SOCRATES understood it so well: Knowledge is virtue, ignorance a vice. But evolution is a slow process.
Almost two-and-a -half millennia later, in an era of free access to encyclopaedic information, half of adult Americans do not know their republic's 50 states are each represented by two senators. Very few know how Obamacare works. Almost two-thirds of Republicans still believe Donald Trump won the 2020 election. And worse: more than half of those two-thirds believe there is “solid evidence" of foul play in Trump's ballot count.
In the absence of any widespread fraud, the truth, of course, is that there is no evidence. Even a controversial Trumpian task force called Cyber Ninjas, which was appointed in Arizona to conduct a hand recount, found more votes for Biden and fewer for Trump than the initial machine count. But Donald J Trump doesn't accept defeat. For his fragile soul, it feels like rape, and in the MAGA world, things work the other way around: Trump is the one who hands out punches and kicks and blows, not the one who receives them.
Step one for The Donald was to legally challenge the result of an election in which his 74-million crosses were crushed by Biden's 81-million. So far, the former president has lost in court 63 times without winning once.
Consider how bad it is to lose a single court case. Two in a row? Devastating. Three in a row? Catastrophic. And 63? In the style of a true banana republic politician, Trump's next move — still in his capacity as president — was to have a set of fake electors appointed to steal Biden's rightful electoral college votes in several states so he could ultimately retain the White House.
And in the tradition of good totalitarian souls such as Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un and Viktor Orbán, Trump then embraced and dusted off a Nazi tactic known as The Big Lie. The bigger the lie and the more it is repeated, the more easily people believe it. Like Hitler did. Like Goebbels did.
The first pillar of the lie was that there are only 133-million eligible voters in the US, which would leave a maximum of 59-million votes for Biden since Trump received 74-million. It's a juicy argument that has been polished by Trump supporters but an obvious question is ignored: Why is the Trump figure accepted as genuine and not the Biden figure? Because if you worked with the latter, there would be at most 52-million votes for Trump. And then we're at checkmate. Whose figure to accept and whose to reject?
Well, that's where knowledge enters the picture. Because there are actually 239-million eligible voters in the US. Once you know that, Trump's argument collapses like a house of cards.
But there's still Donald's ego to contend with: 74-million votes were more than his tally in the 2016 election and more than any previous presidential candidate had ever garnered. So, how could Biden possibly trump that? That's the kind of logic that would keep Socrates and Heraclitus laughing — or crying — for weeks. But the Republicans?
It’s a hoax!
No way. Trump's word is law. The same goes for what Trump does, like sending a swarm of paramilitary groups and troops to the Capitol, where Trump's own vice president, Mike Pence, was meant to be intimidated into “doing the right thing" — namely, referring Biden's certification as president back to the states, where fake electors would ensure Trump won the electoral college. So The Donald could stay as president. And stay. And stay.
The storming of the seat of the American government on January 6, 2021, was therefore nothing less than a rebellion against the state in the name of an immoral idiot. Or as Robert De Niro described him: “Trump is so blatantly stupid. He’s a punk. A dog. A pig. A con. A bullshit artist. A mutt who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, doesn’t do his homework, doesn’t care, doesn’t pay his taxes. He’s an idiot, a national disaster, a fool, a bozo, an embarrassment to this country." And all of this before Trump was elected president in 2016.
Since then, of course, The Donald has proved De Niro right through and through. He has proved that he is painfully ignorant; at the peak of the Covid pandemic, he openly wondered to medical professionals whether sick individuals should be injected with a disinfectant (such as Jik or Domestos) to kill the virus.
In various places, times and ways, he has also proven to be a scoundrel. And a dog, a pig, a deceiver, a fraudster, a fool who doesn't know what he's talking about, who doesn't do his homework, who doesn't care, who doesn't pay his taxes. And that he is an idiot, a national disaster, a fool, a bozo and an embarrassment to the US.
Every single accusation by De Niro has been fully proven over the past six-and-a-half years. But unfortunately, the actor's characterisation was still inadequate. Trump's corruption and immorality encompass much more than just a few lightweight terms. Donald J is an even greater disaster than the parade of abominations implied, such as being a habitual liar and a one-man crime wave.
Alvin Bragg, the district attorney for the part of New York that includes Manhattan, has already charged Trump with 34 financial crimes related to payments of $130,000 to the porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her night of passion with The Donald quiet.
Letitia James, the attorney-general of the state of New York, is set to indict the former president and three of his children later this year on “astonishing" financial fraud charges.
Fani Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta, has been persuaded to prosecute Trump for his attempts to manipulate the election result in Georgia.
And Jack Smith is nearing the end of his special investigation into Trump's role in the events of January 6, 2021, as well as his unlawful possession of highly classified state documents. Obstruction of justice is certainly on the agenda, and who knows, possibly espionage and treason.
Furthermore, a New York jury of nine earlier this week found in a civil case that Trump sexually assaulted journalist E. Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s then defamed her by dismissing her story as “lies, deception, nonsense, and a hoax".
The case stems from an alleged incident in New York's Bergdorf Goodman department store after The Donald supposedly asked Carroll to try on underwear he wanted to buy for a woman. According to Carroll, Trump cornered her in the dressing room and raped her.
Carroll still has the dress she wore that day. But even if Trump had been willing to provide his DNA for analysis in advance — which he was not, until it was too late — his DNA on the garment would still be insufficient evidence of rape. Because this was a civil case and not a criminal case, Trump could not be found guilty of rape. The jury did, however, find that there was a preponderance of evidence that a sexual assault — had occurred and ordered Trump to pay $5m in damages to Carroll.
Trump has already said he will appeal but what will that change? Carroll's testimony, as well as that of two friends who say she called them shortly after the alleged rape, will stand. So too will the testimony of two other women who were sexually assaulted by Trump, and the infamous Access Hollywood recording in which Trump boasts that women make their bodies freely available to celebrities. “If you're a star, they let you do anything... Grab 'em by the pussy." That's what The Donald says. It's a statement he reiterated in his sworn statement for the Carroll case. “That's largely true," he confirmed. “Unfortunately, or fortunately."
So, is it true, old Donald? Is this what you're saying? And can we infer from this that you, as a star (in your own words), exploit such a “happy truth" for your own satisfaction when the woman is “your type"? Because regarding E Jean, you said you wouldn't have raped her “because she is not my type." Wow! The logic this arises from ...
De Niro didn't call Trump a rapist but this characterisation seamlessly fits his destructive profile. Trump has always violated everything around him: people, family, staff, employees, animals, rights, freedoms, banks, the law, the environment, the state, the American presidency, and above all the truth.
He devastates. He's Genghis Khan in a Cadillac. Even Tucker Carlson, long-time star of Fox News, described Trump as “a demonic force, a destroyer" and added, “I hate him passionately."
John Kelly, a retired Marine general and a White House chief of staff under Trump: “The depths of the man's dishonesty astound me. Trump is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life."
Bill Barr, former attorney-general of the United States: “It's a nightmare if Trump is left to his own devices. Everything falls into chaos."
Supermodel Linda Evangelista, 30 years ago, echoed the 20th-century version of Marie Antoinette's mythical “let them eat cake" by declaring that she doesn't get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day. With Trump, it feels like 10,000 offences a minute. He can't open his mouth without lying, deceiving, bragging, insulting, or seeking sympathy for his endless list of grievances. Or sighing for his face to be immortalised alongside Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln on Mount Rushmore. Hey, spot the odd one out.
Doesn't the man understand that a president with two impeachments against him, two general elections in which he lost the popular vote, and a list of court cases ranging from assault to financial fraud to incitement of rebellion and obstruction of justice — and perhaps worse — should rather retreat? Now he has also lost his Shootout at the E Jean Carroll.
It's this knowledge that right-wing American voters can no longer talk away or ignore. Or they can choose the man of whom a former cabinet member, Miles Taylor, also formerly in Trump's White House, declared: “As a person, Trump is truly the greatest evil I have ever encountered."
And yet, The Donald's base cling to him like leeches, not realising that it's their hero who is sucking the blood out of them. The $5m he has to pay E Jean is apparently already rolling out of the pockets of the poorest Trump supporters.
So, Socrates, old friend. Come help. I don't understand this logic. And yes, you were right. Knowledge is virtue, ignorance an evil.
♦ VWB ♦
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