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.

Self-sealing

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.”

Link

A quickie

I tend to think of Nixon’s second term as “Watergate break-in, yada yada yada…Nixon resigns.” But there were two years between those events. I continue to hope that Trump will meet a similar end, but even if we follow a similar timeline, we’re not even through the first “ya.”

Ugh. 

Trump’s trail of tears

I’m assuming this is more or less how the whole “Let’s bomb Syria!” thing went down.

INT. White house

DONALD TRUMP is sitting with several aides discussing recent events in Syria. There is a loose pile of documents and photos on the table in front of them.

AIDE #1

We have an update on Assad’s recent chemical attack. There are some indications‑‑

TRUMP

Oh my god, are these babies?

AIDE #1

Sir?

TRUMP

That photo. Are those babies who were hurt in the bombing?

AIDE #1

Yes, sir. Current reports are that there were seventy or more casualties, most civilian.

TRUMP

(Starting to weep)

But they’re just babies!

AIDE #1

Yes, sir.

TRUMP

But‑‑ but that’s horrible! Babies!

TRUMP’s eyes well up with tears as he stares at the photos. There is a moment of silence as if everyone around the table is holding their collective breath. Then TRUMP suddenly bursts into tears, wailing inconsolably.

TRUMP

No! They’re babies! How can this happen? And that one! That one! I can’t believe it!

AIDE #1

Sir?

TRUMP

Look how hot that one’s mother probably is!

TRUMP continues to wail, while everyone else looks uncomfortable. TRUMP starts slowly beating his head on the table.

AIDE #2

Sir? If I may make a suggestion? Sir?

The AIDE tentatively puts his hand on TRUMP’s shoulder. TRUMP lifts his head. His face is streaked with tears and he has snot bubbling out of his nose.

TRUMP

What?

AIDE #2

Perhaps we could bomb them?

TRUMP

(Still sniffling, but this idea clearly brightens his mood)

Really?

AIDE #2

Yes, sir. This is America. It’s what we do.

TRUMP

Could we bomb them a lot?

AIDE #1

Well, let’s start small and see how it goes.

TRUMP

Can I watch it on TV?

AIDE #1

Uh, sure.

AIDE #2

This is America.

Satire vs. News

Vox has a good piece on how satirists are doing a better job covering the Trump administration than news networks. This isn’t a surprise to anyone who remembers what it was like during the last GOP administration, but it’s a good reminder. However, as far as I can tell they neglected to provide links to the various shows they reference. So as a public service, here are links to the YouTube channels for the key folks they showed clips from:

FWIW, I’ve been watching all of these on a regular basis, and they are all killing it. Seth is probably the least barbed of the bunch, but his “A Closer Look” segment is very good. John Oliver easily goes into the most depth on his show, with Samantha Bee close behind (I may give her the prize for “most barbed”). Colbert probably has the most enthusiastic audience at this point, and it’s good to see the occasional “The Word” segment in addition to his monologues. None of them are pulling any punches.

A dream I had

Chandra and I are at home, and the house suddenly drops about four feet. After a brief moment, it starts tumbling end over end. Chandra yells, "What's happening?" I calmly reply, "I think we're gonna die."

Searching for signs of hope

A few random thoughts I have wedged in my head.

  • OMG that Trump press conference was a disaster. Does anyone really believe that pile of paper and manila folders had anything of substance in them? And if we’re living in Nazi Germany as Donald suggested, what does that make him? And does he always have to have sycophants in the room to applaud him? When he has to make an address from the White House, will he have canned applause? The attempt to intimidate reporters in the room was alarming, but it also strikes me as a sign of extreme weakness.
  • I don’t care if the allegations of Donald hiring prostitutes to piss on a bed are unprovable. We know he likes to dominate people, has a thing for young women, and is generally a disgusting human being. That’s enough evidence for me to believe he would do it. I’m pretty sure it’s enough for a lot of other people, too.
  • I saw an article (in Salon?) earlier in the week that argued we might quickly find ourselves suffering from scandal fatigue the same way we did during Bill Clinton’s administration. There may be something to that, but I would suggest there is a major difference between the two. In Clinton’s case, the vast majority of the scandals turned out to be much ado about nothing. To this day, I couldn’t tell you what Whitewater was all about, and if memory serves that’s what was behind nearly all the storm und drang. In Trump’s case, he is the driver behind all the scandals and controversy. For Clinton, the frustration was a Congress that led an eight-year crusade against him. For Trump, the frustration could very well be that Congress isn’t doing enough.
  • Obamacare, aka the ACA (yes, they are the same thing in case you didn’t know), may very well be screwed, along with large chunks of the population. There have been a few signs of the GOP getting a clue that repeal isn’t the most awesome idea they’ve ever had, but Senate and House votes late in the week to shove through cuts in budget reconciliation don’t bode well.
  • One of the things I personally want to see is for norms Trump is violating to take on the force of law. There have been signs of this, but as long as the GOP controls everything, we can’t expect too much beyond Democrats proposing legislation to make a point.
  • Two investigations of note: one from the DOJ Inspector General into actions by the FBI and DOJ prior to the 2016 election, and one from the Senate Intelligence Committee into Russia-Trump links. These seem like big deals, and could be the first concrete steps towards nailing down what’s happened, and is happening.
  • As a general rule, I don’t like the idea of impeachment talk before someone has even taken office, but the Trump administration is a different beast. Given how he is indifferent at best to ethics and conflict of interest concerns, not to mention being in bed (a phrase I would have used even before the compromat news this past week) with the Russians, it needs to be clear that any and all investigations have impeachment as a potential end state. That’s where the two investigations above strike me as important. They are signs that even as much as the GOP sticks to their own, they at some level recognize the danger Trump poses. If things get bad enough, maybe they’ll actually do something out of a sense of self-preservation if nothing else. In fact, here’s a fun tidbit about impeachment— an Irish bookmaker is offering odds on just that:

Powers was offering 8-to-1 odds that Trump will be impeached, adding “I’d have a sneaky $10 on that one.” After Trump held his press conference,  the bookmakers adjusted the line down to 4-to-1. It’s probably still worth the sneaky $1

  • There’s also the new FEC investigation. I’m sure the DC Trump hotel will trigger another one, since he’ll be in violation of that lease as soon as he takes office.
  • 661 days until the 2018 mid-term elections.