Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump Is Getting Boring. That Makes Him Even More Dangerous.

Good Morning!!

Maybe it just the holiday blues, but I’m bored with Trump. I’m bored with with the advance of authoritarianism and outright fascism in the United States of America. It’s ugly as all get out and I’m sick and tired of it. After one year of this shit, I just want to resign from the human race. I guess that’s how it happens. The fascists wear you down until you just want to escape into books or music or art or anything that isn’t about Trump. Is this something like what Hanna Arendt meant by “the banality of evil?”

Of course I know I can’t escape Trumpism. I will continue to wake up every day fearful of what he might have done overnight, of what idiotic tweets he may have already sent out, of what evil deeds he may be plotting. I can’t let myself sink into despair.

Michael Gruenwald writes about Trump’s first year at Politico: Donald Trump Is a Consequential President. Just Not in the Ways You Think.

On January 20, 2017, as President Donald Trump began his inaugural address, a cold rain began to fall.

A few hours later, Trump claimed the rain had not begun to fall.

“The crowd was unbelievable today,” Trump crowed to revelers at the Liberty Inaugural Ball. “I looked at the rain, which just never came. You know, we finished the speech, went inside, and it poured!”

It wasn’t a consequential falsehood. And neither was Trump’s claim that his inaugural crowd was the largest ever, a whopper he sent his press secretary out to defend the next day in the face of overwhelming photographic evidence. Neither the meteorological conditions at his swearing-in nor the size of the audience that witnessed his swearing-in altered the remarkable fact that he had just been sworn in as the president of the United States. So why would the holder of the most powerful office on Earth insist on juicing his narrative with petty embellishments, especially when his propaganda could be so easily and objectively disproved?

In retrospect, it’s obvious that Trump was starting to construct an alternative reality for his supporters, establishing himself (rather than the “enemies of the people” in the “FAKE NEWS” media) as the only reliable source of truth. Really, it was pretty obvious at the time. Trump aide Kellyanne Conway was already spinning that the administration was helpfully supplying the media with “alternative facts.”

I wrote back in the Week One edition of the Did-It-Matter-Meter that the crowd-size episode “laid down a marker about the irrelevance of facts to this White House,” and “staked out new territory in Orwellian up-is-down-ism, forcing Americans to choose whether to believe Trump or their lying eyes.” A year later, Trump is still spinning an alternative reality in which he’s achieved more than any other first-year president, he doesn’t watch much TV, the Russia investigation is nothing but a partisan witch hunt, the successive defeats of both candidates he endorsed in a Senate race in Alabama actually demonstrated his immense popularity, the coal industry is coming back, Americans are finally free to say “Merry Christmas” without fear of persecution, and legislation that would slash taxes for the rich in general and real estate developers in particular would somehow hurt his bottom line. No matter how often the fact-checkers fact-check him, he sticks with his alternative facts.

And so it has continued. Is Trump doing this to our country as part of a deliberate plan or is it just who he is? I can’t help wondering when I hear and read his garbled words in interviews like the one with the New York Times a couple of days ago. I think he’s just behaving according to his fascist instincts, but maybe it doesn’t matter; because there are people around him who seem to be just as ignorant and just as evil, and for now they are making progress. Check out this video of a Republican lawmaker, Rep. Robert Pittenger of North Carolina.

Where do the Republicans find these people and what kinds of people vote for them?

Back to the Politico article:

The most consequential aspect of President Trump—like the most consequential aspect of Candidate Trump—has been his relentless shattering of norms: norms of honesty, decency, diversity, strategy, diplomacy and democracy, norms of what presidents are supposed to say and do when the world is and isn’t watching. As I keep arguing in these periodic Trump reviews, it’s a mistake to describe his all-caps rage-tweeting or his endorsement of an accused child molester or his threats to wipe out “Little Rocket Man” as unpresidential, because he’s the president. He’s by definition presidential. The norms he’s shattered are by definition no longer norms. His erratic behavior isn’t normal, but it’s inevitably becoming normalized, a predictably unpredictable feature of our political landscape. It’s how we live now, checking our phones in the morning to get a read on the president’s mood. The American economy is still strong, and he hasn’t started any new wars, so pundits have focused a lot of their hand-wringing on the effect his norm-shattering will have on future leaders, who will be able to cite the Trump precedent if they want to hide their tax returns or use their office to promote their businesses or fire FBI directors who investigate them. But Trump still has three years left in his term. And the norms he’s shattered can’t constrain his behavior now that he’s shattered them.

If the big story of the Trump era is Trump and his unconventional approach to the presidency, two related substories will determine how the big story ends. The first is the intense personal and institutional pushback to Trump—from the otherwise fractious Democratic Party; the independent media; independent judges; special counsel Robert Mueller; advocates for immigrants, voting rights, the poor, the disabled, the environment and other #Resistance causes; and ordinary citizens, who have made Trump the least popular first-year president in the modern era.

The second substory is the sometimes grudging but consistent support—the critics call it complicity—that Trump has enjoyed from the Republicans who control Congress. The uneasy marriage of convenience between Trump and the congressional GOP explains his two big legislative victories, the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and last month’s $1.5 trillion tax cut. It also explains Capitol Hill’s see-no-evil approach to investigating activities that would have triggered endless outrage and probable impeachment hearings in a Hillary Clinton administration.

I hope you’ll go read the rest.

Dakinikat covered the NYT interview thoroughly yesterday, but I want to share a couple of reactions that came out yesterday.

John Harwood at CNBC: Trump displays delusions in his New York Times interview.

President Donald Trump says so many things that are untrue as to complicate attempts at explaining them. Did he know better? Was he uninformed? Should he be taken literally?

What made the president’s year-end New York Times interview notable was repetition of a particular brand of untruth. Even as his administration struggles with historic unpopularity and extraordinary dysfunction, Trump ascribes to himself qualities that surpass all predecessors – even reigning Republican icon Ronald Reagan.

Call them “delusions of omnipotence.”

Over and over during the 30-minute session, Trump cast his performance in terms so grandiose and extreme as to be self-evidently false. Taken together, his comments signaled an inability to grasp conditions in the country, the limitations of his own capacities and the nature of the office he holds.

Harwood gives a number of specific examples. Here are the first three:

– He attributed his 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton to skill in overcoming the pro-Democratic tilt of the Electoral College. There is no such tilt. The electoral college system provides a path to victory for the party losing the popular vote. Republicans lost six of the last seven popular votes in presidential contests, but they won the Electoral College in two of those six instances.

– He insisted his Democratic adversaries on Capitol Hill have absolved him of “collusion” with Russia on election interference. They have not. They have said they haven’t yet seen conclusive evidence from Congressional and Justice Department investigations that remain ongoing.

– He declared, “I have absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department.” He does not. He holds executive branch authority over the Justice Department, but under America’s constitutional system, executive power is not absolute and no one is above the law.

Click on the CNBC link to read more.

Ezra Klein: Incoherent, authoritarian, uninformed: Trump’s New York Times interview is a scary read.

The president of the United States is not well. That is an uncomfortable thing to say, but it is an even worse thing to ignore.

Consider the interview Trump gave to the New York Times on Thursday. It begins with a string of falsehoods that make it difficult to tell whether the leader of the free world is lying or delusional. Remember, these are President Donald Trump’s words, after being told a recording device is on:

Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion. And even these committees that have been set up. If you look at what’s going on — and in fact, what it’s done is, it’s really angered the base and made the base stronger. My base is stronger than it’s ever been. Great congressmen, in particular, some of the congressmen have been unbelievable in pointing out what a witch hunt the whole thing is. So, I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion.

It almost goes without saying that literally zero congressional Democrats have said that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. Zero….

Nor is Trump’s base strengthening, or even holding steady. In a detailed analysis of Trump’s poll numbers, FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten concluded that the president is losing the most ground in the reddest states:

In states where Trump won by at least 10 points, his net approval rating is down 18 percentage points, on average, compared to his margin last November. In states that were decided by 10 points or less in November, it’s down only 13 points. And it’s down 8 points in states Clinton carried by at least 10 points.

The fact that Trump has lost the greatest number of supporters in red states is perhaps the clearest indication yet that he is losing ground among some form of his base, if you think of his base as those who voted for him in November.

CNN took a different angle on the same question and also found slippage among Trump’s base. It looked at the change in Trump’s approval ratings from February to November among the demographic groups that formed the core of Trump’s electoral coalition — in every group, there’d been substantial declines. Trump’s numbers have fallen by 8 points among Republicans, by 9 points among voters over 50, by 10 points among whites with no college, by 17 points among white evangelicals. “It has become increasingly clear that even his base is not immune to the downward pressure,” CNN concluded.

Head over to Vox to read the rest.

NOTE: The cartoons in this post are by Ann Telnaes of The Washington Post.

It appears that we have a “president” who is both evil and cognitively dysfunctional. For now, it’s up to the Republicans in Congress to hold him in check and they’re not doing it. There’s a good chance the Democrats will be able to take over Congress in 2018, but can we last another year with Trump in charge? I hope we get through it, that’s all I can say.

What stories are you following?


50 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump Is Getting Boring. That Makes Him Even More Dangerous.”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I’m so glad “the holidays” are almost over. I just hope I make it till Tuesday. Happy New Year, Sky Dancers!

    Resist!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Hannah Arendt quotes:

    “In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. … Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”
    ― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

    “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”
    ― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

    • NW Luna says:

      …it held every statement to be a lie anyhow.

      Of course, that’s the same aim that Russian (and Trumpist) propaganda have.

      …admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.

      and that’s what Trump’s fan base admires. Tactical cleverness is useful in war, but not in planning and carrying out training programs for displaced coal workers, or infrastructure repair and maintenance, or building trust with allies in diplomatic relations, or ensuring environmental safety. In short, tactical cleverness — scoring victories while demeaning opponents — is one of the worst qualities a president could have.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    It is a small comfort knowing that most of us are living in the same nightmare. And that we will probably be doing so for the next 3 years.

    Somehow we elected the worst of the worst in a Donald Trump presidency. Take your pick of the handful of reasons that brought this tragedy about but mine starts from the beginning when he floated down the escalator, framing his announcement around Mexican rapists invading the country like Genghis Khan.

    The man oozes hate. His pettiness is on daily display. His stupidity and lack of knowledge is breathtaking for a man bearing the title of POTUS. He wears his overall ignorance like a badge of honor. His corrupt nature guides his way of life. The lies are overwhelming. He has proven over and over to be a practicing racist. His disdain for women is disgusting.

    The people who surround and defend him display the same traits. Liars and “greedy guts” out to only serve themselves. Democracy is being turned upside down with these thieves in government. Yet at least 32% of the nation stands behind this sick man.

    His “appetites” are fed and he is beginning to look more and more like Chris Christie these days as his waistline has expanded and the fat is beginning to encroach around his eyes that have turned into slits. Not a good look for a man who “rates” others for their appearance.

    I loathe and detest this stupid Liar in Chief. We all sit here waiting for Mueller’s report that will hopefully bring an end to this joke of a presidency. At least we can assume that Pence, bad as he is, is sane. Or close to.

    Mueller cannot act soon enough. This moron must go before we all go insane from his insanity.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Excellent comment, Pat. I do think Trump is getting uglier than ever. It’s as if his corruption is being reflected in his physical appearance.

    • Pilgrim says:

      He looks a lot like a pig. His eyes are very piggish. His skin is thick and tough and pig-like. Years ago, Ed Koch taunted him, “Piggy! Piggy! Piggy!” As I look at him, these thoughts come unbidden, and I try to put them away because I like actual real pigs.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  5. bostonboomer says:

    The latest breaking story from the NYT is incredible.

    How the Russia Inquiry Began: A Campaign Aide, Drinks and Talk of Political Dirt

    During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

    About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.

    Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.

    The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired.

    • NW Luna says:

      July 2016. Yet more evidence that Obama and the FBI/James Comey knew then that Russia was involved. Damn, damn, damn.

      • quixote says:

        Yet more evidence? Isn’t the fact that they knew all about it in summer of 2016 a known fact in the water-is-wet class? I thought they said so themselves. (Not Obama, whose idea of an appropriate response to Putin destroying democracy is to suggest “cut it out.”) Didn’t the FBI or CIA or Harry Reid or somebody make the point that they knew all about it? But of course it would be too indelicate to let us uninformed voters know the facts on which we’re supposed to base our votes.

        • NW Luna says:

          Agree, that’s why I said “more evidence” rather than “evidence.” But you remind me that Reid knew also, and the other senators who were briefed. The GOP were and are too vile to put true patriotism over party, but I cannot fathom why any of the Dems kept quiet other than cowardice and a misplaced holier-than-thou attitude.

          “Cut it out” indeed. Putin knew Hillary wouldn’t be so milquetoast.

      • bostonboomer says:

        July is when Comey started investigating Trump. Too bad he didn’t let the voters know like he did with Hillary.

        • NW Luna says:

        • Fannie says:

          Exactly, what the hell was that all about.

      • Fannie says:

        Yup, Trump was under investigation.

  6. NW Luna says:

  7. quixote says:

    Telnaes is brilliant. I especially like the way she includes his daily hair routine. Remember how it was the end of the world that Edwards spent $400 on haircut in the 2008 campaign? And no mass media ever point out that this Dump has to be spending thousands a month plus an hour a day to do a sickening take on a golden lion tamarin.

    • NW Luna says:

      The media seem to have it in for Dems and go soft on Repubs with the same or worse attributes. Frankly, a golden-lion tamarin in the White House would do less damage and be much better looking.

      • quixote says:

        *Much* better looking. Would no damage and just mind its own business. And be a good role model for the country since the male parent does the child care. Better in every respect.

        I wonder if it’s because they wear their own hair instead of faking someone else’s? :S

    • Enheduanna says:

      Or that his Propecia habit could be harming his cognition.

      I can’t wait to hear the spin on his supposed health exam in a couple of weeks.

  8. NW Luna says:

    Headlines we would like to see in 2018

    • Senate to Trump: You’re fired

    • Twitter shuts down all Trump accounts

    • Seattle rent drop erases 5 years of increases

    • Congress passes assault weapons ban

    • bostonboomer says:

      Your property taxes should go down because home values are going to be dropping because of the tax cut bill.

      • NW Luna says:

        Doubt it. The one map of the effects nation-wide of that tax scam bill has my area as neutral. Plus Seattle is unfortunately predicted to have continuing population influx which will make the housing prices here even worse.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I know the taxes won’t go down. Just kidding. But home values are going to drop because of the loss of mortgage interest deductions. I posted a long piece on the predicted effects for Massachusetts, and plenty of people want to live here. Students, profs, and athletes come here and don’t want to leave.

    • Fannie says:

      Add: women getting closer and closer to ERA.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    I braved the bitter 15 degree cold to go to the grocery store. It was quite an ordeal, because my trunk was frozen shut. At least the locks weren’t frozen on the doors. This is the warmest day we’ve had for quite a while, and we have snow coming….

  10. NW Luna says:

  11. palhart says:

    Robert Pittenger represents my district. He’s an idiot like the president,(also a real estate investor). When he was in the state senate, he was a leader in pro-life and anti-same sex marriage legislation. Last year, when there were violent protests over the shooting by a policeman of an unarmed black man sitting in his van, Pittenger said the violence was caused by protesters who “hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.”

    The republican party, fox news, and homegrown idiots have given us these elected officials. Roy Moore’s behavior demonstrated just how safe privileged white men thought they were.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    This is unbelievable!

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    • NW Luna says:

      It’s not a swamp, it’s a sewer and Trump is the oozing putrid source.

      At least in Caligua’s Rome the citizens got free bread. Trump will suck all the money he can out of this country and leave it hanging, like a spider leaves the empty skin of a honeybee.

  13. NW Luna says:

  14. NW Luna says:

  15. Minkoff Minx says:

    Now those are some fabulous cartoons.