Monday, May 8, 2017

Correspondence: Particulars

By Moristotle

Whichever constitutionally sanctioned body finally undertakes to remove Trump from office, whoever argues that he is insane might use these particulars as a prompt: “Way Too Many Trumps” [Gail Collins, NY Times, May 4]. Excerpt:
Oh gosh, we’ve got another Trump.
    This has been very difficult, people. Every day concerned citizens put together their critique of the president’s policies, and before nighttime he’s a completely different dude.
    You remember the Somewhat Normal Republican Trump, who answers to both SNORE and SNORT, depending on his energy level at the moment....
    Then suddenly, out of nowhere, came Weirdly Liberal Trump (WELT). He mused about breaking up the big banks; special aide Ivanka plugged helping Syrian refugees. Liberal Trump even expressed interest in a gas tax hike to pay for infrastructure repairs....
    Perhaps we should rethink all that impeachment talk.
    Lately Congress has been in an uproar over health care, and House Speaker Paul (My Life Is Ruined) Ryan is going crazy trying to placate both sides on the matter of insurance coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions. WELT wants to be the progressive hero. “Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be,’” Trump told CBS’s John Dickerson.
    That was shortly before Trump went off the handle when Dickerson asked about his claims of being wiretapped by Barack Obama. “I don’t stand by anything,” Trump said, unnecessarily, before he tossed Dickerson out of the Oval Office for pressing him on the matter.
    Viewers got to witness a transformation from the new liberal presidential version to the very familiar Nearly Unhinged Trump (NUT)....
    It’s generally pretty easy to tell which president is talking. NUT was the one who thought Andrew Jackson could have stopped the Civil War....
    NUT tends to reside in the world of Twitter....
    “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!” twittered NUT. He had promised us he’d make history, but even his critics didn’t expect he’d do it by becoming the first American president to express a yearning for the government to come to a screeching halt.
    The quick shift between Trumps is always a challenge to the minions in charge of interpreting him to the world....
    Neither the liberal nor the normal-Republican Trump is very good at interesting new ideas that might actually, in the real world, happen. Unhinged Trump is obviously the attention-getter, and a lot of the excitement comes from the fact that his proposals are often exactly the opposite of whatever he was championing last week. [read more]

Yes, what will Trump’s “Katrina moment” look like? “On the Power of Being Awful” [Paul Krugman, NY Times, May 1]. Excerpt:
Now think about what it means to have voted for Trump. The news media spent much of the campaign indulging in an orgy of false equivalence; nonetheless, most voters probably got the message that the political/media establishment considered Trump ignorant and temperamentally unqualified to be president. So the Trump vote had a strong element of: “Ha! You elites think you’re so smart? We’ll show you!”
    Now, sure enough, it turns out that Trump is ignorant and temperamentally unqualified to be president. But if you think his supporters will accept this reality any time soon, you must not know much about human nature. In a perverse way, Trump’s sheer awfulness offers him some political protection: His supporters aren’t ready, at least so far, to admit that they made that big a mistake....
    Sooner or later, however, this levee is going to break....
    What will Trump’s Katrina moment look like? Will it be the collapse of health insurance due to administration sabotage? A recession this White House has no idea how to handle? A natural disaster or public health crisis? One way or another, it’s coming.
    Oh, and one more note: By 2006, a majority of those polled claimed to have voted for John Kerry in 2004. It will be interesting, a couple of years from now, to see how many people say they voted for Donald Trump. [read more]
Just received a friend request from you. You have probably been hacked. Warn your friends not to accept a friend request from you.

Be very, very careful, and watch where you position your hand: “How to Cut an Avocado Without Cutting Yourself” [Margaux Laskey, NY Times, May 1]. Excerpt:
Avocados may seem harmless, but if you’ve ever peeled and cut one, you know they can be more than a little troublesome. They’re slippery, they’re oddly shaped, and they have that annoying pit in the middle that rarely slips out as easily as you’d like.
    These characteristics have earned the avocado a reputation as one of the most dangerous foods to cut. Just recently, the wife of a colleague here at The New York Times was slicing an avocado when she suffered a cut so deep she had to be taken to the emergency room.
    Medical professionals and hospitals in the United States don’t track kitchen injuries by ingredient, but anecdotally, doctors say they see a number of avocado-related cooking injuries annually — enough to notice.
    “I see half a dozen every year,” said Dr. Sheel Sharma, a plastic surgeon in New York specializing in hand surgery. “Mostly, they come with a laceration in the palm”....
    “You think that the skin is tough and will protect you,” Dr. Sharma said.
    It won’t. Remove the avocado flesh with a spoon, and slice on a stable cutting surface. You [read more]

I thought of Shirley Skufca Hickman’s article, “When Ruben & Juan are deported...,” when I read this in the NY Times: “A Path to America, Marked by More and More Bodies” [Manny Fernandez, May 4]. Excerpt:
SAN MARCOS, TEX. — Case 0435 died more than a mile from the nearest road, with an unscuffed MacGregor baseball in his backpack. Case 0469 was found with a bracelet, a simple green ribbon tied in a knot. Case 0519 carried Psalms and Revelation, torn from a Spanish Bible. Case 0377 kept a single grain of rice inside a hollow cross. One side of the grain read Sara, and the other read Rigo.
    The belongings are part of a border-crossers’ morgue at a Texas State University lab here — an inventoried collection of more than 2,000 objects and 212 bodies, the vast majority unidentified.
    All 212 were undocumented immigrants who died in Texas trying to evade Border Patrol checkpoints by walking across the rugged terrain. Most died from dehydration, heatstroke or hypothermia. Even as the number of people caught trying to illegally enter the United States from Mexico has dropped in recent months, the bodies remain a constant, grim backdrop to the national debate over immigration.
    “When we get them, we assign them a case number because we have to have a way of tracking cases, but no one deserves to be just a number,” said Timothy P. Gocha, a forensic anthropologist with Operation Identification, a project at Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology Center that analyzes the remains and personal items of the immigrants to help identify them. “The idea is to figure out who they are, and give them their name back.” [read more]
If you have received an email saying its attachment contains “pictures of Donald Trump suffering from a stroke,” do not open it. Delete it immediately because it will destroy all information in your computer, tablet, or phone.
    You have to admit, however, that this is a very clever ploy; millions of people would like to read that Trump has been completely disabled by a stroke.

Evolutionary thoughts: why does a guy instinctively know how to unhook a bra with one hand in the dark, yet struggle to hook a bra together in the light, even using both hands, before adding it to a load of laundry?

Grateful for correspondence, Moristotle


  1. Do you think that Emmanuel Macron’s decisive victory in France yesterday suggests that the average French voter is more thoughtful than the average American voter? [“Macron and the Revival of Europe - The New York Times”] Excerpt:

    Macron, who came from nowhere in the space of a year at the head of a new political movement, did not make facile promises or make up stories. He stood by refugees; he stood by Europe’s shared currency, the euro; and he was prepared to tell the French that they cannot turn their back on modernity and prosper.
        Through rational argument he increased a lead over Le Pen that polls put at 20 percent after the first round two weeks ago to 30 percent, winning with 65 percent of the vote to Le Pen’s 35 percent. This, in the age of Trump’s fake news, fake claims, and overall fakeness, was an important demonstration that reason and coherence still matter in politics.

  2. More about Trump's "self-evident" insanity in The New Yorker: “Is Political Hubris an Illness?.” Excerpt:

    Though politicians often accuse each other of being crazy, Trump has inspired a more clinical and sober discussion. (In the magazine this week, I write about proposals in Congress to assess the President’s mental health.) In recent days, the discussion of Trump’s stability has entered a blunter phase. Over the weekend, Trump made a series of bizarre comments, including questioning the history of the Civil War, saying he was “looking at” breaking up banks (prompting a stock-market slide), and demonstrating unfamiliarity with basics of the health-care bill known as Trumpcare. The Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told an interviewer that it was “among the most bizarre recent twenty-four hours in American Presidential history,” adding, “It was all just surreal disarray and a confused mental state from the President.” Joe Scarborough, the former Republican congressman, told his television audience, “My mother’s had dementia for ten years. . . . That sounds like the sort of thing my mother would say today.”
        In the Washington Post on Thursday, the conservative columnist George Will wrote, “It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about President Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability.” After months of bemoaning Trump’s policies and incivility, Will is now bluntly warning of his instability. “Americans have placed vast military power at the discretion of this mind, a presidential discretion, that is largely immune to restraint by the Madisonian system of institutional checks and balances,” Will wrote. “So, it is up to the public to quarantine this presidency by insistently communicating to its elected representatives a steady, rational fear of this man whose combination of impulsivity and credulity render him uniquely unfit to take the nation into a military conflict.”

  3. FYI: Avacados should be throughly washed before cutting. Heavy pesticides are used on them.

    1. THANK YOU, Sharon! I sometimes wash the avocado before cutting, but your comment makes me realize I don't always bother. I hope others in the same boat see your comment.