Goodbye to 2017; The Year of the Vulture.

World's Greatest Asshole

In some ways 2017 is a hard year to parse. Donald Trump’s bumbling cruelty as he both made and reacted to news, created an endless feedback loop that made every week seem like a month and seemed to hit new lows on an almost daily basis.

Trump was certainly the dominant news figure of the year, but his accomplishments were all train-wreck for America no matter how much he trumpeted his ‘triumphs’. The biggest beneficiary was undeniably Vladimir Putin, who flaunted his unfettered access to Trump even as he continued to attack Democracy around the world.

But if you clear aside the tweets, the likelihood of collusion with Russia, and the constant erosion of decency and tolerance coming from this President, you might see a pattern in the Chaos of Trump’s wake.

While Trump lurches drunkenly between the path toward both autocracy and exposure of his criminal enterprises, those who he has rewarded with power are glutting themselves. His cabinet can be likened to Vultures circling the American Dream as it dies an agonizing death crawling toward the mirage of prosperity through the barren desert known as Trickledown.

I wanted to call this essay the Rape of America, but while the analogy is apt, it merits a defter hand than I can muster right now. So I went with Vulture, as in vulture capitalists, namely the oligarchs who are picking America apart.

But what else do you call a tax bill where over 50% of the benefits go to a tiny minority of very wealthy people, including a huge break for real estate developers like Trump?

What else do you call the actions of an FCC commissioner who openly mocks those who want to preserve Net Neutrality, lies, and then hands over unprecedented power to some of the most predatory companies in the US, who immediately turn around and start doing the very things that he said that they would never do?

If not Vulture Capitalism, then what is it when the Education Secretary cancels loan forgiveness and fraud relief for students, while enjoying the rents of her investments in the firms that control said Student debt. Imagine if an Obama cabinet appointee acted this way.

Those in charge of the EPA and FEMA are far more concerned with profits and balance sheets than lead in the water and hurricane relief.

It goes on an on, but the pattern remains the same no matter what the agency. These people, who earn their positions by supporting and grovelling for Trump, then turn around and enrich themselves and their friends at the expense of the American public. They pretend to be engaging in a curbing of government overreach based on conservative principles, but anyone who isn’t an eager Trumpist can see that they are just turning these agencies into tool of extraction and exploitation to make themselves rich. Suck up to Trump; get a license to steal from your fellow citizens…

Perhaps the clearest example of the is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Since its inception in 2011, this agency has clawed back billions of dollars on behalf of US consumers defrauded by large institutions. It is unbelievably successful. When the director resigned Trump put Mick Mulvaney, a man who wants to destroy the agency, in charge. There is only one reason that can be behind this action; he wants to make it easier for the Vultures to get at their meal.

More than the lies and the other aspects of corruption and collusion, it is the unmitigated looting of America by these vultures and cronies that bothers me the most.

On a personal note, 2017 has not been a bad year for me. My boy, Ronan, is two now and a sometimes a handful, but he brings joy to everyone in the family. I have released two books, Bloodlust: The Sum of Hate and The Shadow Wolf Sagas: The Sword of The Fallen King. I have even come up with a cool RPG idea that I am testing out. Mom is recovering well from her hip surgery, and the family is happy and healthy. On a broader note I am happy to see real resistance to Trump and the Alt-Right. I am supremely grateful for all of this, and my amazing friends and fans, especially in a year where so many have been hurt.


A few thoughts on Charlottesville

[This is not related to my writing, but I have to say something about it, if only to set it in my mind for later… Shadow Wolf Sagas will resume on Sunday, hopefully.]

A couple of days ago, I watched with horror and disgust as the most powerful man in the world lied to defend racists and traitors.

That President Donald J Trump lies is nothing new or surprising. At this point in his career only a fool would stand up for his honesty. But in a presidency defined by its lows, lying in the defence of the KKK and American Nazis marks a new low and a dangerous one at that.

During his remarks yesterday President Trump doubled down on his original comments that both the left and the right were equally responsible for the grim actions in Charlottesville that left Heather Heyer dead, and dozens wounded as a white supremacist rammed a car into a line of merchers.

His most brazen lie, that the Left-wing protesters did not have a permit to protest, went unchallenged, mostly unnoticed in a stream of ugly half truths. The Anti-Nazis actually had two permits to protest, making their presence just as legal. And yet the President’s lie was picked up and spread by his surrogates and supporters and used to give the KKK and the Nazis greater legitimacy by creating the narrative that they were there legally, while the Anti-Nazi protesters were not. He lied to defend ideologies that Americans have gone to war to defeat. He lied to defend groups who spread hate and murdered a woman this weekend. He lied to defend his allies and in doing so condoned their actions and fanned the flames of further violence.

Perhaps even uglier than the lies he told in defence of the KKK and the Nazis, was his equivocation on their behalf. The stated term for their gathering was to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the most celebrated general of the Confederacy. President Trump said that taking down Lee’s statue would open the way for the left to take down statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson since all three men were guilty of owning slaves. This argument enrages me. Comparing the first two Presidents of the United States to the leader of the Confederate army that sought to tear it apart during the Civil War is simply beyond the pale. Yes, all three men owned slaves and should be condemned for that, but two of them are proud figures in early American history, flaws and all, while Lee is a General of a hostile secessionist force, a traitor to the republic who sought to bring it down to preserve slavery.

One need only to glance at the founding documents of the Confederacy to know that slavery was the reason they broke away from the Republic, in spite of the popular fiction of state’s rights. President Trump does not care though; he needs allies and the Nazis and KKK are his most willing and ardent supporters at this point.

The further we get away from the weekend, the uglier the forces behind Charlottesville look. One need only read the words and look at the posters that were created to advertise the event to see that these were white supremacists. Richard Spencer, a Nazi by his own words and admission, was a headline guest. The protesters chanted “Jews will not replace us” and “Blood and soil”, lines which resonate with racist and fascist movements of the past. And yet, President Trump has dug in his heels and refuses to back off his equivocations and lies. While this has earned him a heap of criticism from most people, the Nazis and the KKK have praised him for his support; thus far he has not tweeted that he does not want their kudos. He has been far swifter and less equivocal in his criticism of everything under the sun (Except Russia), one need only look at his twitter feed to see the truth of that. He does not condemn them fully because he does not want to. It is sad and ugly, and it leaves me angry and deeply troubled.

Heather Hayer was killed at Charlottesville when a white supremacist rammed a car into a crowd of protestors. Nineteen more were injured. I have watched that terrible video and it will remain with me, as will the words and images of the vicious white supremacists who descended upon Charlottesville. As far as I am concerned the BLM/Antifa/Church Groups and others who showed up to confront them are heroes. I do not condone violence, but history has shown us what happens when you don’t stand up to Nazis.

The War On Truth

This is political and anti-Trump.

Sometimes I worry about posting stuff like this. I don’t want to alienate any of my readers who are pro-Trump, whom I love regardless of their political affiliation, but we are living in a historical moment and I cannot pretend to be neutral.

Reagan and Nixon had the War on Drugs, George Bush had the War on Terror and this weekend President Donald J Trump started The War on Truth. It began over this photo:


The thing is in 2009 President Obama drew a crowd of historic size (1.8 million), partly because of his popularity and partly because it was a historic occasion (first Black President). The next closest crowd size in recent memory was Obama in 2013 (1 Mil) and Clinton in 1993 (800K). Others rarely broke five hundred thousand.

Donald Trump is a divisive President, so he should have been happy with the relatively small, but still decent crowd size estimates, or just said “wait and see” until the facts were published. Instead he had his Press Secretary call a special press briefing to dispute the crowd size estimates and harangue the media, but offer little factual evidence in retort. The whole thing was the basically the press conference version of road rage.

The conference is worth watching, by the way, if only to see how it sets the tone for The War on Truth. I will link to a republican site for it, so you can read how Trump fans see it, but it is easy to find you own version on youtube if you don’t want to give them views.

Here is a nice summary of some of the ‘alternative facts’ aka lies that were said, with evidence.

The size of the crowds was still a theme later in the day when Trump himself spoke out, especially since it appears that the women’s protest against Trump the next day dwarfed the inauguration day crowds, but first a little background.

On January 11, 2017 President Donald J Trump tweeted this, after a round of new revelations about his connections to Russia and a possible blackmail tape:

He then went on to attack the outgoing director of the CIA and the agency’s record in general, and then ended his rant with a veiled accusation of them being the group that leaked the Russian revelations to the media.

Just ten days later President Trump gave a speech to high ranking CIA officers in front of the wall of honor, where stars are displayed for CIA officers killed in the line of duty whose names remain secret where he said this:

“But no, I just wanted to really say that I love you. I respect you. There’s nobody I respect more. You’re going to do a fantastic job. And we’re going to start winning again – and you’re going to be leading the charge.”

So there’s no one Donald Trump respects more than the agency he was attacking ten days ago. Reminds me of another Donald Trump quote about how no one respects women more than him, just after his famous pussy grabbing comments came out into the open. It is a pretty easy to follow pattern for him.

Finally, Kellyanne Conway, the woman who ran Trump’s winning campaign (or was that Comey?) defended these two rants in a media appearance. She said that Sean Spicer was just working with ‘alternative facts’, a rather impressive piece of doublespeak, and then threatened veiled retribution for hard questioning, saying she might have to rethink their relationship with the program.

The first weekend up the Trump presidency was a fight over crowd size. Just wow.

Even if the president thought he was being misrepresented, surely he has better things to do that correct a minor issue like this. The truth will come out over time regardless of initial estimates. Can you imagine if Obama had freaked out like this over his birtherism?

Trump has declared war on the media, the facts, and ultimately the truth because he wants to control the narrative of his presidency. Unfortunately, his own words are what trip him up the most, such as with his comments about the CIA.

I started off Friday sincerely hoping that I am wrong about Trump, because people’s lives are at stake. Now I am virtually certain that I am right, and it is not a pleasant feeling.

Still, the sheer size of the crowds at the women’s protest left me feeling buoyed, at least until I hear the ‘alternative facts’ about those…

Trump the Iconoclast, Trump the Orthodox, Trump the ‘Hero’

I find it increasingly hard to turn away from the ugly spectacle of American politics. Part of this is envy; I honestly wish that I could have cast my vote (Bernie, then Hillary) in this seminal election, a transition (I hope) from the industrial age to the information age. I live in the shadow of American news and politics, and while I love Canada, it is hard to ignore the tug of that great country south of us.

I often talk about systems on this blog. I feel that systems and institutions are the villains of modern stories more than singular figures.

Enter Donald Trump.

Trump is a man who has shown absolute willingness to cast aside institutions and ideas. Depending on how you view his motivations this is either a good thing or a bad thing, obviously. I see his motivations as guided by contempt for expertise, the power of persuasion, revenge, desire for personal gain, and an ideology that places wealth and business above all else. Some of his followers see a heroic iconoclast that will break the chains that have held back their country for decades and allow them to cast down their enemies at last.They see him as akin to Alexander confronting the Gordian Knot, as Jesus sweeping the money-lenders from the Temple.

We both might be right.

[What is an iconoclast?  a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions, literally a destroyer of idols.]

Trump shut down the TPP, instantly dealing a blow the flow of decades of globalization. I actually am in favour of this, but mostly because the TPP is full of harmful laws that limit freedoms and make life easier for climate change deniers. If I could bring myself to trust Trump (spoiler: he lies quite frequently), this alone would be enough to gain my support.

I also don’t trust foreign intervention or intelligence agencies; Trump is currently at odds with both.

I can see why some of Trump’s followers view him as a heroic figure, come to break down regulations and set things right.

The problem is that what guides Donald Trump is not a desire for justice or to make America a better place for everyone. Donald Trump’s destruction of institutions and ideas is purely motivated by personal gain and to enhance to power of the wealthy. In this way he often acts like an orthodox republican: spouting tax cuts, attacking climate science, and seeking to enhance the power of the nation with military might over diplomacy.

In this, he is willing to be iconoclastic as well. He does not care about the truth, spewing whatever he reads on his twitter feed without fact-checking. He does not seem to realize the responsibility that seems to come with his office in this regard. His racism and sexism is well noted, but seen by many as a reaction to stifling political correctness, a bullshit claim in my opinion.

Trump is even willing to violate the constitution (article 1, section 9) in order to keep ownership of his business interests, arguing that his voters knew that he is a businessman, wiping out hundreds of years of tradition in a single stroke. What is fascinating is that his followers and party are, so far, willing to go along with this, even though it is a glaring example of the corruption they despise. In fact, the more his corruption irritates liberals, the more some of them seem to like it.

Trump has already changed so much of american politics and he is not even in power yet. And yet, rather than bringing the country into the future, Trump seems to want to return to a mythical era in the past when coal and manufacturing propelled the economy, businessmen were objects of unqualified adoration, and people did not have to give a fuck about political correctness. In this fashion we can see the orthodoxy that shapes his attacks, a hatred of the directions that the country has taken since his youth.

And yet that bygone era has one defining feature that Trump rejects with great vehemence: The Cold War with Russia. Trump loves everything from that time but rejects butting heads with the dictator, Putin. In many ways this is laudable, but in Trump I think we can see how it is motivated by self-interest. The CIA and the NSA have both sounded warnings about Russian hacking in the election and Trump refuses even to talk about it.

I wonder what is in those tax returns, another tradition that he has broken with.

Election Night Update: Galadriel vs Sauron a toss up.

Ok, so in all seriousness, I wish that I was a US citizen right now so I could vote in what appears to be the most important election in recent times. I was going to write about how the presentation of latest wikileaks was all smoke and mirrors, but this is not the place to lecture my fans on such things three days before the bug event, especially since I am not an american citizen. You all know how I feel about Trump, and if I am stressed about the election then no doubt a person who is living through it might feel worse.

So instead, I though I would lighten things up with an election that is a little easier to understand.

Live from Middle-Earth

Melitot Took, Female Hobbit, Shire: This election cycle has been terrible. Orc raids and Nazgul on fell-beasts everywhere. How am I supposed to decide anything with this madness going on. Both candidates are terrible. I’m undecided. Sauron is an amazing jeweler and owns most of Mordor. He could really put that expertise to use and create jobs and no place has a stronger border than Mordor let me tell you. Still some people say that he has associations with Melkor. Meanwhile Galadriel has been running around Rivendell for a thousand years and what has that gotten us? Bottles full of light — how does that grow tomatoes in my gardens? Plus she held the ring once and got all scary! I think I’ll just stay home.

Thorin Mcguffinluvr, Male Dwarf, Lonely Mountain: Galadriel is an elf. Dwarves cannot vote for elves. My third cousin Gimli said he was going to vote for Galadriel and so I sent him an anonymous death-threat via grudge pigeon. We don’t vote for elves. They betrayed us once a long time ago and I am still personally offended. We don’t vote for elves; how bad can Sauron be?

Eowyn, Female Rohirim, Horseback: Really? REALLY? I killed one of his most trusted henchmen. Sauron is worse than Saruman. Why are we even pretending these two are equivalent? Wait is that a ring on your finger?

Spleenripper, Male Uruk-Hai, Raiding on the border of Rohan: I am pumped about this election. Finally we have a candidate that represents what I am feeling. Sauron will solve all of our problems and make Middle-Earth great again. I mean look what he has done with Mordor!

Scatt At’Thems, Male Half-Troll, Avoiding the sun: Sauron is a master of manipulation. I know this because, I too, am a master of manipulation. Once you understand that how the world works, you realize that only a few people are truly awake and understand the power of manipulation. Galadriel is obviously asleep. Sauron, on the other hand, literally made the Rings of Power; he understands manipulation. Only someone who is awake to the power of manipulation can truly rule effectively. So what if he casts the land into eternal darkness, that won’t harm me .

Bloodtusks, Female Orc, Mordor: So the eye of Sauron can’t penetrate the voting booth, right?

Saruman, Male Wizard, Corrupting the Shire: I have seen the power of the One Ring. Neither candidate can be trusted to wield it. I personally tried to keep it from Sauron and know he wishes to see me hung from the gates of Mordor and flayed. He will likely end the world as we know it and cast us all into eternal darkness and Torment. I know, because that was my plan as well.  Still, I must endorse Sauron because of Galadriel’s stance on Ents.

Treebeard: Sauron hates Ents. Galadriel does not. Ents don’t mind waiting in line.

Politics & Fantasy: Plato, Trump, Andrew Sullivan, and the Defence of the System

Often, on this blog, I write about ideologies, systems, and institutions and how the shifting of these powers make for interesting narratives. My arguments include the idea that the functionaries of a particular ideology, system, or institution will do whatever is in their power to defend it. The rise of Donald Trump, for good or for ill, is a fantastic example of this in real life.

Let us set aside how we ourselves, judge Mr Trump. It is enough to know that many people, some even in his own party, see him as a Demagogue. Many of the Elite in the GOP have spoken out about him with incredible vitriol, as have the media everywhere. 2016, one way or another, looks pretty much like the Donald Trump show up until now. Even far more serious events than US politics quickly drown in the maelstrom of Love/Hate for Trump.

Recently Trump shut out his opponents in the GOP, ending any chance that he would not represent the republican party in this year’s election. As the chances of stopping him dwindled many of those threatened by the changes he might bring to the party spoke out against him.

One of the best written of these pieces is Andrew Sullivan’s Democracies end when they are too democratic, written just before Trump won Indiana and his opponents bent their knees. It is a wonderful example of a functionary striding forth to do battle in defence of his particular ideology.

Andrew Sullivan is an excellent writer, one who emerged from the early days of political blogging to gain power and influence. His article begins with a breakdown of Plato’s criticism of Democracy from the Republic, namely that democracies can become lawless as their populations gain too much freedom and lead to the rise of a demagogic tyrant. In this piece the tyrant is Mr Trump, and it is because we have become too free that we have turned to him.

Mr Sullivan takes a small amount of blame for political pundits (himself) and even some for his beloved party and ideology. His writing is deep and passionate and convincing, at least until one comes to the meat of what he sees as the problem, the real reason that Mr Trump is ascendant, and the real people to blame for this potential tyranny; you see while Mr Sullivan’s article is a superb rhetorical piece it is nothing new. He blames everything on those damned liberals.

“This is an age in which a woman might succeed a black man as president, but also one in which a member of the white working class has declining options to make a decent living. This is a time when gay people can be married in 50 states, even as working-class families are hanging by a thread. It’s a period in which we have become far more aware of the historic injustices that still haunt African-Americans and yet we treat the desperate plight of today’s white working ­class as an afterthought. And so late-stage capitalism is creating a righteous, revolutionary anger that late-stage democracy has precious little ability to moderate or constrain — and has actually helped exacerbate.” Democracies end when they are too democratic, Andrew Sullivan, 1 May 2016.

This is an argument as audacious as it is facetious. Had he led with this paragraph, Mr Sullivan would be roundly mocked. But this comes after several thousand words, an invocation of a revered Greek philosopher, and plenty of seeming introspection where Mr Sullivan seems perilously close to taking responsibility himself.

It is a tried and true technique, and if you have not read conservative pundits writing about the rise of dictators and nationalists around the world, it might actually convince you that Mr Sullivan is sincere. Instead this functionary is offering a well-heeled defence of his chosen ideology hidden withing his lofty pontificating, deflecting the blame for Donald Trump away from those who chose him. (Which shows you what he thinks of the base that votes for the ideology that he supports, incidentally — by removing their agency, he reveals that he thinks of them them sheep. Never mind the fact that Mr Trump has positions that might be appealing to working class whites — like his stance on trade deals.)

“For the white working class, having had their morals roundly mocked, their religion deemed primitive, and their economic prospects decimated, now find their very gender and race, indeed the very way they talk about reality, described as a kind of problem for the nation to overcome. This is just one aspect of what Trump has masterfully signaled as “political correctness” run amok, or what might be better described as the newly rigid progressive passion for racial and sexual equality of outcome, rather than the liberal aspiration to mere equality of opportunity.” Democracies end when they are too democratic, Andrew Sullivan, 1 May 2016.

Mr Sullivan tries to obfuscate the filthy nugget of his argument in dense layers of reason and nods to philosophy and history, as if thick layers of artisanal bread will disguise the taste of the wet turd that resides within.

For some they might. As I wrote, it is a tried and true technique.

The argument itself is not exactly hard to take apart. Firstly, Plato’s republic is a complex work, with much reading between the lines required. If one were to take Plato at face value, then his preferred system of Government is a King, albeit one steeped in philosophy. I don’t think that either of these are amenable to modern circumstances. We call kings dictators these days and they tend to be notoriously unsuccessful, unless propped up by outside powers.

Secondly, the idea that the United States of America is too free is rather laughable when examined directly. Sure there are laws allowing gay marriage laws and we might elect a woman president right after a black man; but the incarceration rate of the US is the highest in the world, people can face enormous fines for stealing music and the image of a cartoon mouse invented in 1928 (an idea that would be baffling to Plato), not to mention all those regulations that conservative pundits keep telling us are stifling the economy. I doubt the citizens of Ferguson and Flint would agree with the idea that we are “too free”.

But then again, the usual suspects have been warning about the dangers of too much freedom since the Powell memo. Nixon dredged up the arguments to launch the War on Drugs,  which he then used to attack hippies and minorities after the victory of civil rights movement. TASTE THE FREEDOM!

Of course, political correctness can be odious. But despite constant outcry from right-wing pundits eager to warn us about the ever-present danger of university students”checking your privilege” is rarely  outside of campuses, political punditry, and the kind of boardroom scrums that produce faulty signs. Political correctness has been a constant back and forth since at least I was in university… 20 years ago. If you want to go that far back to blame someone for the rise of Donald Trump as demagogue, you may as well just go for blaming his parents. There’s nothing new there, either way.

The idea that Liberal Permissiveness has given rise to Mr Trump is feeble. The main branches of Demagoguery that launched Mr Trump this political season have been the idea of  building a wall to keep Mexicans out and forcibly deporting illegal immigrants. I don’t hear him screaming about gays getting married or even joining the current right wing rebellion against trans-gendered rights. Mr Trump does not really seem to care about who uses what bathroom. Ted Cruz, his main opponent was a far stronger Champion against so called liberal permissiveness, and even tried to attack Mr Trump on abortion, the bathroom thing, and so on. He went so far as to call Mr Trump a RINO (Republican In Name Only), because of his apparent lack of interest in the Culture Wars, the pinnacle of the GOPs counter-attack against those damn elitist liberals taking freedom too far.

If Mr Trump’s supporters are so angry about their enemies forcing these things down their throats then why did they not pick Mr Cruz who has a far more consistent pedigree of resisting and speaking out against gay marriage, abortion, feminism, and exceeds him in almost every other arena of the Culture Wars? It does not make sense, unless there is something else that draws them to Mr Trump.

I can only conclude that Mr Sullivan’s article is a smokescreen, an attempt to blame the revolt of the Republican Base on Liberals in an attempt to defend the ideology of the party elite should Mr Trump prove to be an unfit candidate.

Could it be that it is another form of permissiveness that draws people to Mr Trump? What about a group of people who constantly write and speak about the dangers of political correctness in a time when a standing President of the United States has been called a liar during an official speech. I wonder what the reaction would have been to a Democrat done the same thing to a Republican. What about the Representative who sent out a series of Christmas songs called “Barrack the Magic Negro”?

In fact, if the forces of Political Correctness are so overwhelmingly powerful, then how do we explain George Zimmerman seeking to sell the gun that he used to kill Trayvon Martin? If the PC police can’t stop that, then they are hardly the force that they are made out to be.

But that’s the point, isn’t it. While the permissiveness of Mr Sullivan’s chosen ideology has certainly empowered Mr Trump, they don’t want to take responsibility for him unless he is a success. After all, they could have easily spoken out against him when he was spouting on and on about President Obama being a secret Muslim, instead they gave him the freedom to air his views at their official events and a platform on Fox news which he used to build a massive audience which was loyal to him.

They let Mr Trump infiltrate the party, ignored him while he connected with their voters, and dismissed him when he showed his power early in the race; he clearly took advantage of Republican freedoms, for good or for ill.

This one’s on you and yours, Andrew.

Trump, Demagogues, Populists, and Fantasy Fiction


:  a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power

:  a leader championing the cause of the common people in ancient times (from Merriam-Webster)

If you follow american politics, even a little, then you are aware that Donald Trump is RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. Depending on your political inclinations you either find this awesome, scary, funny, or some combinations of similar emotions; I suspect there are very few people who have a neutral opinion of Mr. Trump.

The American pundit class, a huge group of people who churn out endless articles, opinion pieces, and TV shows that try to influence the world’s most powerful democracy have a love-hate relationship with Donald Trump. They love him because he is easy to write about and draws a large audience. They hate him because they have very little power over him.

Trump is one of the great Demagogues of capitalism. He may seem crass and tasteless, brash and ignorant, but to many he is a prophet of the real gods of our times: money. power, and fame. He has a large body of work advising people on how they can be like him (SUCCESSFUL!), and while his guidance might be dubious, it is something he has consistently pushed for the better part of three decades (Art of the Deal came out in 1987) and he has staked out that territory very loudly. The Trump name is synonymous with glitz, gold, and the gaudiest branding in the world.

What does Trump have to do with Fantasy Fiction you ask?

Well for one, heraldry might not be as gaudy as huge, golden “TRUMP” letters on the side of a building but it serves a very similar purpose from a times when literacy was very low. The trappings of the trump empire are very similar to the luxuries sought after by the nobility of old; we’ve just traded in the castles for magnificent glass towers and the garden for the gold green and country club. The gold, the glitz, and the heraldry are still there.

One large difference between Trump and a medieval nobleman, however, is that Trump not only puts his name on everything so that people recognize that it is his and he has power, but also because he wishes to reside in the public consciousness. Trump is very concerned with what the working and middle classes think of him, not because he is afraid of a peasant revolt like a wary noble, but because he understands the power of opinion in a democratic society. In fact, as a master of branding, Trump definitely understands that opinion can outweigh the truth.

Trump is a Demagogue. He would call himself a populist, a man of the people, and in some ways he is. He certainly seems to spend a lot of his time trying to tell people how to be successful. It is quite possible he genuinely believes that he is helping people and not just pretending to care in order to cash in on his brand and make more money. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he actually wants to help people be rich and successful like him. Does that make him a populist? yes, however, even genuine concern about the people does not stop him from being a Demagogue.

Demagogy relies on abusing information in order to provoke an emotional reaction and circumvent rational debate. It is very similar to branding in many ways. Here are a few examples of Trump using false factoids to stir up the people he is currently selling to (the Republican base), just from this past week.

  • There are 93 million unemployed people in America. (The population of the US is 321 million, and that includes people who aren’t looking for work.)
  • The US is the most highly taxed nation in the civilized world. (What?)
  • There are 32 million illegal immigrants in the US. (WTF? 1 in every 10 people in the US is an illegal O.o)

These claims are easily verifiable as not true. But the people Trump is aiming his comments at are willing to take these comments on faith. They fear illegal immigration and everyone hates taxes and is terrified of unemployment. Trump confidently exclaims that he has THE BEST SOLUTIONS and moves on. When someone tries to poke a hole in his plans or call his ideas into question he insults them and moves on. The modern pundit class uses these same techniques, so they know what he is doing, but their business model isn’t based on the truth or good journalism so they don’t really have an easy counter for Trump. Trump appeals to the same visceral emotions that they have been using to sell their work for years. Cynical and well-informed people can see right through the man, but they aren’t his target audience and he knows it. And this brings me back to Fantasy Fiction.

Modern fantasy often scoffs at brash, larger than life villains as much as it does with heroes. And yet in Trump we have someone who often seems like a caricature of a man mining a deep vein of resentment and anger in order to gain power. A villain like Sauron suddenly seems less unrealistic when you compare him to The Donald. Its not like Trump is going to try to take over Middle-Earth any time soon (can you imagine what he would do to The Shire? even Saruman would blanch) but it is easy to see how one can appeal to fear and hatred to gain a fervent following. History can teach us how such a movement can spiral out of control, as well. Trump is just abusing people’s prejudices for his own ends, but he serves as a reminder that sometimes the simplest type pf villainy can be compelling in both real life and fiction. Racism and fear-mongering may be cliché, but they sell baby, boy do they sell!