Inauguration Day: It’s Mourning in America

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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

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  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

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You Don’t Have to be Unitarian to Sign It

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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

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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*

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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.

Reforming Health Care through Magical Thinking, or, Governance as the Art of Pulling Stuff out of your Ass

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Unlike some people he could name, Aardvark understands the difference between a hunch and a proven fact. Aardvark does not claim his hunches are proven facts. What follows is a hunch.

Trump claims that he has an Obamacare replacement bill all ready to go, but for a few minor tweaks and maybe a final run through spellcheck; that this bill will provide insurance for all; that the copays will be much lower than those available under Obamacare; and that the quality of health care will be much better than what is currently on offer.

I don’t think there is a bill. I think he just pulled it out of his ass.

And why might he do such a thing? Five reasons:

  1. He wants to stop Congress from destroying American health care.
  2. He wants to cater to the chronic magical thinking of his base.
  3. He wants to stop Bernie Sanders from stealing his crowds.
  4. His life experience has taught that promises are made to be broken, and
  5. He has a weak grasp on the difference between reality and fantasy.

 

Where are the Clowns? Send in the Clowns

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This morning, in a column titled The Lords of Misrule, David Brooks brilliantly relates Trump’s tweets to medieval carnival culture—a way of venting over injustice that often got out of hand. He writes,

The first problem with today’s carnival culture is that there’s an ocean of sadism lurking just below the surface. The second is that it’s not real. It doesn’t really address the inequalities that give rise to it. It’s just combative display.

This is a resolution I’m probably going to break, but I resolve to write about Trump only on the presidential level, not on the carnival level. I’m going to try to respond only to what he does, not what he says or tweets. I really wish some of my media confreres would do the same.

Brooks’ observations nicely complement Morning Joe’s better than average morning BLOviation today–the burden of which is that the tweets are hurting Trump’s poll numbers, the manufactured chaos is wearing everybody down, and that, in his own interest, our new minority president should be much more discriminating as he twitters.

Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear
I thought that you’d want what I want
Sorry, my dear
But where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns
Quick, send in the clowns