I think we can all agree that Donald Trump believes everything he says. Either he's a genius bullshitter or he has narcissistic personality disorder. It doesn't really matter in the end, but James Fallows still tries to sort it out:
A reader makes what may by now be an obvious point but is still worth reckoning with. He was responding to the post in which I noted Trump’s combination of masterful TV performance and near-total ignorance of the actual job and challenges of being president.
Imagine going through life with the conceptual framework that you simply cannot be wrong. Facts would cease to matter, and education would largely be irrelevant, because you're the one who determines what is and isn't true. In fact, people who claim to have expertise would become the enemy because they would provide information that would exist outside of yourself. If everything you say is the ultimate, universal truth, than anything that exists outside of yourself must be deception.
I think that Trump earnestly believes every single thing that comes out of his mouth, and that the reason his beliefs seem to change is because his reality is fluid.
Sounds about right. But then again, Scott Adams could also be correct. Either way, having this man so close to becoming president scares me more than any of the usual knaves and rogues the GOP has nominated would have.
And there's this:
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump won their respective Illinois primary elections yesterday. And in other news:
- Turns out, a strong social safety net leads to lower mortality, and because poor, mostly-white areas in the U.S. voted theirs down to minuscule levels, poor, white people are not doing well.
- When you vote against your own party in a hot battle with the opposition governor, and the governor wins that battle, that's a career-limiting move. Illinois representative Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago) got spanked hard for doing that last night. Good.
- A guy got charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly jamming cell phones on the CTA Red Line.
- President Obama nominated an old white guy to the Supreme Court this morning, flummoxing Senate Republicans who want to stonewall the process.
- For no reason anyone can determine, the city seems to be waging a war against valet parking companies. Businesses are annoyed.
- The Daily WTF thought President Obama sounded like an idiot boss on the subject of cell-phone encryption. Even John Oliver thought so.
- London is using pigeons with tiny backpacks to measure air pollution. No, really.
- Marco Rubio's friends say he's a lazy, devious little twerp—on the record. He's also dropped out of the 2016 race, and will probably be out of politics for a couple elections.
- Donald Trump's butler probably thought he was helping his boss by giving an interview to the Times, but...well...
- The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) is this weekend. Here's what to see.
Time to write some documentation. Whee.
I'm leaving Harold Washington in a few minutes, now that I've caught up on some reading:
- Clancy Martin attempted to explain the martyr-like appeal of Ted Cruz.
- Deeply Trivial, who writes survey questions as part of her job, explained why she doesn't take surveys.
- Via Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, the University of Arizona outlined some new data linking sunspots, shipwrecks, tree trunks, and hurricanes.
- Suzy Khimm described the return of the pillory—via Internet, of course—as a tactic of some public prosecutors, most notably in the 2013 "Flush the Johns" operation in Nassau County, New York.
- Cranky Flier got interested in a robot that cleans airplanes. It's pretty cool.
- NPR media critic Adam Frank said I should watch SyFy's new series, "The Expanse."
- Engineer John Hayes wondered if we'll ever see a space elevator of the sort depicted in Neal Stephenson's Seveneves or Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars.
- Spanish writer Cristina Pop thought living in London was the worst three years of her life. (It sounds like her experiences don't exactly line up with mine, starting with her not speaking a word of English when she got there.)
I also watched a time-lapse video of the Chicago River turning green last year. If you want to see this odd Chicago tradition, go downtown tomorrow at 9.
In between four rehearsals and two performances this week (Monday through Sunday), I'm taking tonight off. So while I have a minute or two between helping new developers understand some old code, I'm jotting down this list of things that looked particularly appealing when they came up on RSS feeds:
OK, the new devs are testing something...and more on that later.
Think Progress grinds through the history of Trump Steaks™:
Reporters from Home magazine, Gourmet magazine, People, New York Daily News, and Every Day with Rachael Ray showed up to the launch, which featured speeches by both Levin and Trump. Trump took the opportunity to boast of the steaks’ quality, telling reporters that the product was going to be a boon for the company, equivalent to Trump Vodka, which had launched just a year earlier.
The steaks were only available for mail order, and ranged from the Classic Collection, which cost customers $199 for two filet mignons, two cowboy bone-in rib-eyes and 12 burgers, to $999 for 24 burgers and 16 steaks.
But despite the rash of media attention, [Sharper Image CEO Jerry] Levin said, the steaks just didn’t sell.
Not all reviews of Trump Steaks were bad. Sharon Dowell, former food editor for the Oklahoman, called the steaks “tender, juicy and absolutely among the best-tasting steaks I’ve cooked on my home grill.” The New York Post gave them a 7.5 out of 10, noting that it was “an undeniably good steak” — but still three times the price of another steak that they gave a 7 to in the same taste test. Gourmet, in their taste test, were less effusive, calling the steaks “edible, but not particularly good.”
Martha Stewart, however, had perhaps the most unique response to Trump Steaks. In an interview with Joan Rivers, the lifestyle mogul and former Apprentice contestant replied “Too bad!” when Rivers said that the steaks weren’t actually from a slaughtered Donald Trump.
This person is the front-runner for leadership of the Republican party.
Not surprisingly, he behaves like a dick:
Though Trump is pitching himself to voters as a dealmaker who wins, the 12-year drama of the Trump International Hotel & Tower offers a more complicated narrative. While it reinforces his preferred image as a bold risk-taker and consummate salesman, it underscores his darker reputation as a bullying businessman willing to back out of deals and trash the competition when it's convenient. And that big TRUMP sign on the front of the building fits perfectly with the caricature of the developer as a narcissist and braggart.
Altogether, buyers of 43 condos—32 residential units and 11 hotel units—took advantage of [a 10% discount "friends and family"] deal, a group that included attorneys at DLA Piper, Trump's law firm, and architects at Skidmore Owings & Merrill, which designed the skyscraper. Some buyers demanded that Trump honor his original deal, and Trump backed down. Others were unwilling to jeopardize a valuable business relationship and simply accepted Trump's new terms without a fight.
Trump took on another group—his financial backers. Unable to pay off a maturing construction loan from a bank group led by Deutsche Bank, he sued them in 2008 for more time, citing a “force majeure” clause in his loan agreement. Such clauses are designed to give borrowers relief in the case of unforeseen, cataclysmic events, like floods or wars, but Trump argued that the financial crisis qualified. He also sought $3 billion in damages.
That a good 25% of American voters support this guy turns my stomach. But evidence about how he behaves, and how he repeatedly tries to screw his counterparties on deals, actually boosts his standing among those voters. Regardless of the outcome of this election—I'm hoping for something like the Whig implosion of 1852—it speaks poorly of our country that he's got this much support.
The GOP made their own bed:
Technical debt occurs when you make a short-term coding decision to get something done, but in the process introduce an error or code smell you'll have to correct later.
Josh Marshall thinks the Republican Party did exactly that over the years, and Donald Trump is the refactoring:
This is a fairly good description of what the media is now wrongly defining as the GOP's 'Trump problem', only in this case the problem isn't programming debt. It's a build up of what we might call 'hate debt' and 'nonsense debt' that has been growing up for years.
The truth is virtually Trump's entire campaign is built on stuff just like this, whether it's about mass deportation, race, the persecution of Christians, Obamacare, the coming debt crisis and a million other things. At the last debate, Trump got pressed on his completely ludicrous tax cut plan. He eventually said growth (which if you calculate it would need to be something like 20% on average) would take care of the huge budget shortfall created by his tax plan. But Republicans can't really dispute this point since all of Republican campaign economics is based on precisely the same argument. What about Obamacare? Can Marco "Establishment" Rubio really get traction attacking Trump for having no specific plan to replace Obamacare when Republicans have spent the last five years repeatedly voting to repeal Obamacare without ever specifying a plan to replace it with? On each of these fronts, the slow accumulation of nonsense and paranoia - 'debt' to use our metaphor - built into a massive trap door under the notional GOP leadership with a lever that a canny huckster like Trump could come in and pull pretty much whenever. This is the downside of building party identity around a package of calculated nonsense and comically unrealizable goals.
Great. You know what solves technical debt sometimes? Starting over with a Version 2.0.
Esquire's Charles Pierce is glad Trump is looking after "shitkickers like you," but he worries that stopping Trump will take more than just a moderate Republican:
The only way to stop He, Trump is not, as the Boston Globe so tragically suggests today, to have unenrolled people pick up the Republican ballot and vote for John Kasich. I can't think of a more impotent suggestion than that. In the general scheme of things, Kasich is worse off than either Cruz or Rubio and, also in the general scheme of things, no thinking Republican believes that the Commonwealth (God save it!) is important in any way at all. It's like a Democratic operative suggesting that his voters finagle with the results in, say, Mississippi. Come November, the Republicans could put up Zombie Abraham Lincoln Christ and still lose Massachusetts.
No, the only way to stop He, Trump is to give up on the twin fictions that have given him life—that government is something alien to us, instead of being the political manifestation of the popular will, and that elections are purely entertainment. The only way to stop He, Trump is to re-engage as citizens of a self-governing republic again, to realize that politics matter and that voting is more than an excuse for the PTA to run a bake sale. It is not time to make America great again. It's time to make America America again.
Meanwhile, his brand of authoritarianism keeps building followers:
Trump’s base of white working-class authoritarians is scared of what they view as a “new” America, one in which they believe that the psychological and material wages of Whiteness will not be as great. A combination of the brain structures and cognitive processes of conservative-authoritarians, socialization by family and community, and disinformation from the right-wing “news” entertainment complex, reinforce those anxieties while also ginning up deep feelings of racial resentment toward non-whites.
Donald Trump is not necessarily the prime instigator or cause of those fears; he is just the Republican candidate who is most adept at manipulating them. Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” is a direct promise to restore a world where white folks are central to all things in the United States (to the degree that they are not), and their dominance, privilege and power are uncontested.
The worry I have, of course, is that people who aren't conservative authoritarians will vote for him in November. Because it seems obvious that he'll be the Republican nominee. And that's not a guy I want anywhere near real power.
A medium-length list this time:
And this brings me to lunch.