Once again, here's a list of news items I haven't fully digested but want to when I have a few free minutes:
There's another major story that I'm following, about which I'll post in a few minutes.
Richard North Patterson, writing in Huffington Post, outlines one more time how Donald Trump's obvious personality disorder disqualifies him from political office of any kind:
There is only one organizing principle which makes sense of his wildly oscillating utterances and behavior - the clinical definition of narcissistic personality disorder.
The Mayo Clinic describes it as “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others.” This is bad enough in selecting a spouse or a friend. But when applied to a prospective president, the symptoms are disqualifying.
With Trump ever in mind, try these. An exaggerated sense of self-importance. An unwarranted belief in your own superiority. A preoccupation with fantasies of your own success, power and brilliance. A craving for constant admiration. A consuming sense of entitlement. An expectation of special favors and unquestioning compliance.
Yes. It seems unlikely that anyone who has observed Trump in the past 30 years could have missed this. But Patterson is really concerned about how major media outlets seem to be ignoring this:
It has been three weeks since this damning tape surfaced. The story vanished in a day. Confronted with the ["Miller"] tape on Today, Trump told an obvious lie - “it was not me on the phone” - wrapped in his ineradicable narcissism : “I have many many people who are trying to imitate my voice and... you can imagine that... Let’s get on to more current subjects.”
The media complied.
But there is nothing more “current” or important than Donald Trump’s psychological fitness to be president. All the hyperventilation of the media - parsing his “positions”, pontificating on his” strategy” and intuition- is a poisonous form of the “political correctness” he otherwise deplores, normalizing the abnormal by shoehorning him into the usual analytic boxes. And what it yields is, in great part, rubbish.
I really, really hope that logic and reason prevail in November. Because it's going to be a long-enough five months more of stories like this; I just can't take four years of it.
New Republic's Joe Miller outlines how the Alabama Republican Party has made life worse for just about everyone in Alabama:
“There is nothing good that has come from the Republicans being in power in Alabama, and I’m a Republican,” says Arthur Payne, a former state representative from Birmingham. “Since the Republicans have taken over, we have borrowed more money than we ever have in the history of the state, and our budget is in worse shape than it’s ever been.”
That’s saying a lot for a state that for decades has ranked near the bottom of just about every socioeconomic measure. Nearly 660,000 Alabamians go without health insurance. The state has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation, and ranks in the top ten in heart disease, cancer, stroke, influenza, pneumonia, and kidney disease. It has the seventh-lowest percentage of residents with college degrees, the fifth-lowest with high school diplomas, and the sixth-highest unemployment rate. The median income is $42,278, third-lowest in the country, a mere 3 percent increase over what it was in 2010, when Hubbard and the Republicans took control. Over the same period, the nation’s median income has increased 8 percent.
In the most recent legislative session, Alabama faced another budget shortfall, and instead of raising taxes or finding places to cut state programs, legislators took it all out of Medicaid’s budget.
They've also made it unlikely that any foreign companies will open factories there for at least a generation, in party by arresting executives from Honda and Mercedes-Benz on charges of giving food to illegal immigrants.
So when you say that Donald Trump doesn't represent the mainstream GOP, your definition of "mainstream" is awfully narrow.
These are the kinds of articles that make me want to go into exile:
- A years-long investigation by journalist David Cay Johnston uncovered links between Donald Trump and key mafia figures, which would make Trump the most corrupt presidential candidate since Harding.
- James Fallows warns us not to assume that even though because the U.S. has gotten out of previous political crises, we shouldn't complacently assume that we'll do it again if Trump gets elected. He draws on Madison's Federalist #10 to make his point: "It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm."
- Finally, The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik comments on "The dangerous acceptance of Donald Trump," underscoring the point Fallows made: "[U]nder any label Trump is a declared enemy of the liberal constitutional order of the United States—the order that has made it, in fact, the great and plural country that it already is."
It's going to be a long five months.
New Republic's Brian Buetler reports that the wing-nuts in the Republican Party (i.e., about half of them) are already laying the psychological groundwork for the increased reporting on Donald Trump's past coming out now that he's the presumptive nominee:
The Republican primary campaign revealed (or rather reestablished) that Donald Trump is a bigot and a sexist and a creep. In fairness, this was not entirely a testament to fearless journalism; Trump happily exhibited all of these behaviors in front of live television cameras week after week. But reporters and campaigns did bring incidents of bigotry, sexism, and creepiness from his past to light, which helped feed the public’s exceedingly negative impression of the GOP’s new standard-bearer.
Despite months of digging, though, they may have only scratched the surface of Trump’s public and private sordidness. Now that he’s effectively secured the Republican Party nomination, we can expect the full details to pour out in the weeks and months ahead.
Before he dropped out of the race, Ted Cruz predicted this would happen. He attributed it to a liberal conspiracy: The media would sit on their most explosive Trump exposés until he’d won the nomination thanks to the invaluable free airtime they’d given him—and then destroy him with a series of damning revelations they’d been waiting to unleash.
It goes without saying that Democrats have none of those perverse incentives to worry about. They will unearth what Republicans missed; they will find what reporters can’t, if they haven’t already. And to the extent that their dossiers overlap, they will release what Republicans withheld. Reporters will happily field this opposition research, run it to ground, and publish it. It isn’t the media that’s been strategically holding fire—it’s the Democrats. They even boast about it.
And it's not like this guy doesn't have a whole load of dirty laundry to air. But such is the pathology of the Republican base right now that any bad news about their candidate must be part of a larger conspiracy, because the cognitive dissonance otherwise would be incapacitating.
Wow, this is going to be a long campaign.
The Argentine national football team is messing with us in this hilarious promotion:
“They’re coming from South America. These are total killers. These are not the nice, sweet, little people that you’d think, okay?" Trump continues. "We have no protection, anybody can come in. It’s very easy and it shouldn’t be that way. We need to build a wall and it has to be built quickly.”
Trump's comments about a border wall play over clips of Argentine soccer players scoring a goal and cutting past a defender.
The promo closes with the caption: "The truth is the best they can do is not let us in."
I mean, it's only funny until someone loses an election.
Five years ago yesterday, President Obama announced to the world that U.S. forces had captured and killed Osama bin Laden. Earlier that night, after making one of the biggest decisions of his presidency, he did this:
Back in September, New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik made the same observation:
What was really memorable about the event, though, was Trump’s response. Seated a few tables away from us magazine scribes, Trump’s humiliation was as absolute, and as visible, as any I have ever seen: his head set in place, like a man in a pillory, he barely moved or altered his expression as wave after wave of laughter struck him. There was not a trace of feigning good humor about him, not an ounce of the normal politician’s, or American regular guy’s “Hey, good one on me!” attitude—that thick-skinned cheerfulness that almost all American public people learn, however painfully, to cultivate. No head bobbing or hand-clapping or chin-shaking or sheepish grinning—he sat perfectly still, chin tight, in locked, unmovable rage. If he had not just embarked on so ugly an exercise in pure racism, one might almost have felt sorry for him.
Then, this weekend, Andrew Sullivan said that the U.S. has never been so ripe for tyranny. I haven't digested his article yet, and I'm probably more optimistic than he, but all of these things are related.
But hey, if you think Donald Trump has the temperament and nuance to be president, you go right ahead and vote for him.
It looks like David Koch has left the reservation:
In the interview with chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, which aired on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," Charles Koch said Bill Clinton had done a better job than George W. Bush in controlling government growth while president.
"So is it possible another Clinton could be better than another Republican?" Karl asked.
"It's possible," Koch responded.
"You couldn't see yourself supporting Hillary Clinton, could you?" Karl pressed.
Koch responded: "Well, I - that - her - we would have to believe her actions would be quite different than her rhetoric, let me put it that way. But on some of the Republican candidates we would - before we could support them - we'd have to believe their actions will be quite different than the rhetoric we've heard so far."
Now, as Josh Marshall pointed out, this doesn't mean that Koch actually supports Clinton. But he's not actually supporting Trump either. This is getting pretty interesting.
Donald Trump's speech is fundamentally different than other national politicians':
Word choice isn’t the only way Trump differs from his presidential candidate contemporaries. Jennifer Sclafani, an associate professor at Georgetown University who studies the construction of political identity through language, said Trump is an enigma — the “anti-politician” when it comes to talking.
According to Sclafani, Trump doesn’t often [use discourse markers]. Usually, she said, he starts his answers with “I.” But when Trump does want to divert his answers, however, Sclafani says that’s where he gets tripped up.
For example, in the first debate, he was asked to explain why he once supported a liberal, single-payer health care system. He responded: “First of all, I’d like to just go back to one. In July of 2004, I came out strongly against the war with Iraq, because it was going to destabilize the Middle East. And I’m the only one on this stage that knew that and had the vision to say it.”
Trump was trying to illustrate that he has had stances contrary to the Republican party before, and that they were correct. But at the time, Sclafani said it came off “totally incoherent,” because he combined the discourse marker “first of all” with a complete change of subject.
Of course, criticizing Trump for the way he speaks is like criticizing Mussolini for having bad taste in clothing. It really only shows you one expression of a much deeper pathology.