Friedrich Nietzsche On Tr-mp

“Being is an empty fiction.”


If you’ve ever taken a philosophy course or read an introductory book on philosophy you know something about Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic philosopher known for his doctrine that “change” is the underlying reality of the universe, captured in this famous statement:

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

The great 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche affirmed this observation:

Heraclitus will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction.  The “apparent” world is the only one: the “true” world is merely added by a lie.

As we have seen lately, Tr-mp and his policy positions are a river flowing. He is not the same politician today that he was year ago. He is not the same politician today he was two weeks ago. And we know he will be yet a different politician two weeks hence. There is no “true” Tr-mp, nothing to hold on to, nothing about him that is real except his mindless modulation and mutation, his careless contraction-expansion-contraction, his numbing novelty. Tr-mp is an empty fiction.

We have now watched him metaphorically stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and murder his previous assertions about NATO, kill his prior criticisms of China’s currency manipulation, shoot down his past promise to stay out of Assad’s business, assassinate his old position on the Export-Import bank, and liquidate his past dislike for Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and turn it into love. Oh, and he now has a gun aimed at Steven Bannon, who helped get him elected but has lately been in the way of “family” business.

Today we find out that, after holding numerous and contradictory positions on healthcare and the health insurance system, Tr-mp may have a new plan:

Tr-mp threatens to undermine Obamacare to get Democrats to negotiate

That ABC News article says:

Since the failure of the GOP health care bill in the House nearly three weeks ago, President Donald Tr-mp has suggested letting Obamacare explode to bring Democrats to the negotiating table.

Now, he’s threatening to push the detonator.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Trump suggested the federal government would hold back key subsidy payments made to health insurers offering insurance to low-income Americans.

“Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money,” Trump said. “I haven’t made my viewpoint clear yet. I don’t want people to get hurt.”

He doesn’t “want people to get hurt.” That’s today’s Tr-mp. Tomorrow’s Tr-mp could override today’s Tr-mp and we could see what Republicans have wanted to see and tried hard to accomplish ever since the Affordable Care Act was passed: the murder of Obamacare and the collateral damage that will come with that killing. But don’t bet on that happening. Tr-mp told the Journal the purpose of his threat:

What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.

The alleged master of The Art of the Deal (a book he continues to get credit for writing even though he did not write it) thinks he might set himself up for a big deal with Democrats, who being the good-hearted folks they are, won’t let Tr-mp hurt millions of Americans and will come running to work things out with him and the Republicans. If nothing else proves Tr-mp has no talent for deal-making, it is this pitiful and quite nasty attempt to hold millions of Americans hostage to get what he and Paul Ryan want. Jonathan Chait explains why this is a dumb political strategy:

If the exchanges collapse, the public backlash will redound to the benefit of the opposition party. Democrats may have a strong humanitarian rationale for preserving the system, but their political interest runs in exactly the opposite direction. Trump is threatening Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to meet his demands or else he will give them a majority in Congress.

This whole thing is insufferably stupid. We have a president who is lost in the complexities of governing, who is facing an ocean of problems without a seaworthy ship. To move from philosophy to literature, Stephen Crane, in his most famous short story, “The Open Boat,” wrote:

A particular danger of the sea is the fact that after successfully getting through one wave, you discover that there is another behind it. The next wave is just as nervously anxious and purposeful to overturn boats.

Image result for ocean wavesIf only Tr-mp could figure out, like the characters in Crane’s story, that the waves he faces, the issues that face each and every occupant of the White’s House, are not really out to get him, not bent on overturning his boat. They are simply problems to confront and, if possible, solve. And they should be confronted without threatening to hurt millions of Americans just so Tr-mp can make a deal, just so Tr-mp can claim a win, just so Tr-mp can prove he is more than an empty fiction.

But he’s not. He is Tr-mp.



  1. This is a great post, Duane. Crane’s wave not only applies to Trump’s paranoia and shortsightedness, but to his bevy of ignorant allies like DeVoss, Pruitt, Price, Ross, et al — who think everyone’s out to throttle their personal interests. In fact, their personal interests are horrifically myopic and offer the country no path to success. Conservatives will never make America or anything else great. Never. Their philosophy is counterintuitive to the idea of achieving anything broadly great. Not surprisingly, conservative businesses thrive under more progressive political leadership. Greed is electively blind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well put. I especially like the point that conservative businesses tend to do better when progressives are in power. That at least was demonstrated from 2009-2017. But you never hear them say, “Thanks, Obama!” You only hear: “We want more!”

      Oh, if you got to see Sean Spicer’s presser today, you may have noticed something related to this post and your comment about horrifically myopic personal interests. In discussing the “win” at the U.N., by which Spicer weirdly meant the failed vote by the Security Council to condemn Syria for its chemical attacks, Spicer said it was a win for Tr-mp because China abstained rather than vetoed the resolution. He literally put that abstention, which did not change the outcome of the failed vote, in terms of a victory for Tr-mp, which is what Tr-mp expects Spicer to do each and every day at that podium on each and every issue. Talk about your myopic personal interests.

      On a related matter, it’s no accident that the first use of the Mother of All Bombs, justified or not, came three months into Tr-mp’s illicit term.



      • Let’s face it: there will never be anything licit about Tr-mp’s time in the White House or rather the Mar-a-Lago corporate presidential golf retreat center. To me the most fascinating thing about the last three months has been the crass hypocrisy of the GOP — sometimes at 100% of their elected schlubs and nitwitted, unAmerican supporters.
        We have only six executives in our Indianapolis HQ. Three are Trump supporters (a low percentage for our industry). A couple of days a week (when the President and the CEO – both Democrats – are out of the office) that trio (and a buddy who offices close by) send out for lunch and head down to our main conference room to eat, watch Fox News, and talk about how great Trump is (and how awful Hillary and Obama are). It would be comical if it were not so tragic.
        We have a good working relationship and we each know where the others stand. The last time they pulled this stunt, I stuck my head in the door and asked when they were gonna put on their big boy pants and stop stuffing their adolescent noggins with crap from the propaganda channel. I think they thought no one was aware of their pattern of idiocy. They spluttered and I smiled and told them they were pathetic.
        That’s how it goes sometimes.


  2. ansonburlingame

     /  April 13, 2017

    I don’t suppose you, Duane, or most of you supporters noted the semi-official but very public (first time in history?) that China has now told North Korea to “knock it off”. Why do the believe that happened and did Trump have anything to do with it? See pertinent column in today’s WaPost.

    Why do you think Trump flip-flopped on calling China a “currency manipulator”? Is not the quid-pro-quo obvious to even you a Trump hater of the first order? Should he not have flip-flopped? “I want call you a currency manipulator if you get control of NK”

    Trump has now flip-flopped on seeking HC reform BEFORE proceeding with tax reform and he now is asking Dems to step in and tell us what they really want. Is that a bad move on Trump’s part?

    WHEN (not if) tax reform hits Congress how do you think he will proceed? As with the HC bill, he will state broad guidance and then let GOP leaders in Congress develop the specific legislation that adheres to those principles, at least the first time around. If or when it falis, as with HC he will still push, again, for reform, open up to Dem ideas and “negotiate” (make a deal?) with some form of compromise. At least that is what I expect he will do but we will all have to wait and see.

    Is Trump impulsive? Probably, but his impulse is based on making things happen that he wants to happen. He is not a policy wonk that will go down in flames over some “principle” opposed by one side or the other. Fundamentally, Trump is NOT a Republican NOR he is a Dem. He could care less about such labels. He wants things to happen that will stop the American decline, domestically and around the world that he believes is self evident.

    You and your supporters will also vigorously deny that America is in decline and claim Obama was the right man to stop that decline. That is why Trump won the presidency. Right or wrong Americans agreed things were going to hell in a hand basket, domestically and overseas and they voted in favor of Trump, like it or not.

    The real question is can he deliver on such change, undefined change in the details but a more prosperous and stronger America in the next four years in a broad sense. Obama won on “change” as well and he, in the view of many, many Americans failed to deliver. Thus the Tea Party two years later and see where we are now.

    And you can bet Trump will see a huge campaign in two years for Congress and then all hands on deck again in four years. I hope I am senile by then and won’t be bothered with the mess. Unfortunately I am not yet in such condition and thus continue to watch what is happening and commenting frequently back to you.



  3. ansonburlingame

     /  April 14, 2017

    Duane, again,

    Here is a column in today’s WaPost by a writer you seem to respect. His he correct”

    Liberals have to avoid Trump Derangement Syndrome
    By Fareed Zakaria



  4. ansonburlingame

     /  April 14, 2017

    Duane, again,

    Here is a column in today’s WaPost by a writer you seem to respect. Is he correct”

    “Liberals have to avoid Trump Derangement Syndrome
    By Fareed Zakaria”



    • Anonymous

       /  April 14, 2017


      No, Zakaria is not correct! Trump Derangement Syndrome, if there were such an actual malady, would be based on a President that solicited a foreign enemy to assist in cyber attacking our nation’s political body to provide him assistance to win an election, after kissing the ass of said foreign enemy’s leader. Add the braggadocio of Trump’s ability to sexually assault women because of his celebrity. Add countless other racist remarks uttered by the liar-in-chief, and concern is more than justified.

      Now, let’s talk about the Obama Derangement Syndrome exhibited by the GOP and the Simpleton-in-chief over the last eight years. You refused to reply to Duane’s question in the final sentence of his reply to you on the missile strike post comment you made. Why is that, Anson? Does it hit too close to home, or is it the senility issue you spoke of, or is it just the fact that you can’t dispute it? Duane, in my opinion, should not respond to any of your queries, if you are unwilling to respond to his toward you. The decline of America that you cite, was not a part of Obama’s tenure, it began when Trump was elected!


      • Yes, but I would suggest the decline of America began with Regan’s war on truth, transparency, and equality. That slowed a little under GHWB and a little more under Clinton — no thanks to Newt — accelerated under Bush 43, reversed itself a little under Obama and dropped into FREEFALL under Tr-mp, the whiny-bomber. BTW: Zakaria is a 3rd rate liberal. A superficial commentator and a truly horrible book reviewer (there’s that superficial thing again). He’s all yours, AB.


        • Anonymous

           /  April 14, 2017


          I was born in 1956 and I recall Jim Crow laws that prevented a WWII veteran Army Sergeant to drink from the same water fountain or restrooms as the white rapist or murderer. I recall when abortions were only done in dirty, back rooms in a motel. I recall when I could enter Mexico without a passport, and stay as long as I pleased. I recall when there were no warnings or licensing of DDT, agricultural chemicals, asbestos or numerous other deadly products. We’re these the “good ole days”? I have asked numerous conservatives that claim the chump is going to make America great again, what the funk exact time period are you talking about that America was so great in?!

          Liked by 1 person

    • No. Zacharia is not correct.

      He begins with the premise that it is “hatred” driving the opposition to Tr-mp. As I have expressed before, I actually feel some pity for Tr-mp the man. He is a sad figure, full of self-doubt, afraid of failing, addicted to the approval of others, etc. What I hate is Tr-mpism, a point I have tried to make clear. I hate the culture that brought us Tr-mp, that ignored his obvious faults and disorders, his misogyny, racism, bigotry, incorrigible and dangerous ignorance. In fact, many in that culture enthusiastically embraced those things, especially the racism. (How fitting he had Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin in the White’s House together, by the way.)

      Zacharia seems taken aback at how people reacted to the stupid comment he made about that Syrian strike making Tr-mp presidential. It wasn’t that people expressed support for the strike, it was the particular way Zacharia expressed support for it: he validated the legitimacy of Tr-mp as “presidential.” That is hooey. That’s what upset so many people like me, previous fans of Zacharia’s mostly rational approach to analyzing foreign policy (he’s not a liberal; he is in many ways a centrist-conservative). I didn’t always agree with him on his analysis, but I respected how he got to where he got. On this, he farted. And he is unwilling to back down from it, to own it.

      Finally, there is a glaring contradiction in Zacharia’s stance now. He admitted he once called Tr-mp a “cancer on American democracy.” Now, he says, he is obligated to ignore the cancer and pretend it’s not there, as he evaluates “his policies impartially.” That is utter bullshit, Anson. Utter bullshit. You can’t call someone a cancer on democracy one day and then the next act like the cancer has been healed by a resurrected Oral Roberts. The cancer of Tr-mp is still with us. One can approve or disapprove of this or that policy without doing what Zacharia did, which was essentially pronounce, just because of a missile strike in Syria, America cancer free because Tr-mp is now presidential.



  5. ansonburlingame

     /  April 14, 2017


    I DID, just now, reply to Duane’s last question in a long string of question. Go look at it and of course the answer was NO. NEVER did I object to Obama’s policies because I considered him a scary negro. BUT my inclination to object WAS based on my concern that he was a very scary socialist. Big difference. As well I never felt nor said Obama was insane or post a “fake news” propaganda news report saying he was impeached, as we have seen since Nov 8th herein, along with the Hitler mustache posting.

    Farid Z. column says it all to Duane, the General, etc. herein. If Trump is insane then impeach him or use the 25th Amendment. But if he is not then stop this constant deluge about ……. and explain why each and every thing he does or tries to do is wrong based strictly on the merits of such actions or attempts to take action. His HC was wrong because …….. NOT, his HC (or missile strike, etc.) was wrong because he is insane, has orange hair of that he fiipped flopped from campaign rhetoric. Frankly I hope he continues to flip flop on such rhetoric and starts doing the “next right thing” one step at a time.



  6. Duane’s “Open Boat” wave analogy is apt because, like waves in the ocean, society’s problems present consistent patterns. This is evident in economics and sociology. Wars, depressions, recessions, stock bubbles occur with regularity, albeit not with sufficient predictability. Nevertheless, it is inane to think that a knee-jerk, impulsive approach to governance might be superior to studied plans and policies designed to avoid the mistakes of the past. Yet, that is clearly what Tr;mp is doing. Even worse, conservatives are obsessed with the notion that somehow the “hidden hand of the market” can replace knowledge-driven systems design and sensible regulation in both governance and business.

    Who knew healthcare was so complicated?

    I am currently reading H.R. McMasters’ book, Dereliction of Duty. Although I’m only a couple of chapters in, it’s already apparent that he is a thoughtful and wise student of history. (How he got into the inner circle appears to be a lucky happenstance!) I wish he were president instead of the loose cannon we’ve got.


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