You Really Should Read the Book

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

President Trump allegedly had Stormy Daniels spank him with Forbes magazine cover featuring his face  

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.

trump and friends

“An Implausible, Poorly Written Dystopian Novel”: I Didn’t Know the Half of It

Tom Janssen / The Netherlands

This is apparently not from The Onion:

Trump Says His Normal Cognitive Ability Will Help Solve North Korean Situation

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.

Not to mention tapping your hand when you hear the letter “A.”

All skills that he apparently thinks his predecessors lacked.

Your Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free

214 bones

Sessions: ‘A Good Nation’ Doesn’t Admit ‘Illiterate’ Immigrants

 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!”

Emma Lazarus (November 2, 1883)

 

Huis Clos

Pres Pence

Well, it certainly has been a no good, rotten, very bad week, has it not? For all of us. For Donald J. Trump. For David Brooks, the Perennially Reasonable Conservative, who wrote a column denouncing the Mad King narrative about Trump—only to have Trump go out of his way to act like a mad king all week.

In case you have any shred of optimism left, Aardvark recommends this new piece in the Atlantic: There’s No Way Out: Trump’s presidency may be a dysfunctional disaster, but there’s no apparent way to end it.

If, somehow, you missed the many tragicomic disasters that occurred in the past few days—perhaps you were on an extended visit to one of the Shithole Countries, and the internet wasn’t working properly—the Atlantic article details the highlights of the week. The author then goes on to dismiss the practicality of both impeachment and the 25th Amendment. Hence the conclusion: there’s no way out except for the 2020 election.

The Atlantic piece may be right. Who the hell knows?

But I have two suggestions—one offered tongue in cheek, the other with some degree of seriousness. I’m not sure which is which. Perhaps you will be able to tell.

First of all, our stable genius is in fact so unstable, and his disorder is progressing at such a rate, that there will, Aardvark predicts, come a time during 2018 when both Fox News and a majority of even his most rabid supporters will have to give up the pretense that we are dealing with a sane man. At that point, all things are possible.

Hail to the Chief, President Pence.

The second possibility is suggested by the new story that Trump has paid off an adult film star to suppress her account of their bedroom frivolities.

Now, I object to middle aged prosecutors roaming rural malls to prey on teenagers. But it’s quite something else for a septuagenarian to make whoopee with a middle aged, cash oriented stripper. (More information to be found at http://www.stormydaniels.com/; I stopped at the home page, but if you wish to enter you will no doubt learn what services Ms. Daniels provides, and how much she charges for them. The depiction below may help you decide whether further investigation is in order.)

Who wants to join me in a Go Fund Me campaign to raise contributions for a continuing supply of middle aged porn stars to keep Doofus well and fully occupied?

Just go into the Lincoln Bedroom and have at it.

Patriotic middle aged strippers of America, your country needs you. The money is good. And, maybe, at a time of your life when the bloom is beginning to fade from the rose, and continued success in your chosen career is in doubt, the publicity arising from your enthusiastic service to the Commander in Chief would not be amiss.

stormy-daniels-5-things-to-know-embed

The Redneck Right and the Respectable Right

After a year in office, Trump has done a dandy job of driving a wedge between the I’m-proud-to-be-an-asshole Redneck Right and the I’m-not-a-racist-BUT Respectable Right. They are already at one anothers throats.

See, for example, this morning’s reporting that Moore forces seek retribution against Shelby: Alabama’s special election is still tearing at the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, over in Georgia—where Trump had a five point lead in 2016, and where the Republican governor is viewed favorably by 53 percent and unfavorably by fewer than 25 percent of voters—the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Trump’s approval rantings in Georgia erode:

President Donald Trump’s approval ratings have crumbled in Georgia over his first year in the White House, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll released Friday that shows nearly six in 10 registered voters disapprove of his performance.

The poll, conducted by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, pegs the president’s approval rating at 36.7 percent and his disapproval rating at 58.7 percent. That’s a decline from an AJC poll conducted in January 2017 shortly before he took office with more evenly divided results. …

The AJC survey of 940 voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 points, was conducted before Trump criticized immigrants from “shithole” countries, but several conservative-leaning respondents interviewed by the AJC said those types of remarks highlighted their concerns about him.

“Whoever hears of someone talking this way?” asked Stuart Siegel, a 74-year-old Sandy Springs retiree.

“I was a Republican until this last election, but I’m becoming more of an independent,” he added. “I’ve seen some of the good things he’s done — like lowering the corporate taxes — but I don’t like him personally. Not at all. I don’t think he has the stature of a president.”

Obviously, lots of Trump voters still approve of him and are willing to say so.

But the AJC reports that

  • 15 percent of Trump’s Georgia voters do not “approve of his first year in office,”
  • 70 percent of those who describe themselves as “moderates” disapprove,
  • 44 percent of male Georgia voters approve of Trump, while
  • fewer than one third of Georgia female voters approve.

If Trump lasts another six months or a year, there’s going to be a civil war on the right. Bannon may or may not find another deep pocket to finance his side of the Republican civil war. It doesn’t matter, because Trump himself will keep on inciting the war between the Proud Rednecks and the Respectable Right.

And Senators Cotton Persude and Graham are not going to be able to keep on forgetting the shit they heard in the Oval Office.

three monkeys