Monday, February 6, 2017

Correspondence: More Trumpery

Part of the “Evolution of Civilizations”
mural in the dome of the main reading room
at the Library of Congress
Edited by Moristotle

Good points by the outstanding NY Times conservative commentator David Brooks: “A Return to National Greatness” [February 3].
    We the People will have to “return to greatness” despite the Trumpestuous interference we are confronting. Excerpt:

The Library of Congress’s main building...articulates the central animating idea that held this bursting, turbulent country together. That idea is best encapsulated in the mural under the dome of the main reading room. A series of monumental figures are depicted, each representing a great civilization in human history and what that civilization contributed to the human story.
    It starts with a figure representing Egypt (written records) and then continues through Judea (religion), Greece (philosophy), Islam (physics), Italy (the fine arts), Germany (printing), Spain (discovery), England (literature), France (emancipation) and it culminates with America (science).
    In that story, America is placed at the vanguard of the great human march of progress. America is the grateful inheritor of other people’s gifts. It has a spiritual connection to all people in all places, but also an exceptional role. America culminates history. It advances a way of life and a democratic model that will provide people everywhere with dignity. The things Americans do are not for themselves only, but for all mankind. [read more]
We know what Trump is. I cannot title him “President,” and if I don’t just call him “Trump,” I might use “Trumper,” “Trumpster,” “Trumpeter,” “Trumpet Mouth” – or even “Thrumper,” an allusion to the canine name “Thumper.” As Jesus is my Savior, I despise Trump and have no more (perhaps less) respect for him than I do for a pile of dog [poop] along a trail. At least the [poop] was evacuated from a likely lovable companion.
    Apparently a lot of other people feel similarly: “Trump With a Tail” [Gail Collins, NY Times, February 3]. Excerpt:

Our readers seem very interested in [the] concept [that Trump is Pence’s pet], particularly when it comes to torturing Trump. This week I suggested some possible nicknames for the president, and the votes are in. I am happy to report that we will now be calling Donald Trump…wait for it…Pence’s Poodle.
    I was kind of hoping for Pence’s Pomeranian — because, you know, of the hair. There were some write-ins for Pence’s Pug, and a number of protests from people who did not want their dog connected in any way with the 45th president of the United States.... [read more]
Scary new conspiracy theory: “Trial Balloon for a Coup?” [Yonatan Zunger, Medium, January 29]. [Don’t read the following excerpt without also reading the critique immediately following.] Excerpt:
...The Guardian is reporting (heavily sourced) that the “mass resignations” of nearly all senior staff at the State Department on Thursday were not, in fact, resignations, but a purge ordered by the White House...this leaves almost nobody in the entire senior staff of the State Department at this point.
    As the Guardian points out, this has an important and likely not accidental effect: it leaves the State Department entirely unstaffed during these critical first weeks, when orders like the Muslim ban (which they would normally resist) are coming down.
    The article points out another point worth highlighting: “In the past, the state department has been asked to set up early foreign contacts for an incoming administration. This time however it has been bypassed, and Trump’s immediate circle of Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Reince Priebus are making their own calls.”....
    I see a few key patterns here. First, the decision to first block, and then allow, green card holders was meant to create chaos and pull out opposition; they never intended to hold it for too long. It wouldn’t surprise me if the goal is to create “resistance fatigue,” to get Americans to the point where they’re more likely to say “Oh, another protest? Don’t you guys ever stop?” relatively quickly....
    Note also the most frightening escalation last night [January 28] was that the Department of Homeland Security made it fairly clear that they did not feel bound to obey any court orders. Customs and Border Patrol continued to deny all access to counsel, detain people, and deport them in direct contravention to the court’s order, citing “upper management,” and the DHS made a formal (but confusing) statement that they would continue to follow the President’s orders….Significant in today’s updates is any lack of suggestion that the courts’ authority played a role in the decision.
    That is to say, the administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored.
    Yesterday was the trial balloon for a coup d’état against the United States. It gave them useful information. [read more]
Don’t read the “Trial Balloon” post [immediately preceding] without also reading this critique of it: “The cult of the paranoid Medium post” [Abby Ohlheiser, Washington Post , February 1]. Excerpt:
Medium, an online publishing platform, has allowed just about anyone to publish their theories about the Trump administration into a sleek-looking article. Sometimes, as was the case for an essay by a fired “Marketplace” reporter, Medium provides a direct line for a different perspective into a conversation that might not otherwise be available through a more traditional media organization. But it has also started to become a home for frightening, unproven speculations about our future in Trump’s America....
    The Medium posts appear to be a cousin to the Twitter “thread” phenomenon, where speculative analyses of the current state of things are laid out in a long series of tweets instead of in an actual blog post. And they also share a tendency to overstate the certainty of what it is they’re writing about.
    When Tom Pepinsky, an associate professor of government at Cornell University, saw the “trial balloon” post, his expertise led him to a very different possibility from the same evidence. In an article rebutting Zunger’s approach, Pepinsky argued that it was possible “everything that Zunger identifies is evidence not of a deliberate planning by an aspiring authoritarian, but of the exact opposite: the weakness and incoherence of administration by a narcissist.”
    But more than that, the point of Pepinsky’s piece was to identify the flaw in trying to completely understand and explain the Trump administration’s intentions in real time at all: “observational equivalence.”
    “We have two theories of why something is happening, and yet we cannot tell which is the ‘correct’ theory based on the data that we observe,” he wrote. “We have precious little evidence about what is happening within President Trump’s administration. What we observe is its output: executive orders, staffing decisions, and personnel management. What we don’t observe is everything that we need to know to interpret those outputs.” [read more]

Trump is a brawler, and the other side is taking him on by PC rules. They got their ass kicked yet they keep clinging to self-imposed rules. It will not work.
    The only way to beat someone like Trump, and especially like Bannon, is get down & dirty (and probably bloody) & show them how it feels to rub their own noses in their own shit. We forget that is how America earned its independence from the Brits.

Trumper offers a prayer for his successor: “Schwarzenegger to Trump: ‘Why Don’t We Switch Jobs?’” [Michael M. Grybaum, NY Times, February 2]. Excerpt:
…Trump and Arnold Schwarzenegger were embroiled in a long-distance feud on Thursday after [Trump] used a prayer breakfast speech to taunt the action star about his reality show ratings, and Mr. Schwarzenegger fired back in a video posted on Twitter. [read more]
    Arnold’s reply, relayed via Stephen Colbert’s Late Show [whole episode starts at about 1:40]:

The sad thing here is that Aussies generally believe Americans don’t know squat about America, let alone any other country. Periodically, the TV shows American “people on the street” being asked simple questions on world news and the answers are only for “laughs and entertainment” because of the utterly ridiculous and comments that are given.
    Like the blonde that goes to the mechanic and says my car is running rough. He cleans out the fuel filter to fix it. She asks what the problem was, and he answers, “Just crap in the carburetor.” She says, “How often do I need to do that?”

Grateful for correspondence, Moristotle

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