The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Yes, it could be Trump

Both Krugman and Marshall came to the same conclusion today, and I, to quote Tom Lehrer, begin to feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis:

Without Jeb, Marco Rubio is the guy Republicans really need to nominate. But he just hasn't shown the sort of strength or political acumen that's required for the task. In a way that doesn't surprise me. I've always found the guy unimpressive and green. But the GOP is in a position where if "Marco Rubio" didn't exist they'd have to invent him.

That is one of the many things that makes the current Trump-Cruz phony war so compelling. Trump is baiting Cruz into the same smackdown he's used to eat up Bush, Walker, Fiorina and others. But Cruz won't take the bait. Like two zen masters facing off in a martial arts classic or perhaps two wizards do battle in The Lord of the Rings, we have an epic confrontation between two master who have trained for decades in the arts of assholery and bullying. But their powers equally matched, it is a stand off.

I just have to hope that Trump's overall polling numbers (he's the choice of 41% of Republicans, which translates to less than 20% of the total electorate) stay steady. We've all seen what happens when right-wing demagogues get into power.

Killing Trump's candidacy

Waiting for the cable guy and for a couple of conference calls to start gives me a moment to consider some troubling things about the modern U.S.

The more I watch Donald Trump's effects on people, the more credence I'm giving cartoonist Scott Adams' Master Wizard hypothesis, and thinking about how to give Trump a few "linguistic kill shots" of our own.

I'm not endorsing Adams' views on anything, except that the way he frames his blog entries, he tends to make predictions that hold up, within a certain range of bullshit. He claims not to support Trump so much as be impressed with Trump's ability to cause the emotional reactions in others he (Trump) wants. In other words, Adams sees Trump as a master demagogue, and explains how and why.

I think there might be something to Adams' analysis. We need to stop treating Trump like a politician—because he's not. He's a dangerous person, impervious to (and dismissive of) reasoned debate. And we, the sane, who know what happens when demagogues achieve power, need to stop him.

So I'm working on some ways of reframing the Trump candidacy that might work. Stay tuned.


Trump is not Hitler

That's just ahistorical and wrong, according to Josh Marshall. No, Trump is more like Mussolini:

Mussolini's speeches have a mix of chest-puffing, hands at the waist swagger, hints of humor, hands to the crowd to calm themselves no matter how excited they are. Frankly, they're almost operatic in nature. The mix of violent rhetoric with folksy hypotheticals and humorous jabs unites the two quite nicely.

The problem of course is that Trump has trended in an increasingly racist and xenophobic direction as his campaign has gone on. But that was never really Mussolini's thing. The Nazi fetishization of race was basically foreign to fascist ideology. And Italian fascism was not at all anti-Semitic ... except after 1938. That's when Mussolini moved into full alliance with Nazi Germany....

In other words, Mussolini's embrace of racism and anti-Semitism appears to have been cynical and opportunistic. But this works as an analog to Trump since I continue to believe that Trump's embrace of racism, anti-Mexican immigrant bigotry and Islamophobia is largely opportunistic. My only hesitation in calling it cynical is that I think Trump may be the type who once he finds something convenient to say then starts to believe it.

Regardless, Trump is a dangerous demagogue who is harming American political discourse the same way Goldwater did.

Three things to read today

First, the New Republic's Jeet Heer reminds us that Donald Trump is a bullshitter, not a liar, and is that much more dangerous for it:

The triumph of bullshit has consequences far beyond the political realm, making society as a whole more credulous and willing to accept all sorts of irrational beliefs. A newly published article in the academic journal Judgment and Decision Making
links “bullshit receptivity” to other forms of impaired thinking: “Those more receptive to bullshit are less reflective, lower in cognitive ability (i.e., verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy), are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.” 

It’s no accident that Trump himself is receptive to bullshit ideas promulgated by the likes of anti-vaxxers. A President Trump, based on his own bullshit receptivity and his own bullshit contagiousness, would lead a country that is far more conspiratorial, far more confused, and far less able to grapple with problems in a rational way. Trump’s America would truly be a nation swimming in bullshit.

Next, a heartwarming story of how LifeLock allowed a man to set up an account to stalk his ex-wife, and then did nothing when she complained:

Not only did the company not respond to her queries about the situation, she tells the Republic that LifeLock actively tried to block her access to the account — in order to protect the privacy of her ex-husband.

While she was able to block her ex from having access to the service, he was still able to close the account because he was the one who had paid for it. Rather than help her by providing the requested documents or keeping the account open, LifeLock advised that she open an entirely new account.

Finally, from Cranky Flier, the account of the last airplane to roll off an assembly line in California, ending a 102-year-old industry there:

As aircraft manufacturing dried up around the state, Long Beach became the last holdout. When Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas, the entire Douglas commercial line was terminated in short order except for the MD-95. That became the Boeing 717 and made it all the way to May 23, 2006. On that day, the last two were rolled across Lakewood Blvd on the east side of the airport and delivered to AirTran and Midwest. Commercial aircraft production in the state died that day.

But on the west side of the field, the military C-17 soldiered on. The C-17 is a beast of an airplane. It’s a massive military transport that is essential for the US military. The problem is that the military has all the C-17s it needs. Production peaked at 16 a year in 2009, but that has been ramping down every year since. The aircraft was marketed to foreign countries and orders did roll in — enough to keep the production going for longer than expected — but the end has finally arrived.

The last airplane to be delivered took off from Long Beach around midday on Sunday.

There's a video of the plane taking off, too. (C-17s are pretty damned impressive.)