Donald Trump Rears His Head

Three weeks later, and the shock and worry won’t wear off. For months I had devoured every bit of news about the election. I donated three times to the Democratic campaign. I watched the three cable news giants obsessively. I had it all figured out, thanks to the media and the ubiquitous polls thrown at us every day: Trump had only the narrowest of windows for winning the race and he had a 90 percent chance of losing. Women and Hispanics were mobilizing and would vote in record numbers for Clinton. Millennials were coming off the pain they felt at Bernie Sanders’ defeat in the primaries and were now going to vote for Clinton. Obama was going to galvanize black voters and send them to the polls. For all her baggage, Clinton was the odds-on favorite up to the very last day. And then, as I sat transfixed watching my television screen on election day, the unthinkable happened, and now I can’t stop thinking about it. I keep trying to wrap my head around what a world led by a lying, bullying, hateful reality TV star would look like, and I still can’t quite visualize it. We know some terrible disaster is right around the corner, thanks to Trump’s ignorance of foreign policy, underscored by his chat with Taiwan’s president and his heaping praise on the president of Pakistan.

Even three weeks later I feel numb, helpless and betrayed. After all, Clinton won the popular vote handily. And if it hadn’t been for James Comey’s shockingly inappropriate letter to Congressional committee chairs announcing that yet more Clinton emails had been discovered, I am convinced we would have seen a happier outcome. We would have seen a more progressive Supreme Court. We would have seen the continuation and improvement of Obamacare. We would have seen protection of entitlements like Medicare and Social Security, which the GOP can’t wait to privatize. We would have seen a calm, cool-headed leader who knows how to skillfully interact with heads of state and who understands how to walk the tightrope of international relations (like how to deal with Taiwan). Instead we get a misogynistic, narcissistic, race-baiting carnival barker. Our lives are in the hands of a madman. All we can do is hope he can be restrained by those he surrounds himself with, but I’m not sure anyone can restrain Donald Trump. His chief strategist, Steven Bannon, is closely aligned with the alt right, and will be whispering in Trump’s ear every day. God help us.

We are all beyond saturation with the coverage. My Facebook feed fills up every few minutes with more stories about Trump’s improbable victory and what it means. Key words and phrases that keep running in my head include uncharted territory, fear, dread, despair, unprecedented, terrifying, no one knows, unimaginable, white supremacists, surreal…. And I admit that despite the saturation, I still keep reading the articles and watching the news shows, hoping that maybe I can finally understand and accept what happened. (So far I have been glaringly unsuccessful.)

I suppose we have two alternatives: to burrow ourselves into a hole and try to block it all out, or to actively work to change things for the better and to get ready for the next election fight in 2018. The closing stanza of Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach keeps replaying in my head:

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

There we have it: the most I can do at the moment is turn inward and try to keep the angst at a minimum, to forget about the “ignorant armies” that clash by night and just get on the best I can. Maybe in a few months I’ll get active in politics again, but for now I am simply trying to keep from being overwhelmed in a tsunami of terrible news that seems to get worse every day. The steady onslaught, the latest telling of Trump’s horrifying behavior or appointment or tweet, is numbing, stultifying. Hope is supposed to spring eternal, but at this moment I can’t see anything to feel hopeful about.

On the eve of World War I, British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey famously remarked, “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.” Will we see them lit again in America? For now, all we can do is stand and wait. And maybe pray. I do not mean in any way to be an alarmist, but I do believe Trump is going to be worse than any of us imagine. I fear we are going to be in nightmare mode for years to come, if not for generations (thanks to a Trump-selected Supreme Court). A tragedy, in every way. A complete and total tragedy.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 41 Comments

Trump’s election is a disaster, but . . . speaking to Tsai wasn’t necessarily a mistake and isn’t evidence by itself of Trump’s incompetence.

The idea that the President of the US should never speak to the leader of a state which the US is committed to defend and which they give large amounts of military aid to is daft. The idea that the US should never do anything that offends the PRC’s leadership is daft.

China is not a US ally. China is, and has been over the past decade+, a country which has been antagonistic towards the United States and many of its other neighbours, and which has withheld real co-operation from the US on several important issues (the South China Sea, North Korea, Iran etc.) whilst the United States has studiously sought not to offend the Chinese leadership.

Contrary to speculation, this call appears to have been scheduled in advance. Trump appears to wish to over-turn the silly charade that the US president cannot speak to the Taiwanese leadership whilst it is very clear to everyone that the two governments obviously still have close ties. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out but I wouldn’t automatically assume that it is a mistake.

December 4, 2016 @ 9:29 am | Comment

Oh, and as for your shock about Trump getting elected: I went through the same thing with Brexit. The shock wears off, the anger at the terrible stupidity of it all, not so much.

December 4, 2016 @ 9:33 am | Comment

Brexit is forever. A US president is for 4 or 8 years.

Regardless, I have faith in the checks and balances in the system. Trump will be limited in doing crazy stuff by that. So far, he hasn’t really _done_ anything that bad (just said stuff). I’m willing to give him a chance.

December 4, 2016 @ 11:55 am | Comment

Trump’s election is like the 911 of American politics, it’s catastrophic. It’s so wrong on so many levels, it overwhelms me. The stupidity of the electorate boggles the mind.

December 4, 2016 @ 12:28 pm | Comment

I agree with FOARP

Don’t be so depressed. Trump may not be as bad as you fear

December 4, 2016 @ 1:19 pm | Comment

A president is as good as the people around him. Forgive me if I’m not feeling optimistic yet. http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-billionaire-cabinet-picks-20161201-story.html

December 5, 2016 @ 1:16 am | Comment

@jim –

“Brexit is forever. A US president is for 4 or 8 years.”

The flipside to this, of course, is that Brexit may still not happen, or may be softened significantly. Trump, on the other hand, will certainly become president.

And I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he serves an 8 year term, but then, since the Brexit vote, nothing surprises me any more. Even Trump getting elected didn’t really shock me.

Any level of disaster, any number of wrong doings and malfeasance, can be overcome in the people’s eyes if a leader feeds their people the drug of nationalism.

Look at the SNP in Scotland for a mild example of this – ten years of scarcely stellar performance in government, still riding high in the polls because of the nationalistic sentiment they have stirred up in Scotland.

Or if you want to see a heavier case of this – look at Russia and China.

December 5, 2016 @ 2:08 am | Comment

While I am not a Trump supporter, I do not see the Tsai/Trump phone call as problematic. For too long, the U.S. has held a timid approach toward Taiwan. As evidenced by the Sunflower Movement and the pro-Green political renaissance occurring on the island, Taiwan is flourishing. One can contrast this with China’s growing authoritarianism. There is much the U.S. can learn from Taiwan’s democratic spirit, so closer U.S.-Taiwan ties are positive developments, even if they upset Beijing. With China lurching further and further into Mao-style control, it is not clear that calm Sino-U.S. relations will benefit the world. From a purely economic perspective, turmoil with China is deeply problematic given the ways in which the economies of the U.S. and China are parasitically intertwined. Economics, however, is not the only factor one should consider when dealing with other nations. Ethics is even more important. Closer and more overtly supportive relations with Taiwan on the part of democratic nations would be morally good because this would show Taiwanese that the world sees the beauty of their political system and will not abandon Taiwan in the face of China’s brute force.

December 6, 2016 @ 3:11 am | Comment

Your comment about “walk[ing] the tightrope of international relations (like how to deal with Taiwan)” seems to suggest that the U.S. should be quiet about its stance on Taiwan’s disputed status, being careful not to anger Beijing. Can you elaborate on what kind of U.S.-Taiwan relations you would see as ideal? How does one balance ethics and economics, from your perspective?

In a post from many years back, you said that you were disillusioned with the pan-Greens, although you were not necessarily pro-Blue either. Some commentators argue that Taiwan independence is not an important issue because it does not impact the day-to-day lives of Taiwanese. However, as one of my former professors once said (not in relation to this issue), one’s ontology will always impact one’s ethics (even if this is not overtly evident). Ontology is the study of beings and what it means to be. I would say that the question of whether a nation exists and what kind of nation it is should be seen as ontological. When people adopt a perspective on such matters, they are unknowingly taking an ontological stance and hence affecting their ethics. Thus, the question of whether Taiwan is a.) a breakaway province of China, b.) the Republic of China, or c.) some other nation has a deeply ethical dimension. In standing of for Taiwan’s independent status, one stands up for an ontological position that shapes one’s ethical character, meaning the independence issue is not one of mere semantics.

December 6, 2016 @ 3:37 am | Comment

Something I find very fascinating about Trump is that his rhetoric is not that of the typical Republican who condemns the supposed laziness of Obama-care supporters or those on welfare. Quite ironically, from the standpoint of rhetoric rather than content, elements of his message are evocative of Marxist notions of unlocking the potential of alienated workers and supporting those who have been left behind by progress (although Trump is, of course, not a Leftist).

Here is part of Trump’s victory speech:

“Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”

This actually reminds me of Mao’s Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan (to which his wife contributed significantly), of which here is an excerpt:

“Those people in the countryside who used to go around in wornout leather shoes, carry broken umbrellas, wear green gowns, and gamble – in short, all those who were formerly despised and kicked into the gutter by the gentry, who had no social standing, who were completely deprived of the right to speak, have now dared to lift their heads. Not only have they raised their heads, they have also taken power into their own hands.”

Thus, both Trump and Mao were aware of the power that can come from unleashing those who feel left behind by society. Rather like Mao was able to harness the strength of the peasants to defeat the KMT, Trump was (as someone once pointed out to me) able to ride to victory on the support of rural, non-college educated individuals living in impoverished communities who believed the political establishment had abandoned and condescended to them.

December 6, 2016 @ 4:15 am | Comment

BTW – if you want a laugh, check out the post on Hidden Harmonies crowing about how Trump’s election “proves” they were right and the rest of the China blogging community were “wrong”.

December 6, 2016 @ 4:42 pm | Comment

It is great to see that you are posting again, Richard.

With regard to dealing with a Trumpian America, I would suggest a Nietzschean approach. Nietzsche’s concept of the Dionysian is relevant here. In ‘The Birth of Tragedy,’ Nietzsche discusses the Dionysian state, in which ancient Greeks grew so entranced by their reveling that they became utterly ecstatic, giving them a sense of oneness with all that existed. Their feeling of individuality disappeared entirely. However, once participants in the Dionysian returned to a state in which they perceived themselves as individuals, they became nauseated by existence. Such persons now realized that existence was absurd and characterized by suffering and strife (in the Schopenhauerian sense that all things are clashing against each other in order to exist – one might say that flowers exhibit strife, for example, by pushing against dirt in order to grow).

How, then, can one overcome the nausea of the post-Dionysian realization concerning the grim nature of existence? For Nietzsche, ART is key. Despite the bleakness of the knowledge on has gained, one can use one’s sadness to create art and thus make one’s life meaningful. Nietzsche cites Aeschylus’ ‘Prometheus’ and Sophocles’ ‘Oedipus at Colonus’ as works in which mythological characters face incredible suffering, but are able to find meaning through achieving great feats that embody creativity. Similarly, humans can be creative even if they suffer horribly from their realization that existence is absurd. Nietzsche suggests that the Greeks were able to use their suffering to live their lives artistically. He imagines that a Greek might say to a time traveler: “[H]ow much did this people have to suffer to be able to become so beautiful!”

I see the experience of many anti-Trump individuals as paralleling that of post-Dionysian nausea to some degree. Such nauseating experience of existence has parallels to pro-Clinton individuals’ nausea with respect to the U.S. political climate and the antics of Trump and his supporters. In both cases, there is a sense of being overwhelmed by revulsion and despair. Thus, I see the solution to the problem of Trump’s rise as an understanding that one can accomplish great achievements and live creatively despite the suffering that the Trump administration will cause one. The failure of Clinton gives us an opportunity to develop a creative politics that can peacefully combat the bleakness of Trump’s narrow mindedness. Like Prometheus, we must seize fire, but our fire is justice and equality. To do so, we are required to climb slopes leading into the darkest regions of what humans are capable of, but the journey can allow us to live our lives as art. A new politics that emphasizes creativity, separate from Republican and Democratic parties, can emerge. For Nietzsche, great trials are opportunities for one to show one’s strength. A Trumpian America is indeed a huge hurdle to surmount, but it is also a way for the forces of justice to show they can be strong even when overwhelmed by opposition.

December 7, 2016 @ 4:03 am | Comment

‘A Nietzsche-inspired approach’ would be a better term than ‘a Nietzschean approach,’ since Nietzsche did not believe all people were equal and was not a fan of the concept of ‘justice’.

December 7, 2016 @ 4:32 am | Comment

Don’t worry about details, folks: this is what the experts say about next year’s end of the world.

December 9, 2016 @ 5:25 am | Comment

So, it seems Trump is basically the Manchurian Candidate.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/us/obama-russia-election-hack.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0

December 11, 2016 @ 7:37 am | Comment

“For months I had devoured every bit of news about the election. I donated three times to the Democratic campaign.”
That’s exactly why you didn’t see President Elect Trump wiping the floor with Clinton, state by state. It was hilarious to see the mainstream media openly lying about the campaign attendences while Infowars correctly predicted everything BEFORE it happened, but then again Infowars is wiping the floor with mainstream media accross the board now anyway.
Mr Trump has already done more good for the USA than Obama did in 8 years and he’s not even in office yet, look at the upcoming Japanese trade deals, US companies pledging to return, his refusal to waste money on Air Force One etc, etc.

Really? Seriously? you wanted Clinton as Potus? She’s going to jail, you massively underestimate Mr Trump, let me guess, based on your mainstream media, LOL. Lock her up!

A while ago Obama had the sheer front to threaten the UK with “if you vote for Brexit, the US will list you as bottom of the list for trading”, what did Trump say straight away? “The UK will be at the top of the list” and he’s already got a massive link with companies, I work in the city of London and things are very optimistic.

As for Brexit, brilliant! yes it will go ahead and yes we voted out of the EU. Racism has nothing to do with it, being denied healthcare, school places and housing does. Left wingers started the middle eastern wars based on greed, predjudice and lies, that is why these refugees are absolutely swamping the UK and we are full, but you’ll notice how the lovey liberals like Clooney insist we accept an endless stream yet won’t offer a bed or meal to anyone on their massive European estates.

Trump will be a great president and Brexit will be happening soon, live with it!

December 11, 2016 @ 8:50 am | Comment

@Exlaowai

“Left wingers started the middle eastern wars based on greed, prejudice and lies”

Are you kidding? You’ve got to be kidding right?

December 21, 2016 @ 9:49 am | Comment

I think Exlaowai has no carefully-thought definition of what “left-winger” could mean – might be anything from GW Bush to Lenin.

December 22, 2016 @ 3:57 am | Comment

Exlaowai seems to be experiencing the Lacanian psychoanalytic notion of fetishistic disavowal, in which one knows something but acts as if one does not know it. For example, according to Slavoj Zizek, many people are aware of the dangers of climate changes but act as if they do not know these unpleasant facts, continuing to behave in the same environmentally destructive ways.

The notion that left-wingers started the war in Iraq is so absurd that it is doubtful that one actually believes it. The evidence points against this notion, since it was Bush and other right-wing figures who advocated war against Saddam. I am not aware of many liberals who supported the Iraq War. However, Exlaowai can say to himself or herself, “I know very well that left-wingers didn’t start the Middle Eastern wars based on greed, prejudice and lies, but I will act as if I don’t know this. In such a fashion, I will avoid accepting the fact that the right-wing movement I support was responsible for the suffering the Iraq War brought about.”

The breaking apart of fetishistic disavowal can be traumatic. For Exlaowai, giving up his fetishistic disavowal would probably cause him trauma, since it would force him to confront unsavory aspects of the Republican Party. His sense of who he was would have to be altered to some extent. However, I hope Exlaowai is one day able to go beyond what appears to be fetishistic disavowal without having any traumatic experiences.

The mentality of those who believe Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya is that of fetishistic disavowal. Their thought process is, “I know very well that Obama is not Muslim and was not born in Kenya. However, I will act as if I do not know this in order to avoid accepting the fact that Obama became President in a legitimate fashion.”

December 23, 2016 @ 5:26 am | Comment

I should add that fetishistic disavowal is unrelated to sexual fetishes.

December 23, 2016 @ 5:51 am | Comment

“…won the popular vote handily”? Take the CA out of the equation and Trump had more popular votes. Trump won more States, way more counties – and guess what? Those are also not the way the President is elected.

Clinton was arguably the worst candidate the Dems have ever put up. It was only the power of the Clinton machine that even kept her in the running. Bernie was a stronger candidate. The Dems rigging the primaries and the collusion between the DNC and the Clinton campaign also turned a lot of potential supporters away. Dem turnout was down and Clinton’s campaign lacked energy.

Comey did exactly what he was ordered to do. His function was to report any possible email violations to the investigative committee. He did that. If Huma had been following proper security procedures, there would have been no problems with the laptop. All the problems with the emails, server, etc are entirely of Clinton’s own making.

January 2, 2017 @ 10:34 pm | Comment

“Take the CA out of the equation and Trump had more popular votes.” Um, gee, last time I checked California was a state and its votes are part of the election. Trump lost the popular vote, no matter how you want to spin it, and Comey’s stab in the back helped forge the way to Trump’s victory.

January 4, 2017 @ 7:54 am | Comment

It is likely that many of the trolls who have followed The Peking Duck over the years would fall under the diagnosis of perversion in Lacanian psychoanalysis. ‘Perversion’ in the Lacanian sense is not necessarily what one would think of as sexual perversion. (I am not trying to suggest that any of the commenters on this blog engage in what one would call sexual perversion.) Lacan did not intend for his sense of ‘perversion’ to carry stigma. In order to stay on topic, I will relate my discussion of trolls to the behavior of Trump.

According to Lacan, children begin life seeing the world as revolving around them. They do not yet see themselves as distinct entities from their primary caregivers. One can think of how infants are waited upon after they cry. The primary care provider of a child (who is in most cases the mother) has an especially prominent connection to him or her. For Lacan, there are deeply unsettling aspects to the child’s relationship to the mother. The child is utterly dependent upon others’ love for its very survival, meaning that it feels that it must figure out what the mother wants in order for her love of it to continue. The child fears that at any moment the mother could withdraw her love and instead become wrathful. This is why Lacan describes the mother as a crocodile in the jaws of whom the child is standing. At any time, the crocodile could snap!

The secondary caregiver (usually the father) is in many cases a figure that interferes with the mother-child relationship. By taking away the mother’s attention from the child and engaging in child-father activities, the father poses a threat to the child’s special relationship with the mother and its sense that the world revolves around it. It should be noted, however, that this interference is a relief for the child, since it temporarily takes away the stress of feeling the need to appease the mother.

There are three diagnoses in Lacanian psychoanalysis (neurosis, psychosis, and perversion), all of which are tied to the child’s relationship with it primary caregiver. For neurotics, the father succeeds in bringing the child into a state in which it is less connected to it mother. Thus, the child is integrated into the Symbolic Order (the realm of laws, customs, and language). In the case of psychotics, the father utterly fails to disrupt the mother-child relationship and integrate the child into the Symbolic Order.

In the case of perversion, the child is partly integrated into the Symbolic Order (less so than neurotics), but it refuses to give up the jouissance (pleasure that is gained through experiences that are more painful than pleasurable) that its special relationship with its mother brings it. Thus, the fathers of perverts are only partially successful in disrupting the mother-child relationship. Because perverts are not as integrated into the Symbolic Order, they obtain jouissance from attempts to cause the Law (the limits set on how much jouissance one can attain – not necessarily written laws set out in statutes) to be imposed upon them. For instance, one Lacanian psychoanalyst wrote an essay in which she discussed a patient who would break laws in hopes of being caught so that the Law (in Lacan’s sense of the term) could be laid down.

I should note that my use of the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’ (by which I signify the primary and secondary caregiver, respectively)does not mean that mothers and fathers necessarily fill the roles I describe. The primary or secondary caregiver could be anyone. It does not have to literally have to be the child’s mother or father, although this is usually the case.

So what does any of this have to do with the trolls who have commented on The Peking Duck? Well, many of these trolls seem to exhibit perversion because they refuse to give up jouissance by refraining from making comments that upset others or that lead the discussion off track. If the trolls decided not to amuse themselves through causing others emotional turmoil, they would give up the jouissance that they would get from doing so. Similarly, if trolls allowed discussion to stay on topic, they would give up the jouissance they would attain from moving the conversation in the emotionally charged direction they want it to go. Instead of giving up jouissance, the trolls wreaked havoc upon the blog, repeatedly defying social conventions of respect that would have constrained their ability to acquire jouissance.

An additional factor that suggests trolling is a form of Lacanian perversion is that Richard acted as a kind of parental figure laying down the Law. For instance, sometimes Richard told commenters to tone down their comments. There are cases in which non-trolls complied with Richard’s command, exhibiting a neurotic mentality by agreeing to give up the jouissance that they would have obtained by continuing to post emotionally charged comments. By contrast, trolls continued to repeatedly test Richard, refusing to abide by his jouissance-restraining dictates. Richard acted as a Law-giver in other ways as well. Sometimes he threatened to ban commenters. In other cases, he disabled comments on posts because he felt that the conversation had become too tumultuous. There were even blog posts themselves that were devoted to discussing the need to reign in trolls and maintain an environment of civility.

By provoking such responses, the trolls who frequented TPD were, it seems, able to have a temporary sense of relief because they found in Richard a figure who could give them the feeling that the Law was being laid down. For Lacan, too much jouissance is overwhelming and traumatic. Thus, if Richard had said, “I give up trying to police comments on my blog. Everyone is now free to say whatever they want, no matter how vicious,” this would have been traumatic for the trolls. Their ability to cause chaos would have had no value for them, since it would no longer have been subject to policing.

An additional factor that may relate to trolling’s relationship to perversion is a difference between neurotics’ and perverts’ relationship to drive. For Lacan, drive is a repetitive striving toward a goal that one is fixated upon. An aim of Lacanian psychoanalysis is to bring about drive in neurotics. In contrast, the trolls who followed TPD already exhibited drive. They were fixated upon the goal of causing turmoil and were willing to repeatedly transgress social restraints in order to do so.

Other Lisa, who sometimes acted as a moderator for TPD, also played the role of parental Law-giver. She referred to herself as s ‘net nanny’ – a term that is potentially evocative of Lacanian ideas. One can imagine a nanny (rather than the father) acting, for some children, as the one who tries to cut them off from the jouissance that they would receive from their mother. A child whose father is distant might find that it is his nanny who gives him attention or takes him on outings that separates him from his mother. Moreover, the name ‘Other Lisa’ is presumably a reference to the cartoon character Lisa Simpson. If I remember correctly, the little picture by Other Lisa’s name was a character drawn in the style of the Simpsons. It is interesting that Lisa Simpson is arguably the one who tries to lay down the Law for Bart Simpson (although she is, strangely, his sister), whereas Homer Simpson is unable to do so. These factors suggest that Other Lisa may have been conscious of, or at least had an unconscious understanding of, her role as a parental figure.

Trump exhibits a similar psychology to many of the trolls who posted to TPD, meaning a Lacanian analyst would likely diagnose him as a pervert. He repeatedly makes bullying and offensive comments, refusing to give up jouissance by adhering to rules of social decorum. This repetition (at times during his campaign, for instance, he was unable to restrain himself from attacking anyone who criticized him) could be seen as a drive aimed at creating emotional turmoil in others. By being critical of Trump’s outrageousness, Hillary and other commentators acted as parental figures laying down the Law, since they tried to signify that there should be limits upon the jouissance Trump should obtain. Trump, in turn, acquired jouissance through their attempts to cut him off from jouissance. If others stopped being critical of Trump’s behavior, he would be traumatized because his awareness that he could say anything without censure would overwhelm him with too much jouissance. To better understand Trump, one should study the trolls that frequented Richard’s blog.

January 4, 2017 @ 3:05 pm | Comment

Wow, thanks for that exhaustive analysis of my site and its trolls. I agree with most of what you say. Unfortunately, the point is nearly moot because I am blogging so little, and the number of comments have dropped commensurately. (Most comments to my posts now take place on Facebook.) Determining who is a troll and how to deal with them is always a challenge and a headache. This new comment, for example is borderline trollish but I won’t delete it because I want people to know they can disagree me. But oh, hitting the delete button is so tempting…. I wish people who are pro-Trump would write their comments elsewhere, but no allowing them to do so goes against my blogging philosophy. They have to cross another line for me to delete their comment or ban them, like spamming, personally attacking another commenter or being generally hateful.

January 5, 2017 @ 6:06 am | Comment

Comey was following his instructions from AG Lynch. He was required to report any further emails to the Senate committee. He did so. Someone on the committee leaked the letter. Not Comey’s fault.

Comey was a liberal hero after his speech saying he would not be recommending any charges be brought against Hillary. Since when does the lead investigator on a case make that decision? The investigator’s job is to collect the evidence and turn it over to the AG. But, once again, Comey was doing what he had been instructed to do. So why was he given this responsibility? Because Bill Clinton and AG Lynch had a secret meeting on that tarmac. Huge ethical violation and extremely bad visual. Lynch tapped out of the decision making process attempting to avoid looking like the investigation was rigged. The compromise they came up with was to put it on Comey.

The root cause of the problem was Hillary herself. That private server could have been hacked by a 10 yr old. Her stream of lies didn’t exactly help her credibility either. Her staff compounded the problems with their own lack of security. Podesta’s password was password. After falling for a phishing scam where he gave up his password and verification protocols, he sent his new password and verifications via the compromised email. And how the hell did Anthony Weiner’s laptop have State Dept emails on it? Hillary and her staff created this nightmare on their own. And amidst all the charges, counter charges and general blame game, no one has asked her how the hell she could have been so damn stupid.

January 7, 2017 @ 5:13 am | Comment

Cuttlefish, a lot of unnecessary verbiage. All you needed to say was that everyone that agrees with you is brilliant, insightful and a shining example of humanity – and everyone that disagrees with you is moronic, racist, homophobic and whatever other aspersions you can come up with.

Richard, your description of your blog makes it sound like it’s merely an echo chamber. Do you blog just to hear yourself think? For the pats on the back and the adulation of your supporting commenters? Maybe Cuttlefish can do an analyses on belief systems so weak and fragile they cannot tolerate dissent or disagreement.

January 7, 2017 @ 5:23 am | Comment

Richard, your description of your blog makes it sound like it’s merely an echo chamber. Do you blog just to hear yourself think?

This blog is my personal hobby. I write it for no one else but myself. If you don’t like it, there are many other sites that cater to your beliefs. You can disagree with me; I’ve never deleted a single one of your comments even though I find your political views repellent. And yes, I do often blog to hear myself think — it is cathartic and a great way for me to organize my thoughts and pursue my favorite hobby, writing. Again, no one forces you to be here. Your choice.

January 7, 2017 @ 7:04 am | Comment

Not technically true Richard. Back in late 03 you deleted a comment about Kerry. You were calling Bush a war criminal and I pointed out that under military law Kerry was a self admitted war criminal for not having reported the numerous atrocities he claimed to have witnessed. You called it a lie (it isn’t) and deleted it.

January 7, 2017 @ 8:07 am | Comment

Sorry, I don’t remember, but it’s quite possible. As I said, I write this blog for myself, and if I feel a comment is out of line I may delete it, rare though that may be. And Bush is a war criminal, in my eyes.

January 7, 2017 @ 8:25 am | Comment

Richard, the issue you face with regard to deciding when a commenter has crossed the line is very Derridean. For Jacques Derrida, we should always be concerned about whether we have done enough for others, never being satisfied that we have put in all the effort we could. We must always ask ourselves, according to Derrida, “Could I have done more?” One topic related to this Derridean notion of being unsettled is hospitality. Derrida discusses absolute hospitality, in which the host remains hospitable toward the guest no matter how horrifically the guest treats him or her. From a middle Derridean perspective, one should constantly test how far one can take hospitality, striving to get as close to absolute hospitality as one can get. From the perspective of the later Derrida, it is possible to attain absolute hospitality.

Blogging is an issue of hospitality for you, since you want to be hospitable to others’ thoughts, even if you strongly disagree with them. However, you do not want to embody absolute hospitality, since this would lead comments to become too hateful. Thus, you are trying to test the limits of hospitality without becoming too hospitable. It is clear that you are concerned about whether you have done enough to be hospitable toward commenters who challenge the limits of what is appropriate to say online.

January 8, 2017 @ 6:04 am | Comment

“Cuttlefish, a lot of unnecessary verbiage. All you needed to say was that everyone that agrees with you is brilliant, insightful and a shining example of humanity – and everyone that disagrees with you is moronic, racist, homophobic and whatever other aspersions you can come up with.”

I probably shouldn’t even respond to your anger, but I will.

I argued that Trump’s behavior resembled the behavior of trolls. I never claimed that all conservatives were troll-like or moronic. For instance, I consider Ayn Rand to be intelligent and creative, although I am on the opposite end of the political spectrum from her and find her ideas regarding self-interest disturbing.

January 11, 2017 @ 6:49 am | Comment

I should clarify that the case could be made that Ayn Rand was troll-like. She was not unintelligent, however.

January 11, 2017 @ 6:53 am | Comment

So it’s anger to point to the deep confirmation bias in your post? As an analytic person, wouldn’t you want someone to point out this issue to you? If only to be self aware.

I truly find amusement in people who do psychological evaluations based on media reports. The truth is, you haven’t got a clue what makes Trump tick. Maybe he responds to criticism with counterattacks because it works. People like a fighter. His campaign was focused on winning and doing what it took to win. He went into this campaign with both parties and the media lined up against him (See Bernie’s recent comments). His tactics obviously worked. I have no idea how much of his public persona is real and how much is a calculated creation. Neither, apparently, did any of his opponents. Politics is no place for the faint of heart.

January 12, 2017 @ 11:53 am | Comment

“So it’s anger to point to the deep confirmation bias in your post? As an analytic person, wouldn’t you want someone to point out this issue to you? If only to be self aware.”

The anger lies in the demeaning, hyperbolic nature of the response. It would have been better to respond: “I see deep confirmation bias in your post. I believe you are interpreting evidence based on your preexisting biases.”

January 13, 2017 @ 1:46 am | Comment

A topic relevant to this issue is Slavoj Zizek’s Christian atheism. In Zizek’s view, Jesus’ cry of “Father, why have you forsaken me?” indicates an embrace of atheism. Zizek sees the message of Christianity as being that we should emulate Jesus and become atheists ourselves. Thus, according to Zizek, one must be an atheist in order to be a true Christian. For Zizek, Christ’s resurrection was not literal but metaphorical. Jesus lived on metaphorically as the community of believers who followed his teachings and were bound together by love. This is what, according to Zizek, Jesus refers to when he says, “When two of you love one another, I will be there.”

I wonder whether, through The Peking Duck, people were able to form a community of believers, although not in reference to Christianity itself. Did love form between commenters, so that if one of the were to die she would live on metaphorically as a part of the community? Perhaps there was too much anger in the comment threads for such bonds of love to form. I have seen another online community that definitely became a community of believers. People grew very close over the years and came to love one another.

Of course, the community of commenters surrounding TPD seems to have drifted apart. (Maybe it still exists on Facebook, as Richard may have been suggesting earlier.) There is not much traffic on this site. If the Duck’s community became a community of believers and subsequently collapsed, this brings up questions regarding how a community of believers can be maintained. For instance, what keeps the community going over time?

The kind of emancipatory community that Zizek envisions is a solution to the problem of Trump. The U.S. and other parts of the world have become deeply divided due to factors such as Trump and Brexit. Forming a community of believers would offer people opposed to the current rise of conservatism a sense of being united and having a community. This would help to combat the despair and helplessness that has in arisen in many people who are anti-Trump.

January 13, 2017 @ 1:02 pm | Comment

“Trump’s election is a disaster, but . . . speaking to Tsai wasn’t necessarily a mistake and isn’t evidence by itself of Trump’s incompetence.”

It shows that Trump overestimates the U.S. bargaining position with China. And no, this does not help the Taiwanese one bit. Escalation is the last thing they need.

“The idea that the President of the US should never speak to the leader of a state which the US is committed to defend and which they give large amounts of military aid to is daft.”

Carefully crafted policy by the U.S. itself over years.

“China is not a US ally. China is, and has been over the past decade+, a country which has been antagonistic towards the United States and many of its other neighbours, and which has withheld real co-operation from the US on several important issues (the South China Sea, North Korea, Iran etc.) whilst the United States has studiously sought not to offend the Chinese leadership.”

You have this completely ass-backwards. The U.S. was antagonistic first to the PRC and was not particularly helpful to the ROC either. The South China Sea was never even a point of contention until one day the U.S. decided it was going to be one and chose to “pivot” to Asia. The U.S. deliberately and systematically oversells China’s influence on North Korea as a cheap smear. Throughout the years levels of food aid from the South and the U.S. match or exceed China’s. For Iran, China eventually got on board but the U.S. approach to Iran should not be considered wholly legitimate especially in light of all of its many other Middle Eastern foreign policy failures. And failures is putting it lightly.

“We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out but I wouldn’t automatically assume that it is a mistake.”

“Dick around and wait and see how it plays out” is precisely NOT what the Taiwanese people need. Maintaining the status quo is the decision the vast majority of Taiwanese people want for the sake of security and constancy. Tsai was highly irresponsible in pulling this stunt. Her supposed ideals couldn’t conflict more with the American president’s, and he is a borderline sociopath that would trade Taiwan away in a heartbeat.

February 2, 2017 @ 12:27 am | Comment

And no, this does not help the Taiwanese one bit. Escalation is the last thing they need.

An enemy of freedom is telling Taiwan what is good for them. That’s not terribly convincing, “old friend”.

If someone has acted irresponsibly in recent months, it’s been the Chinese leadership.

February 2, 2017 @ 4:46 am | Comment

Trump was the default vote. Sanders was the right choice and told us the truth we needed to hear and know. Hillary ( Hilldog ) had nothing on the table and offered us handouts. I mean seriously our “go girl” Hill for prez……. can you live with that for another generation after all the bs war and anti-privacy bs.

Hopefully President deep pockets will not resign anymore bs laws. No more girls generation bs. We need the men out there working and being normal.

However I do feel bad for the bann and bs with the immigrant situation. It is dumb but people have never been more friendlier then ever.

February 2, 2017 @ 5:11 am | Comment

“An enemy of freedom is telling Taiwan what is good for them. That’s not terribly convincing, “old friend””

Polls show 80% of Taiwanese want to maintain the status quo. Or do you think you know better than 80% of Taiwanese what is good for them? Of course you do.

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2016/10/29/2003658136

Typical “Westerner.” We only heed democracy when it’s useful for us. Vote against our interests? We bomb or spread subversion and terrorism in your country.

February 2, 2017 @ 4:25 pm | Comment

Glad to see no one reads your wordpress still, justrecently. It’s nonsensical. Calling Nigeria’s relocation of Taiwan’s “de facto embassy” Chinese aggression is a joke. You and your kind have really stripped away all meaning from that word.

February 2, 2017 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

Polls show 80% of Taiwanese want to maintain the status quo.
Indeed. That’s why they voted Tsai in, and that’s why they are likely to do it again.

February 2, 2017 @ 9:01 pm | Comment

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