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

Why, Oh Why …


… Is the Republican Establishment Chortling Over the Fall of Steve Bannon, When They Should be in Despair that the President is a Moron?

This is the question that lots of the talking heads are pondering in wonderment this morning.

Now, I would like to say, first, that Aardvark does not suffer from the Trumpian delusion that he is smarter than everyone else. Really.

But, come on guys, give me a break.

Ryan and McConnell and the whole sorry lot of them are indeed chortling over the fall of Bannon. But not just over the fall of Bannon. They think that Trump and Bannon have mutually imploded.

They think that soon they will be rid of the both of them. They think that the right wing populists will soon crawl back into the holes from whence they emerged in 2016. They think that after the fire and fury are over, the uneducatted white folks will just go back to pulling the lever for politicians who want to distribute wealth ever upward.

They think that things couldn’t be better.

Stock market sky high. Wages stagnant. What a country!

And why might our solons celebrate the fact that the country is being run by a delusional narcissistic man child? Doesn’t this celebration evidence really bad character? And why, oh why, are all these people in positions of responsibility acting so irresponsibly?

I know the answer, and I think the talking heads know the answer too. There are sober and responsible people who entertain right wing and center-right views. But such people cannot get elected to office. The plutocrats won’t give them money and the base won’t vote for them.

He Who Laughs Last


Like the man who greeted Justice Felix Frankfurter with great relish, Aardvark looks forward eagerly to receiving his very own Kindle version of Fire and Fury, now scheduled to emerge from the ether onto our screens at 9 AM, Eastern Standard Time, mañana. With luck the publisher will outrun any temporary restraining order that Trump’s shysters may seek.

This evening the talking heads are saying that Bannon is in deep doodoo, with his financial backers bailing, his crazy candidates all pledging undying fealty to the Dear Orange Leader, and his tenure at Breitbart in jeopardy.

I am sure that all of these talking heads know more than I do, and they may be right. But logic tells me otherwise. I think our postliterate Dear Orange Leader is going down.

And on the day when the men in the white coats come for the Dear Orange Leader, Steve Bannon is going to look like a fucking genius—at least by comparison with the tribe of Trump worshipping lickspittles running the adult day care center on Pennsylvania Avenue.