GUEST BLOG: Dr Liz Gordon – The Fire & Fury review – 6 stars

By   /   January 7, 2018  /   28 Comments

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Liz Gordon writes about Fire and Fury, the tell-all book about the White House of Donald Trump, which she read all day Saturday (a 7 hour read) (a must-read) (6 stars). She also recommends that Peter Jackson grab the film rights pronto!

Liz Gordon writes about Fire and Fury, the tell-all book about the White House of Donald Trump, which she read all day Saturday (a 7 hour read) (a must-read) (6 stars). She also recommends that Peter Jackson grab the film rights pronto!

 

The media have, of course, fixated on the capabilities of Trump himself.  He is universally described as being like a child, having to be managed the whole time, completely self-centred, prone to outbursts.  You know all this.  The book also, quite interestingly, describes him as functionally illiterate in the print media, unable to read and comprehend even a one-page memo, repeating the same stories every 3-4 minutes using the same words, tone and cadence, having few concepts of his own (everything occurs within the context of his interactions with others, not stemming from his beliefs) and able to judge people only by their looks (especially, but not only, women).  There is lots, lots more.

Trump, with his ‘stable genius’ tweets (in the book Steve Bannon describes Trump’s sons, ironically as the ‘geniuses’, in other words he thought they were as thick as a plank!) (sorry about all the parentheses but it is that kind of story) is responding to a briefing on the book.  He is incapable of reading it, of course.

It seems to me that Trump may well be autistic, learning to cover up his cognitive deficiencies with a charming front.  There are also issues about mood swings that may indicate some kind of manic depression. Probably a bit of dyslexia there too.  Some people with foetal alcohol syndrome have the kind of cognitive gaps described in the book, too.  Anyway, it is pretty evident that he needs some kind of diagnosis of either/both a neurocognitive and/or a psychiatric type.

This person, unfit to have a single idea except of his own worth, is described in the book as caught between three sets of ideas in the White House.  

There was Steve Bannon, radical neo-con, racist with the most derogatory and sexual language I have ever heard (everyone is a c*** or is f***** over) who wants to enhance and exploit divisions within the nation to create conflict that will lead to a zero government future. His ideas excite Trump because of the ‘people working for themselves’ dialogue, but Trump is a nation-builder, whereas Bannon is definitely not.

There was Reince Priebus, conventional Republican, with a focus on building the economy and reducing immigration. He was Chief of Staff in the White House for just six months, destroyed by a bloke called Scaramucci who was appointed to head communications, facilitated the resignation of both Priebus and Sean Spicer, and was sacked himself after just ten whirlwind days.

Finally there was Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son in law Jared. Known in the White House as Jarvanka, these two represented the New York old money Democrats, trying all the time to counter Bannon and Priebus.  In the end everyone ganged up on Jarvanka, but it was (first) Bannon and then Priebus who went.

With the new Chief of Staff limiting access to Trump by everyone, including Jarvanka, Trump begins at the end of the book to be increasingly portrayed as an isolated person. He never expected to win the Presidency and it is not making him happy. It is all very Shakespearian (my sister thinks Coriolanus, which she calls the most brutal and vicious of all the plays, and I think Hamlet because of pain, loss and mental illness). Peter Jackson, grab the film rights straight away!

The author, Michael Wolff, talks in the introduction about how he got access to everyone.  He essentially said that, in the early days of the White House, there was no-one there with any administrative competence and so he just kept arriving and everyone thought he should be there and no-one questioned him or put limitations on what they said to him.  In other words, a dream journalism job.

There is so much more in the book than I can write about here.  One little snippet is that Trump’s lawyer settled around 100 sexual harassment accusations against trump during the campaign.

It is a big book but, if you can, you must read it.  I downloaded in e-book format but it should be in the shops soon.

 

Dr Liz Gordon began her working life as a university lecturer at Massey and the Canterbury universities. She spent six years as an Alliance MP, before starting her own research company, Pukeko Research.  Her work is in the fields of justice, law, education and sociology (poverty and inequality). She is the president of Pillars, a charity that works for the children of prisoners, a prison volunteer, and is on the board of several other organisations. Her mission is to see New Zealand freed from the shackles of neo-liberalism before she dies (hopefully well before!).

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28 Comments

  1. David Stone says:

    What does this say about the alternative candidates? First in the republican nomination contest, and then in the election! The US public perception of their politicians must be deplorable.
    At least we can be confident that as he has to be constantly managed, as the Whitehouse has become an adult day-care-centre, that foreign policy must be being directed by those managing him so if they start a nuclear war with N Korea or China or Russia or all three, it won’t have been Trump that is responsible. It will have been started by the responsible managers of Trump.
    D J S

  2. Francesca says:

    OK so the Washington Post would put up a defence for their boy, Trump, but its still worth reading and testing out its validity.
    We all hate Trump, so much so that many are prepared to go along with any bad journalism, sensationalist scare tactics,or relentless hounding to get rid of him ,by whatever means
    The US govt did much the same in Afghanistan, and the blowback wasn’t long in coming.
    Lets not trash good journalism for the sake of getting rid of a lawfully elected President, no matter how egregious

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/michael-wolff-tells-a-juicy-tale-in-his-new-trump-book-but-should-w

    • Lets not trash good journalism for the sake of getting rid of a lawfully elected President, no matter how egregious

      “Lawfully elected”? Perhaps.

      But did he and his campaign team act lawfully?

      And is he guilty or complicit in something as worse; alleged money-laundering?

      Trump has his fans. They are the 25% of every society that will always gravitate toward authoritarianism, whether it be Putin, European neo-fascists, Trump, etc. But democracy can’t be sublimated to the histrionic screams of those 25-percenters who would gladly vote for a Mussolini-type if he “spoke their language” of resentment. Twentieth century history showed us where that ultimately leads us.

      • Francesca says:

        Trouble is,Frank, I see a lot of hysteria and histrionics coming from the anti Trump camp as well. And lets see about the legality of his election shall we? Trial by media is never a good idea
        And as for money laundering, if we’re serious, that could apply to any President, if we are to believe Jimmy Carter”The US is an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery”
        And the Princeton study reported on BBC in 2014

        http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746

        This is what has underpinned US elections for a while now, and to be focussing solely on Trump , when he is merely the same on steroids is an abrogation of public responsibility.
        Yes, Trump is a nightmare, but drumming him out by dubious journalism, unfettered and unverified rumours, hanging him and his family out like Mussolini and his mistress may not be the best way to go .
        Lets not lose journalistic integrity in the process

        • And as for money laundering, if we’re serious, that could apply to any President, if we are to believe Jimmy Carter”The US is an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery”

          Unfortunately, that is “Whataboutism” (or a variant of) which essentially gives every corrupt political crook, oligarch, demagogue a free pass.

          It means Nixon could never have been impeached because, well, “that could apply to any President”.

          This is partisan politics at it’s worst because supporters of one politician will always point to another one as validation for all manner of bad behaviour.

          It’s a politicians idea of heaven-on-earth. All the power; no accountability; point the finger to your left/right.

          • Francesca says:

            My point is, the whole political system is rotten.Get rid of Trump, the hydra grows a new head. Rage against Trump, but not the whole political system?
            Whataboutism is just another word for pointing out hypocrisy in this case.
            Obama gets a free pass for bailing out the banks and deporting more than any previous president?
            He was the right kind of bullshit, Trump’s the wrong kind.

    • D'Esterre says:

      Francesca: that link doesn’t work, btw.

      “the Washington Post would put up a defence for their boy, Trump”

      From what I’ve seen, the WaPo has been as swingeing a critic of Trump as every other msm outlet. If they’re printing a defence, that’d be a surprise.

      “We all hate Trump, so much so that many are prepared to go along with any bad journalism, sensationalist scare tactics,or relentless hounding to get rid of him ,by whatever means”

      I don’t hate Trump. As far as I can see, he’s no worse than any of his predecessors; it’s just that, thanks to Twitter, we know about him in a way that we didn’t about previous incumbents when they were in office, on account of they didn’t have Twitter.

      I’d add that hatred of him on our part is pointless and ineffectual; he isn’t our president, and we can do nothing to change political arrangements in the US.

      “Lets not trash good journalism…”

      Well: I think that’s the first time I’ve heard “good journalism” and the WaPo in the same sentence, so to speak. As far as I can see, it’s as egregious a little rag as is the NYT.

      • Francesca says:

        I can’t stand Trump ,stylistically, the cheap talk, the comb over, the oily “Rocket Man” jibes, the tough guy talk, the ignorance of history, the surrender to militarism
        Basically he’s a ham actor, which is great, makes American power so transparent and strips the illusory “prestige” away.Whereas Obama was the smooth talking “sincere” Morgan Freeman type actor
        I wasn’t equating good journalism with the W.Post’s output. And you’re right, I got mixed up , with the NYPost, belonging to Murdoch, WaPo owned by Bezoz
        What I object to is the abandonment of good journalistic practices, the unquestioning willingness to believe any bullshit because it reinforces ones own world view.Maybe what I’m objecting to most is the wholesale uncritical acceptance of any old two day wonder trash talk, as long as it tears down Trump.
        I’m hard pressed to say what is “good” journalism…Glenn Greenwald maybe,Jonathan Cook

  3. Pete says:

    When people had forgotten this ‘old’ view it comes back:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd79UsXSLWg

  4. countryboy says:

    Re trump. Why is this book a surprise??? What have I missed? Trump is the very embodiment of ‘merica so what the … ? A select, and frankly scant few ‘merican corporates have tanked our planet for their Mc Mansions and their narcissistic and sadistic fantasies, so why the Oooooo and Aaaaaaaah re a flirty piece of printed shit paper pretending to be a ‘book’? Is it soaked in electrolytes? Printed by Brawndo, makes plants grow??? Have you looked around lately? Clearly not. You see the Kiwi-as 3 D printed Micro Mc Mansions inhabited by Stepford People? What do those people do? Where do they come from? Powder out of what box to which water is added. Pop ! Fizz ! Micro Mc Mansioneers ! Slip batteries up their arses and bingo! You have Mr and Mrs Perfect. Alllll pink and clean. You seen how many ding dongs are flying the stars and stripes here? Fucking freaky.
    That episode in ‘Black Mirror’! OMG!
    We.Have.Become.’merican. We.Are.Americans.Now. Job.Done.Son.

    Peter Jackson ! Fuck off ! That prick fucked NZ Film Industry workers over then robbed NZ of $ millions via tax subsidies by colluding with yankee doodle psycho jonky-stien, the hair tugging wienstien wanna be, and warner Broz.

    Here’s a link that best explains why jackson and jonky should be getting probed by an inquiry at the very least. They lied to the NZ tax payer then stole many millions off us for themselves. Does jackson care about our homeless brothers and sisters as he flies overhead in his Gulfstream?

    RNZ.Brent Edwards.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/on-the-inside/343511/hobbit-law-change-vindication-for-late-union-leader

    Now,see how the ever fabulous word ‘Fuck’ is spelled by the way? F.U.C.K. Not f..k. There are no soft, polite ‘merican dots in the middle. As for that other, equally fabulous word that scarlett mod, the moderate censor and wringer of hands will disallow… No dots in the middle of that word either Liz. Go on. Be brave. De dot the cuss words. You aint in North Carolina with the rest of ‘merica’s trump voting hypocrites now ya know.

    Or are you?

    • D'Esterre says:

      Countryboy: “Peter Jackson !…..That prick fucked NZ Film Industry workers over then robbed NZ of $ millions via tax subsidies by colluding with yankee doodle psycho jonky-stien, the hair tugging wienstien wanna be, and warner Broz.”

      I agree 100%. Brent Edwards has nailed it.

  5. mary_a says:

    Given to childish tantrum outbursts, along with making the most ridiculous and sometimes inflammatory public statements amongst some questionable behaviour issues, I’m at a loss as to why Trump is still holding office as President of the US. The man is a hideous spectacle!

    The swamp the President “promised” to drain, seems to be refilling itself on a daily basis now and at a great rate of knots too!

    • Nitrium Nitrium says:

      “I’m at a loss as to why Trump is still holding office as President of the US. The man is a hideous spectacle!”

      The last sentence of your own statement provides the very answer you seek. Have you watched ANY prime time “reality” teevee lately? Yeah, me neither, but I know of it at least and it occupies most of the top 15 of highest rating shows.

    • Wensleydale says:

      He hasn’t actually touched the swamp at all, other than to dump several truckloads of raw sewerage into it. And radioactive effluent. And anthrax.

      I remember watching George ‘Dubya’ Bush in office and thinking, “Well, at least we’ve hit rock bottom with this guy. It can’t possibly get worse than this.” Was I fucking wrong, or what?

    • D'Esterre says:

      Mary_A:

      “Given to childish tantrum outbursts, along with making the most ridiculous and sometimes inflammatory public statements amongst some questionable behaviour issues, I’m at a loss as to why Trump is still holding office as President of the US. The man is a hideous spectacle!”

      This characterisation can also be applied to the following US presidents:
      Johnson, Reagan, Clinton, Bush the younger, Kennedy too. And – infamously – Nixon. Obama had his moments as well, though we likely won’t hear critique of him for many years: he’s a Dem, after all. The msm, being mostly liberal, favours the Dems, but hates the Republicans, as it has done for all of my life.

      Johnson also had the temerity to complain about our weather, which is a hanging offence all by itself.

      In my lifetime, all US presidents have been variably flawed, to put it charitably. It would be necessary to go a very long way back into history to find an honourable man of character in the office of president. The incumbent is no worse than his predecessors, as far as I can see; at least he hasn’t taken us to war with Russia.

      But now we have Twitter, which the incumbent uses with enthusiasm. And so we see his flaws in the here and now, in a way that we didn’t with previous incumbents.

      • …I’m at a loss as to why Trump is still holding office as President of the US. The man is a hideous spectacle!”

        This characterisation can also be applied to the following US presidents:
        Johnson, Reagan, Clinton, Bush the younger, Kennedy too. And – infamously – Nixon. Obama had his moments as well, though we likely won’t hear critique of him for many years: he’s a Dem, after all.

        If we’re going to want perfect human beings to elect to office, we’ll be waiting for an eternity. All elected leaders (whether in the US, here, or elsewhere) are flawed individuals.

        The point is that some are worse than others.

        But in a democracy, if a severely flawed representative is elected, where does that responsibility lie? That responsibility, I submit, lies with the voters. When a deeply flawed individual is elected into a position of power, the question has to be asked why, otherwise decent people, have resorted to voting for a person who is demonstrably un-decent.

        What is it that elevates a demagogue into office or leadership? It is, I believe, “political nature” filling a vacuum that mainstream politics has failed to fill by addressing peoples’ concerns and fears.

        The humiliation of Germany post World War One was perhaps the first instance in modern times of people turning to demagoguery when they perceived their establishment political representatives had failed them.

  6. D'Esterre says:

    Wensleydale:

    “I remember watching George ‘Dubya’ Bush in office and thinking, “Well, at least we’ve hit rock bottom with this guy. It can’t possibly get worse than this.””

    The msm, being mostly liberal, hates the Republicans, and Republican presidents. It’s been like that all my lifetime. Remember the roasting that it gave Bush senior? And especially his VP, the unfortunate Dan Quayle. And Reagan? Nixon? It wasn’t the case that the interspersed Democrat presidents were plaster saints; far from it: consider Jimmy Carter, LBJ, and Kennedy before him. It’s just that the mm didn’t broadcast their peccadilloes – in some instances, crimes – at the time. We now know what these people were like: we sure didn’t at the time.

    But note that said msm doesn’t necessarily oppose Republican policies. When Dems pursue the same policies as the Republicans – as they do particularly in foreign affairs – the msm uncritically goes along with them.

  7. Much has been written of why/how Trump ascended to the White House.

    Part of the answer must lie in the hollowing out of the working and Middle Classes, with jobs exported to developing countries, and profits directed to shareholders rather than workers.

    De-regulation required of neo-liberalism, and it’s twin sibling, globalisation has created resentment.

    That resentment has not been addressed by the Left. Here in New Zealand, Labour is still committed to the TPPA (or whatever the heck it’s called these days).

    With socialism corrupted by the former Soviet Union, hopelessly damaging the ‘brand’ forever, what alternatives are there? Where do people look for alternatives, if the Left is ruled out as an option? Because whilst Trump’s supporters hate globalisation, they sure as hell love the shiny consumer goodies and baubles which it delivers – cheaply!

    So not the Left. Not the Establishment Right. The only alternative become nationalism – a bastardisation of Left and Right politics.

    It is how fascism arose in Europe in the 1930s; when the establishment seemed powerless; the Depression ruined the Working and Middle Classes lives; and a fear of Soviet communism frightened people away from socialism.

    Cue fascism in Spain, Germany, Italy, Austria, and yes, even Poland.

    With people abandoning the Left, and the Establishment Right offering no improvement except more-of-the-same – cue the alt-right. The alt-right – the 21st century version of 1930s European fascism, minus the brown shirts and jackboots. (So last century!)

    Nature abhors a vacuum. Politics is no different. In a vacuum left by any viable solutions from the Left and Establishment Right, the alt.right stepped in.

    Trump filled the vacuum left by the retreat of the Democrats and Republicans into neo-liberal orthodoxy.

    Quite simply, the punters looked at Brand Democrat and Brand Republican; didn’t like the offerings; and went elsewhere. They took a punt on Brand Trump because, really, what other options were there?

    • Francesca says:

      Jill Stein, but she never got near the ridiculously high bar of 15% in the national polls, so there was no way she could air her platform, being barred from the debates.

      • Sam Sam says:

        Personally I can’t believe What Bill over at the standard is up to. Thinks that Oprah shouldn’t run for Prez. And I’m like Oprah would solo the whole event. No difficulty.

        I mean is there something I’m missing here?

        Why on earth wouldn’t you want Oprah to run?

        She has the highest ratings in the planet. Very intelegent.

        Bill seems to think that it’s opening up the door to a rush of celebrity nominations. And I’m like no one could pull off another Trump. And there is no one like Oprah.

        And Oprah is like… She’s just going to win… And no one has disagreed him so far. There all like I was thinking that or well said. Bullshit: https://thestandard.org.nz/theatre-and-oprah/

        You know? Talk about setting the bar high. I mean if Oprah is no good then what woman could solo the presidential race.

        I think you should say something. Iv already been banned a couple times by Bill, so I don’t want to disturb his precious safe place.

        • Francesca says:

          For one thing
          Her promotion of bullshit self help programs that dont address the underlying malaise of inequality, poverty , etc….The Secret etc
          Her promotion of the “American Dream”…no longer achievable, no longer sustainable,

          Her validations of junk science
          Pre Weinstein scandal photos of her schmoozing with Weinstein enthusiastically
          She’s able to whip up a crowd alright, evoke the tears and the screams when the audience gets given some utter consumer crap,
          OK why not Oprah?
          she’d be a great diversionary front of house while the puppeteers behind keep picking pockets and making war.

          • She’d be a welcome relief from the lunacy and oafishness of The Orange One, but yes, Francesca, I’d be more interested in her policies before verbalising support for any candidacy she might announce.

            • Sam Sam says:

              I can’t believe what I’m reading. The Washington consensus is a factory for terrible Presidents. That’s why any one showing the tiniest bit of leadership is jumped on for nominations.

              It’s an acid test for the U.S constitution. It was designed so any one could come off the farm, not screw up to badly as president and go back to the farm. You don’t have to be a freaking genius to execute the functions of office when you’ve got +40mln Twitter followers.

              And don’t even @me about bigotry, junk science and diversions, Fran. What sealed Hillary’s fate was her handling of the Libyan Crises and fabricating Russian hacks, that should have seen her in a jail cell next to Manning. Trump hasn’t displayed these failings.

              I don’t think you see the big picture. U.S military planners have been training for conventional assaults on N/K for the last 6 months and unless drastic measures are taken a Trump 2nd term is almost 100%.

              I mean come on. Events… Make great leaders.

              • Francesca says:

                The last 6 months!I’d say its been decades.
                I’m just hoping Trump’s tough guy threats are persuading Moon the US is not a good ally. North and South Korea (they actually have ministries of unification)have recently held very conciliatory talks, probably why the State Dept feels threatened. They don’t want any peace that they’re not winning huge concessions out of

                • Sam Sam says:

                  DNC keep forgetting that everything is recorded and is instantly shareable to millions in minutes. The strategy and outrage response mechanism to everything Trump does is a failed and flawed strategy. If we don’t get a handle on it it will be Trump 2020!

      • Sam Sam says:

        Like Trump (46 million Twitter followers) Oprah (41 million Twitter followers) both don’t need MSM to get there opinion out there. That in my opinion is a big reason why Trump won.

      • Plus, Francesca, the US still uses the prehistoric First Past the Post system, so it will always be a two-horse race.

        On top of which, even the unpredictable and unfair FPP system is skewed by their weird “college” system. Clinton won more popular votes than Trump – yet he won the Presidency by winning more States.

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