January, 2018 archive
Robert Reich suggests the media practice truth in labeling as regards Donald Trump’s words and deeds. Here’s one of his points; follow the link for the other five (emphasis in the original):
Baloney. They’re lies, plain and simple.
Early last year, the Wall Street Journal’s editor in chief insisted that the Journal wouldn’t label Trump’s false statements as “lies.” Lying, said the editor, requires a deliberate intention to mislead, which couldn’t be proved in Trump’s case.
Wrong. Normal presidents may exaggerate; some occasionally lie. But Trump has taken lying to an entirely new level. He lies like other people breathe. Almost nothing that comes out of his mouth can be assumed to be true.
For Trump, lying is part of his overall strategy, his M.O. and his pathology. Not to call them lies, or to not deem him a liar, is itself misleading.
Paul Krugman points out that you cannot make a deal with someone who cannot be trusted. A snippet:
On Friday night, something unprecedented happened: The U.S. government shut down temporarily even though the same party controls both Congress and the White House. Why? Because when it comes to Trump, a deal isn’t a deal — it’s just words he feels free to ignore a few days later.
There are two things you need to realize about Trump’s utter unreliability. First, it has ramifications that go far beyond the recent shutdown. Second, it’s made possible, or at least much worse, by his enablers in Congress.
Alfed Doblin comments on the Republican Party’s reaction to Senator Cory Booker’s criticism of the (likely feigned) amnesia of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. You will recall that, in the manner of Jeff Sessions, she had an attack of “I can’t recall” while testifying before a Senate Committee.
Ass background, the Republican Party sent a mailer criticizing Booker for, for lack of a better word, being uppity.
Booker just got pulled over for driving while black. If some diminutive white senator had done the same thing, few would be outraged. Where was the Republican outrage over the grilling of Hillary Clinton, on her emails or Benghazi?
Silence is not acceptable when racism rears its ugly head. It was not acceptable when Trump promoted the “birther movement” against Obama, and in light of that, it is impossible to dismiss what Trump allegedly said as “tough language.” Racism is linear. It moves chronologically from slavery to Jim Crow to saying that there are some good people on both sides of a violent, white supremacist rally.
Some Republicans want to play the “sexism” card, but it’s the “race” card that is on the table.
Be polite to your friends.
“From what I heard, they were best of friends,” Gomez said.
Woodcock and the other party-goers apparently had been drinking alcohol before he went back to his bedroom.
“He went into his bedroom, came back out, had a handgun, the handgun went off and struck Mr. Skillman in the chest,” Gomez said.
I think Farron’s harping on the Hatch Act was a bit overboard, though it may (I am not a lawyer) be technically accurate. The lies of a lying liar is the primary issue.
Dick Polman quotes someone about where problems start.
On the eve of the 2013 government shutdown, a cable TV pundit opined: “Who is going to take the blame? Who is going to bear the brunt of responsibility? It always has to be the top. Problems start from the top and they have to get solved from the top and the president is the leader and he’s got to get everybody in a room and he’s got to lead.”
So said beauty pageant magnate Donald Trump.
He goes on to provide evidence of the validity of that statement.
The Des Moines Register’s Rekha Basu comments on a proposal in the Iowa legislature to teach Bible studies in Iowa public schools. The studies will masquerade as “historical.”
The promoters of the bill argue that the Bible is central to American heritage, when, in fact, it is not. With the exception of the Massachusetts Puritans and the Rhode Island Baptists (who founded Rhode Island to escape the oppression of the Puritans–look it up), most of the colonists were spectacularly apathetic to religion; they were more interested in gold than in godliness. (Religion did not become a significant factor in American public life until the “Great Awakening” of the 1830s.)
Here’s a bit of her column:
So my worry is the opposite of Zahn’s (the primary sponsor of the bill–ed.). It’s that with all these politically motivated versions of truth being floated out there, including denials about evolution and climate change, Americans are at risk of confusing religious beliefs with provable fact. That could really put our democracy in peril.
Zahn’s contention that American values “did not spring from the cornucopia of ‘world religions’ but specifically from the Judeo-Christian scriptures” hints at something else, a mindset that America is not a place for a new immigrant population of different faiths. It has disturbing echoes of Rep. Steve King’s contention that America can’t restore its civilization with “someone else’s babies.”
Lee interviews Ted Rall and Harmon Leon about their recent book about Leon’s infiltrating the deplorables. They offer a taxonomy of deplorability. (Warning: Language.)
I disagree somewhat with Ted Rall’s view that Donald Trump has continued President Obama’s foreign policy for two reasons, though I share is discomfort with raining robotic death from the skies.
I think Rall has an overly simplistic view of the agency of any president in foreign policy and discounts the pressures of public opinion as it bears on a president’s power, and I think it is arguable that Donald Trump has no policy, foreign or domestic, other than self-aggrandisement and narcissism.
Almost a year ago, I predicted that, in the time of Trumpery, the U. S. was on its way to becoming a pariah nation.
At Psychology Today Blogs, Steve Taylor takes issue with evolutionary psychologists who suggest “racism is prevalent because it was beneficial for early human beings to deprive other groups of resources.” Looking at the behavior of hunter-gatherer communities that still exist in isolated areas, such as the upper reaches of the Amazon River, he finds little evidence to support that reasoning.
He offers an alternative view. Here’s a snippet:
An alternative view is that racism (and xenophobia of all kinds) does not have a genetic or evolutionary basis, but is primarily a psychological trait – more specifically, a psychological defence mechanism generated by feelings of insecurity and anxiety. There is some evidence for this view from the psychological theory of ‘terror management.’ Research has shown that when people are given reminders of their own mortality, they feel a sense of anxiety and insecurity, which they respond to by becoming more prone to status-seeking, materialism, greed, prejudice and aggression. They are more likely to conform to culturally accepted attitudes, and to identify with their national or ethnic groups. According to Terror Management Theory, the motivation of these behaviours is to enhance one’s sense of significance or value in the face of death, or to gain a sense of security or belonging, as a way of protecting oneself against the threat of mortality. In my view, racism is a similar response to a more general sense of insignificance, unease and inadequacy.