My latest piece (2020 WTF Year in Review) looked at all the craziness of 2020—coronavirus lockdowns, governments admitting UFOs are real, conspiracy theory going mainstream, and the Great Reset—seeking to unite these seemingly disparate and bonkers realities into a unified field theory.
In this piece I want to offer a similar approach to the question of Donald Trump and Trumpism, so core to the 2017-2020 high strangeness. In light of the major threads on this site—ontological flooding, weird naturalism, the conspiratorial—how do we make sense of Trump & Trumpism?
This piece is going to be wide ranging and seek to locate Trump within a series of larger forces in American history and politics. First I’m going to cover a series of various vignettes and stories in Trump’s life—both personal and political—this will give an important snapshot of his worldview and influences. From there, in the second part I’ll seek to unite those threads into a coherent weave.
The place to begin is with Trump’s father Fred Trump (later Fred Christ Trump Sr.). Early in his adulthood, Fred joined his mother Elisabeth (Donald’s grandmother) who took over the family property business from her late husband Frederick Trump. Frederick died young in the Spanish Influenza Outbreak of 1917. (Yes, Donald Trump’s grandfather uncannily and very eerily died during a pandemic). Frederick Trump had left Prussia as a young man in order to avoid enforced military service and technically was therefore an “illegal immigrant”, which is quite intriguing given later charges against Donald of draft dodging in Vietnam, as well as his anti-immigrant political platform.
During the 1950s Fred Trump was accused of profiteering on Federal Housing Administration contracts. (Fred) Trump was never charged but managed to maneuver his way through legal hot water, a trait of course his son became a master at throughout his life. Fred Trump appears for all the world to have done some shady business dealings—again bringing his son directly into that trajectory. From his father, Donald learned how to use lawsuits, bankruptcy laws, and government contracts to his own advantage. All those tactics became core to his later rise to power.
Fred Trump (now Fred Trump Sr.), along with son Donald, who had by this time was following in the family business, were subsequently charged by the US Department of Justice for violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The Department of Justice accused the Trumps of racial discrimination in their rental housing policy. The Trumps’ lawyer, Roy Cohn (way more on him to come), countersued and the suits were settled.
The other relevant data point with Fred Trump Sr: in his youth he had been arrested for participating in a KKK pro-Protestant (anti-Catholic) “nativist” rally.
Donald made his major foray in politics by taking out a $85,000 ad in the New York newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty after the arrest of the Central Park Five. All five were later exonerated.
All these episodes show the long standing racist dynamics at play in the Trump family and Trump’s ideology. Many accuse Trump of having no core beliefs but deep seated racism would see to be one he’s held consistently throughout his life. It’s right there in his genes.
Speaking of genes, Fred Trump’s behavior seems to reflect a pretty textbook case of narcissism. He used other people for his own gain. He saw the world in stark terms of “winners and losers” and felt that “winning was everything.” Fred’s “art of the deal” was to see others as objects relative to his own personal gain: friend, foe, or potential sucker to be exploited. He also had the classic narcissist tendency to always blame others for his own problems yet somehow also feeling constantly aggrieved and persecuted by others, while never taking responsibility for his own actions or acknowledging his own tendencies to manipulate and exploit others.
Remind you of anyone?
David Cay Johnston, whose been covering Trump since his New York days in the 80s, has shown the long and repeated history of tax evasion and financial criminality of Trump and his organizations. In this sense, Trump is very clearly a member of the oligarchic elite. Keep that point in mind because it’s one I’m going to return to multiple times.
As was evidenced with The Panama Papers, tax evasion is a deeply embedded practice of the elite. As The Reece Committee showed (as far back as the 1950s), elites and the deep state have used tax-exempt Foundations as a bypass on the normal means of democratic transparency, creating undue social influence. Trump’s Foundation, not surprisingly, is under investigation for multiple potential forms of fraud. The Trump Foundation and Trump Organization more generally became a barely legal (if at all) cover for business as usual among elites—influence peddling, illegal campaign donations, and the rest. (Though worth noting that in 2016 he ran against Hillary Clinton whose own Clinton Foundation was also wrapped up in all the same exact dirty dealings, as that is the nature of oligarchic deep state power—just different factions within that same system).
Speaking of criminality, Donald’s involvement in higher end New York real estate means that he became entangled with organized crime. New York Real estate in the 1970s was totally mobbed up and there was no way one could do business in that world without having to intersect with organized crime. This intersection with the mob is the source of Trump’s persona as “The Donald”, which he later used to revive his then failing media career with The Apprentice. He’s been flaunting and joking about his ties to the criminal underworld for decades—a connection that, as we’ll see, includes ties to the Russian mafia as well.
The aforementioned Roy Cohn was central in procuring for Trump his early crowing achievement, the thing that really put him on the map (literally and figuratively): Trump Tower NYC. Trump then went from New York Real Estate to the casino business in Atlantic City (New Jersey), an industry utterly mobbed up. Cohn, Trump’s political mentor, was the #1 lawyer for the mob in 1970s New York and also, as we’ll see, ties Trump to none other than Joseph McCarthy.
Trump somehow managed to fail at the casino business and he was in serious financial danger. He was bailed out by Wilbur Ross. Ross later went on to become Secretary of Commerce in Trump’s administration. Trump was cash strapped at that point—with his creditors having had to take a massive haircut from his losses in the casino business—and it was at that point that Trump needed other sources of funding. This bought him to Deutsche Bank, as well as connections to Russian and Central Asian oligarchs, mobsters, and elements connected to the Kremlin (this by the way is the real actual juice behind Trump’s connections to Russia, not the Russiagate psyop, but again we’re getting ahead of ourselves a bit.)
During the 70s and 80s, Trump becomes a regular feature in and avid consumer of tabloid news. It is from here that Trump’s rise through reality television and his entry into conspiracy-world (“birtherism”) has its roots. While Donald inherited his father’s win at all costs, eat or be eaten life philosophy, Donald brought his unique flare for the dramatic (and the absurd) into his over the top public persona. (Trump claims that flare for the dramatic came from his mother Mary Anne).
In his youth Frederick Trump (Donald’s grandfather) for a time ran a hotel/restaurant during the Gold Rush that included a brothel. As I’ve mentioned before, via the work of Anngwynn St. Just, trauma is a fractal and energies replicate through generations. Frederick’s sex work operation is very curious in light of his Donald’s later running of beauty contests and well known philandering and sexually predatory nature.
Mary Anne Trump officially baptized her children (including Donald) in her Scottish ancestry faith of Presbyterian Christianity. In practice however Donald grew up at Marble Collegiate Reformed Church. That church was the home of Norman Vincent Peale, godfather of The Prosperity Gospel, which involved the mainstreaming of New Thought (“think and grow rich”) spirituality under the guise of Christianity.
Peale was famous for repeating pithy phrases over and over again (“faith in faith”, “faith heals”, etc). Peale felt there was a “magic” in this combination between religious faith and pop positive psychology, particularly the repetition of phrases (“affirmative prayer” in New Thought language) until they embedded into his audience and helped shape their minds.
The key with such rhetoric was never to observe or reflect on the source or the meaning of those statements—what does “faith in faith” actually mean? What is faith? What does it mean to have faith in faith? Asking such questions and going deeper with them could lead to doubting the statements or actually revealing their falsehood or lack of subtlety or theological and philosophical limitations.
Trump’s habit for using coded memetic phrases with charged emotional tone—“Lock Her Up!”—is directly from Peale. Trump took Peale’s philosophy of “as you believe it, so it is” and used to justify a direct attack on objective truth itself. Weirdly Trump is a very postmodern figure—I’ve covered postmodernism in my piece on the postmodern philosopher Jacques Derrida. Trump has a strange instinctive understanding of how narrative is overwhelming fact and objectivity in our day, leading to bewilderment and a melting down of shared forms of meaning (“FAKE NEWS, SAD!”).
In addition, Peale had deep connections to Richard Nixon and its through Peale (as well as Cohn) that Trump made his connection to Nixon. Peale was rabidly anti-New Deal (“anti-socialist” in contemporary political rhetoric). The connection to Nixon is central to Trump’s later political career (more on that later as well) but for the moment we’re simply looking to cover many of the key elements of Trump’s upbringing and early years—all of which manifest themselves in full force in his later years.
On the subject of strange connections, there’s John Trump, Donald’s uncle (and brother of Fred Trump Sr.). John Trump was a physicist at MIT, a major outlet for the military-industrial-scientific complex. Vannevar Bush, one of the chief architects of the postwar US military-industrial complex tasked (John) Trump with recovering the papers of none other than Nikola Tesla upon his (Tesla’s) death. President Trump’s promulgation of the Space Force is really interesting to consider in light of his uncle and Tesla (for more on that very strange connection see here). In terms of further high level familial connections, Trump’s eldest sister Maryanne Barry (nee Trump) was a federal judge in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. An uncle at MIT connected to Vannevar Bush. A federal judge for a sister. Roy Cohn as a political mentor. Norman Vincent Peale as a religious/spiritual mentor. And a deep personal connection to Richard Nixon.
Those are as deep state a set of connections as one could ever have. The deepest of the deep in fact. Those are oligarchic connections to the highest echelons of US power. The notion that Trump represents some kind of outsider who was ever going to “drain the swamp” is totally absurd given how deeply en-swamped that man’s history is. If anything one might even speculate that Trump was being groomed for such a high political position (more on that speculatively later).
The last element to add is Trump’s interesting (and long-standing) economic nationalist, protectionist, and mercantilist type statements. For example, in the late 80s and early 90s Trump directed a number of negative comments towards Japan:
“They come over here, they sell their cars, their VCRs. They knock the hell out of our companies,” he told Oprah Winfrey in 1988, according to the newspaper. In a Playboy interview in 1990, he said: “First they take all our money with their consumer goods, then they put it back in buying all of Manhattan.”
As Trump later ran for president in 2016, he said Japan should pay more to the United States to keep US troops stationed in Japan. Trump also made similar comments against NATO allies in Europe, whom he felt were not shouldering their appropriate burden. Then of course Trump also famously got into a trade war with China during his tenure.
So we’ve got the following strange elements all mixed together: ongoing criminal behavior (mostly financial), including connections to organized crime; long-standing anti-immigrant/ethno-nationalist racial views; multiple access points to the heights of governmental, media, and corporate power; indoctrination into “mental magic” techniques, as well as that of tabloid “reality” construction; inherited narcissistic tendencies/worldview; and a penchant for some forms of economic protectionism/nationalism.
Those short snippets cover a highly strange mixture of elements in play when it comes Trump. Now I’ll seek to piece them together into a unified puzzle. In so doing I think we will gain a much clearer picture of what all went down between over these last few years.
To do that we need to come back to Roy Cohn, whom I’ve mentioned multiple times. Cohn, was the chief legal counsel for Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his investigations into alleged Communist infiltration into the US federal government (especially the State Department). Cohn was therefore deeply aware of the tradition of deep state players and their tactics—including sexual blackmail dynamics, which Cohn may well have been a victim of (McCarthy too potentially).
Joseph Farrell has recently written two books covering McCarthy and this era of the “committees” as he calls it. These various committees each investigated various forms of penetration of the American state by parapolitical/deep state forces. I mentioned the Reese Committee earlier and its investigations into foundations. There was the Kefauver Committee which looked into the role of organized crime in American politics. The House Un-American Activities Committee (often confused with McCarthyism though McCarthy was in the Senate not the House) was originally designed to look at Americans doing business with fascists during the 1930s.
Communist infiltration, fascist infiltration, the mob, as well as blue blood foundations. For Farrell each of these committees only investigated one tentacle of a united, gruesome squid (the true deep state). No committee he believes, because of their area of focus, was able to see the integrated, unified nature of the conspiracy.
This point becomes an absolutely crucial one as we re-think McCarthy and McCarthyism in light of that unified conspiratorial field theory and then apply it to Trump.
Roy Cohn famously claimed that McCarthy was approached by various members of the US military to be the public face of the case against alleged Communist infiltration, especially in the State Department. McCarthy, it should be noted, received significant (financial) and political backing in his home state of Wisconsin from a very fascist-friendly local business magnate. I’ve discussed the infiltration of fascism into the postwar US in previous pieces and how key that is to understanding intra-deep state factional fighting of today.
McCarthy led his initial investigations against the Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg stationed out of the US Army base at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. But along the way as Farrell expertly shows McCarthy found out that other strange things were afoot at the base (including potential exotic weapons research). In the Army-McCarthy hearings which eventually brought McCarthy (and Cohn) down, the Army pushed back against McCarthy as it appears he dug a bit more deeply than he was supposed to.
McCarthy is, in some ways, then the original US politician to make a public case (at least in the post WWII era) against the “deep state”. In this regard, Trump is McCarthy’s direct heir and the man who links them both directly is Roy Cohn.
Donald Trump is the first president in US history who was not previously a politician and/or general/military veteran. This fact gave him the cover to claim he was an “outsider” to Washington. But in reality, as we’ve shown here, Trump is as insider as they come. There have been very few individuals as heavily “insider” as Trump to be president in the last 70 odd years. One notable example would be Richard Nixon (George HW Bush would be another).
And if Roy Cohn was Trump’s mentor, Richard Nixon was (and is) Trump’s political idol. Trump and Nixon had a correspondence, including Nixon writing to Trump (in the 80s!) encouraging Trump to run for the presidency. Trump later displayed this letter prominently in The Oval Office. During his campaign and presidency Trump often referred to being a "law and order president", which is a direct reference to Nixon. The link, as we'll see is even closer with the Watergate, Russigate, impeachment linkage.
What all this points to is that Trump does indeed represent a deep state faction, a faction that has largely been marginalized in US history, only occasionally making it to the temporary “king of the mountain” spot. This faction is a more nationalistic, mercantilist, and ethnically-oriented faction. Or at least he had some clear ties to aspects of this faction and incorporated it (if only partially) into his agenda. Trump's foreign policy campaign slogan in the 2016 "America First" was directly lifted from Charles Lindbergh's pro-fascist/anti-entrance into WWII position in the early 1940s.
Rep. Ron Paul and prior to him, Sens. Robert Taft and Joseph McCarthy (as well as The John Birch Society) are key representatives of this faction. This faction stands opposed to the more left-wing globalist faction. That more globalist faction runs from Woodrow Wilson through FDR & Truman and the New Deal to LBJ and the Great Society/Welfare State up through the Clintons and Obamas (and now Bidens).
But this more nationalistic faction also have been opposed—from time to time—by the more mainstream right-wing military-corporate-high finance faction, famously symbolized by figures like The Dulles Brothers and later The Bush Family. The mainstream conservative Dulles Brothers blue blood faction has and on again/off again relationship with the more nationalistic fashion. Whenever the left-wing globalist faction is more in power then the Wall Street/right-wing faction will align with the more hard-right faction. However as soon as that more pro-business corporatist-military right-wing faction gains power, they immediately look to push the nationalistic faction aside.
To wit, Eisenhower, for example, famously marginalized Sen. Taft and his ilk, branding them as “isolationists”. McCarthy of course was censured in the Senate and sent packing in ignominy. Notice how the Obamas, during the Trump years, went out of their way to embrace the Bush Family (literally in the case of Michelle) as a way to pushback against Trump.
Which brings us back to Richard Nixon.
Nixon occupies a very interesting position in this historical timeline given that he was Eisenhower’s Vice President but later won the presidency (after having lost to John Kennedy) by embracing the southern Democratic/segregationist Dixiecrat wing, a key component of the more economic and ethno-nationalist faction. Unlike Sen. Robert Taft (and Taft’s heir Rep. Ron Paul), The Dixiecrats were more economically populist and pro-New Deal, at least for white Americans. Yet they were also quite wary of multilateralism, globalism, as well as of course moves towards de-segregation.
Nixon was a very complicated figure. He proposed a national socialized medical system. Nixon ended the gold standard and famously went to China to strike a deal with the Chinese Communists—laying the groundwork for the contemporary Chinese capitalist-communist hybrid. He was heavily pressured to make that choice by none other than David Rockefeller it should be noted.
Yet Nixon also pushed for some mercantilist and economic nationalist policies in other instances. He also of course began the drug war which laid the foundations for the national surveillance state and the prison-industrial complex (something later massively escalated by Bill Clinton and then Sen. Joe Biden of all people). Nixon was of course heavily involved in the infiltration and surveillance of the anti-war left, as well as groups like The Black Panthers. The drug war was in fact a cover for militarizing a response to those groups (“Law and Order”).
Nixon had deep ties to the Dulles Brothers, going all the way back to his first run for the House. Nixon's brother, Don, was deeply intertwined and potentially heavily implicated (or at least aware of and very possibly connected to) the assassination against Robert Kennedy—remember Nixon would have almost assuredly lost a second time to a Kennedy brother in 1968 if Bobby had not been murdered. Bobby Kennedy’s assassination was itself likely carried out by CIA assets, just as had been the case in the killing of his brother John.
With such deep connections to the fascist-Wall Street-military-corporate alliance that transpired after WWII, symbolized by the Dulles Brothers, on the surface Nixon seems like a pretty straightforward Republican. Yet he had some connections to this other more nationalistic (and sometimes mercantilist) faction.
Nixon during the 1968 campaign in a totally illegal manner, went behind then President Lyndon Johnson and scuttled what was very likely to be a peace deal (an “October surprise”) in the war in Vietnam. Such a peace deal could potentially have swung the election to Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey (the replacement for Bobby Kennedy).
Nixon won on very dirty pretenses. Though to be fair there's plenty of evidence of potential electoral fraud in Chicago that got JFK elected in the first place. Nixon then goes about all manner of illegal and surveillance oriented chicanery, including crimes against humanity in the bombings of Cambodia and Laos (leading to the Khmer Rogue).
And yet it was Watergate that eventually brought him down. In Watergate, Nixon was setup by elements of the CIA. The cover story of needing to wiretap the DNC Headquarters in order to get dirt on Sen. George McGovern—Nixon’s opponent in the 1972 election—makes no sense. Nixon was going to wipe the floor with McGovern. Various other hypotheses have been put forward as to the true reason behind Watergate. It’s very possible that Nixon, like Kennedy before him, had threatened the CIA.
Nixon eventually resigns leading to Gerald Ford’s presidency. Squeaky Fromm, a member of the Manson Family commits a nearly successful assassination attempt on Ford, which would have put a Rockefeller (Nelson) in the White House. In 1980 Reagan—another character who straddled the line between the more Wall Street pro-corporate conservative faction and the more nationalistic one—undergoes his own assassination attempt only months into office. An assassination attempt carried out by a family friend of The Bushes (George HW Bush was Reagan’s vice president and first in line to succeed).
I point all those stories out because they show that if any President officially from the pro-corporate “mainstream” conservative deep state starts to stray towards the more nationalistic faction, they are threatening with being taken out (either through literal attacks on their lives or political stings meant to bring them down).
To wit, the three most vilified US conservatives of the last hundred years are McCarthy, Nixon, and Trump. All of them (to one degree or another) from that otherwise marginalized faction. The other element with McCarthy and Nixon are deep ties to the fascist alliance with the West. Trump of course had his dalliance with the alt-right and white identitarians (“postmodern fascists”).
When we look at Trump’s cabinet we see a mix of the two right-wing US deep state factions. Steve Mnunchin (Treasury Secretary) was clearly from the pro-Wall Street, big money faction. He, along with Sen. Mitch McConnell, pushed the massive tax cut plan for the rich. Mike Pompeo was head of CIA and then later Secretary of State. Pompeo got his start in federal politics in the 2010 Tea Party midterms (Koch Brothers funded). So again a very classic neoconservative, big money, conservative.
William Barr, Trump’s Attorney General was previously Attorney General for George HW Bush. During his first tenure as Attorney General, Barr pushed for Bush Sr. to pardon all the convicted members of the Reagan administration who participated in Iran-Contra, which was the deepest of deep state actions. President Ford famously pardoned Nixon. George HW Bush similarly pardoned Iran-Contra individuals. While the deep state doesn’t like that more nationalistic fashion, it also needs to make it go away once its been (temporarily) brought to heel.
[Partial Sidenote: William Barr’s father (Donald) hired none other than Jeffrey Epstein way back in the 70s to Dalton School, a private school for elites. Trump’s Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, then US Attorney in Florida, gave Epstein a no prosecution conviction. Trump of course has his own direct ties to Epstein.]
Trump also appointed three justices to the US Supreme Court all from the more corporatist “mainstream” right-wing deep state faction.
One thing to say with all that is Trump’s supposed fight against the deep state is therefore called into serious question. Trump did manage to stay out of wars against North Korea and Iran and he did impose some tariffs against China (but those only hurt US businesses not the Chinese) but on the whole he was, with a few heterodox exceptions, basically within the corporatist, right-wing deep state faction of which the Republican Party is the public face.
Where Trump did end up in a fight was with the more globalist, left-wing faction of the US deep state. Like with Nixon, Trump got impeached for something that was a setup (“Russiagate”), even while amazingly he was up to all kinds of dirty pool, just like Nixon. That will be the springboard for our next piece in this series—the nature of that intra-deep state factional warfare.
But I’ll conclude here by noting that where Trump claimed his election loss in 2020 was due to election fraud, Trump was no stranger to electoral shenanigans himself. In his 2016 victory, Trump benefited enormously from a weapons-grade psychological operation run by Cambridge Analytica as detailed on the site previously.
This maneuvering was very similar to Nixon’s illegal backdoor channels to the South Vietnamese dictator as well as the possibility that then candidate Ronald Reagan sending George HW Bush (and some CIA pals) to prevent Ayatollah Khomenei from brokering a peace deal with Jimmy Carter to bring back the American hostages, which could well have swung the 1980 election to Carter. Not to mention George W. Bush stealing the 2000 contested election via the Supreme Court, with the deciding vote in the Supreme Court cast by Sandra Day O’Connor, herself appointed by Reagan, whose Vice President was of course George Bush Sr. (you can’t make this stuff up).
We see again the deep corruption of the whole system and various factions fighting each other, not the system as such. In the next piece we’ll explore the precise nature of that fight in Trump’s case.