Aardvark Receives Severe Scolding from David Brooks

life

In a column headed Donald Trump’s Magical Fantasy World, David Brooks takes severe issue with the whole thrust of trumpedprogressives.org, writing,

The dangerous thing about Trump’s fantasy world is not when it dissolves into nothing; it’s when he seduces the rest of us to move into it. It’s not when he ignores the facts; it’s when he replaces them by building an alternate virtual reality and suckering us into co-creating it. …

The first problem is you can’t beat Trump at his own fantasy game. As Daniel Boorstin understood back in 1962, you can’t refute an image with a fact. Every pseudo-event “becomes all the more interesting with our every effort to debunk it.” Trump gets to monopolize attention ever more comprehensively and deepen his credibility as anti-establishment hero.

The second problem is that when you agree to operate within his fantasy, even if you are motivated by the attraction of repulsion, you’ve given the man your brain. Sometimes my Trump-bashing friends and I seem like puppets on his string. …

I miss people thinking about the world outside the gravity field of Trumpian unreality, and about the world after Trump — the world we should be building.

We’re in the middle of some vast historical transition, and it’s very hard to know what to believe in. The more time we spend on the Trumpian soap opera, the less likely we are to know where we are or what we should do.

Aardvark’s Animadversions

First of all, David, you are a good man. And because you are such a good man, you have difficulty understanding humanity. I applaud you for trying, though—and I hope and expect that you will keep on trying, and helping to enlighten the rest of us as you journey on life’s highway.

But you remind me of another good person: the character Guido Orefice in Life is Beautiful “who employs his fertile imagination to shield his son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp.” That was a noble thing for Guido to do, but it didn’t solve the problem that father and son were incarcerated in a concentration camp.

That’s my first point. Your noble instinct is just to ignore the madness. But ignoring it won’t make it go away.

My second point is that madmen we always have with us. Trump’s madness is unusual, but not especially interesting in itself, unless you are a student of abnormal psychology, which Aardvark is not. What is interesting is that so many people supported him. That is what we need to understand and address. And we had bloody well better keep on trying to understand and address it.

If this crisis ever passes, we can all get back to thinking happy thoughts, and life will indeed be beautiful once again.

Yet Another Way Trump is Making America Great Again

voter

2018 has already outpaced 2017 in K-12 school shooting deaths

In all of 2017, there were 44 shootings in elementary and secondary schools, resulting in 25 deaths and 60 injuries.

So far in 2018, there have been 28 elementary and secondary school shootings, resulting in 40 deaths and 66 injuries. With the year not even halfway over, 2018 already has more injuries and deaths than all of 2017 and appears to be on track to outpace 2017 in terms of overall incidents.

 

And What About Sarah Palin?

Pain and Trump

John McCain’s shocking concession on the Iraq War: it was a “mistake”

In his new memoir, McCain says he’s to blame for the war.

In his new memoir, McCain who is battling brain cancer, writes that the Iraq War “can’t be judged as anything other than a mistake, a very serious one, and I have to accept my share of the blame for it,” as Politico reports.

McCain is among the most hawkish Republicans in the Senate and was an ardent supporter of the George W. Bush administration’s decision to go to war with Iraq and a later US troop surge. …

n 2005, when 66 percent of the country viewed the Iraq War unfavorably, McCain redoubled his commitment to the strategy:

“Securing ever-increasing parts of Iraq and preventing the emergence of new terrorist safe havens will require more troops and money,” McCain said then at an event with the American Enterprise Institute. “It will take time, probably years, and mean more American casualties. Those are terrible prices to pay. But with the stakes so high, I believe we must choose the strategy with the best chance of success.”

What We Have Come To

prodigy

No matter what ludicrous charge Trump makes, the entire political system reacts as though it might be true. If tomorrow the president said that “Robert Mueller” never existed and the person claiming to be him is actually Nancy Pelosi in elaborate makeup, we’d all find ourselves debating whether Mueller is a real person while House Republicans angrily demand that he produce a DNA sample.  …

At this point, Trump has earned the presumption that everything he says on the topic of the Russia investigation is offered in bad faith and is almost certainly false, until proved otherwise. So we should treat his statements the way we do press releases from the North Korean state news agency. They may be newsworthy in that they show what the regime would like people to believe, but we don’t assume that they have any relationship to actual facts. When they claim that Kim Jong Un could drive at age 3 and win yacht races at age 9, or that his father Kim Jong Il wrote 1,500 books while at university and once sank 11 holes-in-one in a single round of golf, we don’t set about to determine whether they’re true.

Well said.

Megadoses of Geritol

geritol

People of a certain age will remember those Geritol commercials on television. An iron supplement, touted as a cure for “iron deficiency anemia,” Geritol, it was implied, was an infallible remedy for, um, lack of energy, if you take my drift. If you don’t take my drift, look carefully at the illustration, and I think you will get the point.

My Uncle Herbert evidently suffered from lack of, shall we say, vitality. Not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, Uncle Herbert reasoned that if taking the recommended dose of Geritol would do you a little good, then taking three or four times the recommended dose would be sure to do you a lot of good. The consequences were unfortunate.

I wish to draw an analogy between Uncle Herbert’s flawed reasoning, and that of Trump and his Trumplet politician imitators. In 2016 they discovered—indeed, all of us discovered—that slinging rampant bullshit was enough, in certain circumstances, to gain a majority of the Electoral College.

Having drawn the lesson that a high level of bullshit could lead to electoral success, like Uncle Herbert, they concluded that slinging unlimited quantities of bullshit would forever be the cure for all their problems.

This morning’s recommended reads address the failure of that reasoning as to immigration and foreign policy, respectively.

The Chinese have a nice idiom for mindless repetition of a tactic that once accidentally proved successful: 守株待兔, “guard tree await rabbits.”

Please enjoy this explanatory movie: