal is that the chorus of shrill objection has blown any deception of what the US establishment is in Syria for. And it shire as hell isn't to get rid of ISIS which has been cleaned up everywhere in Syria except where the US and proxies are protecting them. And I doubt the Kurds are all that happy about that. I don't think that was Trump's intention , and probably he can see that he can't force the military to do anything on the ground if everyone below him has another agenda. He can pull them out when he sees they are not doing what they are supposed to be there to do, and that is what he has done.
I don't think he's mad. I don't think he is very nice, but I don't think he is bad either. He is very isolated. If he survives a cross-party impeachment attempt early next year he should reach across the house for the few MPs in agreement with his foreign policies, and appoint Bearnie Sanders to at the UN, Tulsi Gabbard to replace Pompeo and Rand Paul to replace Bolton.

Nick J said...

I'm not sure that Trump is out of control, he is doing what he told his supporters he would do. He has just overridden his neocon Mad Dog Mathis to demonstrate that his policy take precedence over the military industrial complex and rogue defence establishment. How many real Leftists agree with US forces being in Syria?

I'm not defending Trump, but he is neither mad nor irrational. He is doing what he said he would. If his opposition had studied the electorates fears and desires they might not have been shocked when they lost. The elite who so blithely assumed that the people would follow whatever the Beltway and One Percent wanted got their true deserts in Trump. I for one can't see how those of the Left support those anti Trump plutocrats. Object to Trump yes, support his domestic opponents never, that's a bargain with all the hobs of hell.

peteswriteplace said...

The Mad Hatter. Will he take the easy road out an blow his own brains out, or be locked up in a secret sanatorium somewhere?

Max Moss said...

Bill Clinton campaigning against King Bush the First: "It's the economy, stupid."
The economy was bad and Clinton ousted Bush.

For thousands of years it's always been the same. When the economy goes down the tubes so will Trump. It's closer than most people realize.

Few people follow politics the way we news junkies do. They follow their wallets.

Anonymous said...

The businessman who is the President of the United States of America.
Donald Trump.
Ordinary person.
I have read all comments, here and overseas.
The world is left wondering on everything he says.
I am still in wonder.
Is he God?.
Or is he someone loving the attention?.
The world will go on.
Thanks Donald for the entertainment.

greywarbler said...

It is the USA who brought the trade war on their own heads. Typical of the obsessed rich to manipulate the market for their own high profits, and then blame the trade imbalance they caused on anyone they can see moving.

aberfoyle said...

As with most if not all politicians are ego driven,Trump,classic egocentric.Puppet,may play to his ego more than impeachment,although what may play better for his ego!s appeasement,sudden ill health,however,all three possibles are going to shatter his egocentric self importance.As for the G.O.P.who many of its members are just little ego Donald!s,who do not give a toss for those many disenfranchised from the great American dream,for them the little Donald!s their only true care is the profit exploit that free market allows.

greywarbler said...

'They follow their wallets'. True. In the Sydney oil rush in the 70's there were fake mining nutes dropped in the share exchange lobby and that caused a large share price movement. It could be called the 'Hansel and Gretel' ploy when you lead these people by the nose. These inbred insiders love cute sayings like bears and bulls etc.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I found this by accident. If it's true, it's terrifying. Because you only have two read the comments on Slater's blog to realise that we have people like that too.

Larry Mitchell said...

Trump was elected for two reasons. Hilary ... and gerrymandered electoral boundaries. Soooo ...

1. Find a credible alternative 2020 Presidential candidate ... note either (R) or (D)

2. Game the stupid system too ... just do it better than "them".

PS: I side with Comey's view ... that impeachment is a copout. The electors must exercise the franchise and deliver him "The Order of the Boot"

Anonymous said...

No. As I have said Trump is in many senses a standard interwar Republican president like Hoover, Coleridge and Harding or Mr Teapot Dome (scandal). Trumps basic assumption is war is over time to get to business.That is actually the basic point of Republican Party. The point of Eisenhower and W43 was to end the garrison state and Permamanent military state and reverse the militarisation of the.The real idea of the USA is that this is a new idea and that the USA is a society without a professional officer class let alone one ruled by one.Of course at some time during 1944 the level of militarisation reached a point in Russia and the USA that was irreversible.About 1956 Eisenhower decided to massively reduce and control the military industrial complex by relying on the new theory of nuclear deterrence by relying on a max of 32 Polaris submarines, minuteman silos for ICBM in the 6 farm states which were regarded as disposable in eastern think tanks and General LeMay, the only man able to write a US warplan since General MacArthur. On that basis Eisenhower started massive disarmament of the US Forces,with massive cuts in all the numbers.

Anonymous said...

Bill Clinton was elected simply because the Republican Party split and many of the influential Reaganites supported Ross Perot.Secondly the peace dividend following the end of the cold war in 1990-91 led to massive job losses in many new Republican strong hold in the South and New England. HHH Hubert Horatio Humphrey between Wallace and the Clinton's, HHH was the definition of the left for the Democrats and its enemies the Republican right yet even Humphrey in his final run realised he could effectively destroy McGovern in the 1972 California primary by realising if he pointed out what McGovern meant with his massive arms cuts to the workforce at TWA, General Dynamics and McDonnel Douglas and Boeing.Humphrey said constantly have you read the McGovernites manifesto, he's going to reduce the fleet from 16 strike carriers to 6.Think about it brothers. The military and oil have been the economy and jobs in the US for quite some time

Guerilla Surgeon said...

" Trumps basic assumption is war is over time to get to business."

Never seen a statement quite so wrong. Trump – God help us – should immediately put to rest the idea that a businessman can run a government. He has no sense of "business" as such, just his own personal advancement and enrichment. So whatever he is doing, he's doing it to help himself plunder the American economy, and if it does help the rich it's merely a side effect. If Trump made money selling weapons, there'd be wars all over the place. Trump is pure selfishness, unbridled and undiluted. Except perhaps for a homeopathic drop of family, as he seems to be allowing close relatives to do a bit of plundering as well. But if he needs to, he will throw them under the bus like everyone else.

David Stone said...

@ GS
This is a popular view of Trump ; maybe people can't divorce their image of him from the role he played as an actor on The Apprentice . He was an actor in the role of an ogre that maybe lots of Yanks watched in horrified fascination , and maybe he is still playing that role. At least I am quite sure he is still quite capable of playing a role.
If his interest was purely to make more money he most certainly would not have become president. Though running and narrowly loosing might have helped in that respect by the raising of profile; and he may not have expected to win, or intended to.
It is assumed that he is driven by ego , and I'm sure he is. But so are most politicians. A remarkable exception would be Yanis Vaurofakis who had a job to do, and when he saw he wasn't going to be allowed to do it he did the honourable thing. Most US presidents , certainly Hillary would have been one, have an ego that craves the adulation and perception of importance that the role embodies, and are content to deliver the speeches that are written for them and be the talking head of the establishment that put them there.
The establishment didn't put Trump there , the voters did , in defiance of the establishment. And the establishment will probably get rid of him early next year for reverting to a foreign policy he has given voice to for decades.
Trump's ego will not be satisfied by being their mouthpiece. He didn't campaign to "be" the president. He campaigned to change some things he thought should be changed that he thought he could change if he were president. He might have been wrong about what he could do with the swamp, but if his ego will not be satiated by simply occupying the White house for the next 2 or 6 years. And he would make much more money if he went back to his day job and rode the QE money creation bonanza for the wealthy , rather than railing against the "chief financial fiends" of the "Bank they call the Great Financial Hell" ( see A B Patterson's " The Maori's Wool") ( not PC).

aberfoyle said...

Vice President Pence, has taken the oath,as acting President,and all us pray as does he to until our President, regains good health.

Imagine that,replacing a out right capitalist exploiter,with a religious header.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

David. I think it's a popular view of Trump because it's a correct one. I don't think that he actually expected to become president. I think he was running for the publicity, didn't expect to be nominated and expected to lose the actual election. But having been elected he's decided to plunder the American economy for as much as you can get. Let's face it, he is not a good businessman. He lost money running casinos, he's got himself into a fair bit of trouble borrowing money off Russian oligarchs, and I think I mentioned this before but there are those who believe if he had simply put his money in a managed fund after he inherited it from his father, he'd be a lot richer now.
But now of course because he hasn't followed the proper protocols in divorcing himself from his businesses, he is receiving bribes in the form of people using his hotels and paying exorbitant rates for them, and he is charging the government inordinate amounts of money when he stays at his own hotels or clubs. Not just for him obviously but for the hundreds of hangers on that he must have around them all the time. And of course his past tax laws which make him and his friends much richer as well. So he's doing a lot better it seems to me as president than he did as businessman.
And not only was he wrong about what he could do about the swamp, but he actually has attempted to do nothing about it - and I don't believe he ever meant to – on the whole they are his people. If anything he's deepened it by appointing much of it to positions of authority. I really don't think he had anything he wanted to do as president because he didn't expect to become one. But now he is, he's going to screw it for all he's worth.

Anonymous said...

Modern revolutions are often driven by the loss of social position by former military officers and the decline of power and positions for current military officers.The rise of Putin, Hitler and Trump have all been driven by the revolt of the officer class and the decoupling of the officer class from serious political influence in much of the advanced world in the twenty first century is very destabilising nowhere more so in the old superpowers the USA and Russia and they remain the only superpowers at the higher levels of capability submarines, nuclear submarines, strike and fighter aircraft, missiles and torpedoes. China and India are client nations of Russia at that level and France and Japan the only serious trusted allies of the United States. President Trump like all past Republican presidents and candidates recognizes these fundamental realities as.did General Flynn. Those like Obama, Hillary Clinton and Tony.Blair who.demanded intervention in Syria, the Arab Spring a democrat called Front for something and putting the fleet through the Dardanelles and Bosphorous to run as ABM units in violation all of history and international law are the first politicians who should be stood down.Trump faces revolt of course from the painted old girls of the movement on CNN and the more working class part of the officer class led by Engineering officer Steve Bannon, who Trump immediately fired as his most serious rival. In the matters is often as.much against the leaders most serious rivals. Think of the driving from office and party of JA Lee in 1940in NZ (since 1932 Jack Lee was the unacceptable face of the hard left in NZ as viewed in London, Washington and Paris and most of all in the Dominion office.which actually ran the white Commonwealth and where anonymous bowler headed bulldogs from Minor Oxford colleges had already in 1932 had already I stricter GG Game to withdraw the commission of the NSW Govt of Jack Lang's ending the chance of any sort of left government in Australia and imposed direct rule from London on the over spending of Newfoundland. In Washington the new President Roosevelt ruled under the restraint of two rivals equal to Caesar on the right and left General Douglas MacArthur on the right and on the left Senator and Governor Long from the Independent state of Louisiana. A brilliant lawyer from the Upper MiddleClass who had become the peoples tribune demanding the redistribution of the oil and car Barron's. To.most of the US and Louisiana middle class it was Huey Long who was the inchoate dictator and man on the a white horse..Stalin saw the threat Like Berlin as that of his five Marshalls, whose ancestry might have been rewritten as illiterate craftsman but were in fact minor aristocrats and staff officers of the Tsar's personal not this. Mention brilliant officers and military leaders totally indoctrinated in a tradition indistinguishable from.the Kaisers and Frederick the Great Officers

sumsuch said...

This republic of theirs was a vast improvement at the time -- witness the Latin American republics then. Now it's an obstacle. Makes world politics look like first century BC Rome. After the intense ideals bequeathed by WW 2. And the impending doom of climate change, or, as First World people consider it, impeding doom. What happens when you trust the driving wheel of democracy to the powerful.

Trump's clarity to his electorate comes from his removal from reality. Salesmanship, the American advantage, let loose from the rope holding the balloon to the earth. I can't boast, my 4 siblings believe what they want to.

Ludwig's succeeding bruv was equally insane.Ruled by regency into the 1900s.

So, a move objectionable to the Right is the final straw for Thomas Friedmann? Opposition to Trump as the basic gist of his Opposition is the death knell for America's necessary move to more democracy. The diff between now and the 30s is the complexity of the thousands of threads of the media -- individualism combined with the tech. The simplifications of fascism gain ground.

The American military are rank and file for Trump. Matters, if you remember the end of the Roman Republic. And wasn't America built around that oligarchy.

John Hurley said...

When people are "fighting for their country" they mean with themselves as central to it. Here is another book positing white identity as the basis of support for Trump.

White shift by Eric Kaufmann is more sympathetic to white identity.

Unknown said...

Latin America is having a baby boom so the US will need that wall (Needs and needed)

greywarbler said...

@sumsuch What happens when you trust the driving wheel of democracy to the powerful.

Looking back I don't think it was a matter of trust so much as complacency and laziness of mind. The journals of early NZs relate people receptive to John Ruskin's ideas, keen to be informed, reading, forming society and wanting progress. But there seemed no lasting commitment to development of society, which,like the weather, you take with you. How come the early emancipators didn't instil the idea of being ever watchful, for what is granted to you, may be taken away. We had at one time the WEA, and that carried on the tradition of keeping mind-sharpening thinking and discussion going. Which seems to continue in truncated form. (In NZ the Workers Education Association from its start around 1918 reached its first peak in 1930 with 7,355 enrolments.)

Scots in Southland knew that what was regarded as common land could be violently taken away, along with their homes, their communities, family and friends, and their living when it was deemed economically necessary. Dr Ranginui Walker's title for his book 'Struggle Without End' doesn't only apply to Maori. We swim now in a goldfish bowl; round and round, with apparent 360o visibility and bombarded with data which must be analysed to see whether it contains any nuggets of useful, reliable information.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Latin America is having a baby boom so the US will need that wall (Needs and needed)"

1. The wall physically cannot be built. Anyone who's seen the terrain would actually know that. All you have to do is look at Google Earth. Not to mention the fact that it would have to run through private land, Native American land, and possibly through the Rio Grande as well, I can't be bothered checking on that last one. It would cut off ranchers from their own grazing land, and taking more Native American land for it would be distinctly problematic I would imagine.
2. The wall would not work. In the places where a wall exists it doesn't work. People climb over it, people tunnel under it. Hadrian's Wall never worked properly, the great Wall of China never worked properly, and the wall that's supposed to separate Palestinians from Israelis in the Middle East doesn't work very well either. People are ingenious.
3. Most of the people who stay in the US illegally simply fly there and overstay their visas. The number of people that cross the border from Mexico has been steadily going down for years.
Everyone should know this. Trump might in fact not this, Trump's advisers certainly know this, and I would imagine that every geography and geology perfessor in the world knows this. The wall was simply something that Trump said that make people cheer him. Like "Lock her up". Trump does this, but now he's caught in a bind. This is because he's essentially a stupid man who doesn't change his mind in the face of evidence to the contrary. Many people are like this, but he takes it to a whole new level. Not to mention his level of Dunning/Kruger is off the charts. Please, please just put the bloody wall out of your mind. IT'S... NOT... GOING... TO... HAPPEN.

greywarbler said...

Nice pile, has it been on TradeMe? Have any of our patrician-emulating lords and ladies tried to match this in NZ? No doubt there are always some aspirational upwardly-mobile nouveau riche moguls, ex-models or ex-politicians with pretensions to live in a Disneyland replica.

greywarbler said...

Add to 2. The Berlin Wall. There are so many stories of courage and tragedy and ingeniousness about people getting from one side to the other.

As for negating the wall, try helping Mexico produce enough food, and more jobs and do development work with small business, the businesspeople could then pay protection money to the erstwhile drug dealers and there would be quite a thriving little economy employing many now trying to get to the USA.

If the USA just bought more from Mexico, of stuff made there, people would not want to go to that strange country up north.
U.S. trade with Mexico (imports and exports) was at more than $460 million in 2011, compared with nearly $394 million in 2010 and $305.5 million in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Through the first three months of 2012, trade stood at $122.4 million, compared with nearly $87 million during the first three months of 2011.

At the heart of the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which encompasses the world’s largest free trade area (the United States, Mexico, and Canada), linking 450 million people producing $17 trillion in goods and services.

When there is $17 trillion going in goods and services (over what period?), then if only $460 million in 2011 of USA-Mexico imports and exports has only risen slowly, the answer is to change that trend upwards; spend the wall-building money on Mexican made goods, products and services.

And of course what the USA could do is medicalise drugs, taking the high risk, high profit incentive for drug dealers out of the picture. They wouldn't stop dealing, but the price would come down, and police would have to stop looking for ticks on their job sheets, and sending people to be found guilty in Courts and then jails, and instead cart people to drug rehab units. We don't hear much about this possibility; it is too rational.

greywarbler said...

My bad - i didn't put link to the USA - Mexico figures etc.

American Manufacturing in Mexico
May 26, 2012 - posted by TPSadmin
Since NAFTA’s passage, Mexico has become the third-largest U.S. trading partner behind Canada and China