My Baby Just Wrote Me a Twitter

By the Capitol Steps, to be sung to the tune of My Baby Just Wrote Me a Letter:

Gimme me a ticket for an aeroplane
My girlfriend is gettin’ so inane
Forty times today
On my PDA
My baby, she wrote me a twitter

Every two minutes somethin’ else to tell
What the hell’s the meaning of ‘LOL’?
But she loves her shampoo
Well woop-de-freakin’-do
And lately, it’s makin’ me bitter

So I wrote her a letter
Said that it would be better
To talk like we ought
But she can only twitter
‘Cause 140 letters
Is her limit on thoughts
She’s twidiotic

I’m leaving home, all my bags are packed
But my tweet hawk deserves all the facts
Since I can’t commit her
I’ll just send a twitter

(spoken) Let me see… ‘I-L-Y-F-O-B-S’
(spoken) ‘I-L-Y-F-O-B-S’? Does that mean ‘I love you forever, oh beautiful sweetheart’?
(spoken) No, it’s…

‘I’m leaving you for our babysitter’

The New Beatitudes: Blessed Are the Winners

From Andrew Sullivan, The Pope and the Pagan. Thanks once again to Hans.

Blessed are the winners: for theirs is the kingdom of Earth.

Blessed are the healthy: for they will pay lower premiums.

Blessed are the rich: for they will inherit what’s left of the earth, tax-free.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for oil and coal: for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciless: for they are so, so strong.

Blessed are the liars: for they will get away with it.

Blessed are the war-makers: for they will be called very, very smart.

Blessed are those who support you regardless: for theirs is the Electoral College.

Blessed are you when others revile you and investigate you and utter all kinds of fake news about you. Rejoice and be glad, for the failing press is dying.

Give Him the Wild Wind for a Brother and the Wild Montana Skies

The Montana special election is tomorrow. The Republican candidate has just assaulted a reporter and broken his glasses. Apparently because the candidate did not like the reporter’s questions.

Aardvark does not know whether this development will redound to the benefit of the Democrat or the Republican.

Washington, Nixon, and Trump

cherry tree

So, here is a follow up on the immediately preceding post, that shared some observations by Trump’s ghostwriter. And a thought for the evening.

I believe I heard this from David Brooks on last night’s PBS Evening News:

Washington: the President who could not tell a lie.

Nixon: the President who could not tell the truth.

Trump: the President who cannot tell the difference.

You know, it must really suck to be Trump. Think about it. Without empathy. Without self-confidence and a strong ego, only empty bluster. Without a conscience. Without the ability to distinguish between truth and delusion. Without the ability even to tell a consistent lie. Without the attention span to learn the things he needs to know for his job. Without the ability to predict the consequences of his actions.

Disabilities far worse than the loss of your eyesight, the loss of your legs, the loss of your balls. Utterly incapacitating.

I feel sorry for the man.

What I feel for the empty suited, traitorous cretins who enabled him to achieve his present position, when they knew or should have known of his mental disabilities, is nothing but utter contempt and cold, unforgiving hatred.

The Man Who Never Grew Up


From Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of The Art of the Deal:

Early on, I recognized that Trump’s sense of self-worth is forever at risk. When he feels aggrieved, he reacts impulsively and defensively, constructing a self-justifying story that doesn’t depend on facts and always directs the blame to others. …

To survive, I concluded from our conversations, Trump felt compelled to go to war with the world. It was a binary, zero-sum choice for him: You either dominated or you submitted. You either created and exploited fear, or you succumbed to it — as he thought his older brother had. This narrow, defensive outlook took hold at a very early age, and it never evolved. “When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now,” he told a recent biographer, “I’m basically the same.” His development essentially ended in early childhood. …

I never sensed from Trump any guilt or contrition about anything he’d done, and he certainly never shared any misgivings publicly. From his perspective, he operated in a jungle full of predators who were forever out to get him, and he did what he must to survive.

Trump was equally clear with me that he didn’t value — nor even necessarily recognize — the qualities that tend to emerge as people grow more secure, such as empathy, generosity, reflectiveness, the capacity to delay gratification or, above all, a conscience, an inner sense of right and wrong. Trump simply didn’t traffic in emotions or interest in others. The life he lived was all transactional, all the time. Having never expanded his emotional, intellectual or moral universe, he has his story down, and he’s sticking to it.

A key part of that story is that facts are whatever Trump deems them to be on any given day. When he is challenged, he instinctively doubles down — even when what he has just said is demonstrably false. I saw that countless times, whether it was as trivial as exaggerating the number of floors at Trump Tower or as consequential as telling me that his casinos were performing well when they were actually going bankrupt. In the same way, Trump would see no contradiction at all in changing his story about why he fired Comey and thereby undermining the statements of his aides, or in any other lie he tells. His aim is never accuracy; it’s domination. …

[T]he reassurance he got from even his biggest achievements was always ephemeral and unreliable — and that appears to include being elected president. Any addiction has a predictable pattern: The addict keeps chasing the high by upping the ante in an increasingly futile attempt to re-create the desired state. On the face of it, Trump has more opportunities now to feel significant and accomplished than almost any other human being on the planet. But that’s like saying a heroin addict has his problem licked once he has free and continuous access to the drug. Trump also now has a far bigger and more public stage on which to fail and to feel unworthy.

From the very first time I interviewed him in his office in Trump Tower in 1985, the image I had of Trump was that of a black hole. Whatever goes in quickly disappears without a trace. Nothing sustains. It’s forever uncertain when someone or something will throw Trump off his precarious perch — when his sense of equilibrium will be threatened and he’ll feel an overwhelming compulsion to restore it. Beneath his bluff exterior, I always sensed a hurt, incredibly vulnerable little boy who just wanted to be loved. …

In neurochemical terms, when he feels threatened or thwarted, Trump moves into a fight-or-flight state. His amygdala is triggered, his hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activates, and his prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain that makes us capable of rationality and reflection — shuts down. He reacts rather than reflects, and damn the consequences. …

Over the past week, in the face of criticism from nearly every quarter, Trump’s distrust has almost palpably mushroomed. No importuning by his advisers stands a chance of constraining him when he is this deeply triggered. The more he feels at the mercy of forces he cannot control — and he is surely feeling that now — the more resentful, desperate and impulsive he becomes.


Humpty Dumpty Explains Glass-Steagall to Elizabeth Warren

humpty dumpty

Elizabeth Warren: You said we need a 21st-century Glass-Steagall at your confirmation hearing. And now you’ve just said the opposite. In the past few months, you and the president have had a number of meetings with big-bank C.E.O.s and lobbyists—is that the reason for the reversal on Glass-Stegall?

Steven Mnuchin: Not at all; there actually wasn’t a reversal.

Warren: There wasn’t a reversal?

Mnuchin: Let me explain.

Warren: I’m ready.

Mnuchin: The Republican platform did have Glass-Stegall. . . . The president said we do support a 21st-century Glass-Steagall, that means there are aspects of it that we think may make sense. But we never said before we support a full separation of banks and investment banking.

Warren: Let me just stop you right there, Mr. Secretary—

Mnuchin: You’re not letting me finish—

Warren: Yeah, I’m not, because I really need to understand what you’ve just said. There are aspects of Glass-Steagall that you support, but not breaking up the banks and separating commercial banking from investment banking? What do you think Glass-Stegall was if that’s not right at the heart of it?

Mnuchin: Again, I’m well aware of what Glass-Steagall was, as you may know the original concern of Glass-Steagall was about conflicts not about credit risk, and if we had supported a full Glass-Stegall we would have said at the time we believed in Glass-Stegall, not a 21st-century Glass-Stegall. We were very clear in differentiating it.

Warren: I still haven’t heard the answer to my question; what do you think Glass-Stegall was if not separating commercial banking from investment banking, from ordinary banking?

Mnuchin: Again, the fundamental part of Glass-Stegall was, as you just outlined, it was separation of investment banking from commercial banking because people were concerned about conflicts.

Warren: And how do you separate without breaking up the big banks that have integrated these two things?

Mnuchin: Again, the integration of commercial banking and investment banking has gone on for a long time, that’s not what caused the financial crisis, and if we did go back to a full separation, you would have an enormous impact on liquidity and lending.

Warren: So let me get this straight. You’re saying you’re in favor of Glass-Steagall, which breaks apart the two arms of the banks, except you don’t want to break apart the two parts of banking. This is like something straight out of George Orwell. You’re saying simultaneously you’re in favor of breaking up the banks— that’s what Glass-Steagall is—

Mnuchin: I never said we were in favor of breaking up the banks. If we had been, it would have been very simple .

Warren: Let me try one more time—what does it mean to be in favor of 21st-century Glass-Steagall if it does not mean breaking apart these two functions in banking?

Mnuchin: I’d be more than happy to come see you and follow up—

Warren: Just tell me what it means. Tell me what 21st-century Glass-Steagall means if it doesn’t mean breaking up those two parts. It’s an easy question.

Mnuchin: It’s actually a complicated question—

Warren: I’ll bet.

Mnuchin: There are many aspects of it. The simple answer is we don’t support breaking up commercial and investment banks. We think that would be a huge mistake, but, again, I’m more than happy to listen to your ideas on it, you obviously have strong views.

Warren: This is just bizarre. The idea that you can say we’re in favor of Glass-Steagall but not in breaking up the banks.

Mnuchin: We never said we were in favor of Glass-Steagall, we said we were in favor of a 21st-century Glass-Steagall. We couldn’t be clearer.

Warren: Thank you . . . this is crazy.

Props to Lobo Loupe. Transcript from Bess Levin.


Peace Be Upon Him, and On His Twitter Account

religious court

It is the morning of May 19, 2017. Our President is headed to Saudi Arabia this afternoon.

Trump advocated for a total and complete ban on Muslim entry into the United States. He is reliably reported to have considered a registry of US Muslims. He believes “there is something going on with Muslims.” He has surrounded himself with Islamophobes. His asshole buddy, General Flynn, views Islam as a malignant ideology and a cancer, not a true religion. One of his current advisors has declined to comment on whether Islam is or is not an actual religion.

Let us hope that, during his time in the desert, Trump manages not to defame Prophet Mohammad, Peace Be Upon Him, or to blaspheme against Islam.

The folks in Saudi Arabia take these matters very seriously.

Morning News from the Inmate in Charge of the Asylum


Though he is not an actual psychiatrist, Aardvark did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. So here is how it is (on all the available evidence).

Seriously, seriously weak ego and big self-esteem problems. Constant need to prop up ego. As a coping mechanism, will interpret ambiguous evidence in a self-aggrandizing way. When negative facts are revealed, will call them lies. Will actually perceive them as lines, most of the time,

As things go from bad to worse, there comes a time when coping mechanisms no longer work. Total breakdown ensues.

Not quite yet at the denouement.

But the fat lady is warming up. We are near the last act in the opera.

Trump calls appointment of special prosecutor ‘the single greatest witch hunt’

President Donald Trump on Thursday blasted the appointment of Robert Mueller to be the special prosecutor overseeing the investigation into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election, calling the probe “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.”

He also accused former President Barack Obama’s administration and the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton of committing “illegal acts,” complaining that his campaign will now face the scrutiny of a special prosecutor while neither his predecessor nor 2016 opponent never have.

“With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel [sic] appointed!” the president wrote on Twitter Thursday morning, without elaborating further on the illegal acts he accused the Clinton campaign and Obama administration of committing

Blind Men of Hindostan Assess Trump


This was the day when the several blind men of Hindostan debated loud and long about whether the President of the United States is best compared to a petulant, immature child, to a raging bear, to a bull in a China shop, or to mad King Lear.

In the Noo Yak Times today Ross Douthat agreed with his colleague David Brooks that Donald Trump is behaving like a small child—and advocated for removal under the 25th Amendment:

There is, as my colleague David Brooks wrote Tuesday, a basic childishness to the man who now occupies the presidency. That is the simplest way of understanding what has come tumbling into light in the last few days: The presidency now has kinglike qualities, and we have a child upon the throne.

It is a child who blurts out classified information in order to impress distinguished visitors. It is a child who asks the head of the F.B.I. why the rules cannot be suspended for his friend and ally. It is a child who does not understand the obvious consequences of his more vindictive actions — like firing the very same man whom you had asked to potentially obstruct justice on your say-so. …

But a child … cannot really commit “high crimes and misdemeanors” in any usual meaning of the term. There will be more talk of impeachment now, more talk of a special prosecutor for the Russia business; well and good. But ultimately I do not believe that our president sufficiently understands the nature of the office that he holds, the nature of the legal constraints that are supposed to bind him, perhaps even the nature of normal human interactions, to be guilty of obstruction of justice in the Nixonian or even Clintonian sense of the phrase. I do not believe he is really capable of the behind-the-scenes conspiring that the darker Russia theories envision. And it is hard to betray an oath of office whose obligations you evince no sign of really understanding or respecting.

Which is not an argument for allowing him to occupy that office. It is an argument, instead, for using a constitutional mechanism more appropriate to this strange situation than impeachment: the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for the removal of the president if the vice president and a majority of the cabinet informs the Congress that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and (should the president contest his own removal) a two-thirds vote by Congress confirms the cabinet’s judgment.

For reasons best known to herself, Douthat’s argument greatly upset Jennifer Rubin. “[W]e should not medicalize amoral, stupid and/or illegal behavior.” Rubin opined.

Aardvark’s response? Well, no we shouldn’t. But conversely, when someone is acting in a way best explained by postulating a serious mental illness, we are not obligated to attribute that behavior to evil impulse and  overlook the apparent mental illness.

Much of Ms. Rubin’s oeuvre strikes me as highly tendentious, even by the standards of political blogging. In this case, Aardvark hasn’t quite reverse engineered the tendentiousness. But, no doubt, all will become clear in time.

In another response to Douthat, Alexandra Petri argued that comparing Trump to a child, or to a bull in a china shop, is unfair to children and bulls:

The Trump presidency is the discovery that what you thought was a man in a bear suit is just a bear. Suddenly the fact that he wouldn’t play by the rules makes total sense. It wasn’t that he refused to, that he was playing a long game. It was that he was a wild animal who eats fish and climbs trees, and English words were totally unintelligible to him. In retrospect, you should have suspected that after he just straight-up ate a guy. But at the time everyone cheered. It was good TV. Also, he was your bear.

So you have spent 200 years building a fragile snow globe, and now you have given it to a bear. The animal doesn’t care. You cannot even explain to him what the thing is. To him, all your words are just sounds. He looks at you when you are making them and he looks away when you are finished. You can only hope the bear becomes bored and sets the snow globe down and wanders off looking for food.

(Again, this is an insult to bears, who have fewer places to live than Trump and do not do so at the taxpayer’s expense.)

Finally, writing in the Times, Anna North went for the King Lear analogy.


Not King Lear. Not a bear. Not a bull. A child.