“This here could be a real negative.”


It has become tedious to write about how Trump lies more often than he goes to the bathroom or about his increasing mental instability. At this point, the far more interesting question is what will cause his supporters’ madness to break. And break, it will. Because great power combined with great irrationality leads to great policy fuckups. And great policy fuckups lead to great injury.

It could be the trade war that is just getting started. This from AP, via Greg Sargent:

The Associated Press talks to voters in Sioux County, Iowa (80 percent of which went for Trump) about Trump’s tariffs on China, and finds widespread worry about a trade war:

After standing with Trump through the many trials of his first year, some Sioux County Trump voters say they would be willing to walk away from the president if the fallout from the tariffs causes a lasting downturn in the farm economy. “I wouldn’t sit here today and say I will definitely support him again,” said 60-year-old hog farmer Marv Van Den Top. “This here could be a real negative for him.”

For Ann Coulter—and, according to her, lots of other likeminded wingnuts—it’s the failure to build the Wall. Speaking metaphorically about the wall, she recently observed, “Stormy says she and Trump had sex only once. I guess if you want the guy to screw you repeatedly you have to be one of his voters.”

And don’t forget the swamp.

Obviously, it won’t be the authoritarianism. Because they really, really want to live in a banana republic. banana republic

Epimenides, Meet Trump


Wickipedia lays out the Epimenides paradox:

Thomas Fowler (1869) states the paradox as follows: “Epimenides the Cretan says, ‘that all the Cretans are liars,’ but Epimenides is himself a Cretan; therefore he is himself a liar. But if he be a liar, what he says is untrue, and consequently the Cretans are veracious; but Epimenides is a Cretan, and therefore what he says is true; saying the Cretans are liars, Epimenides is himself a liar, and what he says is untrue. Thus we may go on alternately proving that Epimenides and the Cretans are truthful and untruthful.”

Trump, at a not-so-secret fundraiser last night:

“Trudeau came to see me. He’s a good guy, Justin. He said, ‘No, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please,’ ” Trump said, mimicking Trudeau, according to audio of the private event in Missouri obtained by The Washington Post. “Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in — ‘Donald, we have no trade deficit.’ He’s very proud because everybody else, you know, we’re getting killed.

“… So, he’s proud. I said, ‘Wrong, Justin, you do.’ I didn’t even know. … I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’ You know why? Because we’re so stupid. … And I thought they were smart. I said, ‘You’re wrong, Justin.’ He said, ‘Nope, we have no trade deficit.’ I said, ‘Well, in that case, I feel differently,’ I said, ‘but I don’t believe it.’ ”

Greg Sargent comments:

 We actually have a trade surplus. Now, for all we know, Trump is lying about having boasted about his ability to lie. But still, this provides one of the most unvarnished looks at Trump’s view of his relationship with the truth that we have yet seen.

Aardvark asks:

How do we know when Donald Trump is lying?

Say it with me, y’all.

When he …

A Checkup from the Neck Up


Very good article this morning by a social psychologist who studies lying—a lyologist?—titled I study liars. I’ve never seen one like President Trump.

Turns out that normal people lie, on average, once or twice a day (though the average figure is a little misleading, because some lie a lot more than others).

For Trump it’s at least six times a day, and increasing in frequency with each passing day.

Normal people sometimes lie to be kind. More often, they lie to gain some advantage—e.g., when a sales person lies to make a sale. Occasionally they lie just to entertain. In a very small percentage of cases—two percent or fewer of their lies—normal people lie to be cruel.

Trump occasionally lies to be kind, but his self-serving lies exceed his kind lies by 660 percent.  But

the most stunning way Trump’s lies differed from our participants, though, was in their cruelty. An astonishing 50 percent of Trump’s lies were hurtful or disparaging.

As another recent article indicates, Trump views his goal is to win each day’s news cycle by defeating an enemy in the reality TV show that plays out in his mind.

And are Trump’s lies believed?

It turns out that we humans have a bias toward believing others, even when we shouldn’t. But

by telling so many lies, and so many that are mean-spirited, Trump is violating some of the most fundamental norms of human social interaction and human decency. Many of the rest of us, in turn, have abandoned a norm of our own — we no longer give Trump the benefit of the doubt that we usually give so readily.

When a liar thinks that his lies are self-serving but he lies so frequently and so blatantly that the lies defeat their purpose, that liar badly needs a check up from the neck up.

What Trump Could Learn from Machiavelli About Lying

In this post we further explore the proper application of the Rational Fascist Test, or, WWMD. We find that Trump could learn quite a lot from Machiavelli.machiavelli

First of all, be shrewd and cunning.

Everyone admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep his word, and to behave with integrity rather than cunning. Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have considered keeping their word of little account, and have known how to beguile men’s minds by shrewdness and cunning. In the end these princes have overcome those who have relied on keeping their word.

Second, do not tell lies where the truth can readily be verified.

Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts. But let this happen in such a way that no one become aware of it; or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand to be produced immediately.”

Machiavelli’s instructions to diplomat Raffaello Girlami

Third, you don’t have to have good qualities, but it is essential that you appear to have good qualities.

It is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have mentioned, but it is very necessary to appear to have them.

So ask yourself:

  1. When Trump tells falsehoods, does he employ shrewdness and cunning?
  2. Does he frequently proclaim as fact things that may be objectively shown to be false?
  3. Does he conceal his bad qualities, or does he flaunt them?

You know the answers. He flunks the test.

Thanks go to The Municipal Machiavelli. Also recommended for The Donald: Scientific American’s 18 Attributes of Highly Effective Liars.


They’re Already Leaving the Stadium in the First Inning

A-League Rd 8 - Melbourne v Adelaide

Astonishingly, Trump’s approval dropped only eight points during his first week in office.

They’re already leaving the stands.

Here’s the thing. Let’s say, just for the sake of discussion, that you are a white racist bigot. And let’s say that you perceive—and, may I say, very accurately perceive—that The Donald both shares your bigotry and is, like you, happy to proclaim it to the world. That’s one of the main reasons why you supported him.

And let’s say that you have no moral objection to lying in the cause of bigotry. After all, you say, the end justifies the means.

Assuming all of this, wouldn’t you want a bigot that is competent? One that is organized enough to advance the cause—not one who blusters so ineffectually and prevaricates so flagrantly that he gives bigotry itself a bad name?

Wouldn’t you want a bigot who is a credit to his race?


Does Trump Say Things He Knows to be False? Sí, se puede


In his Phoenix speech on immigration promised to kill Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the program that protects “Dreamers.” He called Obama’s executive order “illegal.”*

Now that he’s in office, we learn that he has a “big heart”—yes, it’s always about The Donald, it’s about whether he has a big heart, not whether America has a big heart. And we learn that the Dreamers have little to worry about.

A myriad of things could be said on this topic, but this is my blog post, and I want to focus on one point: this is proof positive, conclusive, beyond peradventure of doubt, that The Donald sometimes tells lies consciously, and with malice aforethought, in an effort to get people to vote for him.

That is, by the way, another form of voter fraud. But politicians have a constitutional right to lie.*

But to return to the main point, we must ask this question: Does proof that Trump sometimes consciously lie demonstrate that whenever he lies, he is doing so in a conscious, rational way?

No, it does not.

When Aardvark dined last evening here at Happy Acres, he had dessert. Does that fact demonstrate that whenever Aardvark dines at Happy Acres, he always has dessert? Fortunaty, no, it does not.

Take Trump’s delulsional belief in the five million illegal voters and the subsequent call for a full investigation to find them. I submit that it is not possible to postulate any conceivable Machiavellian scheme that would be furthered by these utterances. The only reason to call for an investigation is because he sincerely believes that the investigation will disclose the existence of the phantom voters he has conjured up in his fevered mind.

How long will it be before he starts hearing voices?

*See transcript of Phoenix immigration policy speech.

** So held in Eastern R. Conference v. Noerr Motors, 365 U.S. 127 (1961).



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?