The on-line Etymological Dictionary of the English language traces the origin of the verb “to tweak” to the Middle English twikken, ‘to draw, plug, tuck’ (mid 15th century). By the 16th century, the verb signified “pinch, plug, twist”, usually in reference to one’s nose. It is likely that the verb derives of Old English twiccian, meaning “to pluck”. Clearly, the verb’s West Germanic, Anglo-Saxon origins are impeccable and closely associated with words of similar morphology and meaning such as “twinge”, “twitch” and also “twinkle”. Modern colloquial American English has also given us a related term of much more recent vintage, “twerk” and the gerund “twerking”.
The form and usage of the verb that concerns us here, meaning “to make fine adjustments” is attested from 1966 while its usage as a substantive, “tweak”, is attested from 1989. If you’re in your fifties or older and you think back you can probably piece together the evolution of the most common contemporary usages associated with the use and abuse of methamphetamine.
Contemporary American Usage of “to tweak“, “tweaker” and “tweak“
The Urban Dictionary provides the following definition and derivative usages;
1. Person who constantly stays up cleaning, washing, organizing, power-tooling, sorting or otherwise keeping themselves busy doing menial tasks.
2. Someone who constantly makes slight alterations on (usually a very specific) object, i.e. computer, software, automobile, etc.
3. A compulsive liar, thief, or both.
4. A methamphetamine (“tweak”), or other form of speed, addict (who displays all of the above in an obsessive-compulsive manner).
For those who have been in close proximity to methamphetamine and its devotees there will be no need for further illustration or explanation. Suffice it to say that sleep deprivation combined with hyper-vigilance and hyper-fixation on the superfluous engender, over time, rather brazen forays into the twin realms of paranoia and delusion. To the on-looker, resultant behaviors appear ludicrous.
The insanity is compounded insofar as the tweaker tends to construe criticism or confrontation of their illogical actions and perceptions as proof positive that they are right. In spite of overwhelming evidence that they are not only wrong, but catastrophically in error, they will persist-nothing will dissuade them from an opinion, course of action or decision. Of course, blame will never attach to anything they do, say or think–the blame resides not with them, but simply in the fact that no one else can keep up. Self-deception becomes so complete that narratives may, literally, alter wholly from day to day. To argue would be futile for the provision of fact is merely the stuff of lesser minds.
The Dictionary goes on to provide an exquisitely apt illustration;
What’s the difference between a crackhead and a tweaker?
-The crackhead will steal your shit and bounce–the tweaker will steal your shit and then help you look for it.
Tweaker in the White House
Here’s a General Garment, You Decide if it’s Cut to Size
Let’s make it clear that what follows derives of conjecture, but conjecture woven of some interesting fabric. The President of the United States is 71 years of age. He is a New Yorker, born and bred, and he traveled in certain circles and at crossings of time and space that generate speculation as a matter of course.
In 1979, our President was a multimillionaire who traveled in High Society and who took great pains to market himself as a player, a playboy and a member of the Manhattan glitterati. In that year he was 33 years of age. The latter seventies trough the early 80s represented a tidal wave of cocaine usage among the middle and upper-class white America. The age of Disco and Studio 54, the devolution of the nation into emulation of Gordon Gecko and the mantra of “greed is good”. Free sex, guys with unbuttoned satin shirts and gold coke spoons beckoning women to partake and play. Posh parties with silver platters holding piles of Peruvian flake party-favors. To be in your thirties and rich in Manhattan in the early 80s, frequenting the hot-spots on the circuit meant doing a line once or twice.
Jet-setting with Hefner and the casino-goers of Atlantic City, taking great pains to blather on about his sexual escapades famously describing such as his “Vietnam”. Hanging out in all the clubs du jour and falling all over himself to be seen with the “in” crowd. Well, maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but if he didn’t–given the time and place and the associations–it would seem passing odd if he didn’t, well, maybe just once.
Rumors and Reports of Drug Use Spanning Decades
There have been rumors and reports of drug use by the President from multiple sources spanning decades.
During the course of the President’s first televised debate with candidate Hillary Clinton in the Fall of 2016, the then Republican candidate sniffled relentlessly. The behavior sparked wide commentary in the media. Clearly, the rate of sniffling was abnormal. In his second debate, the behavior continued. Howard Dean, former Chair of the DNC and himself an M.D. Tweeted, on September 26. 2016, “Notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?” Actress Carrie Fischer (Princess Leia Organa, of Star Wars fame), herself an admitted former chronic cocaine user, offered that, beyond doubt, the GOP candidate was a cocaine user noting, “and believe me I’m an expert”. Forbes Magazine ran an article offering a series of semi-comic alternative explanations for the behavior, including pregnancy.
In response to the wide commentary and speculation, the GOP candidate engaged in a familiar tack, he insisted on having his opponent, Hillary Clinton, subject herself to a drug test before the third Presidential debate. Before and after this event counting the number of instances when the current President, confronted with an incongruous deed or statement, accused an opponent of the same charges leveled at him would prove a formidable task.
In 1992 investigative reporter John Connolly ran a story in Spy Magazine which reported that the President had visited New York physician Joseph Greenberg, well known for prescribing diet drugs to celebrities. Connolly uncovered a medical record showing that Greenberg had diagnosed the President with a ‘metabolic imbalance’. Though not a recognized medical condition, this assessment provided the pretext to prescribe the drug diethylpropion. “Heavy” revisited the story. The medial outlet in October, 2106 noting that the drug acted like an amphetamine and should not be used for more than several weeks. However, according to information uncovered by Greenberg, the President used the drug from 1982-1985 while he was a patient of Connolly’s. Not unlike Dexedrine, prolonged use can engender a variety of impacts in the user.
In July of 2016, reporter Ashley Feinberg authored an article in Gawker entitled, “Rumor: Doctor Prescribes Donald Trump “Cheap Speed””. The article reported that the President had been taking a drug commonly referred to as “Fen-Phen”, a combination of Phentermine and Fenfluramine, an anti-obesity concoction. Purportedly, the drug can result in damage to heart and lungs over time. It also destroys the body’s capacity to regulate the production of Serotonin. It is recommended that patients only take the drug for a period of one month, but sources reported that the President had been taking it for more than two years.
The article goes on to quote Harry Hurt’s 1993 unauthorized biography of the President as follows;
“The diet drugs, which [Trump] took in pill form, not only curbed his appetite but gave him a feeling of euphoria and unlimited energy. The medical literature warned that some potentially dangerous side effects could result from long-term usage; they included anxiety, insomnia, and delusions of grandeur. According to several Trump Organization insiders, Donald exhibited all these ominous symptoms of diet drug usage, and then some.”
In this reference the alleged drug the President was taking was Diethylpropion, also known as Tenuate Dospan.
Questionable Associations, Drug Traffickers and Mob Associates
In October, 2016 long-time watcher and close student of the President, David Cay Johnson, published an article in The Daily Beast entitled, “The Drug Trafficker Donald Trump Risked His Casino Empire to Protect”. Johnston has often enjoined the public to question Trump’s long and questionable affiliation with a series of mobsters, members of the Russian mafia, drug traffickers and violent criminals, the salient example being a notorious hood by the name of Joseph Weichselbaum.
Drug Trafficker & a President
Weichselbaum was a three-time convicted felon, known mob-associate and embezzler well-known to law enforcement. During the heyday of his casino venturing in Atlantic City, Weichselbaum–at the time already convicted of two felonies–ran a number of dubious ventures, including a helicopter company. Despite the fact that any number of other far more reputable services were available, Trump chose to contract out with Weichselbaum. In fact, Weichselbaum personally flew the Trumps around by helicopter.
Aside from his flight services, Weichselbaum also had another side-business; trafficking major quantities of cocaine from Colombia to the States.
Johnston points out that when Trump’s pilot got busted the criminal prosecution of his case was handled in a very questionable manner. Following his arrest and indictment (his third on felony charges), rather than cut ties, Trump continued his business arrangement through Weichselbaum’s brother while allocating office space and paying fees for service. And, as Johnston notes, the criminal indictment should have been handled in Florida (where Weichselbaum’s drug-front, a car dealership, received and transported tons of cocaine) it somehow ended up in a New Jersey courtroom. Not just any courtroom, either, but the courtroom of his older sister, Maryanne, a Federal Judge.
This dark segment of Trump’s history was never fully explained and the scrutiny it should have invoked never happened. Johnston exhorted Chris Wallace, the moderator presiding over the third Presidential debate;
“Having a tax cheat in the White House four decades ago and another a heartbeat away was bad enough. Why in the world would we want the ally of a drug trafficker anywhere near the Oval Office? Wednesday evening, debate moderator Chris Wallace will have the opportunity to ask Trump why he stood by this convicted felon, risking his casino empire in the process.”
A great many questions and suspicions might be laid to rest through one simple act, the release of President Trump’s tax returns. Despite repeated assurances that he would do so following the elections, we stand on the eve of his ninth month in office and the President clearly has no intention, whatsoever, of letting the American people view the information that eight previous Presidents have divulged freely. Questionable financial dealings with foreign banks, Russian Oligarchs, a wide range of dark associations like Weichselbaum, mobsters and a series of failed business ventures might all be put to rest through the release of his tax returns. So, why hasn’t he released them? None of our business? Wrong, it most certainly is the business of the American people to know whether or not our President has engaged in illegal activity.
Tweaker in the White House? Behaviors and Broken Promises
He’s at it yet again. Michael Flynn, as you will recall, was President Trump’s National Security Adviser. Flynn lasted all of 3 weeks and was fired, summarily, for failing to reveal his dealings with Russian and Turkish interests prior to his appointment and then for lying about his engagements after the fact. In fact, he failed to register as a foreign agent. It has subsequently come to light that he was allowed to stay in office for three weeks after the White House had been informed of his ties and activities.
Other senior members of the campaign and administration have also come under scrutiny, either as persons of interest or suspects in an array of unethical if not criminal activities. Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Jared Kushner and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are all under some level of investigation or interest by multiple federal and state entities. A number of terminations, including the removal of FBI Director James Comey and the firing of New York’s US Attorney for the Eastern District Preet Bharara have raised alarms and generated hearings and investigations. A wide range of actions by other associates have also generated interest and, in some cases, criminal investigations.
Tweaker in the White House?
Back to our quote from the Urban Dictionary, the apt illustration of the nature of a tweaker, “a tweaker will steal your shit, then help you look for it.”
Some of the symptoms or behaviors manifest in those with long-term use or abuse of stimulants are as follows;
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior
- Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion
- Increased activity and wakefulness
- Increased talkativeness
- Euphoria and experiencing a rush
- Heightened Paranoia
- Memory Loss or Impairment
- Inability to Focus
- Outbursts and Problems with Anger Management
One cannot aver with any degree of certitude whether or not our President has or has had a substance abuse problem. Nevertheless, the behaviors and patterns are hauntingly reminiscent of such for those of us who have personal experience in this realm. What we’re witnessing is not merely alternative strategies nor is it mundanely unorthodox. We’re not looking at a novitiate in politics or the inscrutable machinations of a genius beyond our ken. What we’re looking at is crazy, nothing more and certainly nothing less.
We can ask many questions, but based on the daily antics and incomprehensible affronts to the rational it may be fair to ask, “Is there a tweaker in the White House?”.