WAS HE LYING THEN OR IS HE LYING NOW?

grillo

In a recent post I drew one point of comparison and contrast between Trump and George Wallace: Wallace, though despicable, engaged in rhetoric that drew bogus conclusions from actual facts, and thus had some mooring in reality. Trump just makes shit up—and then comes to believe his own lies.

So which one, Wallace or Trump, would probably make a worse President?

Depressing, isn’t it?

In Politico this morning we have another important comparison and contrast—between Trump and Berlusconi. Aardvark—noting that, in Italy, they appear poised to elect an actual real life clown, not just someone who plays a clown on TV—highly recommends the article.

Also highly recommended is Garrison Keillor’s latest rant on the stupidity of the Trump electorate, “Thank you, Trump voters, for this wonderful joke.”. It begins with this ditty:

He promised the swamp would be drained,

Was elected, said “Rain!” and it rained

And the old crocodiles

Wore flesh-eating smiles

And the turtles were well entertained.

Keillor’s entertaining screed is an example of exactly what the Politico writer, Gianni Riotta, warns against as highly counterproductive: sneering at the unwashed masses. That said, I doubt that many of the unwashed are reading Garrison Keillor, and I hope he keeps it up, if for no other reason, just to make Aardvark feel a little better.

Finally, not to be missed is “Pizzagate: From rumor, to hashtag, to gunfire in D.C.,” which tells the story of poor Edgar Welch and how he came to believe the bogus story about Hillary’s pedophile ring at the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant.

And so, what is to be done about this mess? What do we do, and what do we say to acquaintances, friends, and family who supported Trump?

I don’t know, but I am pretty sure that there are two approaches that will not work. One is to sneer and yell. Another is to try to have a rational conversation.

We’ll have to improvise. Many are victims of a cult of personality, and so we have to ask ourselves what might break the grip of the cult. For example, most of them hate Obama. We might point to his recent friendly comments about our outgoing President.

If your Trump supporting friend responds by saying that Trump is just being a hypocrite when he says a few nice things about Obummer, try asking that most devastating of questions: Was he Trump lying then about Obama, or is he lying now?

 

“Oh noes!” said the Business Roundtable

first-they-cameFirst he came for the Mexicans, but we were not Mexicans, and we yearned for a tax break, so we did not speak out.

Then he came for the Muslims, but we were not Muslims, and we wanted go get on with entitlement reform, so we did not speak out.

Then he came for the pharmaceutical companies and other global corporations.

This time it’s getting SERIOUS!

oh-noes

 

“A Voice for the Voiceless,” or, the Putative Genius of Donald J. Trump

lies

As is his wont, early this morning, over coffee and toast, Aardvark took in Morning BLOviator and his merry band. Inter alia, a guest appearance by Michael Lewis, author of a new book entitled The Undoing Project, led to an abstract schmooze over the relative merits of reason and data versus gut instinct in making decisions—and to a more specific discussion about whether The Donald’s performance in the recent election exemplified a kind of gut instinct genius in connecting with the masses.

Well, there is one thing that we now know about The Donald’s peeps, and that is that they are really, really pissed. Among those of us who can detect the difference between a charlatan and a tribune of the people—in other words, among elite snobs—there is still some degree of puzzlement about why they are really, really pissed. (For one of many insightful articles, check out this interview with Prof. Kathy Cramer.)

But royally pissed they are. And gullible, too.

My father—a good and decent man whose memory I revere, but a man of his time and place—was mightily pissed when the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education back in 1954. In the evening, he would sit at the dinner table in his work stained clothes and proclaim in a loud voice that all nine members of the Court were getting generous monthly checks from Moscow.

Lots of people were saying that. And some of them were very reliable, in his opinion.

Now, in 1954 my father didn’t get his “facts” about the monthy Soviet cash subsidy to the Court from Twitter or Facebook, because those means of communication did not exist. Nor, interestingly enough, did he get them from George Wallace, as far as I can tell. George make a big deal about the fact that “Communist sympathizers” were among those supporting the civil rights movement. That was actually true. This, Donald, is an example of advocacy: taking actual facts, and drawing tendentious conclusions from them. Obnoxious as it was, Wallace’s claim was not a fabrication concocted from whole cloth.

The Donald’s alleged genius does not, in my view, lie in gut instinct as such. It lies in a complete lack of boundaries—even the boundaries that George Wallace observed—and an ability to put together a coalition of the royally pissed and the deeply gullible. Bush and Rubio and the rest of that crew could have done the same thing, had they so chosen. What held them back was a shred of decency.

You could call a really successful embezzler a genius at accounting, but that would be a very idiosyncratic way of viewing the situation.

Satan is said to be the Father of Lies. This is his son, in whom he is well pleased.

On Paul Krugman, and a Little Bit o’ Populism

digs-coal

Paul Krugman weighs in today on the subject that has to be uppermost in the minds of progressives: why did so many Trump supporters vote against their own interests?

Was it because of our message? Or because they didn’t hear our message because the news media didn’t convey our message? Because they have hate in their hearts? Or because, in their delusion, they bought into Trump’s magical thinking and his cult of personality? Some of all of these things?

Krugman concludes on a tepidly pessimistic note:

One thing is clear . . . : Democrats have to figure out why the white working class just voted overwhelmingly against its own economic interests, not pretend that a bit more populism would solve the problem.

Aardvark begs to differ. He is unaware of the identity(ies) of those who “pretend that a big more populism would solve the problem.” My opinion is that the only course of action that might work is full throated advocacy of a program to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Not, in other words, a bit of populism, but instead, a lot of populism.

Let’s war game out the alternative, folks. Krugman focuses on coal country, where Trump has promised magically to bring back the mining jobs that he has no way in hell of actually bringing back.

What happens who he fails, and the former miners grasp that their savior has deserted them? “Maybe a Trump administration can keep its supporters on board, not by improving their lives, but by feeding their sense of resentment,” Krugman writes. I don’t know whether he can do that, but I am highly confident he’s going to try–aided and abetted by his buddies in the Kremlin, who will ramp up their already successful fake news program.

Resentment? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

The question is which way the mob will march, and who will be in front of it.

Smiting the Pointy Headed Postmodernists

pointy-head

A few weeks ago the Aardvarks were dining here at Happy Acres with their learned friend Iakovos Fahrbahn and Mrs. Fahrbahn. I regaled them with the story of how, many years ago, I took a course at Ivy University from Professor Richard Rorty. I think it was about metaphysics. Whatever it was about, Aardvark grasped nothing, absolutely nothing, of what Rorty was trying to convey to the unwashed. How surprised I was to learn last year that Rorty was to be found among the Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition. That discovery explained a lot about my experience back at Ivy U.

Now, after the election, Iakovos has kindly shared these observations from Rorty, writing in 1998:

[M]embers of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers — themselves desperately afraid of being downsized — are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for — someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. …

One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past 40 years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. … All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.

Alas, these thoughts are all too understandable.

But here’s what we don’t understand. When—not if, but when—the unskilled workers of whom Rorty spoke grasp that they have been conned yet again in the greatest political con of all times, will they once again retire from politics? Or will they elect someone worse in 2020—a truly competent authoritarian?

No more water. The fire next time.