This Song is for You, Hans

Hans hears “America First” and thinks “Deutschland über alles.“  And so do we all.

After today’s abomination of an inauguration speech, Aardvark takes cold comfort in this thought: a cleverer fascist would probably do a much better job of concealing his hand.

In addition, there’s the widespread revulsion that followed the speech.

That said, it CAN HAPPEN HERE. I don’t think it will, in the end, but it can.

We need our friends in Europe to keep on reminding us of the lessons of history.

And so, Hans, this song is for you.


P.S. To add to the footnote in my last post, here’s an additional shoutout to Aardvark’s readers in Israel, Ireland, and Canada.

Yes, There Will be Clusterfucks


Ross Douthat—though far from Aardvark’s favorite pundit, even among conservative pundits—does ask the right questions this afternoon:

Will [Trump’s] rhetoric actually define the policy that gets made in the halls of Congress, where a more Reaganite conservatism still theoretically holds sway? Or will his words be a Buchananite patina on an agenda mostly written by supply-siders and Goldman Sachs appointees? Or will the conflict between the two tendencies simply make his administration less epochal than incoherent, less transformative than simply ineffective?

Trump believes in Winning Through Intimidation. That is his life strategy. Just as some people’s life strategy is being beautiful, some succeed by working harder than anyone else, and some succeed by mastering a professional discipline, Trump has enjoyed success by intimidation, bluster, and showmanship.

He told the Republicans today that he bloody well intends to intimidate them to a fare thee well, by exploiting their craven fear of the folks who have bought into Trump’s cult of personality.

There are limits to life strategies. Being beautiful doesn’t improve your SAT scores. And intimidation has its limits.

First, some people are more subject to intimidation that others, especially on some subjects. Who thinks that John McCain is going to be intimidated into loving Russia?

Second, while you can intimidate some people, some of the time, you can’t intimidate reality. You cannot, for example, intimidate the health care system into providing costless, generous universal coverage, nor can you intimidate away the robotic revolution in manufacturing.

Third, while there remain millions of cultists, some are already beginning to leave.

So, yes, there will be clusterfucks. As old Ross puts it,

Combine … brute political facts with Trump’s implausibly expansive promises, and a Carter scenario — gridlock, disappointment, collapse — seems like the most plausible way to bet. But on the evidence of this speech, Trump has no intention of playing it safe: He will either remake conservatism in his image, or see his presidency fail in the attempt.


Aardvark is grateful for his readers in Germany and the United States, welcomes new readers in China and South Africa, and continues to be a little concerned about the readers in Russia.

And by the way, the painting depicts King Canute, whose relation to the subject matter of the post will be apparent to anyone who knows the good king’s story.

It was, incidentally, a hard choice between Canute and Æthelred the Unready.


Inauguration Day: It’s Mourning in America


Thanks to Vasari for sharing the headline.

Thanks to Hans Jungfreud for this observation from Germany:

On January 30, 1933, as hordes of Nazis paraded in Berlin to celebrate Hitler’s inauguration as chancellor, Max Liebermann, the aged impressionist painter and president of the Prussian Academy of Fine Arts, said: “I cannot possibly eat as much as I would like to vomit.”

Thanks to David Brooks, who tells us this morning that Trump’s incompetence will save us from Trump’s fascism:

If the figure at the center can’t give consistent, clear and informed direction, the whole system goes haywire, with vicious infighting and creeping anarchy.

Some on the left worry that we are seeing the rise of fascism, a new authoritarian age. That gets things exactly backward. The real fear in the Trump era should be that everything will become disorganized, chaotic, degenerate, clownish and incompetent.

The real fear should be that Trump is Captain Chaos, the ignorant dauphin of disorder. All the standard practices, norms, ways of speaking and interacting will be degraded and shredded. The political system and the economy will grind to a battered crawl.

Thanks to someone named Maria Konnikova, who writes, in a learned and deeply pessimistic article (Trump’s Lies vs. Your Brain), of how Captain Bullshit’s prevarications are bound to overwhelm us all.

Thanks to Fox News—an unimpeachable source if there ever was one—for confirming, with its own polling, what other polls have shown: that Trump’s approval rating has dropped precipitously. 54 percent of registered voters “disapprove of how Donald Trump is handling the presidential transition,” 37 percent “approve,:” and six percent “don’t know.”

The audience is already getting tired of the clown show.

Nine Things to Listen for in the Inaugural Address


  1. An exaggerated sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. Believes he is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  4. Requires excessive admiration
  5. Has a sense of entitlement
  6. Selfishly takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends
  7. Lacks empathy
  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty, patronizing, or contemptuous behaviors or attitudes


You Don’t Have to be Unitarian to Sign It


A Declaration of Conscience published today, January 18, by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee:

Declaration of Conscience

At this extraordinary time in our nation’s history, we are called to affirm our profound commitment to the fundamental principles of justice, equity and compassion, to truth and core values of American society.

In the face of looming threats to immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and the LGBTQ community and the rise of hate speech, harassment and hate crimes, we affirm our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

In opposition to any steps to undermine the right of every citizen to vote or to turn back advances in access to health care and reproductive rights, we affirm our commitment to justice and compassion in human relations.

And against actions to weaken or eliminate initiatives to address the threat of climate change – actions that would threaten not only our country but the entire planet – we affirm our unyielding commitment to protect the interdependent web of all existence.

We will oppose any and all unjust government actions to deport, register, discriminate, or despoil.

As people of conscience, we declare our commitment to translate our values into action as we stand on the side of love with the most vulnerable among us.

We welcome and invite all to join in this commitment for justice.  

The time is now.

John Hancock signed his name in large, clear letters, so that the king could read it without his spectacles. To follow his example and sign your name, go here.

Washington Post Columnist Makes World’s Stupidest Argument, or, In Your Guts You Know He’s Nuts


In a column entitled Why progressives shouldn’t despair over trump, someone claiming to be Barton Swaim argues

  1. Progressives mainly object to Trump because of “appearance, attitude, style and language”—for example, he is “proudly, ostentatiously nouveau rich” and “embosses his comical surname on buildings.”
  2. Progressives ought to prefer Trump, “who might shift left or right depending on the circumstances and his mood” to a more consistent conservative who would (Aardvark’s words) know the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground.

No, you blithering idiot. Progressives’ concerns are not aesthetic. Progressive are worried because our country has conferred enormous power on an immoral man child.

Yo, numbnuts, just click on over the Politico and take a gander at What Worries Ben Rhodes About Trump:

What concerns me is the things that happen every week. I don’t think people realize how many decisions the president of the United States makes about military action. The Iranians harass some vessel of ours in the Persian Gulf: What do we do in response? There’s shelling around our diplomatic facility in X Middle Eastern country. The Chinese pass too close for comfort by a U.S. Navy ship in the South China Sea. These decisions come all the time, and they’re going to come from Day One. I would be more focused on that. Because a dust-up with the Iranians or the Chinese could get out of hand very fast.

The Oval Office Effect, Vindictive Tweets, and No Freakin’ Idea*


Once again this morning, Morning BLO and his merry band plead with the Donald to start acting like a grownup and try to marshal evidence that his long awaited maturity from childhood into adolescence might at least be taking place.

Meanwhile, Tom Friedman reports that he has pretty much given up on any hopes for mature and decent behavior—and marshals overwhelming evidence of “immaturity, a lack of respect for the office he’s about to hold, a person easily distracted by shiny objects, and a lack of basic decency.” He illustrates his point with multiple retweets.

Will Trump take a stroll down the road to Damascus, or will he be be the same person that 48.2 percent of us wisely voted against and 46.1 percent of us unwisely voted to elect? The correct answer comes, of course, from Joe Biden: “We have no freakin’ idea what he’s gonna do.”

*Thanks to Vasari for calling the image to my attention. It’s subject to copyright, but this is fair use.