The Trump administration, and I might argue to a large extent the Republican Party, has been leading up to a need to impose a distorted reality and a kind of imperviousness to facts onto others. Facts and evidence almost do not matter. What matters is the emotional commitment to either an ideology or what they believe will make America great again, restore their position, or give them the kind of pride or self-esteem that they feel they have lost.
First this, from Foreign Policy, emphasis added:
NATO is scrambling to tailor its upcoming meeting to avoid taxing President Donald Trump’s notoriously short attention span. The alliance is telling heads of state to limit talks to two to four minutes at a time during the discussion, several sources inside NATO and former senior U.S. officials tell Foreign Policy. And the alliance scrapped plans to publish the traditional full post-meeting statement meant to crystallize NATO’s latest strategic stance.
Two to four minutes is about as long as a typical pop song. However, there are lots of other songs that are longer than that, which presumably Trump doesn’t have the attention span for. I’ll repeat: Trump’s attention span is too short for many popular songs. My own personal library includes 2,283 songs that are longer than that. Here are some we’ll say randomly selected titles that he would presumably never hear in their entirety:
- Case of the Fake People, TLC
- Burning Down the House, Talking Heads (From the movie “Stop Making Sense”)
- Under Pressure, Queen & David Bowie
- Super Stupid, Funkadelic
- Deep Dark Truthful Mirror, Elvis Costello
- Out of Touch, Hall & Oates
- Terrified, Childish Gambino
- I Pity the Poor Immigrant, Bob Dylan
- Big Shot, Billy Joel
- Won’t Get Fooled Again, The Who
- Spy in the House of Love, Was Not Was
- Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey, Sly & The Family Stone
- Murder By Numbers, The Police
- Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful, Paloma Faith
- Circle the Drain, Katy Perry
- I’m Paying Taxes, What Am I Buyin’, The J.B.’s & Fred Wesley
- The Sound of Failure/It’s Dark…Is It Always This Dark??, The Flaming Lips
- The Pinocchio Theory, Bootsy Collins
- Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues, Bob Dylan
Too bad, because there might be some lessons there.
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But the blowback from Comey’s firing left the White House reeling once again. Trump’s visible anger and erratic tweets prompted a reporter to ask Spicer on Friday if the president was “out of control.”
“That’s, frankly, offensive,” Spicer said.
I’ll take that as a “Yes,” then.
With the firing of Comey this week, we’ve seen yet another cycle of Trump doing something simultaneously alarming and stupid that’s left the entire country reeling. As always, part of this cycle includes cries for the GOP to recognize the horrors of his actions and actually do something about them. And again, as always, we get a few timid protests from the typical sources (Graham, McCain chief among them), but for the most part the GOP falls in line and lets Trump do whatever the hell he wants. At some point, this cycle has to break, though.
Here’s what I really don’t get. Trump’s poll numbers are in the shitter, and have been for some time. Nor are they showing any sign of changing direction. The GOP’s polling numbers are similarly weak, and their policies are not popular, as we’re seeing in vivid detail with AHCA. By continuing to suck up to Trump, they are not doing themselves any favors. If things keep going the way they are now, even with all the advantages gerrymandering and political-party-as-tribe have given them, the 2018 mid-terms are going to be a bloodbath for them. At what point do they recognize this and course correct?
My recommendation to Republicans would be to take the Comey firing as an opportunity to drop actual legislation (such as health care) that’s going to be a sure loser in the long run, and focus attention on Trump and the cavalcade of corruption that surrounds him. They would get to preen for the cameras for the next several months and stand up for America, all while letting the memory of healthcare reform fade away. With the weight of Fox News et al behind them, I have no doubt they could push Trump out of office. Unless he’s implicated too, Pence should come into office with more public support than Trump has, and they can return to their normal agenda. All this may still be putting party before country, but it will at least be less blatant.
What Keeley is referring to here includes what’s come to be known as conspiracy theory’s “self-sealing” characteristic: if evidence against the conspiracy theory comes from a new source Y, the theory expands to include Y as part of the conspiracy. This self-sealing property is key to how global warming denialists have come to believe that vast majority of the world’s climate scientists are involved in perpetuating a “hoax,” as Donald Trump has called it. “As a result of this process,” Keeley writes, “an initial claim that a small group of people is conspiring gives way to claims of larger and larger conspiracies.”
The idea of America has been at the heart of our success in the world for 70 years. For all our imperfections, we have embodied political and economic openness, respect for human dignity and a sense of possibility. The power of our example has mattered more than the power of our preaching, and enlightened self-interest has driven our strategy.
Ivanka’s company won approval for Chinese trademarks on the same day she dined with President Xi