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Trumpelstiltzgen is NOT a fairy tale

An angry Rumpeilstiltzgen

Rumpelstiltzgen reacts to losing a bet with the queen who has discovered his secret name.

by Len Bahr, Ph.D.

During the enlightenment period of the 19th century a brilliant Prussian geologist and explorer named Alexander von Humboldt began to elevate the qualitative field of natural history into a rigorous quantitative scientific discipline that eventually became known as ecology. Meanwhile in neighboring Germany, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, known as the Brothers Grimm, were creating mythological stories designed to instill lessons in children about the fearsome consequences of common human frailties, such as avarice.

The Grimm Bros’ allegories, which became known as fairy tales, included one that featured three players: a strange little title character named Rumpelstiltzgen; a gold-obsessed king seeking a young spouse to bear his heir; and a golden-tressed miller’s daughter. Sadly, the themes of greed, prevarication, misogyny and wishful thinking in this fantasy tale are reminiscent of the players and prevailing philosophy in the American political theater now directed by DJT.

The unprecedented presidency of a braggadocious political novice and science doubter named Donald J. Trump has transformed our nation almost overnight into a Trumpocracy, a fairy tale kingdom in which facts are forged from fiction and the bizarre becomes believable. Thus I present the following preface to a modern non-fiction tale that I call Trumpelstiltzgen, for which I hereby claim authorship and all applicable accoutrements, in the unlikely circumstance that I live long enough to see the final act.

Once upon a time there was a deeply disingenuous despot named Donald, a cunning con artist with a slick but effective style of patter that could both scare the bejeezus from, and charm the socks off of an audience of frustrated folks, not all of them foolish, as pointed out in an essay in Slate Magazine. The semantic tools in Donald’s rhetorical trick bag include slick and simplistic ‘solutions’ to universal fears and prejudices. These are snake oil remedies that don’t stand up to scrutiny but that sufficed to persuade about one third of American voters to pull the Trump lever on November 8.

Now President Donald has a peculiar predilection for power, prestige and popularity. Among his other idiosyncrasies that relate to the king in the fairy tale, he loves gold in every form imaginable, from watches to wallpaper, from teapots to toilet seats, from curtains to culottes. His Midas obsession extends even to Mickey Dees’ golden arches, for which he appeared in commercials during 2002.

Among his other appetites, and in parallel with the Grimm Bros’ tale, Donald has a predilection for comely young blondes, legions of whom have succumbed to the seductive spell of his image as a wealthy and powerful man whom they trusted to transform their lives from travail to tranquility. The original tale gives the title role, not to the greedy and salacious king, but to a churlish character called a ‘manikin.’ Coincidentally, this term is homophonic with the term ‘mannequin,’ an apropos descriptor for the predictably robotic behavior of King Donald, as well as for his serial spouses, all fashion models.

Unfortunately, my Trumpelstiltsgen tale is only in its opening act – and it’s non-fictional. Nevertheless, the plot is already unfolding with a menacing menu of misguided policies poised to take effect, some of which could achieve legendary status. These include climate changes too grim and grisly for us non-Trumpians to fully comprehend.

By pulling the rug from under the significant progress made on climate change during the Obama years, including EPA’s new Clean Air Act coal plant restrictions, Trumpocracy could very well render moot even the most promising coastal projects in Louisiana. This would amount to poetic justice for the GOP members of our delegation who live south of I-10 but heart wrenchingly sad for us minority voters who understand the implications of the ominous accelerating increase in sea level rise. On that subject, it’s very gratifying to see journalists such as Keith Magill and Dan Boudreaux with Houma Today acknowledge  the extreme vulnerability of coastal hot spots to unabated climate change, including the location of their place of business.

Even if Trumpocracy is abandoned as a failed experiment by 2020, a four year vacuum in American leadership on reducing global carbon emissions could be the proverbial straw that broke the coastal camel’s back.


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  4. This is good Len, if only it wasn’t true.

    • Thanks, Jim. The news about Trump’s vendetta against the U.S. Park Service on inauguration crowd size; the shutdown of the White House web page on climate change; and blatant censorship of the EPA, U.S.D.A., and possibly NOAA and NASA on climate change news are all truly scary events. The POTUS is out of control.

      • Edward Bodker says:

        Daffy Duck is our dually elected president. Alice in Wonderland found reality turned on its head, now we’ve joined her in mass. We had all better start working to push climate change to the top of the list.

        Thanks Len.

      • Kelly M. Haggar says:

        Len and Ed B,

        We’re stuck in rut? Endless loop? If the coast is toast without immediate carbon control, if we’re at the critical tipping point, what with Trump going the other way, then what policy other than lots of beer and a place on much higher ground makes any sense?



  5. Kelly M. Haggar says:

    BTW, Trump has just agreed w/JBE’s request to “fast track” the federal permitting of the mid-Barataria sediment diversion.

    “View the dashboard here:

    Hmmmm. Mixed bag? Discuss among yourselves ;).

    • Kelly M. Haggar says:

      . . . if anyone cares to read the basic doc itself. AWF and CPRA had press releases out this am that mid-Bara had made the cut.

      • Edward Bodker says:


        Thanks for sharing the link about the executive order that is intended to expedite infrastructure projects through the environmental regulatory process. I read this executive order carefully and found it to be a partisan attempt to roll back regulations that were enacted to protect the environment.

        No one is objecting to making more efficient and speeding up the evaluation of environmental concerns relating to infrastructure projects, but this executive order is not about efficiency or streamlining. It is about devaluing and dismissing anything that represents concern for the environment that might legitimately be a hindrance to project approval. This is where political dishonesty gets woven into an alternate reality. When projects get bogged down in environmental regulations, it is just as much the fault of those who want to dodge regulations as it is for those who want projects to be held accountable to regulations.

        For example, an industry may want to build a chemical plant next to a residential community that is fearful of environmental hazards. The company is more concerned about moving its project forward and the community is more concerned about environmental risks. In order for the industry to move the process through the EIS and get clearance from the regulatory agencies, it is likely to provide an evaluation that minimizes risks and touts economic benefits. Often industry has a reluctance to consider in detail, the risks, which concerns the community. The community, on the other hand, is not trusting that the project will be safe. The project then gets bogged down precisely because there was not a due diligent evaluation to begin with and then stakeholders have to do their best to make sure their concerns are adequately considered. It then becomes adversarial and political. It is not the regulations themselves that hold the project up, but it’s the unnecessary politics that turns scientific evaluation into a political power struggle. It’s the doubious belief that powerful and vested interest equals the common good and should prevail through a political battle.

        In Trump’s executive order he is clearly stating his view that he doesn’t want an objective evaluation. He declares in his EO that he wants project approval as a political win. Trump believes that everything should be confrontational and that competition and winning are the only paths. This appeals to many who want simplicity and an authoritarian as their hero. Nothing else matters, so long as he beats an opponent, which happens to be many citizens of the country he is supposed to lead. This is why such an attitude disgusts others who consider this type of political bullying a threat to democracy.

        No reasonable person would try to slow down or delay regulatory processes of evaluation and acceptance or denial, if there was integrity in the evaluation process and a true concern for protecting the environment.

    • Kelly-
      These are interesting links and I’m happy to see potential action on the mid-Barataria sediment diversion project. Nevertheless, the master plan objectives will be useless if action on climate change is not imminent – and Trump is busily undoing progress on that goal.

  6. Kelly M. Haggar says:

    Perhaps both of us will attract the attention of Ken Teague, but the last vote of the late Justice Scalia, and it was 5-4, was to block (enjoin) that very same Clean Power Plan – – I’m pretty sure a fairly rare move by the court. The wisdom or folly of both the policy and the injunction aren’t the principal questions. Rather, has the EPA exceeded the scope of its statutory authority? If the answer is “yes” then the Plan must fall. If “no,” then the EPA may proceed . . . if the next Admin agrees. “Choices have consequences.” Yup.

    I HIGHLY doubt the court will reach the merits while still deadlocked at 4-4, so the fate of that Plan is just one more thing the 9th seat will control.

    Enough law; y’all have fun with just politics and science.

    • Scalia’s replacement will doubtless be a white male who subscribes to the dearly departed’s 18th century doctrinaire secular mindset that fails to acknowledge advances in science and human rights. Sigh.

      • Kelly M. Haggar says:


        I’m about 98% sure this won’t make the least bit of an impression on you, and maybe it’s too much “inside baseball” for even non-partisan laymen to care about, but you say you like to read interesting links so here’s a few. The reason I’m posting this is that the “wise Latina” was on the opposite side of the gay marriage case, but in her remarks a few days back she echoed Scalia’s dissent where he spoke of the lack of diversity on the court. If you care I’ll post that part of his comments. Either one of them could have written the other’s words.

        Volokh is a UCLA prof; he’s one on the leading 1st Ad authorities out there. Even tho’ he supports gay marriage, he nonetheless co-authored an amicus brief urging SCOTUS to grant cert in the NM photog/gay wedding case (they didn’t). He thought – – as do I – – that the NM Spm Ct got the photog case wrong.

        The Volokh Conspiracy Opinion
        Justice Sotomayor’s advice for Senate judicial confirmations
        By Jonathan H. Adler January 24

        Justice Sotomayor also expressed concern about the relative lack of diversity on the Supreme Court, but not the sort of diversity that commentators typically focus on.

        “We have no criminal defense attorney on
        the court,” she said. “We have only one
        civil rights lawyer — Ruth Bader

        “Most of the practice of law in this
        country is done by solo lawyers or small
        firms,” she said, but only two justices
        have experience with that type of law,
        and none is experienced in environmental
        or education law.

        “That’s the diversity that concerns me the


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