Why Did Maureen Dowd’s Chicken Sit in the Middle of the Road?

Because she wanted to lay it on the line.

Do check out Trump, Flush With Power, Maureen’s very own take on Trump’s decision to fire anyone with an IQ over 100 and replace them with yes men.

But before you do, if, like Aardvark, you Yiddish is a little sketchy, this will help out with “swamp schnorrers.”

Maureen writes,

If you’ve ever had a narcissistic boss, you know that they hate to hear any criticism and love to whack the naysayers and replace them with more compliant types. The circle of sycophants, who do not care about the boss, often spurs the leader’s flameout.


Ignorance is Strength

thought police

The authors of the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group pose this question: Is Trump Giving Authoritarianism a Bad Name? (You may recall that I have asked a similar question, whether he’s giving bigotry a bad name.)

The study and the op-ed repay reading. I’ll aim to hit the high spots here.

The study asked American voters whether they prefer “a strong leader who does not have to bother with Congress and elections” or “army rule” or “a democratic political system.”

The study reports that, “Notably 29 percent of respondents show at least some support for either a ‘strong leader’ or ‘army rule.’” It continues,

Comparing supporters of different candidates in the presidential primaries, the highest level of openness to authoritarian political systems is among those voters who supported Donald Trump in the primaries. Thirty two percent of Trump primary voters support a “strong leader.” The level of support for this option is especially high (45 percent) among those who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and then switched parties to vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Perhaps more unexpectedly, 20 percent of Hillary Clinton’s primary voters support a “strong leader” unbound by Congress and elections and 15 percent go so far as to support “army rule” …

Viewed through an ideological lens, the highest support for democracy comes from respondents who are either consistently liberal or consistently conservative. In contrast, more than half of those who hold both economically liberal and culturally conservative views support a “strong leader” who does not have to bother with Congress or elections.

The highest levels of support for authoritarian leadership come from those who are disaffected, disengaged from politics, deeply distrustful of experts, culturally conservative, and have negative attitudes toward racial minorities.

The Good News

According to the op-ed,

[A] year into the Trump administration, Americans are rejecting authoritarian alternatives to democracy. … [W]e found that the percentage of Americans who expressed support for a “strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with elections or Congress” fell to levels not seen since the mid-1990s. In particular, young people overwhelmingly reject authoritarian rule, despite concerns about a rising generation retreating from democracy …

Mr. Trump is almost certainly giving authoritarianism a bad name. Support for authoritarian rule declined most among Democrats and young people, while significantly increasing among Republicans.

Meanwhile, Trump is Evolving Along with his Base

Today, Max Boot expatiates on how Trump is perfecting the art of the Big Lie:

Like Trump’s claims that Gen. John J. Pershing slaughtered Muslims, or that his inauguration drew record crowds, or that he would have won the popular vote if millions of illegal immigrants had not voted, this is another example of a would-be dictator’s desire not just to sneak lies by us but to shove them down our throats. Trump is signaling that he doesn’t care what the truth is. From now on the truth will be whatever he says, and he expects every loyal follower to faithfully parrot the official party line. Or else. …

As his presidency advances, Trump is becoming increasingly intolerant of disagreement and defiance, especially from aides who know what they are talking about. Economic adviser Gary Cohn tried to tell him that tariffs and trade wars are bad economics; Trump didn’t listen and Cohn resigned. Tillerson tried to tell him that scrapping the Iran nuclear deal is a bad strategy, and now he’s gone. National security adviser H.R. McMaster is said to be the next candidate for the heave-ho, because he reportedly rubs Trump the wrong way. Of course he does. McMaster is well known in the Army for his blunt willingness to disagree with superiors when he thinks they’re wrong. Trump’s ego is too fragile to handle the truth.

Aardvark’s Addendum

Both op-eds contain plausible speculations about what this portends for the 2018 elections. But well before we get to the elections later this year, the country club Republicans, the empty suits they elect to Congress, and the plutocrats who fund the enterprise are going to have a choice to make: will they side with the 29 percent of voters—mostly older voters—who “show at least some support for either a ‘strong leader’ or ‘army rule’”? Or will they change their playbook and find a way to gain support from the other 71 percent?

When trying to anticipate my legal adversary’s likely strategy, I often asked myself, what would a rational bad person do?

I think a rational, amoral, manipulative plutocrat would realize that the jig is up. His side is losing. And he had better jump over to the other side and see whether he can manipulate them.

The Democrats, I think, are in for some really big monetary contributions.











Adults Exit; Sorcerer’s Apprentice Takes Over

Trump is systematically removing the guardrails in his cabinet

Trump may hire multiple cable news personalities as part of shake-up

How a responsible Congress would react to Trump’s destructive purges

As the Pressure on Trump Mounts, So Does the Turmoil in His Administration

Trump Was Elected to Govern Without the Policy ‘Elite’

Characters in an Absurdist Farce, Waiting for the Perp Walk

perp walk

From today’s Washington Post: Trump decides to remove national security adviser, and others may follow:

The mood inside the White House in recent days has verged on mania, as Trump increasingly keeps his own counsel and senior aides struggle to determine the gradations between rumor and truth. At times, they say, they are anxious and nervous, wondering what each new headline may mean for them personally.

But in other moments, they appear almost as characters in an absurdist farce — openly joking about whose career might end with the next presidential tweet. White House officials have begun betting about which staffer will be ousted next, though few, if any, have much reliable information about what is actually going on.

Many aides were particularly unsettled by the firing of the president’s longtime personal aide, John McEntee, who was marched out of the White House on Tuesday after his security clearance was abruptly revoked.

Everybody fears the perp walk,” one senior White House official said. “If it could happen to Johnny, the president’s body guy, it could happen to anybody.”


The Two Differences Between Trump and King Midas


  1. Midas thought everything he touched turned to gold. Trump thinks that everything he lies about turns to gold. Because he has the magical power to spin lies into perceived truth.
  2. Midas was right: everything he touched did in fact turn to gold. But Trump is wrong. Contrary to Trump’s rooted opinion, he lacks the super power to gaslight the entire world.


Epimenides, Meet Trump


Wickipedia lays out the Epimenides paradox:

Thomas Fowler (1869) states the paradox as follows: “Epimenides the Cretan says, ‘that all the Cretans are liars,’ but Epimenides is himself a Cretan; therefore he is himself a liar. But if he be a liar, what he says is untrue, and consequently the Cretans are veracious; but Epimenides is a Cretan, and therefore what he says is true; saying the Cretans are liars, Epimenides is himself a liar, and what he says is untrue. Thus we may go on alternately proving that Epimenides and the Cretans are truthful and untruthful.”

Trump, at a not-so-secret fundraiser last night:

“Trudeau came to see me. He’s a good guy, Justin. He said, ‘No, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please,’ ” Trump said, mimicking Trudeau, according to audio of the private event in Missouri obtained by The Washington Post. “Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in — ‘Donald, we have no trade deficit.’ He’s very proud because everybody else, you know, we’re getting killed.

“… So, he’s proud. I said, ‘Wrong, Justin, you do.’ I didn’t even know. … I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’ You know why? Because we’re so stupid. … And I thought they were smart. I said, ‘You’re wrong, Justin.’ He said, ‘Nope, we have no trade deficit.’ I said, ‘Well, in that case, I feel differently,’ I said, ‘but I don’t believe it.’ ”

Greg Sargent comments:

 We actually have a trade surplus. Now, for all we know, Trump is lying about having boasted about his ability to lie. But still, this provides one of the most unvarnished looks at Trump’s view of his relationship with the truth that we have yet seen.

Aardvark asks:

How do we know when Donald Trump is lying?

Say it with me, y’all.

When he …