• Sky
  • Blueberry
  • Slate
  • Blackcurrant
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberry
  • Orange
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Emerald
  • Chocolate
  • Charcoal
Destiny

Trump 22: Not Even Poe Could Make This Shit Up

545 posts in this topic

God, when will it end? 

Continued from here:

 

6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Destiny -- Love the new thread title!!

And, kind of in the same vein: "What do we do if Trump really is crazy?"

Spoiler

Maybe I’m doing this all wrong.

For five years, I’ve been identifying Donald Trump, now president of the United States, as a nutter. I’ve called him crazy, daft, a madman, barking mad and mad as a March hare, and I’ve “diagnosed” him — I’m not a mental-health professional and have never examined the president — with narcissistic personality disorder and more. To that list, I feel compelled to add a few more technical observations: He also seems off his rocker, ’round the bend and a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

The belief that the commander in chief is barmy has become commonplace. Just this week two prominent senators, Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), were caught on a hot mic discussing Trump.

“I think he’s crazy,” Reed said. “I mean, I don’t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy.”

“I’m worried,” Collins replied.

Now I’m worried, too. If the president really is — gulp — insane in the clinical sense and not just in the goofy sense, then perhaps we shouldn’t be ridiculing him. Maybe I, and other critics, should approach him calmly, speak in hushed tones and treat him with compassion.

For advice, I turned to the recognized authority on such matters, the Internet. It turns out that, when it comes to best practices for dealing with serious mental disorders, I’m doing a lot of the “don’ts” with Trump but not the things I should be doing.

Don’t use sarcasm. Avoid humor. Don’t criticize, accuse or blame. Avoid sounding patronizing or condescending. Don’t assume they are not smart. Be respectful. Be aware that the delusions they may experience are their reality. Stay calm. Minimize distractions. Turn off the TV. Simplify — one topic at a time. Stick to present issues. Acknowledge what the other person says and how they feel, even if you don’t agree.

All good advice, no doubt. Certainly, our patient would benefit from turning off the TV and minimizing distractions. He does much better when issues are simplified. He reacts poorly to criticism and accusation. And, unnervingly, he seems to believe the many false things he says.

But what works with troubled friends or family members doesn’t work quite so well when dealing with world’s most powerful man. You can’t just smile reassuringly when he tells you millions of people voted illegally in the election but he has no evidence that Russia interfered.

Both Reed and Collins have, quite rationally, softened their hot-mic conversation about Trump’s irrationality. A Collins spokeswoman said that the senator’s worry about Trump was a reference referring to his handling of the budget. Reed, in an interview, told me he thinks Trump’s troubles are more the result of inexperience than any neuropathology.

We’re seeing “somebody who has operated basically his whole life without anybody to check him,” with no concept of the “highly structured governmental sphere with checks and balances and legal restraints in terms of who does what,” Reed said.

Trump, he said, has a “moment-to-moment” way of thinking, without an orderly, long-term strategy. When it comes to strategic thinking, “it’s difficult to discern who’s doing that,” said Reed, an Army veteran and top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, who — incredibly — Trump has not once consulted.

Reed said he was encouraged that Trump has delegated, somewhat more than previous presidents, to figures such as Jim Mattis at the Pentagon and the commanders. He also sees growing willingness in Congress to defy the president on matters ranging from Russia sanctions to the budget.

That is encouraging, but it’s insufficient. Consider the list of irrational actions coming from the White House over the past week alone:

●Trump’s new communications director alleged that the president’s top strategist attempts an anatomically improbable sex act to himself, called White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus a paranoid schizophrenic and accused him of a felony. Priebus, one of Trump’s only tethers to mainstream Republicans, quits.

●Trump attacked Republican senators such as Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) whose votes he needed but failed to get on the GOP health-care bill, dealing it yet another defeat.

●Trump publicly attacked his own attorney general and threatened to fire his health and human services secretary.

●The Boy Scouts had to apologize after Trump gave a hyper-partisan speech to children.

●Trump caught the Pentagon by surprise when he announced he’s kicking transgender people out of the military, after botching the facts on Hezbollah while meeting the Lebanese prime minister.

And he jokes about being chiseled into Mount Rushmore.

It all brings to mind one more piece of advice I found online for dealing with people with serious mental-health issues: It may be necessary to lower your expectations.

i don't think my expectations can go any lower.

16

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a good opinion piece: "Trump’s iceberg looms"

Spoiler

Donald Trump had his worst day since he was elected president — we’ll just call it Friday — and his worst week since the last one.

Things can only get worser and worser, as the Bard would permit me to say.

Let’s start with the vote-a-rama and the “skinny repeal,” which puts me in mind of a state fair ride and placing an order at Starbucks.

I’d like a skinny repeal, please — venti, with mocha.

As all know by now, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) didn’t get the skinny on repeal and shocked the chamber by voting no with a thumbs-down. Not even with a Republican majority could Trump dump Obamacare in its slimmest version yet. McCain, who postponed treatment for aggressive brain cancer and flew to Washington to cast his vote, joined fellow Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, as well as all the Democratic members, to put the kibosh on any real hope of repeal this year, much less replace.

In most ways, McCain’s seemingly last-minute maneuver should have surprised no one. Always the maverick, McCain, who has defied death before, is no one’s wingman. If he thought this vote might be his last stand in the arena, he would make it worthwhile and memorable.

Back at the Ponderosa, Trump at least had a soul mate in whom to confide, Anthony Scaramucci, the White House’s new communications director. “Mooch” or “Mini-Me” to Washington insiders, Scaramucci is Trump’s kneecapper. Good cop, meet seriously bad cop.

Scaramucci is the personification of Trump’s deep brain. To the extent that the president ever withholds a thought, Scaramucci is there to express it for him. He’s his human Twitter feed. Thus, we may assume that what Scaramucci says, Trump thinks. Thanks to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, we’re privy to enough premium quotes to entertain ourselves for months.

As you may have heard, Scaramucci called Lizza on Wednesday in a rage over his “leaked” financial records and Lizza’s reporting of an intimate Trump dinner that included Fox News’s Sean Hannity and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who, sources say, told Trump that then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is a leaker. When Scaramucci demanded that Lizza divulge his source, Lizza, a polite, erudite fellow, declined and did what reporters sometimes do: He taped the conversation, capturing a hailstorm of profane tirades against leakers and, specifically, Priebus — “a [expletive] paranoid schizophrenic.” By late Friday afternoon, Priebus was out of a job, with Trump tweeting that he was replacing him with Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly.

Next, we visit El Salvador, where, strangely, we find Attorney General Jeff Sessions. We know Trump wants to get rid of Sessions, but sending him into the maw of the beastly MS-13 gang seems excessively aggressive even for this president. While Poor Sessions (see previous column) was practicing Spanish for “I have nothing against tattoos, but seriously?,” Trump was making a play in Ohio for tighter immigration by focusing on the gang’s murderous record.

And, lest we ignore the gold coin Trump magically pulled from his ear, the president randomly ordered transgender people out of the military. What, no women bleeding this week?

Health care, schmealth care, in other words. As buffer to the inevitable, Trump made sure to create a little sidebar drama — expelling thugs and transgender people, rooting out leakers and traitors, and threatening to fire anyone who says “Russia” in his presence.

So many shiny objects, so few left to fool.

A few Trump loyalists may wait for the last lifeboat, but it’s only a matter of time before this administration capsizes, titanically. Trump’s first-year agenda is DOA along with health-care reform. Going after Sessions has hurt the president with conservatives. His chaotic White House operation is a constant reminder that no one’s in charge. The cumulative effect of all of these affronts to normalcy, decorum and democracy is to reveal the profile of a deadly iceberg off the ship of state’s bow.

Light shifts to a small lifeboat off in the distance. Rowing slowly is an old man whose posture betrays a straight spine despite obvious injury to his arms and shoulders. A smile creases his face as moonlight catches a twinkle in his eye. A deep scar above it imitates a wryly arched brow. He chuckles at the memory of Trump saying he was a war hero only because he was captured and turns to make yet another final gesture.

This time, he doesn’t use his thumb.

 

I love the end -- one of my few giggles the other night was McCain's dramatic thumbs down. I assumed it was a figurative middle finger to Agent Orange and the author seems to agree.

14

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, American Hero week is over. And we found two! Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski! I'm leaving McCain off that list because I'm awarding him the first Batty, for best dramatic performance on the Senate floor.

This week is American Dream week. Sadly, America's dream is unlikely to be realized this week. Unless you are the Hypocrite Emeritus Rudy Giuliani. He has a chance this week.

But Herr Fuhrer now has a general to whip the troops into shape. Now he just needs a pack of hell hounds to run wild through Congress. Shouldn't be hard for him to get that, he has the Devil on speed dial.

12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(This is copied; the author is someone I do not know).

"....Here's an insightful comment about McCain's 'No' vote.
I'm not sure if it's really being appreciated just how comprehensively the Republicans were just owned.
See, the Republicans have been trying to pass these godawful healthcare bills through a process called budget reconciliation, which, among other things, protects the bill from being filibustered in the Senate and only requires a simple majority of 50 votes (rather than 60, which the Republicans don't have).
The thing is, the Senate can only consider one budget reconciliation bill per topic per year. Of course, if the bill dies in committee and never comes to an official vote, it doesn't count- which is why they've been able to keep hammering away at the issue.
This bill, though, was allowed to come to the Senate floor, because the Republicans thought they'd secured the votes. Collins, Murkowski and the Democrats would vote no, everyone else would vote yes, and Pence would break the tie. And then McCain completely owned them. And it was almost certainly a calculated move; he voted to allow the bill to come to the floor. Had McCain allowed it to die in committee, McConnell could have come back with yet another repeal bill; but he let it come to a vote, and now they can't consider another budget reconciliation bill for the rest of the fiscal year. The Senate needs 60 votes to pass any kind of healthcare reform now.
So now they're caught between a rock and a hard place. Either they concede defeat on the issue and try again later (causing a big, unpopular stink that could damage elections if they try it before the midterms, or risking losing the slim majority they already have if they wait) or they actually sit down with the democrats like adults and write a halfway decent healthcare bill."

 

Just for consideration.

17

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, GrumpyGran said:

This week is American Dream week. Sadly, America's dream is unlikely to be realized this week.

Exactly. If I close my eyes and dream, it would be that our long national world nightmare was over and Agent Orange, Pence, Ryan, McConnell, et.al. had been transported to that desert island.

 

Go, Scotland! "Scotland just made it much harder for Trump to expand his golf empire there"

Spoiler

In 2006, businessman and reality TV star Donald Trump bought an 1,800-acre estate in Scotland's northeast, near Aberdeen. It was beautiful, with views of the North Sea and surrounding sand dunes.

Then he announced plans to build a golf course. In true Trump style, he promised the world. He envisioned a grand complex with two world-class golf courses, a luxury hotel and 1,450 homes on the property. It would be, he said, a $1.5 billion investment.

But then came a string of setbacks: The 2008 financial crisis roiled Trump's businesses, forcing him to delay or cancel a number of projects. The local planning commission called his Scottish proposal “extremely implausible” and refused to support it. Recalcitrant neighbors would not surrender their land.

Eventually, though, the Trump Organization broke ground.

So far, the Trump International Golf Links complex hasn't lived up to Trump's vision. There is only one golf course, which by many accounts is rarely busy. Instead of a gigantic hotel and pricey stretch of homes, there's a single clubhouse with a few rooms for rent. Just 150 permanent jobs have been created, rather than the promised thousands. Corporate filings in Britain show that the course lost $1.8 million in 2015.

Experts say that to make serious money, Trump needs the hotel and developments he promised. But it's been hard to get those projects launched.

And this week, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage, a conservation agency, made things even harder. Both groups are objecting to the Trump Organization's expansion plan unless significant changes are made. Officials say the current plan breaches strict rules on sewage, environmental protection and groundwater conservation.

Their concerns are myriad. SNH says there is “substantial risk” that significant parts of the course could be damaged by drifting dunes, which happened at Trump's already-built course in Scotland — Turnberry, on the west coast — in 2016. SEPA objects to the Trump Organization's use of a "soakaway" (basically, a pit filled with rubble) to dispose of waste water, and it wants the company to connect the course and clubhouse to the public sewage system before building the second course. The agency also worries that the current irrigation plan could contaminate local water supplies. SEPA wants the company to pay to use public water supplies instead.

Local officials also want Trump to make good on his promise to build hundreds of affordable housing units and a school.

Trump International Golf Links did not respond to a request for comment. But Eric Trump, tasked with overseeing the Trump Organization while his father serves as president, recently visited and suggested that things are moving along. “We have huge plans for future investment. We have a lot of things planned,” the younger Trump told the Press and Journal. “We have the potential for a second course. We have tremendous opportunities for residential and hospitality that we are able to do.”

This isn't the first time his father has tangled with the Scots. In 2012, Trump tried to scuttle a wind farm project that would, he said, ruin his course's view. At the time, he threatened to pull out of the country. “I have spent close to 100 million pounds at this stage,” Trump said. “I have millions more to put into that site, but I will not invest another penny if an industrial plant is built nearby.”

The wind farm got built. And Trump is still there.

I'm sure he'll have a hissy.

10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, GrumpyGran said:

This week is American Dream week. Sadly, America's dream is unlikely to be realized this week. Unless you are the Hypocrite Emeritus Rudy Giuliani. He has a chance this week.

Really? I'm sure this will work out as well as all of his 'theme' weeks. This fucking psycho thinks being president is just like 'acting' on his reality show. I'm also wondering if he really knows what 'The American Dream' is all about. To me it relates to immigrants coming here to fulfill the dream of becoming Americans and having opportunities. 

9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the what the fuck is wrong with these people file: 

Why a woman blames Trump selfies for her divorce

Quote

The news release begins with a statement as terse and vague as you would expect from a high-profile couple confirming their divorce, after reporters got wind of it.

Lynn and Dave Aronberg — a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader and the top prosecutor in Palm Beach County, Fla., respectively — have “decided to respectfully and amicably part ways and end our marriage,” they announced in a joint statement last week.

“We kindly ask for your support in preserving our privacy as we start to navigate this new chapter of our lives.”

So far, so standard.

And then, mystifyingly, the next seven paragraphs of the news release are spent obliterating privacy and expectations alike.

The release, which was issued by Lynn Aronberg’s PR representative, quotes almost verbatim from a gossip website about the “brand new BMW” and tens of thousands of dollars that she apparently extracted from her husband in a settlement.

It claims the state attorney’s reluctance to have children contributed to the breakup.

And it concludes with the line that would propel the couple’s divorce case from Palm Beach County gossip pages to international news:

“A staunch Republican and supporter of President Donald Trump, Lynn also said she felt increasingly isolated in the marriage.”

Or as the PR firm headlined it: “the Trump Divorce.”

With the same anonymous individuals and exclamation points it would use to chronicle the demise of their marriage, the website Gossip Extra broke news of the couple’s engagement minutes after it took place in late 2014:

“EXCLUSIVE,” reads the headline, “State Attorney Dave Aronberg Asks ex-Miami Dolphins Cheerleader to Marry Him … Atop Eiffel Tower … She Says Yes!”

They had met years earlier, Lynn Aronberg told The Washington Post, when he was a state senator in the 2000s. She described herself as a lifelong Republican and him as “a short Democrat” who nevertheless appealed to her.

They married on a beach in 2015. The gossip site covered that, too.

Though she put aside cheerleading years ago to build a career in publicity, Aronberg, 37, said her husband’s liberal supporters came to regard her as “the hayseed wife” — nearly 10 years his junior, with intolerable politics.

“It wasn’t an issue at first, but that was before the Hillary-Trump saga,” she said. “And as that built, the tension in our relationship built.”

Despite his affiliation in the Florida statehouse, Aronberg is not exactly a party-line Democrat.

He was elected to the state attorney’s office in 2012 with the help of Republican donors, according to the Palm Beach Post.

And the prosecutor has been spotted multiple times at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, according to the newspaper — despite backing Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race; investigating assault accusations against Trump’s campaign manager that year; and recent reports that he may be considering a bid for U.S. Congress under the Democratic banner.

While Lynn Aronberg has been a Trump fan since his days on “The Apprentice” — she owns a three-legged dog named Ivanka — she said her husband had known the mogul for years.

He raised political funds at Mar-a-Lago, she said, and took her to the resort nearly every weekend — even as Trump’s brand became increasingly toxic to her husband’s liberal base.

“I’m walking through the red carpet, and he’s sneaking through the bushes,” she said, recalling selfies she snapped with the future president and his wife, Melania Trump, while her husband would “run and hide from the photographers.”

“He’d ask me to not to take pictures. He wouldn’t want me to post them,” she said.

“I did not listen to him.”

Her Facebook wall and photo galleries attest to that. Grinning with Melania Trump in multiple photos. Posing with the future president in a gold-trimmed ballroom on New Year’s Eve, three weeks before he moved into the White House.

“He’s really nice,” Lynn Aronberg said of Donald Trump. “He’s like: ‘Dave: How did you get her to marry you?’”

But staying married to him became a strain as the presidential race wore on, she told The Post. At the couple’s home in West Palm Beach, she said, her selfie habit drew irritated phone calls from her husband’s supporters.

[Boy Scouts leader apologizes for Trump speech’s ‘political rhetoric’]

“You know, the unions,” she said. “Or sometimes he wouldn’t even tell me who was calling him, to say not to post pictures of Trump or Melania.”

She would refuse the requests, she said.

Eventually she’d do so in public.

“So what if I like Ivanka Trump or a conservative issue on social media?” Lynn Aronberg told Gossip Extra in February, the same month she filed for divorce. “So what if I invite Melania to be in my book group?”

“Dave Aronberg’s Divorce Getting Downright Ugly!” the website reported in June, quoting an unnamed friend of the family.

And then last week, “a source familiar with the negotiations” gave Gossip Extra details of a settlement that Aronberg reportedly signed with her husband: “$100,000 worth of goodies in exchange for her signature on the dotted line.”

And the website expanded on their private woes:

“They have no children, which was a problem for Lynn,” it reported. And then all the stuff about Trump.

These article were no more popular with her husband’s supporters than her selfies, Lynn Aronberg told The Post: “They’d get mad and try to say I’m leaking it.”

She denied doing so. She also declined to discuss her divorce settlement with The Post — and said she didn’t know how the same details that Gossip Extra reported ended up in a news release on Thursday, released by her PR representative, beneath the couple’s brief statement confirming “the end of our marriage.”

Not that Lynn Aronberg minded the leaks, exactly.

“I trust them,” she said of the PR firm, TransMedia. “I don’t care if they’re repeating something Gossip Extra already said.”

Lynn Aronberg runs a separate PR company under her own name but said she used to work for TransMedia, which lists her as an executive vice president, though she denied being an employee.

“She’s what we call a partner in our firm,” said Thomas Madden, TransMedia’s chief executive.

He said the company had gathered the Aronberg’s settlement details — along information about Trump’s role in the divorce — from “other sources.”

“There’s nothing inaccurate,” he said. “She did not violate any privacy agreements.”

Dave Aronberg, who has been approached about running for U.S. Congress, couldn’t be reached for comment.

A spokesman for the prosecutor, Christian Ulvert, confirmed that Aronberg had reached a settlement in his divorce but declined to discuss it or the private details that appeared in his wife’s news release.

“My client’s ready to just close this chapter,” Ulvert said.

As for Lynn Aronberg, she told The Post that she remains friends with her soon-to-be-ex husband — though he’s not thrilled about the leaks, wherever they’re coming from.

She has dinner plans with Donald Trump Jr. coming up, she said.

 

I bolded two things that stuck out as really creepy. (besides the selfie with TT).

7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why would anyone listen to Lewandowski? "Lewandowski calls for Trump to fire head of consumer financial watchdog agency"

Spoiler

Corey Lewandowski, a former campaign manager for Donald Trump, urged the White House on Sunday to fire the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over his rumored political ambitions.

Asked on NBC's “Meet the Press” about the transfer of John Kelly, a retired Marine general, from leading the Department of Homeland Security to running the West Wing as White House chief of staff, Lewandowski injected an unprompted call for the dismissal of Richard Cordray from his post atop the CFPB, a federal agency tasked with protecting consumers from bad actors in the financial sector.

“The general should re-look at firing Richard Cordray,” Lewandowski said. “He is a person who is now all but running for governor in the state of Ohio, and he’s sitting in a federal office right now.”

The call for Cordray's firing seems to stem from a comment by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill, who said that he heard from a friend that Cordray would run for governor in 2018, when Republican John Kasich's term expires.

Lewandowski added that if Cordray, a Democrat, “wants to go run for the governor of Ohio, go do it.”

Lewandowski is not the first Republican to call for Cordray's ouster. Before Trump even took office, Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) wrote a letter pressing the incoming administration to fire Cordray. The next month, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, similarly called for Cordray's dismissal.

“Personnel is policy,” Hensarling said on Fox Business News at the time. “So the president, I would urge him to immediately fire the head of the Orwellian-named Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

Since its creation in 2011 in the wake of the bursting of the housing bubble, the agency, the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), has become an object of ire for many Republicans in Congress, who argue that it is yet another unnecessary regulator entrenched in the federal government.

For his part, Cordary said in January that the arrival of the new president “shouldn’t change the job at all” at the independent watchdog agency. Indeed, Cordary has kept busy since Trump's election. Just this month, the CFPB finalized a rule making it easier for consumers to challenge financial companies in court.

Chuck Todd, host of “Meet the Press,” appeared surprised at Lewandowski bringing up Cordray when asked about Kelly.

“That was sort of a random thing you just introduced there,” Todd said. He asked whether Lewandowski, who co-founded a lobbying firm after Trump's election that he has since left, had any business interests or clients who had asked him to call for Cordray's removal on television.

“No, no,” Lewandowski responded. “I have no clients whatsoever.”

Okay, we all know that Repugs hate protecting consumers, so I get why they would push to get rid of Cordray, but the fact that Lewandowski is whining about conflict of interest is just rich.

10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, GreyhoundFan said:

Just planting a seed into the news cycle and stirring up the base. Then Trump can start tweeting random rants about Cordray accusing him of exactly what Trump himself is doing. Just SOP for Trump's MO.

8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not specifically about the TT, but it certainly applies: "Being rich wrecks your soul. We used to know that."

Spoiler

With a billionaire real estate tycoon occupying America’s highest office, the effects of riches upon the soul are a reasonable concern for all of us little guys. After all, one incredibly wealthy soul currently holds our country in his hands. According to an apocryphal exchange between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, the only difference between the rich and the rest of us is that they have more money. But is that the only difference?

We didn’t used to think so. We used to think that having vast sums of money was bad and in particular bad for you — that it harmed your character, warping your behavior and corrupting your soul. We thought the rich were different, and different for the worse.

Today, however, we seem less confident of this. We seem to view wealth as simply good or neutral, and chalk up the failures of individual wealthy people to their own personal flaws, not their riches. Those who are rich, we seem to think, are not in any more moral danger than the rest of us. Compare how old movies preached the folk wisdom of wealth’s morally calamitous effects to how contemporary movies portray wealth: For example, the villainous Mr. Potter from “It’s A Wonderful Life” to the heroic Tony Stark (that is, Iron Man) in the Avengers films.

The idea that wealth is morally perilous has an impressive philosophical and religious pedigree. Ancient Stoic philosophers railed against greed and luxury, and Roman historians such as Tacitus lay many of the empire’s struggles at the feet of imperial avarice. Confucius lived an austere life. The Buddha famously left his opulent palace behind. And Jesus didn’t exactly go easy on the rich, either — think camels and needles, for starters.

The point is not necessarily that wealth is intrinsically and everywhere evil, but that it is dangerous — that it should be eyed with caution and suspicion, and definitely not pursued as an end in itself; that great riches pose great risks to their owners; and that societies are right to stigmatize the storing up of untold wealth. That’s why Aristotle, for instance, argued that wealth should be sought only for the sake of living virtuously — to manage a household, say, or to participate in the life of the polis. Here wealth is useful but not inherently good; indeed, Aristotle specifically warned that the accumulation of wealth for its own sake corrupts virtue instead of enabling it. For Hindus, working hard to earn money is a duty (dharma), but only when done through honest means and used for good ends. The function of money is not to satiate greed but to support oneself and one’s family. The Koran, too, warns against hoarding money and enjoins Muslims to disperse it to the needy.

Some contemporary voices join this ancient chorus, perhaps none more enthusiastically than Pope Francis. He’s proclaimed that unless wealth is used for the good of society, and above all for the good of the poor, it is an instrument “of corruption and death.” And Francis lives what he teaches: Despite access to some of the sweetest real estate imaginable — the palatial papal apartments are the sort of thing that President Trump’s gold-plated extravagance is a parody of — the pope bunks in a small suite in what is effectively the Vatican’s hostel. In his official state visit to Washington, he pulled up to the White House in a Fiat so sensible that a denizen of Northwest D.C. would be almost embarrassed to drive it. When Francis entered the Jesuit order 59 years ago, he took a vow of poverty, and he’s kept it.

According to many philosophies and faiths, then, wealth should serve only as a steppingstone to some further good and is always fraught with moral danger. We all used to recognize this; it was a commonplace. And this intuition, shared by various cultures across history, stands on firm empirical ground.

Over the past few years, a pile of studies from the behavioral sciences has appeared, and they all say, more or less, “Being rich is really bad for you.” Wealth, it turns out, leads to behavioral and psychological maladies. The rich act and think in misdirected ways.

When it comes to a broad range of vices, the rich outperform everybody else. They are much more likely than the rest of humanity to shoplift and cheat , for example, and they are more apt to be adulterers and to drink a great deal . They are even more likely to take candy that is meant for children. So whatever you think about the moral nastiness of the rich, take that, multiply it by the number of Mercedes and Lexuses that cut you off, and you’re still short of the mark. In fact, those Mercedes and Lexuses are more likely to cut you off than Hondas or Fords: Studies have shown that people who drive expensive cars are more prone to run stop signs and cut off other motorists .

The rich are the worst tax evaders, and, as The Washington Post has detailed, they are hiding vast sums from public scrutiny in secret overseas bank accounts.

They also give proportionally less to charity — not surprising, since they exhibit significantly less compassion and empathy toward suffering people. Studies also find that members of the upper class are worse than ordinary folks at “reading” people’ s emotions and are far more likely to be disengaged from the people with whom they are interacting — instead absorbed in doodling, checking their phones or what have you. Some studies go even further, suggesting that rich people, especially stockbrokers and their ilk (such as venture capitalists, whom we once called “robber barons”), are more competitive, impulsive and reckless than medically diagnosed psychopaths. And by the way, those vices do not make them better entrepreneurs; they just have Mommy and Daddy’s bank accounts (in New York or the Cayman Islands) to fall back on when they fail.

Indeed, luxuries may numb you to other people — that Louis Vuitton bag may be a minor league Ring of Sauron . Some studies go so far as to suggest that simply being around great material wealth makes people less willing to share . That’s right: Vast sums of money poison not only those who possess them but even those who are merely around them. This helps explain why the nasty ethos of Wall Street has percolated down, including to our politics (though we really didn’t need much help there).

So the rich are more likely to be despicable characters. And, as is typically the case with the morally malformed, the first victims of the rich are the rich themselves. Because they often let money buy their happiness and value themselves for their wealth instead of anything meaningful, they are, by extension, more likely to allow other aspects of their lives to atrophy. They seem to have a hard time enjoying simple things, savoring the everyday experiences that make so much of life worthwhile. Because they have lower levels of empathy, they have fewer opportunities to practice acts of compassion — which studies suggest give people a great deal of pleasure . They tend to believe that people have different financial destinies because of who they essentially are, so they believe that they deserve their wealth , thus dampening their capacity for gratitude, a quality that has been shown to significantly enhance our sense of well-being. All of this seems to make the rich more susceptible to loneliness; they may be more prone to suicide, as well.

How did we lose sight of the ancient wisdom about wealth, especially given its ample evidencing in recent studies?

Some will say that we have not entirely forgotten it and that we do complain about wealth today, at least occasionally. Think, they’ll say, about Occupy Wall Street; the blowback after Mitt Romney’s comment about the “47 percent”; how George W. Bush painted John Kerry as out of touch. But think again: By and large, those complaints were not about wealth per se but about corrupt wealth — about wealth “gone wrong” and about unfairness. The idea that there is no way for the vast accumulation of money to “go right” is hardly anywhere to be seen.

Getting here wasn’t straightforward. Wealth has arguably been seen as less threatening to one’s moral health since the Reformation, after which material success was sometimes taken as evidence of divine election. But extreme wealth remained morally suspect, with the rich bearing particular scrutiny and stigmatization during periods like the Gilded Age. This stigma persisted until relatively recently; only in the 1970s did political shifts cause executive salaries skyrocket, and the current effectively unprecedented inequality in income (and wealth) begin to appear, without any significant public complaint or lament.

The story of how a stigma fades is always murky, but contributing factors are not hard to identify. For one, think tanks have become increasingly partisan over the past several decades, particularly on the right: Certain conservative institutions, enjoying the backing of billionaires such as the Koch brothers, have thrown a ton of money at pseudo-academics and “thought leaders” to normalize and legitimate obscene piles of lucre. They produced arguments that suggest that high salaries naturally flowed from extreme talent and merit, thus baptizing wealth as simply some excellent people’s wholly legitimate rewards. These arguments were happily regurgitated by conservative media figures and politicians, eventually seeping into the broader public and replacing the folk wisdom of yore. But it is hard to argue that a company’s top earners are literally hundreds of times more talented than the lowest-paid employees.

As stratospheric salaries became increasingly common, and as the stigma of wildly disproportionate pay faded, the moral hazards of wealth were largely forgotten. But it’s time to put the apologists for plutocracy back on the defensive, where they belong — not least for their own sake. After all, the Buddha, Aristotle, Jesus, the Koran, Jimmy Stewart, Pope Francis and now even science all agree: If you are wealthy and are reading this, give away your money as fast as you can.

The TT wouldn't consider really giving away his money.

8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An interesting op-ed: "We Asked People to Say Something Nice About Trump. Here’s What We Heard.'

Spoiler

Yes, it’s true that Hillary Clinton got more votes, but he got the votes of more than 62 million people — and I am pretty sure I don’t know any of them. You can make a rude joke about Donald Trump in places like Washington and the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and be confident that nothing you say will give offense.

It would be nice, I have long thought, to have an openly opinionated press as Britain does, with papers such as The Guardian in London. Instead of hiding their biases, writers and correspondents could say what they think, and readers could discount accordingly.

Well, since Mr. Trump became a serious possibility for president, we have had that world I longed for, and I’m not so sure I want it.

The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other establishment outlets have been brazenly, laughably hostile to Mr. Trump, in their news pages as well as their opinion sections. Maybe this hostility is justified. In fact, I think it probably is.

But that doesn’t justify reaching out to twist stories or looking for the anti-Trump angle. Nor does it justify the open hoping — if not assuming — that something will come along to rid us of this turbulent hotelier. Impeachment is supposed to be an occasional tragic necessity, not just another tool for replacing the results of an election.

When Mr. Trump won, I prepared myself for an orgy of self-criticism by the liberal media, all wondering how they missed the amazing phenomenon of Mr. Trump’s popularity. We have seen some of that, of course. But not as much as one would imagine. Instead, there has been endless vilification of the guy and speculation about how we might get rid of him.

All the vilification has actually numbed people’s reaction to the truly shocking possibility that Mr. Trump conspired with Russia to steal the 2016 election. It wasn’t so long ago that Alger Hiss went to jail, ostensibly for perjury but actually for slipping secret documents to the Russians.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for something similar. Now we open the newspaper or turn on the TV news every day to learn of one more person who squeezed into the increasingly crowded room where the conspiracy was allegedly going on.

Earlier this year, The New York Times allowed me to ask its readers, “Is there nothing nice you can say about the man who, after all, is our president?” The nearly 2,000 emailed responses we got in the first month were generally tongue-in-cheek, along the lines of a joke: In his awfulness, he has united the nation in disliking him. This would be a better joke if it were true.

Another large category was people who praised him ironically for breaking some campaign promise, such as saying he would deport the Dreamers. These contributions usually ended with the word “yet” or its equivalent. Mr. Trump is praised for having resisted (so far) the urge to fire Robert Mueller. And for having, until recently, “stopped threatening to prosecute Hillary Clinton.” And because he has “dropped (at least for the moment) his claim that his Trump Tower phones were tapped.”

An alarming number of readers demanded that their subscriptions be canceled because this one pro-Trump article appeared in a daily sea of antagonism to him. Should it really count as pro-Trump to say, well, he’s done this one good thing among all the bad things? And, of course, one reader noted that Mr. Trump had revived the newspaper industry by being so distasteful.

Similarly, a writer praised the president for encouraging “a diverse group of Americans to look beyond our own, often narrow agendas and come together to fight this administration’s attempts to institutionalize injustice at every turn.” I suppose, if you were Donald Trump, you could read that as a compliment.

A few participants were overtaken by events. “I did like the bombing of the Syrian airfield,” one writer cheerily conceded. She said this reflected the president’s willingness to “draw a line.” Unfortunately, Mr. Trump (with Vladimir Putin’s help) erased that line in the weeks between when the writer wrote us and now.

A suspicious number of people wrote in to praise President Trump’s choice of James Mattis as defense secretary. The Mattis fan club is either very large or very well organized. Which is good because the Defense Department could use one that is both.

I couldn’t tell if some entries were joking or not. “Before Trump,” one person wrote, somewhat mysteriously, “I didn’t know anything about the awesomeness of Maxine Waters.” Maxine Waters has been awesome for many years, but is she supposed to be happy that opposing President Trump has given her a higher profile? Maybe so.

Another ambiguous one: “I admit I find Donald Trump charismatic, and he has an admirable sense of comic timing.” And, he “is very skilled at keeping his name in the news. He has also succeeded in business and politics with what appears to be very few intellectual gifts.”

Mr. Trump’s ethnicity pleased one person, but with a barb. “His mother is from Scotland,” and yet “his teeth seem good.” This despite the fact that “the man appreciates quality baked goods.” And “for a fat guy, he doesn’t sweat much.” Then of course there’s his hair. “He makes me feel good that I have the head of hair that I do,” one braggart wrote, while another simply expressed admiration: “He has an amazing comb-over.”

I could go on quoting for quite a while. “He doesn’t have a dog, which is a service to all dogs.” But I think by now we’ve made our point. Or rather, we’ve supplied enough material for anyone who wishes to make his or her own point.

As my research assistant in this project, Izzy Rode, observed, the vitriol tended to weaken as the weeks went on — vitriol against Mr. Trump, against The New York Times, against me. This is a common phenomenon on the internet. The rage generally isn’t sustainable, and inevitably starts to get repetitive.

Gosh, you know really he’s not so bad. No, wait, he’s pretty bad. And I don’t say that about just anyone.

I think this one is my favorite: he “is very skilled at keeping his name in the news. He has also succeeded in business and politics with what appears to be very few intellectual gifts.” Although I don't think he has really succeeded in business. If he didn't have daddy's money and bankruptcy to bail himself out, he wouldn't be seen as "successful".

12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Behold the Trump boomerang effect"

Spoiler

Did your head spin when Utah’s Orrin Hatch, a true conservative and the Senate’s longest-serving Republican, emerged last week as the most eloquent spokesman for transgender rights? Credit the Trump boomerang effect.

Much has been said about White House dysfunction and how little President Trump has accomplished in his first six months. But that’s not the whole story: In Washington and around the world, in some surprising ways, things are happening — but they are precisely the opposite of what Trump wanted and predicted when he was sworn in.

The boomerang struck first in Europe. Following his election last November, and the British vote last June to leave the European Union, anti-immigrant nationalists were poised to sweep to power across the continent. “In the wake of the electoral victories of the Brexit campaign and Donald Trump, right-wing populism in the rich world has appeared unstoppable,” the Economist wrote. Russian President Vladimir Putin would gain allies, the European Union would fracture.

But European voters, sobered by the spectacle on view in Washington, moved the other way. In March, the Netherlands rejected an anti-immigrant party in favor of a mainstream, conservative coalition. In May, French voters spurned the Putin-loving, immigrant-bashing Marine Le Pen in favor of centrist Emmanuel Macron, who went on to win an overwhelming majority in Parliament and began trying to strengthen, not weaken, the E.U.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom Trump belittled for having allowed so many refugees into her country, has grown steadily more popular in advance of a September election.

Trump’s win seemed certain to bring U.S.-Russian ties out of the deep freeze. Again, the opposite has happened. Congress, which can’t agree on anything, came close to unanimity last week in endorsing tough, Trump-proof sanctions against the Putin regime. Russia is expelling diplomats and seizing U.S. diplomatic properties. The new Cold War is colder than ever.

The third sure thing, once Republicans took control, was the quick demise of Obamacare. We saw last week how that turned out. But here’s the boomerang effect: Obamacare is not just hanging on but becoming more popular the more Trump tries to bury it. And if he now tries to mismanage Obamacare to its death, we may boomerang all the way to single-payer health insurance. This year’s debate showed that most Americans now believe everyone should have access to health care. If the private insurance market is made to seem undependable, the fallback won’t be Trumpcare. It will be Medicare for all.

Once you start looking, you find the boomerang at work in many surprising places. Trump’s flirting with a ban on Muslim immigration encouraged federal judges to encroach on executive power over visa policy. Firing FBI Director James B. Comey entrenched the Russia investigation far more deeply. Withdrawing from the Paris climate treaty spurred states from California to Virginia to toughen their policies on global warming. Threatening the research budget may have strengthened the National Institutes of Health’s hand in Washington. And so on.

The boomerang effect is no panacea. Trump can still do grave damage at home and abroad in the next 3½ years. If he undermined Obamacare, millions of people would suffer before we got to single-payer. Nationalist governments ensconced in parts of Eastern Europe could still draw strength from Trump. The absence of U.S. leadership in the world leaves ample ground for others to cause trouble.

But Trump’s policies are turning against him, and not only because his execution has been so ham-handed. The key factor is that so many of his policies run so counter to the grain of cherished values and ideals.

It turns out that Americans really don’t like the idea of poor people not being able to see a doctor. We don’t feel right cozying up to a dictator whose domestic opponents are rubbed out and whose neighboring countries are invaded and occupied.

And even if some Americans don’t know all that much about transgender people, it turns out we are less comfortable treating anyone as a “burden,” as Trump said in his tweet, than in valuing every individual’s service, a spirit that Hatch captured in his straightforward, humane response.

“I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone,” Hatch said. “Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them.”

And Americans aren’t unique. Millions of people in Europe and around the world are just as appalled by the scapegoating of minorities and the celebration of police brutality.

That has an effect. Maybe Newton’s third law of motion doesn’t translate perfectly into the political sphere, but a version of it applies: For every malignant or bigoted action, there will be an opposite reaction. And you can never be sure where it will begin.

I'd like the next boomerang to hit the TT in his comb-over.

6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, GreyhoundFan said:

"Behold the Trump boomerang effect"

  Hide contents

Did your head spin when Utah’s Orrin Hatch, a true conservative and the Senate’s longest-serving Republican, emerged last week as the most eloquent spokesman for transgender rights? Credit the Trump boomerang effect.

Much has been said about White House dysfunction and how little President Trump has accomplished in his first six months. But that’s not the whole story: In Washington and around the world, in some surprising ways, things are happening — but they are precisely the opposite of what Trump wanted and predicted when he was sworn in.

The boomerang struck first in Europe. Following his election last November, and the British vote last June to leave the European Union, anti-immigrant nationalists were poised to sweep to power across the continent. “In the wake of the electoral victories of the Brexit campaign and Donald Trump, right-wing populism in the rich world has appeared unstoppable,” the Economist wrote. Russian President Vladimir Putin would gain allies, the European Union would fracture.

But European voters, sobered by the spectacle on view in Washington, moved the other way. In March, the Netherlands rejected an anti-immigrant party in favor of a mainstream, conservative coalition. In May, French voters spurned the Putin-loving, immigrant-bashing Marine Le Pen in favor of centrist Emmanuel Macron, who went on to win an overwhelming majority in Parliament and began trying to strengthen, not weaken, the E.U.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom Trump belittled for having allowed so many refugees into her country, has grown steadily more popular in advance of a September election.

Trump’s win seemed certain to bring U.S.-Russian ties out of the deep freeze. Again, the opposite has happened. Congress, which can’t agree on anything, came close to unanimity last week in endorsing tough, Trump-proof sanctions against the Putin regime. Russia is expelling diplomats and seizing U.S. diplomatic properties. The new Cold War is colder than ever.

The third sure thing, once Republicans took control, was the quick demise of Obamacare. We saw last week how that turned out. But here’s the boomerang effect: Obamacare is not just hanging on but becoming more popular the more Trump tries to bury it. And if he now tries to mismanage Obamacare to its death, we may boomerang all the way to single-payer health insurance. This year’s debate showed that most Americans now believe everyone should have access to health care. If the private insurance market is made to seem undependable, the fallback won’t be Trumpcare. It will be Medicare for all.

Once you start looking, you find the boomerang at work in many surprising places. Trump’s flirting with a ban on Muslim immigration encouraged federal judges to encroach on executive power over visa policy. Firing FBI Director James B. Comey entrenched the Russia investigation far more deeply. Withdrawing from the Paris climate treaty spurred states from California to Virginia to toughen their policies on global warming. Threatening the research budget may have strengthened the National Institutes of Health’s hand in Washington. And so on.

The boomerang effect is no panacea. Trump can still do grave damage at home and abroad in the next 3½ years. If he undermined Obamacare, millions of people would suffer before we got to single-payer. Nationalist governments ensconced in parts of Eastern Europe could still draw strength from Trump. The absence of U.S. leadership in the world leaves ample ground for others to cause trouble.

But Trump’s policies are turning against him, and not only because his execution has been so ham-handed. The key factor is that so many of his policies run so counter to the grain of cherished values and ideals.

It turns out that Americans really don’t like the idea of poor people not being able to see a doctor. We don’t feel right cozying up to a dictator whose domestic opponents are rubbed out and whose neighboring countries are invaded and occupied.

And even if some Americans don’t know all that much about transgender people, it turns out we are less comfortable treating anyone as a “burden,” as Trump said in his tweet, than in valuing every individual’s service, a spirit that Hatch captured in his straightforward, humane response.

“I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone,” Hatch said. “Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them.”

And Americans aren’t unique. Millions of people in Europe and around the world are just as appalled by the scapegoating of minorities and the celebration of police brutality.

That has an effect. Maybe Newton’s third law of motion doesn’t translate perfectly into the political sphere, but a version of it applies: For every malignant or bigoted action, there will be an opposite reaction. And you can never be sure where it will begin.

I'd like the next boomerang to hit the TT in his comb-over.

Good article, @GreyhoundFan. But once again, you are being way too nice. I'm afraid I'm not that kind. I'm sure he is JB's rival in the helmet hair department, and that boomerang will just clang loudly when it connects with that comb-over and fall to the floor without doing any damage.

So I'd much rather that it hits him right in the middle of his pouty little mouth. Hard.

I also like the thought of that boomerang being the same as that sharp metal one in Mad Max 2.

6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, fraurosena said:

So, I'd much rather that it hits him right in the middle of his pouty little mouth. Hard.

Lower my friends, you need to aim much lower. :twisted:

11

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is hilariously funny. 

 

5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh dear, his widdle fingers are tapping wildy on his phone again, with this - not too subtle threat to congress - as the result:

 

He doensn't even realize that he shouldn't be antagonizing members of his own party. Or... shocking thought, he does, and is this another move towards independancy and that authoritarian rule he craves. 

11

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, GreyhoundFan said:

“Is there nothing nice you can say about the man who, after all, is our president?”

My answers:

Yes, there is nothing nice I can say about the man.

No, there is nothing nice I can say about the man.

I went to a baseball game in the southern US last night.  My sheltered Pacific NW self was very surprised that people were out and about, in public, wearing Trump-supporting t-shirts and no fights were breaking out. 

On another note, my husband is watching the news, and whenever I hear "Kelly", my first thought is not the General, but the Abysmal (K-A Conway). 

This administration takes some getting used to, or not...

 

7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Cartmann99 said:

Lower my friends, you need to aim much lower. :twisted:

Yeah, but that's probably so small that we'd miss it when throwing...

51 minutes ago, CTRLZero said:

My answers:

Yes, there is nothing nice I can say about the man.

No, there is nothing nice I can say about the man.

I went to a baseball game in the southern US last night.  My sheltered Pacific NW self was very surprised that people were out and about, in public, wearing Trump-supporting t-shirts and no fights were breaking out.

Well, as specified in the article, he doesn't have a dog, which is good for all dogs. That's probably the nicest thing about him.  I live in the Washington DC area, which is considered part of the south (kind of), but because I'm in a metropolitan area, there are few obvious Agent Orange supporters, but if I drive about an hour away, there are MAGA signs in yards and people wearing repulsive AO shirts and hats. I have to resist (!) throwing something at them. Right before the election, someone hung a huge T/P 2016 banner across four lanes of traffic. I had to go that way a couple of times, so I flipped it off each time. I never felt so angry and disappointed by W signs, even though I despised him too. Agent Orange and his ilk have just taken me to an unhappy place.

7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Trump had a terrible July, but at least he played a lot of golf"

Spoiler

It’s hard to see how July could have gone much worse for President Trump.

It was revealed that, contrary to his repeated insistence, his son had been tipped off about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election — and had embraced those efforts with open arms. Trump signed no new legislation, and saw his main policy focus, health care, collapse yet again on Capitol Hill. He lost his press secretary after hiring a controversial new communications director, and then enjoyed the spectacle of that new hire giving a remarkably vulgar on-record interview to a reporter about his chief of staff, who resigned the next day. Trump traveled to Europe to meet with other world leaders, and returned home to unflattering reviews of his conversation with Vladimir Putin. The one that the White House told reporters about, that is.

But the month wasn’t a total wash! Trump managed to squeeze in at least seven rounds of golf over the course of July and, with the exception of one Saturday he was stuck flying back from Europe, hit up one of his personal businesses on every single weekend day. Silver linings to clouds, etc.

... < great chart outlining all his trips to his properties and rounds of golf >

As of July 31, Trump’s visited his own properties on 57 of the 193 days he’s been president, a rate of once every 3.4 days. He’s played golf once every 5.8 days — or, at least, that’s what we assume, since the administration never actually admits he’s playing golf. Sometimes, as he did on Sunday, Trump will simply head from the White House to his golf club in Sterling, Va., for four hours or so and not tell the press what he’s doing. Occasionally, photos will leak on social media of Trump on the links or some other person will admit to being part of Trump’s foursome, but the administration likes to keep it vague, apparently so that they can pretend that maybe he was actually just in meetings.

On nearly half the days that Trump wasn’t overseas in July, Trump visited one of his properties, a higher rate than any other month. The only month in which Trump visited his own properties as much as he did in July was in February, but he played golf less frequently then. When Trump returned from Europe early this month, he didn’t even bother going back to the White House, heading directly to his club in New Jersey to watch the U.S. Women’s Open. Had that event not been happening (and if it hadn’t rained last Saturday), it’s safe to assume that his golf tallies would have been higher. (In lieu of golf on Saturday, he swung by his D.C. hotel.)

...

Why does this matter? Trump fans will ask. For a few reasons.

First of all, it matters because Trump repeatedly insisted on the campaign trail that he would play little to no golf as president, since he’d be so busy. (He repeatedly berated President Barack Obama for playing golf; Obama played at a rate of once every 8.8 days. Trump’s playing at a rate of once every 5.8 days.) It matters that Trump’s communications team won’t simply admit that he’s spending a lot of time playing golf, which they likely don’t do because of those campaign-trail pledges, but which they should because (1) it’s obvious and (2) it’s generally preferable for a president not to hide his actions from the public.

Second of all, it matters that Trump goes to properties that are owned by his private business because each of those trips serves as a de facto ad for the property, leveraging Trump’s official position on behalf of his private interests. What’s more, those trips cost the public a lot of money. His jaunts to Mar-a-Lago cost $6.6 million just to protect the facility from the air and water. If he stays at the White House, those costs are simply part of the daily operation. There’s also likely some direct flow of money from the government to the Trump property (for rentals, etc.) but it’s not clear how much.

Third, it matters because it’s unusual for a president to spend so much time away from the White House doing non-president-related things. His calendar this month has been fairly sparse, but, in addition to hitting up his private golf clubs and his hotel, he’s also found a lot of time for watching television. This schedule is almost certainly tied into the paragraph with which this article began: Trump spent very little time cajoling Republican senators to vote for the party’s health-care bill and enough defected on it to give him a black eye.

He spent at least 24 hours playing golf. Did he spend that much time on health care? He spent a weekend literally just watching a golf tournament from inside a glass box at a course he owns. Couldn’t that time have been better used?

One can only wonder: If Trump spent more of his time doing the things one might expect of a president and less time on the putting green, would his July have been such a political disaster?

What a lazy ass.

10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the WaPo's morning mega-article: "The Daily 202: Trump’s warped view of loyalty and the conceit of ‘the Oct. 8th coalition’"

Spoiler

THE BIG IDEA: President Trump has described himself as “a loyalty freak” and told interviewers that it is the trait he cares about most when hiring an employee. “We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that,” he said at the Boy Scout Jamboree last week.

James Comey testified under oath that Trump pressed him to pledge his loyalty during a one-on-one dinner in January, and he believes his refusal to do so led to his termination. Even though he says he has contemporaneous notes validating the former FBI director’s account, the president denies it. But he also says that it would not have been inappropriate if he had. “I don’t think it would be a bad question to ask,” Trump told Fox News in May. “You know, I mean, it depends on how you define loyalty.”

That begs the question: How does the president define loyalty? Trump seems to hold a black-and-white view: You’re either with him or against him. There is no in between. 

-- Trump’s die-hard supporters see themselves as members of what counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has taken to calling “the Oct. 8th coalition.” These are the people who steadfastly stood by Trump last fall on the day after The Washington Post published a videotape of him boasting crudely about being able to get away with groping women because he’s a celebrity.

When Trump ousted Reince Priebus on Friday, a senior White House official explained that the president has questioned the depth of his chief of staff’s loyalty ever since that day. Trump has often noted that Priebus, as chairman of the Republican National Committee, suggested that he drop out of the race when the 2005 “Access Hollywood” interview emerged. The senior official told my colleagues that Priebus’s advice was “a stain he was never going to remove: The scarlet 'A.H.'”

-- But make no mistake: Being a member of the “Oct. 8th coalition” does not actually ensure that the president will have your back.

Just ask the “beleaguered” Jeff Sessions, who that weekend was a Trump surrogate in the spin room after a debate in St. Louis. Asked by a reporter from the conservative Weekly Standard whether the behavior Trump described on tape would be sexual assault if it actually took place, the Alabama senator replied: “I don't characterize that as sexual assault. I think that's a stretch.” The reporter, John McCormack, followed up: “So if you grab a woman by the genitals, that's not sexual assault?” Demonstrating that he was willing to walk on glass for Trump, Sessions actually replied: “I don't know. It's not clear … how that would occur.” (He later walked this back.)

Trump rewarded Sessions with his dream job, but their relationship ruptured just three weeks after the attorney general took office. The president told reporters on March 2, the day Sessions recused himself from matters involving the Trump campaign, that he should not do it. “Sessions had already decided to step aside. But he had not consulted his boss … an action that would trigger a deep-seated anger that has seethed to this day,” Sari Horwitz and Robert Costa write in a story for today’s paper. “Trump confided to White House officials that he felt more exposed than ever to his critics with Sessions ceding control of the Russia investigation … That first flush of anger has never subsided. … For four months, Trump has rarely spoken to his attorney general, and when he has, it has been perfunctory.”

Sessions was not just the first senator to endorse Trump but the only one to back him before he became the presumptive GOP nominee. The president last week claimed falsely that Sessions only got behind him because he was drawing such big crowds in Alabama. And he’s tried repeatedly to push him toward resigning so that he doesn’t need to fire him.

Just how insistent is Trump on absolute loyalty? Sessions allies inside the White House are now afraid to speak up too vocally on his behalf lest they get on the president’s bad side. “Two key Sessions allies in the West Wing — senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn, who worked for Sessions in the Senate — have avoided becoming caught in the drama and instead have focused on their own responsibilities,” Sari and Bob report. “‘They’re … making clear that while they will always be close to Sessions, they’re Trump guys now,’ said one White House official, describing the dynamic. ‘It’s what they have to do in this environment. The president is not going to change his mind, and Stephen and Rick know that if they spoke up, it wouldn’t do much.’”

The same goes for White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, a longtime friend who promoted Sessions when he ran Breitbart News. “But Steve is in a delicate position where he can’t put everything on the line to save him,” a White House official said. “So they have a good relationship, but it’s not like Steve is able to be vocal.”

Chris Christie, who sat with Trump when the “Access Hollywood” story broke, nevertheless got purged as head of the transition team just one month later. “I’m still supporting Donald,” the New Jersey governor said the weekend the tape came out. “Obviously, I’m disappointed by what happened and, you know, disappointed in some respects by the response initially. But I’m still supporting him.”

The Washington Examiner ran a profile last week of Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. Conway, who was Trump’s campaign manager before becoming a top aide in the White House, pays tribute in the piece to Debbie Meadows for boarding a “Women for Trump” bus with 10 other congressional wives in the wake of the video. “We will always remember how tenacious and loyal Mark and Debbie Meadows were, especially after Oct. 7. They're definitely members of what we call the ‘Oct. 8th coalition,’” Conway said. “In the final month, beginning with her boarding that bus — in the face of a great deal of pressure to do otherwise — tells you something about their tenacity and loyalty.”

Conway’s effusive praise for the congressman is amusing when compared to Trump’s broadsides against him this spring. The president ripped him by name during an appearance on Capitol Hill in March, and then on Twitter, after the Freedom Caucus opposed an early draft of Paul Ryan’s American Health Care Act because it didn’t go far enough to repeal Obamacare. He even dispatched his budget director to threaten one member of the group. “The president asked me to look you square in the eyes and to say that he hoped that you voted ‘no’ on this bill so he could run [a primary challenger] against you in 2018,” Mick Mulvaney told Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.).

...

Rep. Labrador (R-Idaho) responded by recalling that they had backed him during the darkest hours of his campaign: 

...

Lacking the votes, that bill got pulled and reintroduced several weeks later when a compromise had been negotiated. But many of the Freedom Caucus’s three dozen members have not forgotten how Trump treated them. 

-- One upshot: Loyalty is situational for Trump. He’s loyal when it is a means to an end that he wants. Consider the case of White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. The former hedge fund executive raised money for Scott Walker and Jeb Bush during the GOP primaries. In the summer of 2015, on Fox Business, he called Trump a “hack politician” and said his rhetoric was “anti-American.”

During his debut in the press room, The Mooch called this “one of the biggest mistakes that I made because I was an unexperienced person in the world of politics.” Trump “brings it up every 15 seconds,” he added. “I should have never said that about him. So, Mr. President, if you're listening, I personally apologize for the 50th time for saying that.”

Trump excused him:

...

-- Another irony is the degree to which Priebus was actually quite loyal to the president. Trump never forgot his suggestion that he consider dropping out of the race after the “Access Hollywood” tape came out, but he appointed him chief of staff anyway. Priebus made his suggestion privately and continued to express public support for Trump. “Nothing has changed in regard with our relationship,” Priebus said during a conference call on Oct. 10. “We are in full coordination with the Trump campaign. We have a great relationship with them. And we are going to continue to work together to make sure he wins in November.”

Priebus stuck his neck out for a mercurial boss and endured indignities big and small over the past six months. Don’t forget the strange Cabinet meeting last month when every secretary went around the room heaping praise on Trump as cameras rolled. “On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you've given us to serve your agenda,” Priebus said.

Even on his way out the door, Priebus made a surreal appearance on Sean Hannity’s show Friday night to, for all intents and purposes, defend Trump’s decision to get rid of him. “I think actually going a different direction, hitting a reset button, is actually a good thing, and the president did that,” Priebus said, insisting that he chose to resign. “I’m going to be on Team Trump all the time.”

I'm wondering if knee-pads are being issued to West Wing employees.

5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, onekidanddone said:

a three-legged dog named Ivanka

How dare they refer to the Kushners this way!

3 hours ago, fraurosena said:

Oh dear, his widdle fingers are tapping wildy on his phone again, with this - not too subtle threat to congress - as the result:

 

He doensn't even realize that he shouldn't be antagonizing members of his own party. Or... shocking thought, he does, and is this another move towards independancy and that authoritarian rule he craves. 

Wow, he's starting a war with some powerful people there. People he needs to support him. Maybe our American Dream is that he gets taken away in a white jacket this week.

7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought this was a good analysis: "Why is Trump so bad at strategy? It’s time for some game theory! No, really …"

Spoiler

If the past week has made anything clear, it is that President Trump is a bad strategist. Consider three issues bedeviling his administration: Iran, health care and North Korea.

The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts covered Iran last week, but to sum up: Trump continues to insist that the United States would be better off walking away from the Iran deal even though his Cabinet disagrees. If he does go ahead and abrogate the Iran deal, he will get no support from the P5+1 and undercut the United States’ ability to conduct financial statecraft. So that’s bad. There are real reasons to be concerned about Iran’s influence in the region. The problem is, there’s no evidence that Trump knows what to do to counter Iran.

On health care, the Senate’s inability to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was pretty significant. Trump did not do much to help on that front besides have his interior secretary threaten Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). After the failed vote, Trump has done little but browbeat GOP senators via Twitter. And his budget director told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that it is official White House policy that the Senate should not vote on anything else until it passes a health-care bill. Given that Congress needs to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling, that’s a really boneheaded strategy.

Finally, North Korea continues to launch missiles at a faster rate than Netflix introduces new programming. Each time North Korea has done this, the Trump administration has said very loudly that it will not say anything else on the subject … and then Trump tweets something. This week, the president has done little beyond symbolic military moves to respond. Oh, wait, I forgot about the tweets:

...

Iran, health care and North Korea are all policy conundrums, with hard trade-offs and difficult choices to make. What is fascinating, however, is that in all three areas the Trump administration’s strategy seems to be little more than bluster and self-defeating gambits.

What the heck is going on? It’s time for some game theory!

No, really, its’s time for some actual game theory. The first rudimentary lesson in game theory is the notion of backward induction:

Backward induction is the process of reasoning backward in time, from the end of a problem or situation, to determine a sequence of optimal actions. It proceeds by first considering the last time a decision might be made and choosing what to do in any situation at that time. Using this information, one can then determine what to do at the second-to-last time of decision. This process continues backward until one has determined the best action for every possible situation.

To do backward induction properly, a strategic actor needs to be aware of the preferences and payoffs of all the other actors in the game. And what is striking about Trump’s approach to governing is how he does not seem to consider what anyone else wants or values. Trump is convinced that the other members of the P5+1 prefer ending the Iran deal when they in fact do not. He is convinced that Republican members of Congress prefer any other outcome to the Obamacare status quo (to be fair to Trump, GOP members of Congress did leave that impression from 2010 to 2016). And on North Korea, Trump is convinced that Chinese preferences are similar to U.S. preferences, which is not true at all.

Indeed, the Trump team’s thinking on foreign policy strategy is so blinkered that they do not just believe problems like Iran or North Korea can be fixed, but fixed pretty quickly:

...

It would seem that Trump’s strategic choices — maybe “impulses” is the better word — are suboptimal at best and disastrous at worse. So many of his choices boomerang badly.

Trump has chosen some semi-capable Cabinet officials and staffers. One of them is starting as his chief of staff today. Surely they will help him make better decisions, yes?

I fear they will not. As Vox’s Dara Lind points out, the president has such a fragile ego that his staff will not provide him with the critical feedback he needs:

The most powerful man in the free world is simply unwilling to hear bad news.

This is one of the biggest reasons the information he gets from staff is so limited — reports indicate that to keep him in a good mood, staffers deliberately pad packets of press clips with positive coverage. But even dissent that manages to get through to him might go unheard or rejected — it could even ruin his mood and cloud his decision-making for the rest of the day.

That defeats the whole purpose of telling the president bad news in confidence. It makes leaking the obvious choice.

I would go even further than Lind. Even if Trump receives critical feedback from his new chief of staff, it is far from obvious that he will listen. Press reports suggest that his advisers disagreed with him on Iran, but he is plowing ahead anyway. Indeed, the very fact that he is president makes him predisposed not to listen to others on strategy or tactics. Consider how many polls, pundits, and “experts” thought his election chances were doomed — and yet he won. Consider how many economists predicted financial catastrophe if he became president — and yet markets have soared. Consider how many obituaries were written about the House’s health-care bill when it was yanked on the first try — and yet it eventually passed.

Trump has repeatedly defied expert predictions, which enables him to ignore his advisers when they tell him that something cannot be done. Indeed, from reading “The Devil’s Bargain,” I know that one way to goad Trump into doing something is to tell him that it cannot be done.

There have been enough examples for Trump to continue to think he can defy the odds. He came very close on the Senate health-care bill as well. This only fuels his conviction that he can browbeat friends and rivals into submission.

To Trump’s supporters, this kind of conviction is a feature, not a bug. One American Greatness blogger looked at the past week of political fiascoes for Trump and… celebrated:

Trump is slaying sacred cows and, in the words of American Greatness Senior Editor Julie Ponzi, he is killing the gods of the city and no one knows what to do. The only thing anybody knows is that the things we are seeing have never been done before and Donald Trump is refusing to follow any of the proper conventions (if he even knows what they are . . . tsk tsk)….

Think of the glory of it all. This is the fight we have been waiting for. This is the turmoil we need.

The president is making common sense policy decisions that don’t need the backing of long reports authored by “experts” (backing that he wouldn’t have received, by the way). It is almost as if he thinks the people should rule, not supposed expertise. Kind of neat, huh? This will undoubtedly result in pushback from bureaucrats and “experts,” and timid culture warriors who apparently enjoy self-emasculation or have realized (incorrectly) that they have more to gain from maintaining the status quo.

I would suggest that: a) the people do not seem as fond of Trump as the this writer thinks; B) celebrating “disruption” is the last refuge of the political charlatan; and c) this all sounds great right up to the moment when it turns out the expert is right and the president’s “common sense” is grounded in self-aggrandizing delusion rather than reality.

The most important thing is that this is not how game theory works. Like, at all.

I just love how his aides don't tell him bad news because it puts him in a bad mood and impacts his decision-making for the rest of the day. That's worse than a two year old.

9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought this was a really interesting reddit comment.

Spoiler

Monday and Tuesday were HUGE days for Mooch given that there was an enormously threatening testimony in progress over on Cap Hill.

William Browder's congressional testimony on Monday was so potently damning toward both Trump and Russian oligarchs that Trump dropped the bombshell "trans" announcement as a diversion, retraining the focus of the public away from the testimony.

The testimony ended up being delayed til Tuesday. So, on Monday night, Trump dined with Mooch in double-clusterfuck emergency mode to come up with another highly effective diversion.

...and what do you know? Later that same evening, the Mooch did his ridiculous swearing tirade. I believe that this again was a calculated maneuver to distract the public from Browder's ensuing bombshell of a testimony.

Meanwhile, his brand new child was being born.

Truly, that testimony was SO damaging. It shed a bright light on the mechanisms underlying this collusion and treason, clear enough that any member of the public willing to openly listen would see through his bullshit, clear as day.

tl;dr - The Mooch was too busy hyperbolizing about Bannon's auto-felatio to be present at the birth of his newborn. He did this to distract from some serious testimony given by my new hero, Bill Browder.

 

7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.