I mean, of course, the new Michael Wolff book, Fire and Fury.
With his customary cogency, Eugene Robinson writes,
One year into the Trump presidency, we effectively do not have a presidency at all.
As McConnell noted in frustration Wednesday, he can’t orchestrate passage of an immigration bill unless he knows what Trump is willing to sign. Likewise, Ryan can’t pass spending legislation unless he knows what Trump will and will not accept. But the president has no fixed positions. His word is completely unreliable. How are congressional leaders supposed to do their jobs?
With that thought in mind, why should you read the new book? Haven’t you heard it all from the talking heads?
Well, of course you have heard a lot of it from the talking heads. But when you read the book, the focus falls away from the anecdotes and the big picture comes clear.
There are dozens and dozens of cognitive biases. I’ve got ‘em. You’ve got ‘em. Everybody’s got ‘em. But here’s the difference between Donald Trump, on the one hand, and many of the rest of us, on the other hand. Particularly that portion of the “rest of us” whose job it is or was to bring judgment to bear on difficult and important questions—in medicine, in law, in government, and so on. We know we’ve got cognitive biases, and we can at least try to compensate for those biases with reason and with objective information.
Trump has cognitive biases of the most egregious nature, but is entirely innocent of any discernment about his mental sgtate. Lacking that discernment, he is helpless to correct for his biases.
As Wolff explains, with illustrations, Trump does not take in information through the written word.
He cannot reliably distinguish between truth and fiction.
He cannot relate cause to effect.
And he believes, falsely, that others, or at least most others, think like him. He thinks, for example, that referring to Africa as comprised of “shithole countries” will actually increase his standing with the public.
As Wolff lays out, Trump “knows” a limited set of things, all of which are false. But, as to those matters, which he thinks he knows, he clings tenaciously to his illusions and is impervious to any contrary empirical information or logic.
As to a vast array of other matters, Trump has no intellectual curiosity at all, and no sense of duty to try at least to learn the relevant facts. As to these things, he is perennially at the mercy of whoever spoke to him last.
You know all this already. Reading Fire and Fury will help you get your head around it.
As Eugene Robinson says, we are functioning without a chief executive and commander-in-chief. It’s a kind of mad experiment.
But on a lighter note, check out
I remain of the view that we should just line up the middle aged tooties outside the Lincoln Bedroom, grease their palms with silver, and let them keep him occupied.
This is apparently not from The Onion:
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his predecessors let the North Korean nuclear situation fester because he’d be better suited to handle it, given his normal cognitive abilities.
“I guess they all realized they were going to have to leave it to a President that scored the highest on tests,” he told Reuters in an interview.
He was presumably referring to his doctor telling White House reporters Tuesday that Trump had aced the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which includes tasks like naming animals underneath pictures of them, identifying one’s current location and drawing clock hands.
All skills that he apparently thinks his predecessors lacked.
The cloud-gatherer Zeus issued this message today through his public relations team of rustling oak trees:
But let me address the stories told to the media by four brave women named Leda, Io, Europa, and Danaë, who felt able to name themselves, if not those accusations leveled by Leto, Demeter, Thetis, Mnemosyne, and the hundreds of others who preferred to remain anonymous—smart women and good lays all, for whom I have nothing but the utmost respect. As for Ganymede, he will confirm that I have already made him whole for his “cup-bearing.” We remain friendly.
These stories are true. At the time, I told myself that because I always asked first before blinding a woman with the sight of my full splendor as Lord of the Sky, it was OK. Yesterday I learned otherwise. We will all be sitting down soon with the Furies to see what kinds of remedies are out there.
Leda: I shudder to think that you interpreted the caress of your thighs by my dark swan webs as anything other than a frank infatuation with your intellect. I totally accept that you did not “lead me on” (although even your mother said, “Are you going out like that?”). And if you did somehow understand the consequences of what I thought were shared feelings at the moment I came—the Trojan War, etc.—that didn’t necessarily compensate for your terror and my falling asleep so fast afterward. I get it. “Indifferent beak,” c’est moi. …
All that conceded, some of what has been said is plain wrong. For instance, I would never have become a chicken to seduce a woman who had made herself into a rooster when she saw me coming.
As I have admitted, however, there is enough truth in these stories to make me profoundly ashamed. I’ve brought pain to my family, my friends, my gazillions of offspring and their mothers. So after consulting with Edith Hamilton, I have decided to take a leave from rain-making to earn back your trust.
From today’s Quinnipiac poll:
In a very early hypothetical presidential matchup, Oprah Winfrey, running as a Democrat, beats Trump 52 – 39 percent.
Women rally to Oprah 58 – 33 percent, while men are split 45 – 45 percent. Oprah leads 88 – 4 percent among black voters and 66 – 24 percent among Hispanic voters, while white voters go 47 percent for Trump and 44 percent for Winfrey.
… Independent voters back Oprah 49 – 38 percent.
But American voters say 66 – 14 percent that electing a celebrity to the office of president is a bad idea.
In a question in which no opponent is named, voters say 65 – 24 percent that they would not be inclined to vote for Oprah for president.
These same voters say 62 – 34 percent they would not be inclined to vote for Trump.
Meanwhile, the same poll shows that 53 percent of men think Trump is stable while 40 percent say he is not. But the view among the sisterhood is very different: stable, 39 percent; nutty as a fruitcake, 53 percent.
Sessions criticized Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for reportedly reciting during a meeting Emma Lazarus’ poem that’s historically affiliated with American immigration and the Statue of Liberty.
“Not really a case you would expect a Republican to be making,” Carlson said, referencing Graham’s use of the poem. …
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The humongous mental challenges posed by the Montreal Cognitive Assessment include
Complete humongously difficult test here.
Damn sight easier than the old Alabama voter literacy test. I wonder how Trump would do on that test.