Notes and Comment Blog

Paul Ryan, man of ideas

Aug 7th, 2018 10:26 am | By

The Times takes a farewell look at Paul Ryan:

As has been strenuously noted, Trump and Ryan are stylistic and philosophical opposites: Trump the blunt-force agitator vs. Ryan the think-tank conservative. Trump lashes out while Ryan treads carefully. Ryan still fashions himself a “policy guy” and a man of ideas: In high school, he read the conservative philosopher Ayn Rand and was captivated by her signature work, “Atlas Shrugged.”

Stop right there. One, reading Atlas Shrugged does not make anyone a person of ideas. Two, Ayn Rand was not a philosopher. She was a screenwriter and a novelist.

The speaker says he tries to encourage good behavior in the president. “He put out a tweet last night that was really good,” Ryan told me after he and the president hung up. (It was apparently an inoccuous tweet about trade.) The speaker’s words carried the vaguely patronizing tone of a parent affirming a potty-training milestone.

Which would be slightly less horrifying if the guy being potty trained didn’t have the sole power to launch the nukes.

Ryan has been bashed from almost all sides for going along with Trump.

Ryan’s defiance to Trump, such as it is, can carry an almost pro forma quality. He will avoid or claim ignorance if possible (“I didn’t see the tweet”), chastise the president if he must (rarely by name), wait for the latest outrage to pass, rinse and repeat. “Frankly, I haven’t paid that close attention to it,” said Ryan at a June news conference in which he was asked about the job status of Scott Pruitt, the scandal-drenched E.P.A. administrator who was finally run out of office in July and whose mounting offenses over several months would have been impossible for even the most casual news consumer to miss.

“I can understand all of the rationalities,” says Charlie Sykes, a longtime conservative radio host in Wisconsin who spent years trying to persuade Ryan to run for president before turning sharply against him over Trump. “In a Faustian bargain, you get a lot of things. You get the wealth, you get the beautiful women and you get all this good stuff.”

You get a lot of things, you get all this good stuff – money, cars, fuckable women. Stuff, man.

After our meeting in his office, Ryan addressed a packed house of congressional interns in the Capitol Visitor Center. A former intern himself, Ryan has a well-known Washington origin story: He worked as a waiter at Tortilla Coast, the renowned Capitol Hill bar and restaurant, before being elected to Congress at 28. In his talk to the interns, Ryan encouraged students to resist the temptation of Twitter “snark.” He encouraged them not to “degrade the tone of our debate” and to appeal to our “common humanity.”

In other words, brass-necked hypocrisy.

Ryan prefers to tell Trump how he feels in private. He joins a large group of Trump’s putative allies, many of whom have worked in the administration, who insist that they have shaped Trump’s thinking and behavior in private: the “Trust me, I’ve stopped this from being much worse” approach. “I can look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say I avoided that tragedy, I avoided that tragedy, I avoided that tragedy,” Ryan tells me. “I advanced this goal, I advanced this goal, I advanced this goal.”

I locked in on the word “tragedy.” It sets the mind reeling to whatever thwarted “tragedies” Ryan might be talking about. I asked for an example. “No, I don’t want to do that,” Ryan replied. “That’s more than I usually say.”

Sure, what right do we have to know?

Ryan gave a little lunchtime speech and there was a Q and A afterwards.

Rubenstein also sprang a question about whether Ryan thought it would be proper for Trump to pardon anyone caught up in the Mueller investigation.

“I’m not going to touch that one,” he said. Rubenstein followed up with a related question about whether Trump should be allowed to pardon himself. Ryan laughed. “I’m good, thanks,” he said, as if he were resisting a plate of hors d’oeuvres — not touching that either.

Because this is all a joke. Haha, so funny, having a mob boss running the country.

Rubenstein eventually touched down elsewhere, but the pardon question lingered, at least with me. It came off as a quintessential example of Ryan glibly blowing off what could be a monumental abuse of presidential power and a potentially gigantic crisis. I raised this in the car heading back to the Capitol. His eyes bulged for an instant, as if some defense enzyme had been released.

“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that stuff,” Ryan said of the pardon issue.

“Shouldn’t you?” I said. It’s speculative, to a degree, I allowed. “But if you’re not going to touch that, who is?”

“I don’t think he’s going to do things like that,” Ryan said of Trump.

“He already has,” I said, referring to Trump’s pardoning of lawbreaking allies (Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Dinesh D’Souza).

“No, I’m talking about firing and things like that,” Ryan said.

Trump has already done that too (James Comey) and has reportedly wanted to fire Mueller on at least two occasions. “My point is,” Ryan said, “and I’ve said it all along, Mueller should be able to do his job.”

Ryan seemed to become agitated by this line of questioning. “I’m not going to spend my time being a pundit, theorizing and speculating,” he said. “I’m going to spend my time making a difference in people’s lives, getting stuff done.” Now I was slightly annoyed by Ryan’s reduction of my question to “pundit theorizing,” as if Mueller’s investigation held zero significance to people’s lives. “I’m not going to spend my time getting into these circular debates,” Ryan added. “I’m trying to get an agenda passed.”

I pointed out that if Trump fires Mueller, it might be too late for Ryan to do anything even if he wanted to, and the country could already be well into a constitutional crisis.

“I don’t think — ” Ryan began, then stopped. “He knows my opinion on these things.”

In other words he’s a worthless self-protecting Trump-enabling piece of shit.

How dare rivers flow to the sea? It’s unAmerican.

Aug 6th, 2018 5:19 pm | By

Also on Trump’s busy schedule is attacking California for throwing good water into the ocean instead of using it to put out fires and grow crops.

In his first remarks on the vast California wildfires that have killed at least seven people and forced thousands to flee, President Trump blamed the blazes on the state’s environmental policies and inaccurately claimed that water that could be used to fight the fires was “foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.”

State officials and firefighting experts dismissed the president’s comments, which he posted on Twitter. “We have plenty of water to fight these wildfires, but let’s be clear: It’s our changing climate that is leading to more severe and destructive fires,” said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of Cal Fire, the state’s fire agency.

I guess he hasn’t heard that that’s all a plot of Hillary Clinton and Robert Mueller and the 37 Angry Democrats.

He and others said that Mr. Trump appeared to be referring to a perennial and unrelated water dispute in California between farmers and environmentalists. Farmers have long argued for more water to be allocated to irrigating crops, while environmentalists counter that the state’s rivers would suffer and fish stocks would die.

Ok well that’s what he meant! It’s not what he tweeted but it’s totally what he meant. He meant those awful environmentalists, who don’t want to see all the rivers and aquifers dry up. So unreasonable.

The president first addressed the fires late Sunday, writing on Twitter, “California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized.”

Hmm. So he thinks people fighting fires should just Tap the Power of California’s Mighty Rivers to put the fires out. How, exactly, one wonders – just take a trowel and scratch a little opening in the bank of the nearest river and whoosh, fire’s out? If the nearest river is 50 or 100 or 200 miles away, well, it will take a few minutes longer, but that’s what separates the heroes from the 12 pound environmentalists.

California does not lack water to fight the Carr Fire and others burning across the state, officials said.

Mr. Berlant of Cal Fire declined to speculate on the meaning of Mr. Trump’s statement that water was not being “properly utilized.”

Asked about that line and the president’s claim that water was being diverted into the Pacific, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown, Evan Westrup, said in an email, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

He told you, it’s all been being dumped in the ocean.

Related image

William Stewart, a forestry specialist at the University of California, Berkeley, said he believed Mr. Trump was referring to the battle over allocating water to irrigation versus providing river habitat for fish.

That debate has no bearing on the availability of water for firefighting. Helicopters lower buckets into lakes and ponds to collect water that is then used to douse wildfires, and there is no shortage of water to do so, Cal Fire officials said.

Oh yeah? Oh yeah? I bet if they looked in the ocean they’d find all that missing water.

California water regulators are preparing to negotiate how much water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta should flow to California’s farms and how much should flow down the river and to the ocean to ensure fish have enough fresh water to spawn and hatch. The issue has long pitted environmentalists against the state’s farming communities.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump took on the farmers’ grievances in language similar to his tweets this week.

“You have a water problem that is so insane, it is so ridiculous, where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea,” he said during a May 2016 campaign rally in Fresno. “They have farms up here, and they don’t get water.”

It should all go to the farms. Those stupid fish just waste it, and who wants fish anyway when you can have a burger.

The health of a free and unintimidated press

Aug 6th, 2018 2:33 pm | By

Pete Vernon at Columbia Journalism Review on Trump’s attacks on the press:

As Trump has ratcheted up his media criticism, his supporters have been given the opportunity to show they’re getting the message. A trio of rallies provided scenes of hostility toward journalists doing their jobs, leading to frightening—and increasingly dire—predictions. The New York Times’s Bret Stephens wrote Friday about a threatening voicemail he received, in which the caller said, “I don’t carry an AR but once we start shooting you f—ers you aren’t going to pop off like you do now. You’re worthless, the press is the enemy of the United States people.” Arguing that it’s only a matter of time until one of Trump’s devotees takes the president at his word, Stephens concludes, “We are approaching a day when blood on the newsroom floor will be blood on the president’s hands.

It would be soothing to be able to think that ragey attack speech is inert, but it’s not possible.

Speaking about the venomous scenes from Trump’s Tampa rally, MSNBC’s Katy Tur explained that viewers were only getting part of the story. “What you saw and still see on TV, those boos and those taunts, are only part of it. What you do not see are the nasty letters, or packages, or emails, the threats of physical violence. ‘I hope you get raped and killed,’ one person wrote to me just this week,” Tur said. “So if anyone in the administration cares about the safety and security of journalists, the health of a free and unintimidated press—and by extension our democracy as a whole—please say something to your boss, your dad, your commander-in-chief, before it is too late.”

I know from various Twitter harassment-campaigns that lots of people are willing to make violent threats, and no I’m not confident that every single one of them is just venting.

Below, more on growing fears about the impact of Trump’s words.

  • In their own words: On Sunday’s Reliable Sources, CNN’s Brian Stelter played a clip of a threat broadcast on C-SPAN, in which a caller threatens to shoot Stelter and his colleague Don Lemon.
  • “The enemy of the people”: NPR’s Scott Simon compared Trump’s language to that used by dictators throughout history, adding, “if the president had called reporters nosy, cranky, contentious, or smart-alecky, many reporters would have laughed and agreed. But calling them—us—enemies of the people is the kind of curse made by tyrants.”
  • From words to action: Citing a study by German researchers about the link between politicians’ words and violence against journalists, The Washington Post’s Rick Noack sees parallels to the current state of discourse in the US.

From Barack Obama to this.

It’s all about intent

Aug 6th, 2018 10:27 am | By

Greg Sargent says it’s not just that Trump admitted collusion in That Tweet, and not just that in the process he also admitted the statement he composed about That Meeting was a lie – it’s also that he revealed why.

But what’s also notable is why Trump tweeted this. He was responding to a report in The Post that said this:

Trump has confided to friends and advisers that he is worried the Mueller probe could destroy the lives of what he calls “innocent and decent people” — namely Trump Jr. … As one adviser described the president’s thinking, he does not believe his son purposefully broke the law, but is fearful nonetheless that Trump Jr. inadvertently may have wandered into legal ­jeopardy.

Publicly, at least, Trump is denying that he believes his son is in legal jeopardy. In his tweet, he claimed that this report is “a complete fabrication,” adding that the meeting was “totally legal and done all the time in politics.”

But the actions of Trump himself — and of his lawyers — cast doubt on this claim, and this points to a huge hole in the current spin that Team Trump is attempting. It’s this: Trump and his lawyers keep claiming there was nothing wrong with this meeting — but they keep lying about it.

The old “I didn’t eat the entire cake, and it wouldn’t be bad if I did eat the entire cake” routine.

It is possible, of course, that members of Team Trump only lied repeatedly about the meeting because they thought it was politically, and not legally, problematic. But it’s more likely that The Post’s reporting is correct — that Trump does worry about legal jeopardy. This is reinforced by the fact that Trump keeps pretending, as he did in this tweet, that the very thing that may make this meeting legally problematic — the Russian government’s role — never happened. And if Trump does recognize that, it would provide a reason for trying to obstruct the probe.

But he didn’t try to obstruct it, and if he did that’s fine.

It’s the old “Jewish donors” trope

Aug 6th, 2018 9:59 am | By

The state of this.

Tom Watson has vowed to face down an online campaign to oust him as Labour’s deputy leader after he criticised the party leadership’s handling of the antisemitism row.

Critics of Watson caused the hashtag #ResignWatson to trend on Twitter, after an Observer interview in which he said Labour faced a “vortex of eternal shame” unless it tackled the issue head-on.

The deputy leader called for the party to end disciplinary action against the MPs Ian Austin and Margaret Hodge, who criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the row, and also said Labour should fully adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism and all its examples.

On Monday, the party suspended George McManus, a member of Labour’s national policy forum (NPF), after comments he posted on Facebook about Watson and “Jewish donors”.

McManus, who stood for election to lead the body this year, highlighted donations received by Watson from the businessman Sir Trevor Chinn and wrote: “Apparently Watson received £50,000+ from Jewish donors. At least Judas only got 30 pieces of silver.”

The world’s gone mad.

Happy 44th anniversary

Aug 5th, 2018 5:12 pm | By

Adam Davidson at the New Yorker notes that 44 years ago today Nixon released the “smoking gun tape” after the Supreme Court ruled that he had to; three days later he resigned.

On August 5, 2018, precisely forty-four years after the collapse of the Nixon Presidency, another President, Donald Trump, made his own public admission. In one of a series of early-morning tweets, Trump addressed a meeting that his son Donald, Jr., held with a Russian lawyer affiliated with the Russian government. “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere,” he wrote. “I did not know about it!”

The tweet contains several crucial pieces of information. First, it is a clear admission that Donald Trump, Jr.,’s original statement about the case was inaccurate enough to be considered a lie. He had said the meeting was with an unknown person who “might have information helpful to the campaign,” and that this person “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.” This false statement was, according to his legal team, dictated by the President himself. There was good reason to mislead the American people about that meeting. Based on reporting—at the time and now—of the President’s admission, it was a conscious effort by the President’s son and two of his closest advisers to work with affiliates of the Russian government to obtain information that might sway the U.S. election in Trump’s favor. In short, it was, at minimum, a case of attempted collusion. The tweet indicates that Trump’s defense will continue to be that this attempt at collusion failed—“it went nowhere”—and that, even if it had succeeded, it would have been “totally legal and done all the time.” It is unclear why, if the meeting was entirely proper, it was important for the President to declare “I did not know about it!” or to tell the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, to “stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now.”

Because Trump is too stupid not to try every possible lie, including those that contradict each other.

The President’s Sunday-morning tweet should be seen as a turning point. It doesn’t teach us anything new—most students of the case already understand what Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner knew about that Trump Tower meeting. But it ends any possibility of an alternative explanation. We can all move forward understanding that there is a clear fact pattern about which there is no dispute:

  • The President’s son and top advisers knowingly met with individuals connected to the Russian government, hoping to obtain dirt on their political opponent.
  • Documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee and members of the Clinton campaign were later used in an overt effort to sway the election.
  • When the Trump Tower meeting was uncovered, the President instructed his son and staff to lie about the meeting, and told them precisely which lies to use.
  • The President is attempting to end the investigation into this meeting and other instances of attempted collusion between his campaign staff and representatives of the Russian government.

So, now what? Who knows.


Aug 5th, 2018 3:41 pm | By

My goodness, woke activism gets more surprising every day. Here’s @transphilosophr, who describes herself thus:

Writer. Ex-academic philosopher. @RebelMouse | Forthcoming book “Transgressive: A Trans Woman on Gender, Feminism and Politics” with @JKPBooks #WomenInTech

And here’s how she talks about “TERFs” – i.e. women she doesn’t like.

Women smell like fish, haw haw haw.

That’s a misogynist “joke” that goes back as far as jokes, but she’s insisting that it’s about logic and they just don’t get her philosophical profundity.


Enveloped in the smell of death

Aug 5th, 2018 11:35 am | By


It just will not end. We may be witnessing the complete collapse of the ecosystem. Much of [southwest Florida] now enveloped in the smell of death.

This is just one canal. People are reporting the smell up to 15 miles inland.

Sad times. Still no Mainstream Media Coverage. Please share.

Image may contain: outdoor and water

From the Times on July 30:

Florida has an algae problem, and it’s big. This year, an overgrowth in the waters off the state’s southwestern coast is killing wildlife and making some beaches noxious.

The toxic algal bloom, known as a red tide, is not unusual. Red tides appear off the state’s coast almost every year. But this one, still going strong after roughly nine months, is the longest since 2006, when blooms that originated in 2004 finally abated after 17 months.

The blooms can poison marine animals like sea turtles and manatees, while waves and ocean spray can carry toxins into the air and cause respiratory problems in people.

Climate change is expected to intensify the freshwater algal blooms, according to Timothy Davis, associate professor of biology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

“They really flourish in warm waters,” he said. Also, increased rainfall can bring more nutrients into lakes. “We’re expecting to see larger blooms that last longer and could potentially be more toxic.”

Very bad.

Totally legit, and he knew nothing about it anyway

Aug 5th, 2018 10:32 am | By

It was totally legal, it’s done all the time – plus, also, he knew nothing about it! Just in case it turns out it wasn’t totally legal, or in fact legal at all, even slightly. Belt and braces, people, belt and braces.

A feminist foreign policy

Aug 5th, 2018 10:03 am | By

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström points out that “it’s our/their culture” is not a blank check to violate women’s rights.

I want to reflect on the word “culture”, and the way that it is used to justify the oppression of women. I believe firmly that culture should never be accepted as an excuse for the oppression of women.

“Culture” is typically defined by sociologists as a set of values, norms and beliefs among a group.  It may refer to the traditional culture in Afghanistan, of football fans in Argentina, or of university students in Sweden. Let me clarify what I mean by the “oppression” of women. I use the term to mean all instances when a woman is restricted because of her gender—whether she is explicitly discriminated against under the law or unfairly treated and looked down upon.

Not all oppression of women around the world can be explained by culture and, of course, not all cultures include the oppression of women. But the instances of it are many and varied: from the woman who is forced to marry against her will in the name of religion to the woman who is expected to put up with sexual harassment at work, because “that is just the way it is.”

I disagree with one bit of that – I think all cultures do include the oppression of women.

Saying that the oppression of women exists in all societies does not mean it is the same everywhere. The situation is worse in some cultures, and it does no good to pretend otherwise.

To what extent is this a problem? Should we not respect the fact that some cultures mean a lot to some people, and that cultural differences regarding the roles of men and women should be accepted?

No, because cultures include dissent and oppression and rebellion, and we shouldn’t “respect” the meaningfulness of cultures by siding with the dominant members.

Four years ago, Sweden was the first country in the world to launch a feminist foreign policy. The notion of feminism is provocative to some people, but to us, feminism means that women and men should have the same rights, duties and opportunities. Or as the aphorism goes, feminism is “the radical notion that women are human beings.”

Our simple model is based on three Rs: rights, representation and resources.

Using these categories in any country where we have an embassy, we assess the practical realities of daily life. Do women and girls have the same rights—the right to education, to work, to marry whom they want, to divorce, to run businesses, to open bank accounts, etc? Are women represented where decisions are made that affect them—in government, parliament, local assemblies, businesses and organisations? Do women’s and girls’ interests receive the same resources—in budgets, in development cooperation?

Wherever we identify inequality, we think of what we can do to remove it. In practice, this means that we have been pushing for the Women, Peace and Security agenda in the UN Security Council, where Sweden is a non-permanent member. We have initiated a network of women peace negotiators who are active all over the world.

We have given a lot of support to women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and provided funding for midwives in Eastern Africa. And our 108 embassies around the world are relentlessly organising events, creating attention and support for women’s issues.

Further reading: Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? by Susan Moller Okin

He thinks it would be great

Aug 5th, 2018 9:02 am | By

The Post has another long story on how much more wack Trump is this week than he was last week. I just want to point to the final item in the story.

Trump made a surprise call into Rush Limbaugh’s radio talk show Wednesday to congratulate the conservative icon on his 30th anniversary on the air. Trump mused aloud with Limbaugh about whether it would be more politically advantageous for him to shut down the government over border wall funding before or after the November elections.

“I’ve heard a lot of people saying, ‘Oh, don’t do it before the election. We’ll upset the applecart,’ ” Trump said. But, he added, “I actually think it’s a great campaign issue. I think it would be great before.”

That’s a novelty – a president talking about a future (planned, chosen, aimed for) shutdown of the government as if it were an exciting fun beneficial thing. It’s as if he were rejoicing at a hurricane or tornado or earthquake, only more so because he’s the one planning to do the shutting down. This is how much attention he pays to the overall well-being of the people.

Working to do good things

Aug 4th, 2018 6:25 pm | By

Queen Melania dissents:

The US first lady, Melania Trump, said she would be open to visiting the NBA superstar LeBron James’s new public school, the day after her husband questioned the Los Angeles Lakers player’s intelligence.

Donald Trump insulted James on Friday night hours after CNN re-aired an interview with the basketball player and reporter Don Lemon. “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon,” Trump said. “He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.”

Many, including professional athletes and the Republican governor of Ohio, were critical of Trump’s statements.

On Saturday afternoon, Melania Trump also issued a surprising, positive statement about James, but did not reference her husband.

“It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today,” a statement provided by her spokeswoman said.

It’s not much, but it’s an improvement on the I really don’t care jacket.

Because Donald Trump mentioned the NBA legend and Charlotte Hornets principal owner Michael Jordan in the tweet – ending with “I like Mike!” – Jordan also weighed in.

“I support LJ,” Jordan said in a statement. “He’s doing an amazing job for his community.”

James, one of the most prominent athletes in the US, has been critical of Trump for years.

In September 2017, James called Trump a “bum” for rescinding his invitation to the Golden State Warriors to celebrate their basketball championship with a visit to the White House.

“Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!” James tweeted at the time.

He wasn’t wrong.

Not a costume party

Aug 4th, 2018 12:09 pm | By

This is one of those times when the kind and courteous agreement to call men who have transitioned to being trans women “women” with no further qualification is not a good plan. People who go into convenience stores to swing axes at random shoppers are rarely female.

The headline: Sydney axe attack: Woman guilty of trying to kill strangers

The text:

A woman who attacked two people with an axe in an Australian convenience store has been convicted of attempted murder.

Evie Amati, 26, carried out the unprovoked attack in Sydney last year.

After entering the 7-Eleven store, Amati used the axe to strike a man in the face and a woman in the back of the head. Both victims suffered serious injuries.

Amati had pleaded not guilty, arguing that she was experiencing a psychosis at the time of the attack.

The New South Wales District Court convicted her of three charges on Friday, after almost two days of deliberations by a jury.

During the trial, the court heard that Amati’s victims thought she had come from a costume party when she entered the store about 02:00 on 7 January last year.

CCTV footage shows Evie Amati swinging an axe at Ben Rimmer

See the axe? It connected, knocking the guy down and breaking his face.

Amati attacked her second victim, Sharon Hacker, near the door, leaving her with a fractured skull.

Amati then attempted to strike a third person, Shane Redwood, outside the store, but he managed to use his backpack as a shield. She was arrested shortly later.

Her lawyer, Charles Waterstreet, told the court that she had been “out of her mind” at the time, and was affected by drugs, alcohol and prescription medication.

Amati testified that her mental health had declined after she began taking hormones to transition from male to female.

And that’s how long it took the BBC to make clear that Amati is trans. Most people reading the story won’t have read that far.

Guest post: None of the traits of intelligence, and all of the traits of enormous ego

Aug 4th, 2018 11:28 am | By

Originally a comment by iknklast on Shame.

One problem Trump has is that he doesn’t recognize the limits of his knowledge. When he “knows” something, he “knows” it better than anyone else, and anyone disagreeing with him must be wrong. He sees highly intelligent people as stupid because of categories (black, Mexican, woman, Muslim) that are arbitrary in most cases, and have nothing to do with intelligence. And these highly intelligent people speak in a way he cannot understand, and call out his lies, and disagree with him, and since he (DJT) knows everything, even things no one else knows, they must be wrong; therefore, stupid.

Even if they were wrong, being wrong doesn’t equate with being stupid, but only with being wrong. If you are able to realize and recognize the possibility that you might be wrong, that is a sign of intelligence. DJT cannot do that. If you are able to recognize that there are things you do not know, that is not stupid, it is a sign of intelligence. DJT cannot do that. If you are willing to spend hours on end learning, even about the field in which you are an acknowledged expert (because who knows everything even about their own field in this complicated world?), that is not a sign of being stupid, but a sign of being intelligent. DJT cannot do that. If you recognize that you can learn something from everyone, even the most uneducated, unskilled person might know something you don’t know, that is not a sign of being stupid, but a sign of being intelligent. DJT cannot do that.

Because Trump has none of the traits of intelligence, and all of the traits of enormous ego, he can only deal with his inability to engage with these smart people by calling them dumb. And his followers, many of whom also lack one or more of those traits listed in the above paragraph, follow right along with him, because pulling everyone else down underneath you (dumbest, not just dumb – they are all the -est) puts you at the top.

This isn’t to deny that the Trump followers have skill sets and knowledge, at least in their own fields, but to note that those do not necessarily equate to high order intelligence. It may not be in the basic knowledge that they are lacking, but in the ability to recognize their own limitations, and in their ability to have compassion for other people who are not like them.


Aug 4th, 2018 10:17 am | By

To expand on the point a little, Trump’s fake “university” (yes fake AND scare quotes because it’s just that fake) charged thousands of dollars for real estate tips you could learn from a pamphlet.


Trump University (also known as the Trump Wealth Institute and Trump Entrepreneur Initiative LLC) was an American for-profit education company that ran a real estate training program from 2005 until 2010. It was owned and operated by The Trump Organization. (A separate organization, Trump Institute, was licensed by Trump University but not owned by the Trump Organization.) After multiple lawsuits, it is now defunct. It was founded by Donald Trump and his associates, Michael Sexton and Jonathan Spitalny, in 2004. The company offered courses in real estate, asset management, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation.[2]

The organization was not an accredited university or college. It did not confer college credit, grant degrees, or grade its students.[3]

Typically the instruction began with an introductory seminar in rented space such as a hotel ballroom. At the introductory seminar, students were urged to sign up for additional classes, ranging from $1495 seminars to a $35,000 “Gold Elite” program.[9] Records produced indicate 7611 tickets in total were sold to customers attending courses.[10] Approximately 6000 of these tickets were for a $1,500 3-day course and 1000 tickets were for silver, gold or elite mentored courses ranging in price from $10,000 to $35,000.[11][10]

Quartz has more details:

Trump has also opened a school. But in a class-action complaint filed against Trump in 2013, Trump University students alleged that the for-profit organization ripped them off. Among other things, the unaccredited “university” misrepresented Trump’s personal involvement and mischaracterized itself as an elite school with professors, they said.

Says one complaint:

Defendant uniformly misled Plaintiff and the Class that they would learn Donald Trump’s real estate secrets through him and his handpicked professors at his elite “University.” The misleading nature of the enterprise is embodied by its very name. That is because, though Defendant promised “Trump University,” he delivered neither Donald Trump nor a University.

The same complaint quotes marketing material from Trump:

We’re going to have professors and adjunct professors that are absolutely terrific. Terrific people. Terrific brains. Successful. The best. We are going to have the best of the best. And, honestly, if you don’t learn from them, if you don’t learn from me, if you don’t learn from the people that we’re going to be putting forward, and these are all people that are handpicked by me, then, you’re just not gonna make it in terms of the world of success. And that’s okay, but you’re not gonna make it in terms of success.

The New York State Education Department rebuked the now-defunct company for its misleading use of “university,” and the Better Business Bureau has never accredited the organization.

Now what about LeBron James’s school?

LeBron James returned to Ohio this week—but not to play for his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

This time, he was back to welcome the inaugural class of the I Promise school, a public, non-charter school for at-risk kids in Akron, Ohio. James helped create the school via his foundation, the LeBron James Family Foundation, in partnership with Akron Public Schools. The school opened earlier this week to a group of 240 third- and fourth-grade students; by 2022, it is expected to accommodate children in first through eighth grades.

James was motivated to launch the school thanks to his own experience growing up as an inner-city kid in Ohio. As James told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, part of the reason the school is beginning with kids in third- and fourth-grade is because that’s when he believes kids begin to succumb to chronic absenteeism and outside pressures. “In the fourth grade, I missed 80 days of school,” he told Nichols.

At the I Promise school, tuition is free for all students, who were randomly selected among all Akron public school students between one to two years behind their peers in reading. Students get free uniforms, free meals and snacks during the school day, and free transportation to school. Every kid also gets a free bicycle and helmet, as James has said that having access to his own set of wheels gave him a way to escape from dangerous parts of his neighborhood and the freedom to explore during his childhood. And in a nod to the realities of the way schoolwork gets done in the digital age, every kid gets a free Chromebook, too.

And there’s a food pantry, there’s help for parents looking for housing, there’s support for teachers, and more.

Green light

Aug 4th, 2018 9:49 am | By

I’m seeing people say never mind what he tweets, focus on what he does – but what he says is what he does, and it’s far from mere fluff or distraction. His open shameless angry racism gives the green light to millions of other angry shameless racists, and they do things, from Charlottesville-type riots to not hiring or promoting or renting to people of Other Races to harassment and violence. The proud noisy ragey racism of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES encourages and incites racists everywhere. This shit matters.


Aug 4th, 2018 9:13 am | By

Racist US president is at it again.

James is a basketball player; Lemon is a CNN news anchor. Both are African-American. This is our president: a deeply stupid corrupt white man who likes to use his position to call influential black people stupid. (See: Maxine Waters, repeatedly.)

Funny thing: I had no clue who Don Lemon was until Trump was elected. Trump’s election prompted me to watch his show now and then, and I tell you what, he is the opposite of “dumb.” It’s because of Trump that I know that.

I know; clearly Trump likes to call prominent highly intelligent black people “dumb” because he feels threatened by them, yadda yadda, but I really don’t care. I care about the scalding shame and disgrace that this loathsome turd of a man is “our” president.

More bums in beds

Aug 3rd, 2018 4:50 pm | By

Well at least this mess is good for business at Trump’s hotel in Manhattan.

The general manager of the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan had a rare bit of good news to report to investors this spring: After two years of decline, revenue from room rentals went up 13 percent in the first three months of 2018.

What caused the uptick at President Trump’s flagship hotel in New York? One major factor: “a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” wrote general manager Prince A. Sanders in a May 15 letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

The royals didn’t stay at Trump’s hotel because well, frankly, it’s crap, isn’t it, but they sent a crowd of underlings there.

The previously unreported letter — describing a five-day stay in March that was enough to boost the hotel’s revenue for the entire quarter — shows how little is known about the business that the president’s company does with foreign officials.

Such transactions have fueled criticism that Trump is reaping revenue from foreign governments, even as he controls U.S. foreign policy toward those countries.

Let’s put that less evasively, shall we? Such transactions demonstrate that Trump is indeed using the presidency to make money, in other words that he is acting corruptly.

Last week, a federal judge in Maryland gave the go-ahead to a lawsuit alleging that by accepting government business at his properties, Trump is violating the Constitution’s “emoluments clauses” — dusty 18th-century measures meant to prevent presidents from putting their private bank accounts ahead of the public interest.

If it stands, the ruling could force the company to provide new details about its relationships with foreign governments, states and even federal agencies.

Why hasn’t it come up before? I’m guessing it’s because most presidents are content to wait until after they leave office to start raking it in, because they actually don’t want to tarnish their reputations by selling Presidential Hotel Stays right alongside the more serious work they’re supposed to be doing.

On Friday, after this story was published online, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced that she was already conducting a separate investigation asking if Trump had violated the emoluments clause at his businesses in New York.

Georgetown University law professor John Mikhail, who has been studying the emoluments clauses, said these inquiries together could shatter the veil of privacy that Trump’s company has maintained — even while its owner is in the White House.

“He has very constantly refused to conform to well-established norms about conflict of interest and corruption and the appearance of corruption,” Mikhail said. “At some point in time, he may be told by a court: ‘You lose. You have to comply.’”

Here’s hoping.

Some sunny day

Aug 3rd, 2018 11:41 am | By

On the one hand CNN and the Post and the Times are The Enemy, and on the other hand…

4,229 lies

Aug 3rd, 2018 11:18 am | By

Trump is lying more than ever.

As of day 558, he’s made 4,229 Trumpian claims — an increase of 978 in just two months.

That’s an overall average of nearly 7.6 claims a day.

When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. But the average number of claims per day keeps climbing the longer Trump stays in office. In fact, in June and July, the president averaged 16 claims a day.

Put another way: In his first year as president, Trump made 2,140 false or misleading claims. Now, just six months later, he has almost doubled that total.

He loves doing it, and so far he’s gotten away with it…plus of course he has no shred of any sense that he ought not to do it.

On July 5, the president reached a new daily high of 79 false and misleading claims. On a monthly basis, June and July rank in first and second place, with 532 and 446 claims, respectively.

Trump has a proclivity to repeat, over and over, many of his false or misleading statements. We’ve counted nearly 150 claims that the president has repeated at least three times, some with breathtaking frequency.

Much of it is on economics, where he takes credit for things he didn’t do; much is on immigration and “the wall”; much is on “the witch hunt” that is in no sense a witch hunt.

Misleading claims about taxes — now at 336 — are also a common feature of Trump’s speeches. Eighty-eight times, he has made the false assertion that he passed the biggest tax cut in U.S. history.

On foreign policy, the president consistently misstates NATO spending. More than 60 times, he has falsely said the United States pays as much as 90 percent of the alliance’s costs and that other NATO members “owe” money. But he is conflating overall defense spending with NATO obligations — and the United States, unlike many NATO allies, has global responsibilities.

Susan Glasser at the New Yorker:

These astonishing statistics were compiled by a small team overseen by Glenn Kessler, the editor and chief writer of the Post’s Fact Checker column, who for much of the last decade has been truth-squadding politicians and doling out Pinocchios for their exaggerations, misrepresentations, distortions, and otherwise false claims. At this point, Kessler practically has a Ph.D. in the anthropology of the Washington lie, a long and storied art form which has always had skilled practitioners of both parties. But Trump has challenged the Fact Checker, Kessler told me over coffee this week, in ways that have tested the very premise of the column. The President, for example, has a habit of repeating the same falsehoods over and over again, especially as they concern his core political causes, such as trade or immigration or getting European allies to contribute more to NATO. What should Kessler do, he often asks himself, when Trump repeats a four-Pinocchio whopper?

And what should we do? What can we do?

History books will likely declare the last few months a turning point in the Trump Presidency, and Kessler’s laborious work gives us metrics that confirm what is becoming more and more apparent: the recent wave of misstatements is both a reflection of Trump’s increasingly unbound Presidency and a signal attribute of it. The upsurge provides empirical evidence that Trump, in recent months, has felt more confident running his White House as he pleases, keeping his own counsel, and saying and doing what he wants when he wants to. The fact that Trump, while historically unpopular with the American public as a whole, has retained the loyalty of more than eighty per cent of Republicans—the group at which his lies seem to be aimed—means we are in for much more, as a midterm election approaches that may determine whether Trump is impeached by a newly Democratic Congress. At this point, the falsehoods are as much a part of his political identity as his floppy orange hair and the “Make America Great Again” slogan. The untruths, Kessler told me, are Trump’s political “secret sauce.”

Which makes sense because he’s always been famous for that, as well as for the vulgarity and bullying and cheating. He’s a big hit with his “base” because he’s a shameless nonstop liar. This is where we are.