To Watch or Not to Watch, That is the Question


It is the evening of February 27, the evening before the Big Speech Before Congress? Should we watch the Big Speech Before Congress or should we wash our hair?

On the one hand, the instinct to avert one’s eyes is profound. How would you feel about an invitation from the Aardvark’s to watch an endless loup of last night’s Academy Awards fiasco? I’ll bet you would find you had some other pressing commitment, like changing the cat litter.

On the other hand, there is something compelling about the chance to watch history in the making, as King Lear’s madness bursts into full flower, in front of the entire world.

Yes, I appreciate that the Mad King theme risks becoming shopworn and tribe. But take a gander at this evening’s article, Trump giving lawmakers whiplash on Obamacare.

President Donald Trump is giving Washington a case of whiplash when it comes to his plan for Obamacare, saying one moment that he’s going to kill it and replace it with something “great” and then publicly flirting with letting it implode the next.

Whether the White House can repeal and replace the law this spring — as Capitol Hill leaders say is the goal — largely depends on the president’s ability to focus and outline the specifics of what he would like, while convincing reluctant GOP members to back a plan. So far, his rhetoric has been all over the place, offering differing timelines and ideas, depending on the venue and the person he’s speaking with.

“Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” Trump said Monday morning. He added to the GOP’s nervousness by refreshing the idea that Republicans should maybe just let Obamacare collapse under the weight of rising premiums and volatile exchanges — though he claimed it wasn’t an idea he would pursue.

“Let it be a disaster, because we can blame that on the Dems that are in our room — and we can blame that on the Democrats and President Obama,” Trump told Republican governors. “But we have to do what’s right, because Obamacare is a failed disaster.”

Huddling with insurance CEOs, Trump talked up how fantastic his Obamacare replacement would be without giving details. Separately Monday, he said it would be very difficult to do something good.

On balance, I will probably watch, with my old friend Jack Daniels by my side, praying for the millions whose health he endangers as he drowns in policy considerations beyond his grasp.


Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is


The congressional seat vacated by the unspeakable Tom Price is up for grabs in a special election to take place April 18.

No less unimpeachable a source than the Daily Caller reports that the Democrat is currently running ahead.

A Republican loss would truly put the fear of God into a bunch of people who need to come to Jesus. As one commentator writes, The Future of Obamacare May Depend on a Georgia Special Election.

OK, folks, time to put your money where your mouth is. Donate now. Aardvark and Dr. Aardvark did.

Further Proof …


… from yours truly, Arius Aardvark, also known as Mr. Confirmation Bias.

Further Proof the Trump Accurately Reports His Mental State

Even as he lies about objective facts, he accurately report’s what’s on his mind. The proof lies in the fact that he accurately describes what he is thinking even when what he is thinking makes his speech sound like a tale told by an idiot. See Trump: ‘Nobody Knew That Health Care Could Be So Complicated’:

President Donald Trump told a bipartisan group of governors at a White House reception Monday morning that GOP tax reform would have to wait for lawmakers to move on repealing Obamacare, cautioning that, “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

“I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” Trump said.

For health policy experts and Democrats who spent the last eight years overhauling the nation’s health care system in the face of GOP intransigence, Trump’s admission that health care is hard dripped with irony. Republicans, in the mean time, voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but made little progress on settling on what their replacement would look like, a conundrum that is haunting them now.

Further Proof that Trump Lacks the Discernment to Know When He is Sounding Like an Idiot

See above.

Further Proof that the Fans are Getting up and Leaving the Stadium

These Iowans voted for Trump. Many of them are already disappointed.

Further Proof that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is Immortal

I Did Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Workout. It Nearly Broke Me. Pumping iron with RBG’s personal trainer is no joke.

You Already Knew This, But He Says it so Well


A propos President Trumplethinskin’s decision to stay away from the correspondents’ dinner for fear of being roasted, Hunter of Daily Kos writes,

Donald Trump has been in office a month, and it’s been clear since the first weekend that he’s mentally not fit to do the job. His narcissistic obsession with battling those that would say even the slightest word against him consists the near-entirety of his day job, as he whines about leaks from his own administration, and the horror of reporters reporting on the leaks coming from his administration, and the double-horror of reporters reporting that despite what ol’ snuffleface has been yelling there are indeed multiple investigations into the actions of Trump’s campaign team vis-a-vis that whole Russia tampering with our elections business.

The man who launched his political career claiming that the then-current president was not even a real American has been completely crippled with rage that, after gaining the same office, people are saying nasty things about him. He was unprepared for Saturday Night Live to make fun of him. He was flummoxed by reporters wanting to ask him questions about things other than his own greatness. He was sent into spasms of tiny-fingered rage over someone, somewhere in Washington, not agreeing with his latest baffling pronouncements.

And now the whole of the White House appears to be engaged in one long round of babysitting the manchild through each one of his tantrums. If it means bashing the notion of a free press, they’ll do it. If it means lying to the public about things that are trivially disproven fifteen minutes later, they’ll do it. Don’t ask the manchild’s administration hard questions, American reporters, or by gum maybe we just won’t have press briefings at all anymore, you meanies.

All in an effort to protect Donald Freaking Trump from having hurt fee-fees. Good God, what a pathetic little child. Scratch that—it’s the whole White House. There’s apparently not a single inch of backbone to be found in the manchild’s entire team. Forget reporters, we need to send in a team of top scientists to study this new species of somewhat-sentient snowflakes!

Of Black Swan Events, Normality Bias, and Dancing Dogs


Donald Trump’s presidency is a black swan event.* Among the astonishing variety of cognitive biases to which we humans are heir, the normality bias causes us to “believe that things will always function the way things ‘normally’ function”–and thus to fail to recognize a black swan event for what it is.

Fortunately, Aardvark himself suffers no such biases. Regrettably, many of our fellow citizens do labor under the normality bias.

Just how many? Well, now we know.

Question 27 in the new NBC/WSJ poll asks whether, since the election, the media has been fair and balanced toward Trump, too critical, or not critical enough. 51 percent picked “too critical.”

This at a time when the nation’s foreign policy is in a state of incoherence.

A time when cabinet members must repeatedly clean up Trump’s mess.

A time when Trump’s lack of focus and inability to understand policy issues prevent him from doing a foundational job of any president—developing legislation and presenting it to Congress.

Boswell’s Life of Johnson records,

I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

What is surprising here is not that Trump is doing a bad job, it is that he is not doing the job at all.

What will it take for everything to recognize the truth? Unfortunately, it will require calamity. And calamity is likely.

*  (1) The event is a surprise (to the observer). (2) The event has a major effect. (3) After the first recorded instance of the event, it is rationalized by hindsight, as if it could have been expected; that is, the relevant data were available but unaccounted for in risk mitigation programs. The same is true for the personal perception by individuals.

Will Trump Sell Out His White Working Class Base?


Many among the commentariat continue to think that he will. I would like to present a qualified counter-prediction. First,

Seven Propositions about How Trump Thinks and Speaks

(1) Trump’s driving force is his craving for adulation.

(2) Trump’s white working class supporters are, for the present and the foreseeable future, the only significant source of Trump adulation.

(3) Therefore Trump will behave in such a way that, in his thinking, is likely to preserve and enhance the adulation of the white working class, and avoid behaviors likely to staunch said source of adulation.

(4) Though severely delusional—and profoundly inclined toward magical thinking—Trump maintains some contact with reality.

(5) Though Trump lies all the time, he does not lie about his mental state. Even when it would benefit him to lie about what he is thinking; he does not do so. Instead, his congenital lying mostly involves imaginary “facts” that, were they true, would reinforce the things he believes.

(6) Trump has repeatedly claimed that the Obamacare replacement will be better for his supporters than the existing system, and he has repeatedly claimed he will preserve Medicare and Social Security. These may be lies, but they are not the kind of lies Trump habitually tells. They relate to his plans–his mental state–about which he does not usually lie. They are not false “facts” that support his rooted convictions.

(7) Hence, a prediction: as and when Ryan and his cohorts come up with concrete legislative plans that would screw over the white working class, Trump will not in fact go along. That is because (a) though delusional and prone to magical thinking, he maintains some contact with reality, (b) screwing over the white working class would be diametrically opposite to the main goal of his life—preserving their adulation of Trump, and (c) because lying about, say, the actual effects of the Ryan health plan is not the sort of thing Trump lies about, and because telling that kind of lie would be contrary to his need for working class adulation.


It’s a Chilly Day in Hell: Rich Lowry Makes Sense

In The Myth of the Passive President, Lowry writes,

The view of Trump as little more than a presidential auto-pen has turned out to be wholly mistaken. First, it underestimated Trump’s ability to establish air, sea and land dominance in the nation’s political conversation to the exclusion of all other Republican voices. Two, it failed to appreciate how necessary presidential leadership is to getting anything done on Capitol Hill.

At this rate, congressional Republicans won’t send the president anything significant to sign, let alone set the agenda. …

[Trump’s] hold on the GOP base is formidable, and his core supporters are nothing if not vociferous. Couple that with his prodigious media megaphone, and Trump could break isolated senators or members of Congress resisting his congressional agenda like a twig.

If, that is, he has such an agenda. No one knows what his infrastructure plan is. Or what he wants on the Obamacare replacement, which will badly divide Republicans (one reason that Republican leaders hoped to sidestep it). Or where he comes down on the contentious issue threatening the ultimate passage of tax reform, the border adjustment tax that House Republicans support but faces stiff opposition in the Senate.  …

If Trump turns out simply not to have any interest in legislation, it likely won’t augur a period of strong congressional governance, but of drift and perhaps outright failure.

Capitol Hill is dependent on Trump, not just to sign bills, but to lead. Republican don’t need him merely to be president; they need him to be a good president, which means that in his busy days he must find a little time for Congress.


Though He’s Correct, Lowry Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Not only will Trump continue to eschew coherent legislative leadership of his party, he will also—if I’m right in the analysis presented in the first part of this post—dynamite those parts of the Ryan agenda that would most deeply screw over the white working class.