Who Ya Gonna Believe? Me or Documented Reality?

mad-trumpWe are about to launch into a new episode of “He Said, He Said,” as deep thinking pundits and talking heads attempt to decide whether to believe the word of President of the United States Donald Trump or that of former Director of the FBI James Comey.

The latter is a distinguished law enforcement professional who apparently takes extensive notes to make sure he remembers the facts of every encounter correctly. The former changes his stories faster than mothers change their babies’ diapers.

As a public service to those who might be weighing the question of which of these men to believe, I herewith provide a short list of recent press articles that discuss the truthfulness propensities of each. Continue reading

Andrew Sullivan on the madness of King Donald

Andrew published a brilliant “diary” in New York Magazine this morning that I hope gets read far and wide. It is a meditation on how it feels to watch a crazy person close up, when every fiber of your rational being wants to scream “he can’t really be crazy, there must be some strategy behind his apparent craziness.” You keep grasping at straws that will allow you to wiggle out from under the “crazy” explanation, but you just can’t find one. Yet your mind still rebels from the necessary conclusion. And this produces a kind physical sickness, a mental miasma you just can’t shake. And that’s exactly where so many of us are today. And Andrew captures all this beautifully. Continue reading

Why the Senate could not find one more Republican vote against Betsy DeVos

Republicans have always been good at discipline. Right now they are being assaulted by an angry public on all sides and their only defensive strategy is to huddle together and wait for the storm to blow over. They allowed Collins and Murkowski to have their little rebellion, because they knew they could absorb it. But the next defector would have mattered greatly. And they kept their gang in line. Continue reading

Comment on David Brooks, “The Republican Fausts”

A response to this column by David Brooks, published January 31, 2017.

“The deal they’ve struck with the devil comes at too high a price. It really will cost them their soul.”

David, you make one small error in your analogy. These Fausts created the devil they now face. Thirty years of radical anti-Americanism, bigotry, racism, violating one norm of governance after another, suppressing the vote of those who might disagree with them, sending our economy to the brink of collapse, never deviating from obstructing a President who still managed to pull us out of the financial catastrophe they created, and of course pursuing at all costs any policy to increase economic inequality at the expense of our working and middle classes. The net result? President Donald J. Trump.

Republicans, before you can lose your soul, you have to have one.

Comment on New York Times editorial “Can Donald Trump Handle the Truth?”

My response to this Editorial Board opinion piece, published January 28, 2017.

I have to say these recitations of the pathologies of Donald Trump are starting to get a little repetitious and tiresome. As the first 7 days has shown, the man is unfit for the job, has no grasp of reality, never has and never will. So yes, “oops, we made a big mistake.” Got it. Don’t need hear more “can you believe he said THAT?” The question is, what can we do now?

I propose a modest plan. We’ve had 5 million people in the streets, let’s organize ourselves to focus on ONE THING for the next 2 years. This is the only practical way we’re going to get rid of this guy (short of 25th Amendment removal), and it involves the following steps:

(1) target 25+ Republican House seats and pour all our energies into local activism to flip them in 2018. Remember the Tea Party flipped 50 seats to the Reps in 2010! With far fewer activists than we have today. http://www.indivisibleguide.com blueprints how to do it.

(2) Flip 3+ Senate seats using the same tactics.

(3) Impeach him in the House (pick from a menu of possible articles of impeachment).

(4) Convict and remove him in the Senate. Goodbye Trump.

(5) Block President Pence on everything he tries to do. Wait 2 years.

(6) Ride a post-Watergate-like wave of regret and anger to put a decent, patriotic American in the White House in 2020, backed up by super-majorities in both Chambers. Goodbye Republican Quislings.

(7) Begin cleaning up the mess, getting on with the people’s work, and rebuilding the integrity of our once great country.

Comment on Todd Gitlin, “The Drum Smash and the Blaring Trumpet”

Response to article by Todd Gitlin on Moyers & Co. blog, January 19, 2017.

It’s all very Ayn Randian, isn’t it? I feel when listening to these folks that their contempt and hatred is so intense they would send us all to the ovens if someone only gave them the opportunity.

There is a lot of very interesting research on personality and conservative ideology, and it paints a scary picture. See Hibbing, John R., Kevin B. Smith, and John R. Alford. “Differences in negativity bias underlie variations in political ideology.” BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES 37 (2014): 297-350. Also lots of research on how these predispositions translate into morality beliefs, again very, very scary. See Kugler, Matthew, John T. Jost, and Sharareh Noorbaloochi. “Another look at moral foundations theory: Do authoritarianism and social dominance orientation explain liberal-conservative differences in “moral” intuitions?.” Social Justice Research 27.4 (2014): 413-431.

Bottom line: conservatives are extremely susceptible to moral claims based on obedience to authority and purity, to such an extent that they can override more basic moral concerns about fairness, justice, and avoidance of harm. Inconvenient conclusion: Fox News may be first and foremost a little fascist incubator.

Comment on Roger Cohen, “Streep vs. Trump for America”

A reply to New York Times opinion column by Roger Cohen, January 10, 2017.

I would like us to reflect for a moment on Meghan McCain’s comment that Ms. Streep should realize that exercises of free speech like hers are “how Trump won.” That really sends shivers down my spine. Ms. McCain’s father was humiliated by Trump’s cruelty and brutishness just as publicly as Mr. Kovaleski was. Would she want us to remain silent about that despicable behavior simply to avoid the backlash of Trump’s minions?

Who are these people who would punish us with “more Trump” if we dare to call out abhorrent behavior — which is now being copied and inflicted on our children across our nation’s school yards every day? Has our civic society become so debased that some of us can’t tell the difference between courage and brutishness anymore, and so are perfectly happy to shout down the former and raise up the latter for all to adore? We must never be afraid to speak out for decency and civility.

If we’re going to have a culture war of common respect vs. insult and thuggery, let’s not back down from the fight. And I want to be on Ms. Streep’s side.