President Donald Trump told reporters and the country yesterday that he was only testing the media when he suggested that using disinfectant and light to fight off the coronavirus was worth exploring. “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” he said.
Does anyone believe that? Anyone? It’s not quite a Jumbo—“What? I didn’t say that!”—but it’s almost as outrageous. Now, the “Trump is a liar!” tropes are re-energized (that’s no big lie, but it’s exaggerated and hyped), and the President has nobody to blame but himself. My sister, who actually participates in a Hate Trump neighborhood group, sent me a musical parody, “The Liar Sleeps Tonight” (it’s not bad) yesterday.
I know what he was thinking: the news media did distort and misrepresent what he said, so “It was a test, and you flunked!” might have seemed like a good gambit. The flaw in that strategy is that the president’s demeanor when he’s riffing is unmistakable by now. The sarcasm excuse was desperate, and more importantly, needless. Trump easily could have said that he was thinking out loud about some possibilities, and that most listeners understood that. What he said instead was stupid (and insulting), and, for what feels like the millionth time, handed a club to his critics.
The pattern is so familiar its completely familiar and would be boring if it weren’t so annoying. President Trump ad-libs something that popped into his head, using his unique stream of consciousness/if James Joyce had a 1000 word vocabulary version of communication. The news media rushes to interpret it in the most negative way possible, and reports that as what he both said and meant. Democrats, “the resistance” and especially social media addicts who barely have vocabularies over 1000 words themselves rush to say and write that the President is a Nazi, or racist, or moron, based on the deliberately misleading reports by people starting from the assumption that he is all three….the essence of confirmation bias.
Then people like me, being reasonable, public spirited and unbiased, point out that this is not a fair interpretation of what he said, whereupon such people are attacked as enablers of Nazis, racists and fools. Even after the original report is shown to be malicious fake news or close to it (my position is that if it’s almost fake news, it’s fake news), politicians, and unscrupulous pundits like Joe Scarborough, and your Trump Deranged friends and mine continue to repeat them. The President said that the white supremacists were “good people.” He said that Mexicans were rapists. He said the Wuhan virus was a hoax. Now, thanks to yesterday’s blather, they will be saying that he told people to “inject” or drink bleach and disinfectant as a cure for the virus. Continue reading →
1. Remember when Joe Biden said that the President needed to stop saying whatever popped into his head? This is the kind of thing he was talking about.
He suggested last week during the White House briefing that insurance companies should pay out business interruption claims related to the pandemic, even if coverage for such an event is not explicitly included in their policy. Trump said regarding insurance for an interruption of business,
“If I had it, I’d expect to be paid. All of the sudden they need it … and I don’t see the word pandemic mentioned. Now in some cases, it is. It’s an exclusion. But in a lot of cases, I don’t see it. I don’t see reference and they don’t want to pay up. I would like to see the insurance companies pay if they need to pay, if it’s fair….You have people that have never asked for business interruption insurance (payouts) and they’ve been paying a lot of money for a lot of years for the privilege of having it. And then when they finally need it, the insurance company says ‘we’re not going to give it.’ We can’t let that happen.”
Ugh. Insurance doesn’t work like that and can’t work like that, though I’m sure, as a businessman, Trump would take a shot at trying to make such a case. It is irresponsible, however, to misinform the public that such a claim would be reasonable. Insurance companies should have to meet their contractual obligations; Trump’s theory would cause premiums to explode. Continue reading →
This stuff kept me awake, gave me nightmares, or made me wish I was dreaming. Started this post before 5 am…
1. Idiotic meme of the week:
A lawyer friend whom I can vouch for having a brain actually posted this thing, apparently approvingly. In zombie movies, the equivalent is when a previously normal friend suddenly bites off your nose. Jules Suzdaltsev is hard left progressive journalist whose background is in film and psychology, and would be a fine example for teaching purposes of what someone sounds like who is so far on one side of the ideological spectrum that he is incapable of finding the center. He’s an ideologue and a Leftist incapable of objective analysis or non-compliant thought, who was steeped for seven years in the rarefied politics of San Francisco, and who tweets deliberate misrepresentations like “There have been more MASS SHOOTINGS in 2019 than there have been DAYS in 2019” and such cliched “resistance” bile like “Hey do you guys remember when the generation that grew up breathing lead fumes ended up voting for this guy as President?”
The scary thing is not Suzdaltsev—he’s a professional left-wing echo chamber provocateur, and good luck to him, glad he has a career. The scary thing is that lawyers, trained in critical thought, can reach the point where they find extremist agitprop persuasive. Society relies on educated, trained professionals to steer us clear of such rot, not to embrace it. The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck has seen one professional group after another abandon this duty for mob-pleasing expediency.
And how can someone post a statement that Bernie and Warren are barely left-of-center as anything but satire?
2. Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide, hanging himself in his cell. This was gross incompetence by the New York City jail, as well as federal authorities. If there ever was a prisoner who was a candidate for suicide (or murder), Epstein was it. He needed to be on a round-the-clock suicide watch. Epstein was allowed to cheat the justice system and his victims. He is now officially innocent of the crimes he was charged with.
Aside from all that, good. The world is better place without him in it. Continue reading →
Baaaaad Morning for me, GOOD MORNING to you, I hope.
1. The New York Times, I thought, has an unusually fair storyon the two phantom Trump phone calls that roiled “the resistance” yesterday. The President had said that he had received “calls” from the President of Mexico and the Boy Scout leadership, the former to salute him for getting tough at the border and the other to praise his controversial remarks at the annual Jamboree. There were no such calls, as the Mexico and the BSA had strongly suggested, and the White House confirmed this yesterday. In its piece this morning, the Times included a germane quote from pre-politics Trump in his 1987 book “The Art of the Deal”:
“People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”
Germane, except that we already know that he thinks this way—and I don’t think referring to a conversation (in the case of Mexico) or multiple members of the Boy Scouts leadership”praising his speech in person after he was done (“Nice job!” “Great speech!” “The boys really appreciated it!”) as phone calls qualifies as “hyperbole,” truthful or otherwise.
These are examples of the President’s well-established addiction to speaking in word clouds and approximations. He “saw” (well, maybe not literally) “thousands of Muslims” (Okay, maybe he didn’t see them, but they were there! ) celebrating the doom of the Twin Towers in New Jersey. He never supported the Iraq invasion (saying otherwise to Howard Stern doesn’t count). Now add the hundreds of others we either discussed here or that were flashpoints during the campaign. The President’s attitude toward these little and large imprecisions of language has been, apparently since childhood, “Whatever.” He really doesn’t think they matter, because to him the difference between, for example, “calls” and other communications doesn’t matter.
It’s a terrible habit. It undermines his credibility. It weakens his ability to persuade and lead. It makes him look foolish, careless and stupid, and shows a lack of discipline. It gives his intractable foes easy bullets to shoot at him. It’s also an established trait, at this point. This is, again, the Julie Principle. This is how he is, and both his supporters and detractors know it. What is accomplished by treating each new example as a major scandal? “Well, you can’t just let him get away with it!” is the reply.
He doesn’t get away with it. It undermines his credibility. It weaken his ability to persuade and lead. It makes him look foolish, careless and stupid, and shows a lack of discipline.
2. The Times seems to make a mild “everybody does it” excuse for the President, citing the examples of two Presidents the Times also hated, LBJ and Reagan, mostly Reagan. “It is hardly unprecedented for a president to use a story to inspire or motivate, or to embellish a yarn for the sake of punctuating a poignant message,” the Times says. Then it recounts this: Continue reading →