Buried in Trump’s Bullshit

The President is generating so much outrage on a daily basis that we're missing important stories.

Nearly a year before the 2016 election, Jeet Heer wrote a prophetic piece for The New Republic titled “Donald Trump Is Not a Liar—He’s something worse: a bullshit artist.” His core argument:

Falsehoods fly out of Donald Trump’s mouth with such unstoppable frequency that it’s tempting to describe him as a liar. Among the recent Trumpian untruths is his claim to have seen a video showing “thousands and thousands” of Muslim Americans cheering 9/11 in Jersey City, New Jersey, an event there is no record of, video or otherwise. Trump has also retweeted and vigorously defended the claim that 81 percent of whites who are murdered are killed by blacks (the actual number for last year is 15 percent). And he has asserted, contrary to fact, that the federal government is sending refugees to states with “Republicans, not to the Democrats.”

Yet the increasingly frequent tendency of Trump’s critics to label him a liar is wrongheaded. Trump is something worse than a liar. He is a bullshit artist. In his 2005 book On Bullshit, Harry G. Frankfurt, emeritus philosophy professor at Princeton University, makes an important distinction between lying and bullshitting—one that is extremely useful for understanding the pernicious impact that Trump has on public life. Frankfurt’s key observation is that the liar, even as he or she might spread untruth, inhabits a universe where the distinction between truth and falsehood still matters. The bullshitter, by contrast, does not care what is true or not. By his or her bluffing, dissimulation, and general dishonesty, the bullshit artist works to erase the very possibility of knowing the truth. For this reason, bullshit is more dangerous than lies, since it erodes even the possibility of truth existing and being found.

The contrast Frankfurt draws between lying and bullshit is sharp. “It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth,” Frankfurt observes. “Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all bets are off. … He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of truth than lies are.”

Frankfurt himself concurred a few months later, as did Eldar Sarajlic and, more famously, Fareed Zakaria. Trump has essentially embraced this narrative, frequently admitting that he really doesn’t care about whether things he says are true. Further, it’s well documented that Trump’s base not only doesn’t care that he spews lies on a daily basis but that being confronted with evidence that he’s lying simply reinforces their support for him.

A related phenomenon is what Megan McArdle and others have dubbed “outrage fatigue.”

I’m already tired of writing the “Trump had done something outrageous” column, because how many times can I point out that the man keeps acting in a distressingly unpresidential manner? And even if I write it, how long are readers going to be willing to read the same thing, over and over, with only the details changed for variety?

That’s what liberals worry about when they talk about “normalizing Trump”: that the sheer repetitiveness of his offenses against liberal democracy will make them ordinary and banal, that we will lose our ability to understand that each new outrage is, in fact, outrageous, and must be treated as such if we are to retain the precious legacy bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers, and two centuries of successors who painstakingly built the liberty we now enjoy. When his supporters dismiss criticisms as hysteria, saying “It’s not that bad,” in some sense, they’re right: So far, he has not openly defied the courts, a la Andrew Jackson, nor explicitly threatened people who threaten his business interests. The problem is that the way you get to “that bad” is often through a long succession of “At least he hasn’t …” until finally, he does, and you find that the permission granted for earlier transgressions has created a blanket hall pass for gross abuses of power.

No, liberals are right to worry, and in fact, I don’t think they worry enough. Because the biggest risk is that even if we keep shouting “This is not normal!”, voters who have heard that a thousand times before will eventually yawn and say “No, actually it is.”

That was almost a year and a half ago and, while journalists don’t seem to have tired of getting outraged over Trump’s actions, there is indeed a numbing normalization. Moreover, the outrages come so quickly that we’re losing sight of important stories.

In my post this morning “Trump’s Shameful Betrayal of Immigrant Soldiers,” I noted that this story surprised me even though it’s been slowly unfolding and reported in the most visible outlets for the past year:

Despite consuming an inordinate amount of defense journalism and following people like Loren [DeJonge Schulman] and Alex [Horton] on Twitter, I’ve only been tangentially aware of this story. In the Trump era, especially, there are so many daily outrages that big news gets lost unless it’s emphasized and re-reported with some regularity. That hasn’t happened here.

Regular commenter James Pearce observes that the attitude “The beat reporter knows about it. Why is it such a surprise to everyone else?” points to a need for “more diligent reporters and a more engaged audience.” While absolutely a fair point, Trump is generating so many sensational stories that it’s very hard for those which merely update previous stories to get written, much less gain traction.

There is a technique in the law (at least as practiced in fictional portrayals) of burying the opposing counsel in paperwork, making it both time-consuming and expensive to find the few nuggets of information that might be beneficial to them. Trump is essentially doing the same thing by burying us in bullshit.

Now, I don’t think this is a game of four-dimensional chess. This is just a stream of consciousness style rather than a planned campaign. But the result is the same: major stories are getting too little attention because the latest from the Tweeter-in-Chief sucks all the oxygen out of the room.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Presidency, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Just about a month ago, I had a similar post based off the argument made by a University of Chicago Professor that Trump was essentially engaging in a deliberate strategy of regularly spouting lies and nonsense designed at least in part to exhaust his opponents and the general public dealing with daily, if not hourly, updates on the latest thing the President said or tweeted. The deluge seems to be so massive at times that it’s hard to keep up with, and the fact that the arguments clearly have no impact on Trump’s most ardent supporters, and that even Republicans who know what he’s doing is wrong lack the courage to say anything, although there are some notable exceptions to that rule, that the easiest response at times seems to be to just throw up your hands and give up.

    This may be exactly what Trump wants.

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trainwrecks do rather draw focus, they’re funny that way.

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  3. There is a technique in the law (at least as practiced in fictional portrayals) of burying the opposing counsel in paperwork, making it both time-consuming and expensive to find the few nuggets of information that might be beneficial to them.

    Having experienced it myself, especially when involved in cases that bring in a high-priced law firm with the personnel and resources to do such things, I can attest that this isn’t just something that happens on television or in the movies.

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  4. teve tory says:

    According to fact checkers Trump has told 203 lies in the last 2 weeks. My favorite from last night was when he said it was hard for a Republican to win the electoral college. It’s like he’s deliberately making fun of his supporters’ intelligence.

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  5. steve says:

    I guess you could be right. I actually just think that he is a liar with no conscience, but maybe that is just another way of saying BS artist. One of the really depressing parts about this for me is that I have good friends on the right with whom I talk politics. They defend everything. Trump is just exaggerating. It is hyperbole. He only got part of it wrong. It was a mistake. ETC. There is nothing they won’t defend. The only thing to which I can liken this is a cult (though I understand it is really just a further extension of our extreme tribalism). Having been brought up in one, I know what it is like. The leader just cannot be wrong.

    Steve

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  6. teve tory says:

    Calling Maxine Waters mentally retarded was real classy, too, and he definitely wasn’t playing to the racists.

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  7. Last night’s speech hit on all the Trump classics:

    — Attack on John McCain? Check.
    — Attack on George H.W. Bush? Check
    — Attack on Maxine Waters, the latest GOP Democratic target? Check
    — Once again going after Elizabeth Warren with the whole stupid “Pocahontas” thing? Check

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  8. teve tory says:

    Donald J. Trump

    @realDonaldTrump
    A vote for Democrats in November is a vote to let MS-13 run wild in our communities, to let drugs pour into our cities, and to take jobs and benefits away from hardworking Americans. Democrats want anarchy, amnesty and chaos – Republicans want LAW, ORDER and JUSTICE!

    8:44 PM – Jul 5, 2018

    MS-13 is going to take your job! What TF do you do for a living?!?!?

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  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @steve:
    Oh, it’s a cult all right.

    Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader.

    1) Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
    2) Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower’s mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused–as that person’s involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.
    3) Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as “persecution”.
    4) Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
    5) Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
    6) Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
    7) A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
    8) Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
    9) Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
    10) Former followers are at best-considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.

    Our local Trumpaloons are each guilty of at least 8 of the 10. Cult45 is a real thing, as real as Scientology or Koresh or Aum Shinrikyo.

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  10. Charon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As long as there are plenty of people who believe the lies, and there are, it’s fair to call this “Gish Gallop.”

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  11. Guarneri says:

    Ah, yes. Don’t we all long for those great days of pure and transparent honesty with Bill and Hill, Harry Reid, Obama and Holder, Susan Rice, Lerner and Koskinin, Chuckie and Nancy, Brennan and Clapper…………

    Oh, wait. Those didn’t exist.

    Well, at least we can point to the daily, non-stop outrage expressed here at OTB towards those……

    Oh, wait…….

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  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:
    Hey all you people dissing Jeffrey Dahmer, whaddabout Cain? He killed his brother.

    Idiot.

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  13. Modulo Myself says:

    Frankfurt’s theory of bullshit is pretty good, especially when in connects with something like astrology or New Age crystals. Rational people can bullshit their own belief systems into questioning science while still actually following science and at the same time keeping distance from the real New Age types.

    You don’t have to believe in astrology in order to bullshit yourself into believing in astrology. Trump operates in a similar way. I think he’s less of a cult than a fantasy for very repressed and racist people.

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:
    Dude, who do you think joins cults? “…a fantasy for very repressed and racist people.” Cults are always about disappointed, repressed, aimless people fantasizing about being part of something larger than themselves. Rational, mentally-healthy people do not join cults.

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  15. teve tory says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    There’s a meme going round the Intertubes with a guy keeled over clutching his chest and a woman telling 911 on the phone, “I just asked him to defend Trump without mentioning Obama or Hillary!” 😛

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  16. Kathy says:

    At least ha hasn’t given up anything to North Korea in exchange for noting. Oh wait.

    Well, at least he has made it clear he will not abide any more interference in US elections. Oh, wait.

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  17. Franklin says:

    A long while back, some unnamed commenters suggested we should ignore the constant tweets and other BS that Trump was flooding us with, that they weren’t really important. That was met with derision by other unnamed commenters including at least one of the OTB contributors, that these tweets were important because they were coming from the POTUS, the leader of the free world.

    No offense, but are we changing our minds yet?

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  18. JKB says:

    How do you get the country to discuss an issue. Really thing about it, not just repeat boilerplate they’ve heard?

    By offering a reasoned statement that will either be buried or misconstrued by the press? No.

    You offer up internet bait so the feeding frenzy ensues. You make a “mistake” on the internet. Now, every little detail will be researched, opined and discussed.

    If you are exhausted, media. Stop taking the bait. Maybe husband your resources by letting only a few sites get the clicks here, another there. But no, the news sites and the opinion sites want their fair share of the clicks.

    There’s no magic spell here, all the media has to do is walk away.

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  19. Franklin says:

    @Guarneri: All politicians lie sometimes, I’m pretty sure you are aware. However, I do feel there’s a difference between lying 20x per day vs. a lie every 20 days, for example. Don’t you?

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  20. CSK says:

    @Franklin:

    I can only speak for myself, but, no, I’m not going to ignore what Trump tweets and says. Nor should the press. For one thing, Trump’s Twitter feed provides foreign intelligence agencies not only with a staggeringly detailed record of his thoughts (so to speak) and responses to various matters, but a template of his mental and emotional state. They’ve never before had this intimate knowledge of the psyche of a previous president.

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  21. reid says:

    Seems at his latest cult rally last night, they were still chanting, “Lock her up!” Lots of other crass, insulting BS, too. So much winning, if you define “winning” as being a moron.

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  22. teve tory says:

    When 250,000 troops are on their 3rd tour winning Hearts and Minds in Iran we’ll wish we were still chatting about Scott Pruitt and Stormy Daniels.

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  23. teve tory says:

    @reid: It’s been a year and a half and Hillary still isn’t being so much as investigated for a crime. Wonder how long it’ll take them to figure out they’re being used.

    Probly never.

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  24. grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Speaking of Aum Shinrikyo, they just executed Asahara and several others of his group.

    (I still get queasy because one of the train stations they attacked I regularly commuted through and just happened by chance to be back on a visit to the US that week. I remember being in a panic and calling friends to make sure that they were all right.)

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  25. CSK says:

    @reid:

    I don’t think they still expect HRC to be locked up. The constant repetition of the mantra enables them to feel as if they’re “triggering the libturds”—which is the most important thing.

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  26. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds: One unique feature of the Trump cult is that most of his supporters acknowledge some of his flaws—or at least pay lip service to acknowledging them. Then they proceed to rationalize away the importance of those flaws and spin them into strengths. “Yes Trump lies (or “exaggerates”), but you have to take him seriously, not literally. Yes, Trump is unstable and erratic, but that makes him formidable when going toe to toe with hostile foreign leaders. Yes, Trump’s a bully, but the presidency doesn’t need a nice guy, it needs someone who gets things done.”

    Trump’s unfitness for the office is so obvious that even his supporters are unable to totally deny it—they can only rationalize it. I increasingly get the sense that they see Trump as the hero in some kind of Hollywood drama—the guy who seems blatantly unqualified for the position he’s thrown into but who in the end manages to beat the odds and put all the naysayers in their place, who all eventually see the light. (I think of that line at the end of My Cousin Vinny by the judge: “Your courtroom manner may be unconventional, but I gotta tell you—you’re one helluva trial lawyer.”) Not only do they think Trump will be vindicated, they think it’s inevitable, and it colors their perception of everything that happens, from the Korea summit to the trade wars. They aren’t just expecting success, but success in an unconventionally awesome way.

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  27. teve tory says:

    @CSK: I’m not triggered by Trumpers saying “Lock her up” any more than a Golden State fan is upon seeing a spectator holding a sign saying “Phoenix Suns #1!!!!!” 😛

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  28. Kathy says:

    @teve tory:

    Think how the bullshitting will play if/when Dennison decides to sell a war to his base (he won’t try to sell it to the country, since to him only his base counts).

    We know now Bush the younger sold a war on Iraq partly (or largely) on faulty intelligence. I don’t know how much Bush knew it to be faulty, or what other reports he disregarded or ignored. Even so, he presented a reasonable, if utterly wrong, case.

    Benito the Cheeto could sell a war on 100% bullshit.

    First tragedy, then farce. But just as the “farce” of Napoleon III ended in a bloody war with Prussia, Dennison can get a blood-stained “accomplishment” of his own.

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  29. CSK says:

    Here’s a prime example of Trump’s bullshit: He just Tweeted that he won a collusion lawsuit. In fact, the judge was explicit that she tossed it on jurisdictional grounds. He won nothing.

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  30. An Interested Party says:

    It’s been a year and a half and Hillary still isn’t being so much as investigated for a crime.

    But the Idiot-in-Chief certainly is being investigated for crimes…funny that…these people are all about projection…

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  31. teve tory says:

    @CSK: yep.

    Despite the president’s assertion, a judge who ruled on the case Tuesday evening declared that the plaintiffs had not successfully tied the Trump campaign to Washington, D.C., where the district court was located.

    Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle wrote in her opinion that she had not ruled based on the merits of the case, which alleged that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and WikiLeaks to publish hacked emails from DNC servers. Instead, the judge dismissed the case on the grounds that none of the communication was alleged to have taken place in D.C.

    “It bears emphasizing that this Court’s ruling is not based on a finding that there was no collusion between defendants and Russia during the 2016 presidential election,” wrote Segal Huvelle, an appointee of former President Clinton. “This is the wrong forum for plaintiffs’ lawsuit. The Court takes no position on the merits of plaintiffs’ claims.”

    -the hill

    Anyway, trump’s tweeted judicial vindication re collusion 25 or 30 times by now. He must be the most exonerated person in history 😛

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  32. James Pearce says:

    @Franklin:

    No offense, but are we changing our minds yet?

    Man, I hope so…

    @CSK:

    They’ve never before had this intimate knowledge of the psyche of a previous president.

    I believe Trump’s twitter feed is a performance, not a window into his soul. It’s a platform for his lies and insults. It’s regime propaganda. What am I going to do with it?

    Chuck it in the nearest bin, that’s what I’m going to do with it.

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  33. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    They aren’t just expecting success, but success in an unconventionally awesome way.

    You know, offhand the only person I can think of who ever succeeded in an unconventional and awesome way is Augustus, all the way back in the 1st Century CE.

    Not only did he triumph in the civil war and defeat first all opposition and then his ally, Mark Anthony, but the empire he established endured for several centuries after him.

    I am considering people such as Alexander, Caesar, Constantine I, Justinian, Stalin, Churchill, Napoleon, the US Founding Fathers, etc. Trump isn’t in that league, outside his own and his followers’ fantasies.

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  34. teve tory says:

    @teve tory:

    this is going to be like the old Far Side cartoon.

    What normal people hear:

    “Despite the president’s assertion, a judge who ruled on the case Tuesday evening declared that the plaintiffs had not successfully tied the Trump campaign to Washington, D.C., where the district court was located.

    Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle wrote in her opinion that she had not ruled based on the merits of the case, which alleged that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and WikiLeaks to publish hacked emails from DNC servers. Instead, the judge dismissed the case on the grounds that none of the communication was alleged to have taken place in D.C.

    “It bears emphasizing that this Court’s ruling is not based on a finding that there was no collusion between defendants and Russia during the 2016 presidential election,” wrote Segal Huvelle, an appointee of former President Clinton. “This is the wrong forum for plaintiffs’ lawsuit. The Court takes no position on the merits of plaintiffs’ claims.””

    What Trumpers hear:

    blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

    blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

    blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah President Clinton blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

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  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Franklin: @James Pearce:

    To ignore is to accept. Propaganda must be met with countervailing facts which rather requires us to pay attention to Trump’s tweets. I’m at a loss to understand why we should just ignore a man with control of thousands of nuclear weapons. It’s nonsense, unsustainable and ends by helping Trump.

    The counter to lies is truth, not indifference. Europeans were indifferent to anti-semitic lies until suddenly they couldn’t be. The GOP ignored the racism in its base until it was consumed by it. We must be as devoted to truth as they are to lies.

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  36. teve tory says:

    Criminal indictments per presidential administration:

    BARACK OBAMA 0
    GEORGE W. BUSH 16
    BILL CLINTON 2
    GEORGE H. W. BUSH 1
    RONALD REAGAN 26
    JIMMY CARTER 1
    GERALD FORD 1
    RICHARD NIXON 76

    Where’s Trump going to wind up in that? My vote is between Reagan and Nixon.

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  37. CSK says:

    @James Pearce:

    Trump may well be performing, but he’s been performing this way since 1980–38 years. What you see is what you get.

    And, if he’s created a false persona for himself, what does it say about him that he created one so infinitely repulsive yet so infinitely contemptible?

    I understand that you regard Trump’s Tweets as of inconsequential. The rest of the world, including its leaders, doesn’t.

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  38. Charon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The GOP ignored the racism in its base until it was consumed by it.

    Ignored? Here is Lee Atwater in 1981, going on about the Southern Strategy:

    You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

    They haven’t ignored anything, they just didn’t grasp that things would inevitably eventually get out of hand.

    You do recall Willie Horton, no?

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  39. Lounsbury says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Well yes, the extremist populist movements of the 1920s European reaction – the fascists – used the tactic well.

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  40. MBunge says:

    major stories are getting too little attention

    You mean major stories about how well the economy is doing? Or how about Trump’s approval ratings stabilizing and even rising in the midst of the most sustained negative media coverage any of us have ever seen? Or how about Trump restraining and reducing government regulations? Or the explosion in people advocating and endorsing public mob harassment of people with the “wrong” political opinions? Or how about American success against ISIS? How about improvements in the Middle East, like Israel and Saudi Arabia cooperating on a rail link between the two countries?

    I could go on…but what’s the point? You know what you know and you’re not interesting in knowing anything else.

    Mike

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  41. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m at a loss to understand why we should just ignore a man with control of thousands of nuclear weapons.

    Don’t ignore the man or the office. Ignore the tweets. The tweets are garbage.

    @CSK:

    The rest of the world, including its leaders, doesn’t.

    The sooner “the world” learns that Trump’s tweets are garbage, the better off we’ll all be.

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  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Franklin:

    All politicians lie sometimes, I’m pretty sure you are aware. However, I do feel there’s a difference between lying 20x per day vs. a lie every 20 days, for example.

    There is a difference between lying and stretching the truth, and spinning the facts. Nearly all politicians engage in all 3 but outright lying is the least common of these 3 because it is the easiest one to be called out on.

    In the real world anyone engaging in the type of behavior trump is gets either their lights punched out or just completely ignored and expelled. Only the rich can get away with this.

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  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: You can’t sell what people won’t buy.

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  44. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    You have no basis whatsoever for claiming the Tweets are irrelevant. It’s just nonsensical. You’re deciding arbitrarily that we should judge Trump by a standard we would never apply to any other POTUS. You’re positing that Trump can spew hate 24/7 and we should just pretend he hasn’t, which has the net effect of allowing hateful propaganda to go unchallenged. Special rules for the White Supremacist president?

    Utter bullshit devoid of logic, Pearce.

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  45. teve tory says:

    You have no basis whatsoever for claiming the Tweets are irrelevant. It’s just nonsensical. You’re deciding arbitrarily that we should judge Trump by a standard we would never apply to any other POTUS.

    like the people who say “If you don’t include California and New York, Trump won in a landslide!”

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  46. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Special rules for the White Supremacist president?

    Well, yes. Special vigilance and special scrutiny.

    It’s nothing less than the Cheeto deserves.

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  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: A friend of mine who does contract paralegal work was also noting the same phenomenon as he sorted through 20+ banker boxes of copies of emails–counsel neglected to ask for electronic files and so, was not given any–looking for one specific message.

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  48. mike shupp says:

    The thing is, it’s not just that Trump bullshits a lot, it’s that 40% of the populace laps it up like gospel, and shrugs off criticism of Trump as just the other side’s bullshit. Maybe at some point, Trump critics ought to start calling out his supporters.

    Suppose some news stories started off with “In another lie calculated to incite his supporters, President Trump criticised Senator Maxine Waters as …” Or “Happy Iowa farmers are burying soybeans today as Chinese buyers switch to Brazilian imports.” Or, “Midwestern evangelicals quoting Christ increase support for family disruptions at Mexican border.” “Patriot police officer lauded by Baptist congregation for killing unarmed homeless man.” Etc.

    Make being a Trump supporter something that smells … a little off … even to Trump supporters.

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  49. al Ameda says:

    @MBunge:

    You mean major stories about how well the economy is doing?

    Speaking of sustained sales and marketing by the Trump administration:
    You do realize that as many jobs were created in Obama’s final 18 months as were created in Trump’s first 18 months.

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  50. An Interested Party says:

    You mean major stories about how well the economy is doing? Or how about Trump’s approval ratings stabilizing and even rising in the midst of the most sustained negative media coverage any of us have ever seen? Or how about Trump restraining and reducing government regulations? Or the explosion in people advocating and endorsing public mob harassment of people with the “wrong” political opinions? Or how about American success against ISIS? How about improvements in the Middle East, like Israel and Saudi Arabia cooperating on a rail link between the two countries?

    Ladies and gentleman, a quote from this site’s resident cult member…no matter what disgraces darken the door of the White House, no matter what the Idiot-in-Chief says or tweets, literally anything he does can be minimized, excused, and/or forgotten…does anyone know Bunge personally? Perhaps we could send some cult deprogrammers over to his house…

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  51. teve tory says:

    @mike shupp:

    The thing is, it’s not just that Trump bullshits a lot, it’s that 40% of the populace laps it up like gospel, and shrugs off criticism of Trump as just the other side’s bullshit. Maybe at some point, Trump critics ought to start calling out his supporters.

    Remember that nail company that was going to have to lay people off and maybe go out of business in I think it was Missouri, a couple weeks ago? A journalist just did a followup with some trump voters there whose hours are being cut.

    Long story short, they don’t care if they get laid off, they’re just glad we don’t have that Muslim in the white house anymore.

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  52. Charon says:

    Apart from the lying there is also senile dementia. Very recent example:

    https://twitter.com/Mikel_Jollett/status/1015247999272800256

    The condition is plainly progressing, how long until it is even more obvious?

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  53. al Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    The sooner “the world” learns that Trump’s tweets are garbage, the better off we’ll all be.

    President Trump is tweeting his intentions and his ‘policies’ which happen to be, like it or not, our national policies.

    Those tweets, as garbage-like and maggot-ridden as many of them may be, are not trifles, they are often a preview of what is to come. Exit the Paris Climate Accord? [check], exit the Trans Pacific Partnership [check], propose to invite Russia and Putin to G7 while insulting long standing allies [check]. This has been going on since January 2017.

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  54. teve tory says:

    @Charon: Jesus.

    trump:

    “I have broken more Elton John records, he seems to have a lot of records. And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ. And lots of other people helping. No, we’ve broken a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record. Because you know, look I only need this space. They need much more room. For basketball, for hockey and all of the sports, they need a lot of room. We don’t need it. We have people in that space. So we break all of these records. Really we do it without like, the musical instruments. This is the only musical: the mouth. And hopefully, the brain attached to the mouth. Right? The brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain. The brain is much more important.”

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  55. Charon says:

    @teve tory:

    Farther down the thread someone tried to translate some meaning out of that, what he was trying to say:

    “I draw bigger crowds than Elton John even though I don’t have a musical instrument and my venues are smaller. Sports teams need more room than us; still, we are bigger. My mouth is like a musical instrument but my brain is arguably more important.”

    Even that doesn’t make much sense.

    ETA: People who think he knows what he is doing must be a cult at this point.

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  56. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Here’s an “official communication” the president posted on Twitter from yesterday:

    A vote for Democrats in November is a vote to let MS-13 run wild in our communities, to let drugs pour into our cities, and to take jobs and benefits away from hardworking Americans. Democrats want anarchy, amnesty and chaos – Republicans want LAW, ORDER and JUSTICE!

    What am I supposed to do with that? Argue with it? Refute it with facts?

    It’s just garbage. Throw it away.

    Here’s some more utter bullshit logic: While you were tracking Stormy Daniels on her “Make America Horny Again” tour and watching the Michael Avenatti show every day, you missed that thing where the Trump Administration has been quietly –with no press releases and no tweets– screwing over immigrants enlisted in the armed forces.

    What other horrible shit are we going to find out about while we’re all playing Trump’s game? This dude is already running for re-election, a rally in Montana just last night, and his detractors are still stuck in Outrage of the Day mode, hoping –like the generals in Vietnam– that we’ll reach some tipping point. “He’s racist, sexist, misogynistic, and he reads Jonathan Franzen novels.” So what? He’s not the first shithead to occupy the White House. Is he there to make you feel good about your country, to inspire kids? “See, if he can be president, so can you.”

    No.

    He’s there to do a job, and the people who put him in office are pretty satisfied with the job he’s doing. What’s better, from their perspective, is that he uses naked power to do it. If it feels like a slap in the face sometimes, it’s because it is. “Democrats want anarchy, amnesty and chaos.” Slap. “Democrat crazies.” Slap. “Pocahontas.” Slap.

    This dude uses psychologically abusive techniques on entire populations of people and I’m supposed to pay attention? No thanks. Let him use his naked power. Let him do his worst. His supporters can keep the psychological manipulations for themselves.

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  57. Kathy says:

    @Charon:

    I guess since he’s raved like a lunatic for decades, he could go full senile and no one would notice the difference.

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  58. gVOR08 says:

    @teve tory: Every base Republican I’ve known would explain to you that those numbers are because the “elites” circle the wagons around Dems so they can cover up anything, while GOPs are constantly under fire over nothing. As some of our own commenters allege is happening to Jim Jordan.

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  59. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Siiiiiiiighhhh, everytime I come to this blog I see liberal whitey “harumphing” about the same ole sheyat. Why is this so hard for you people? Trump’s sole goal with Twitter is to keep the media and opposition reacting to him. This is Boxing 101.

    Everytime you waste spin cycles fact-checking and correcting–Trump maintains the perception of winning. Trump may be intellectually obtuse–but he understands human nature well enough to exploit similarly obtuse people for his own ends. You’re going to have to outmaneuver him and get him tweeting in response to things Democrats are doing and saying. This is the only way to shake loose his core support. Seriously, all the millions of dollars Democratic “strategists” make–and they can’t find some narratives to sow distrust between Trump and his cabinet members and between Trump and key people of his Company?

    I’ve told you all before that this contest between Ds & Rs is bare knuckled boxing. Process and norms are out the window. The Republicans only care about outcomes–that’s why Merrick Garland was stuffed at the Goal line and why McConnell is going to slam dunk a new Justice on your asses. The Democratic Party and supporters are going to have to get some alpha male in the way they move and talk if they dont want Trump to win re-election. Seriously, this Party has image problem appealing to men–primarily because the public face of the Party has become about being the champion for every hard luck identity group that can’t cast enough D votes in an election to equal a hill of beans. Pro tip: Voters are SELFISH! They are primary concerned about what are you doing for ME.

    I think I have a pretty “purple” social network and frankly, most of what Democrats are doing in opposing Trump is what we call down South “Preachin to the Choir”. I don’t think you are doing much of anything as far as changing the perception of the Party amongst people that don’t identify as Democrats–which is astounding seeing seeing that most people can’t stand Trump. What he does appear–to the casual non-political layperson anyway –is determined and willing to challenge anyone who appears to be a threat to him. Who do the Democrats have…Maxine Waters? God Bless black women but that’s not who you want throwing hay makers at Trump. Its like having your Mom fight bullies for you.

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  60. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Let a Brotha out of the clink!

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  61. Franklin says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m at a loss to understand why we should just ignore a man with control of thousands of nuclear weapons.

    I’m going to turn that into an analogy (or possibly a simile, or metaphor … sorry I can never keep track). Trump is dropping nukes on us, but each one is accompanied by a group of decoys. My opinion is that we need to focus on the genuine warheads.

    I do understand the point of correcting lies. It doesn’t change any Trumpaloon minds, but it at least reassures the rational people that other people exist who know there is such a thing as truth. But we must be spending 98% of our time on this because there are so many lies. A lot of us are in danger of checking out if we haven’t already, and we’re missing much of the actual damage.

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  62. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Translation: Release my comment from moderation.

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  63. teve tory says:

    @gVOR08: I know. And if someone believes that the FBI and DOJ are biased against republicans–keep in mind J. Edgar Hoover was a republican–and pro-democrat to the point of coverups and framings, they’re well-prepared to be a trump voter.

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  64. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “While you were tracking Stormy Daniels on her “Make America Horny Again” tour and watching the Michael Avenatti show every day, you missed that thing where the Trump Administration has been quietly –with no press releases and no tweets– screwing over immigrants enlisted in the armed forces.”

    Meanwhile, you were bravely exposing this terrible assault against immigrants enlisted in the armed forces? Oh, no, that’s right — you were spending all your time whining about how other people focus on Trump’s tweets.

    You seem to do nothing except whine about how other people aren’t doing the kinds of things you want them to do, while never actually finding the time to do them yourself.

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  65. TM01 says:

    Outrage fatigue…LOL

    OMG TRUMP IS LITERALLY HITLER! LITERALLY!

    And you wonder why people tune you out.

    TRUMP GETS TWO SCOOPS OF ICE CREAM! TRUMP DUMPED THE WHOLE BOX OF FOOD INTO THE KOI POND! TWEETS AT NK MEAN NUCLEAR WAR! MEETING WITH NK MEANS WAR! NOT MEETING WITH NK MEANS WAR!

    On the bright side tho, it’s nice that you finally admit that Trump hasn’t violated any court orders. I’d expect OMG LITERALLY HITLER to just brazenly ignore the courts. Which is, literally, what Obama did.

    Also, screw your liberal democracy. I prefer my Constitutional Republic.

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  66. Tony W says:

    @Kathy:

    We know now Bush the younger sold a war on Iraq partly (or largely) on faulty intelligence. I don’t know how much Bush knew it to be faulty, or what other reports he disregarded or ignored. Even so, he presented a reasonable, if utterly wrong, case.

    Anybody paying attention knew it then too.

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  67. Tyrell says:

    The main networks seem to have forgotten about the Hawaii volcano, and the huge increase of activity of the ring of fire – earthquakes, volcanoes.
    Another interesting story is the opposition to the 5g in Europe. It seems people are worried about electro-magnetic radiation risks.
    I am as guilty of anyone knocking CNN. They do have some good science, health reports that I don’t see on other networks.
    A new sports network is needed.

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  68. James Pearce says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Let a Brotha out of the clink!

    Seconded. (Repost if necessary, Jim.)

    @wr: I already got my mirror time this morning, so your inspirational affirmations are unnecessary. Thanks, though.

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  69. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    If foreign leaders pay attention to his tweets, if Congress people live in fear of his Tweets, if his Tweets are used to intimidate political opponents, ignoring it is simply ostrich behavior. What kind of political analysis starts with, “Let’s ignore the stuff everyone else is paying attention to?” Let’s just ignore the president’s primary tool for dealing with the world. It’s absurd.

    You don’t want to pay attention to his Tweets because you know how toxic they are and you’re trying to convince yourself your Trumpaloon friends and family aren’t awful people.

    Well, guess what? They are awful people, Pearce. Anyone still with Trump at this point is not just deplorable but a fcking idiot on top of it. You go ahead and stick your head in the sand, no one is going to join you, and your deliberate ignorance won’t make your Trumpaloon friends any less creepy.

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  70. CSK says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    I’m glad this comment was finally released from cyber-purgatory. I enjoyed reading it.

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  71. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    “Preaching to the choir?” Yeah, because guess what? The choir needs to be preached to. What do you think Trump is doing at his rallies? He’s preaching to his choir. It’s a propaganda battle at that level, and you don’t win propaganda battles by surrendering.

    Let’s clear up some statistics. Non-hispanic whites are about a two-thirds of the population. African-Americans add up to 13%. Of white people, roughly 37% voted for Hillary. 37% of 66% is 24%. Of white males alone, 31% voted Hillary. White males are roughly 30% of voters and about 10% of Hillary voters.

    In other words, Hillary got more white votes than she did black, and almost as many white male votes as she did black votes overall. And white males gave Hillary more votes than either black males or black females. Same was true of Obama. In fact white people are the single largest racial voting block for the Left. But it gets worse because white people’s votes have more impact . Population patterns exacerbated by gerrymandering concentrate black votes in urban areas and in the Deep South. There is not a single state that can be carried on black votes alone. The same is true of Latino votes, and in their case you have to add the fact that a lot of Latinos identify more as white than as non-white.

    Political power in this country is still dominated by white people and it will continue to be dominated by white people for decades. Which makes white people a vital constituency for Team Blue. Democrats cannot carry a single state house or Senate seat without white support. Nor can they pay their bills without white financial support. And here’s the thing: not all white voters are the same. You diss minor constituencies, by which I suspect you mean transgender folk, but the defense of minorities is a major motivator for a lot of white votes. I don’t cast my votes selfishly, I cast them in ways I think are good for the country. I vote to raise my own taxes. And I absolutely vote with an eye to protecting minority rights. I am not a one-off, I am part of a fairly large number of white males who want to do the right thing, not just the self-interested thing, and no one gets elected on the Left without us.

    I’d add one point. I propagandize against Trump on twitter a lot. A lot. I have about 20k followers, skewed young. So for me it’s not about convincing some redneck, it’s about convincing some redneck’s kid. The 16 year olds I’m working on will be voters in 2020, the younger ones will cast votes in 2022. And kids influence their parents.

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  72. James Pearce says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    I don’t think you are doing much of anything as far as changing the perception of the Party amongst people that don’t identify as Democrats–which is astounding seeing seeing that most people can’t stand Trump.

    It is astounding. Supposedly we’re dealing with a universally disliked dude supported only by knuckle-dragging cave-men, and the best Dems can hope for in the mid-terms is picking up some seats in the House and that Murkowski or Collins holds the line.

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Let’s just ignore the president’s primary tool for dealing with the world.

    Look, if I accepted that Twitter is actually “the president’s primary tool for dealing with the world,” then I might be more sympathetic to this particular argument. It’s a tool for crafting a narrative, and even then, it’s not the primary tool but merely one arrow in the quiver.

    Anyone still with Trump at this point is not just deplorable but a fcking idiot on top of it.

    It seems to me that the “fcking idiots” are a little more evenly distributed, and that’s the reason we have Trump as president.

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  73. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    Analysis is never helped by rejecting data out of hand. Analysis wants more data, not less. Trump’s tweets are data.

    Analysis also demands an understanding of what data others are taking in. Others are taking Trump’s tweets very seriously, which makes them relevant to anyone attempting analysis.

    Trump’s tweets reveal character and character, too, is data which adds to the accuracy of analysis.

    There you have three solid, irrefutable reasons to not simply ignore Trump’s tweets. Of course they are only valid if you’re interested in analysis leading to understanding. If what you’re looking for is an excuse to justify your Hillary hatred and to excuse your Trumpaloon pals, then you’re right, his tweets are not helpful because they make the opposite case from the one you wish to make.

    You want to ignore the tweets because the tweets do not support your position. You’re doing exactly what the Trumpaloons do: you are excluding facts you find uncomfortable.

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  74. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I don’t cast my votes selfishly, I cast them in ways I think are good for the country.

    There’s a term for people like you–they’re called “outliers.” Don’t stop being one; it’s a good thing, but at this particular juncture in the history of humanity, this particular cohort of the population is vanishingly small. Add to that the problem that amazing numbers of voters are so unaware that they can’t even recognize their own interests let alone the interests/needs of the country, and you get the 2016 election between a just for the lulz bomb thrower and and the wasp princess who was checking off an item on her bucket list before it got too late. 2020 , fork 2018 so far, doesn’t promise any improvement. How to “win hearts and minds?” Haven’t a clue; we’ll just have to ride this out.

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  75. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Analysis is never helped by rejecting data out of hand.

    But Trump’s twitter feed is just noise. Where’s the data?

    Oh, wait, here it is:
    “Twitter is getting rid of fake accounts at a record pace. Will that include the Failing New York Times and propaganda machine for Amazon, the Washington Post, who constantly quote anonymous sources that, in my opinion, don’t exist – They will both be out of business in 7 years!”

    I am not the intended audience for Trump’s tweets and neither are you. (Nor is 70% of America according to some of your posts.)

    Quit pretending you’re doing something useful and productive by watch-dogging this nonsense. You’re wasting your time.

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  76. teve tory says:
  77. gVOR08 says:

    @teve tory: And read the comments. The readers of WAPO don’t seem much motivated to accept pieties from I-can-see-on-TV-Terry-Schiavo-isn’t-vegatative Bill Frist.

    Like, say, Bill Kristol, it’s better to have Frist belatedly on board than not, but let’s not lose sight of just what they are and keep in mind their narrative is, ‘It’s all Trump. Once he’s gone you can trust the rest of us Republicans. Even though we won’t have done a damn thing to get rid of him.’

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  78. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Your heart is in the right place Reynolds but I’ve pointed out to you guys before that you will not beat Trump by being like him. Obama is/was nothing like Trump and would beat him easily. Why? Because Obama–is an alpha male– with the added bonus of being a refined and thoughtful one. When Obama told Romney, “Proceed Counselor…” it sounded like, “Bitch keep talkin…” There is nothing alpha about the party right now. They’re still running around offended, yelling about process and hypocrisy to people that can only about outcomes. This would be analagous to a boxing match where one boxer took off his gloves during the match and brought out brass knuckles. How pitiful would it be to watch the gloved boxer, bloodied face and all screaming about fairness and the rules of boxing? Pitiful indeed. There is plenty of time to talk about the rules of boxing after the brass knuckled boxers azz has been whipped.

    Hillary is right about one thing…there are things we say in public and things we say and do in private. I have no beef with any of the Dem minority causes–the mistake they’ve made is making them the public face of 100% of there strategic messaging. So on one hand I want Dems to be out messaging how they are fighting to level the playing field for white Americans against the new Robber Barons. On the other hand I want them making moves in the background to foster Police accountability, Equal Work/Pay, Gay Rights, etc–

    Bless your heart Reynolds for your altruistic voting philosophy. What you probably don’t realize is that people of your means can afford to be altruistic. People of lesser means are far more interested in the good of their pocketbooks and families than they are in the good of the country. Its as simple as Maslow’s needs hierarchy–once family, business/job, neighborhood, city are doing well–then we become interested in the good of the country. Because of the income disparity in this country–the majority of Americans are in “good of the country” mode. They are in “good of me” mode.

    No one should ignore Trump or his Tweets–put him on the defensive.

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  79. An Interested Party says:

    People of lesser means are far more interested in the good of their pocketbooks and families than they are in the good of the country. Its as simple as Maslow’s needs hierarchy–once family, business/job, neighborhood, city are doing well–then we become interested in the good of the country. Because of the income disparity in this country–the majority of Americans are in “good of the country” mode. They are in “good of me” mode.

    Which means that Democrats are horrible at messaging or many of those people of lesser means are simply stupid and/or racist…maybe the reality is a bit of both…the bottom line is that so many elections in this country are sad and pathetic because you have so many people voting against their own best interests, particularly their own economic best interests…

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  80. de stijl says:

    Pearce says:

    It’s just garbage. Throw it away.

    It is the Presidential record. It is literally official. It must be preserved for all time by federal law. People are currently employed to ensure that it is entered correctly into the properly reckoned record of our 45th President.

    Trump’s “garbage” tweets that “we should ignore” are the official statement and record of the POTUS (in many cases legally binding) and communicated by most powerful person on the planet.

    You have the umbra of a point. Trump is bullshit incarnate and it this is what he always does since 1980 when pushed. I acknowledge this.

    It’s a decent argument if Trump wasn’t also President of the United States of America. You need to acknowledge that.

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  81. de stijl says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    No one should ignore Trump or his Tweets–put him on the defensive.

    Amen.

    Attack. Attack. Attack.

    Mock, scorn, lambaste, shame, deride, laugh, vote, be proper – but do fear being called uncivil. This is a civic test of our worthiness. Do not fail this test because failure means you either have to emigrate or eat shit from scumbags for the rest of your life, and know that your kids will too. This is a big fucking deal.

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  82. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    But Trump’s twitter feed is just noise. Where’s the data?

    What part of “it is federal law that Trump’s tweets are official record” is alien to your reckoning?

    You’re chasing a bad flush (I’m talking bird not a card hand. You can’t fill this flush with a chance draw). The point you’re trying to make is utterly wrong. Trump’s tweets are meaningful and salient as they must be. They are so official they must be preserved for all time by law.

    You are arguing that we should ignore the text for the subtext, and maybe ignore that too because Trump is a BS master (or intertext, or something). It some instances that is a cool thing to argue. (He’s still POTUS which queers your whole shebang.)

    How do we determine which Trump statements we should acknowledge, or react to, or respond to, or ignore because they are “garbage”? Can you produce a tool we can use to figure out when to allow Trump BS and when to challenge it?

    Which ones are “garbage” and which ones are salient? Give us a proper mechanism to distinguish his tweets.

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  83. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    Which tweets are ignorable bullshit, and which ones are concerning and require a reaction?

    (You seem to be implicitly arguing that we should ignore all Trump text because he is a known bullshitter. You seem also to have forgotten he is also President.)

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  84. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: Bingo! Frist doesn’t care if the investigation stops, he’d probably like it to end yesterday and with no final report. He’s seen the red dot on his jacket and wants to get out of the line of fire. He can see that the advantage to dog whistling was that the people they weren’t for didn’t listen to them and wants to go back to the good ol’ days.

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  85. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @An Interested Party: In one sense that is true….in another sense it’s quite off the mark and illustrative of why Democrats have been run out of the South. Let me “put it where the goats can get it”:

    Voters have interests. Politicians have stories and narratives that tie those interests together into something contextual. Separate from the interests they are trying to contextualize, these stories either resonate with the voter….or they do not.

    So what we actually find is that the avg voter (D or R) is really voting FOR a story/narrative. The bottom line is that the Democratic “story” is tailored for consumption in metropolitan areas and Atlantic coast states north of the Carolinas. It’s a cultural disaster everywhere else. The Southern voter is not directly voting against their interest, they are voting against the Democratic story.

    Donald Trump knows story telling. It’s how he can create an entire narrative, expand on it, all while anchoring the entire steaming pile of it to “MAGA!”

    Obama did the same with, “Yes we can!”. Can you tell me what story, “I’m with Her” contextualized? Me neither. Even the meter of “Make America Great Again” is more pleasant to the ear than “I’m With Her”.

    Dems have been telling the same tired story down south since Bill Clinton and it’s not resonating…not because of the interests its narrating…but because the South/Southwest is patriarchal by nature. The Democratic stories/narratives are essentially made-for-tv Lifetime movies–told in NASCAR land. Of course Southerners and Southwesterners turn the channel.

    So yes, voters are, on average, dumb. However, Parties and politicians also have to own their own stupidity for telling dumb stories. Know your audience rules any messaging strategy.

    The day democrats develop a masculine version of their story (which resonates)…is the day they take it to republicans on their home turf. The current story is so bad that white college educated and non-educated white males are on the same friggin voting team! There is no way that these demographics have the same interests…what they do share is a the same dissonance towards Dem messaging…which makes them voting buddies by default. Neither of these guys likes Lifetime Movies.

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  86. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @de stijl: Absolutely that would blunt Trumps momentum. I think the real haymakers, however, are going to come from stories outside of his focus areas of immigration and trade. Particularly his business interests and those of his cabinet appointments. I also think that Republicans have given up ground on national debt which can be seized by Dems to message conservative voters to depress turnout.

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  87. Jim Brown 32 says:

    I would also add that Democrats would be (and have been) extremely foolish not to run on expanding the Supreme Court.

    I’m not sure you noticed…. but the court system and Supreme Court is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to their policy aspirations. Roosevelt plan is still relevant today…especially with Trump nominating 40-something’s to the Court. When is this party going to start playing hardball?

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  88. de stijl says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    When is this party going to start playing hardball?

    They need to play hardball with this next SCOTUS pick because of what McConnell did in 2016. But unless they can figure out a way to delay it until after the mid-terms they’re toast for now, but this has become a tit-for-tat thing and will not be done until there is recompense.

    Hopefully, Trump nominates someone who can be Borked even by a minority Senate, and then another who can be Borked again and hopefully just play it out until November, but those chances are virtually nil. We are basically fucked here. Expect a lot of SCOTUS 6 – 3 decisions that will grate.

    They may be even foolish enough to upend Roe v. Wade.

    What McConnell did in 2016 when Obama nominated Garland was unconscionable and, frankly, a coup d’etat, and it will not stand. It was one of those line-steps that demand accountability and retribution. Unfortunately, accountability and retribution will only happen after Rs have lost the Senate and the Presidency. But it must happen because it must not stand as an unchecked norm deviation precedent. It is an uncorrected deviation that must be set right.

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  89. Kit says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    When is this party going to start playing hardball?

    Consider me onboard. What would resonate with me would be a promise, if elected in sufficient numbers, that the biggest growth industry in the country would be in investigative committees and special prosecutors. I want them to go back from the day after Clinton left office and dig through everything with the same dogged thoroughness that Republicans showed. I want proof, and public confessions, and tears, and two generations of Republicans behind bars for the rest of their days. And then I want Congress to get to work writing the laws that should have been in place to begin with.

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  90. Mikey says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    So on one hand I want Dems to be out messaging how they are fighting to level the playing field for white Americans against the new Robber Barons

    No kidding. Trump and the GOP promised 70% of their corporate tax cut would end up in working people’s pockets. But that was an easily predictable lie–nearly all of it has gone to stock buybacks and padding C-suite salaries. Yet no elected Democrat I am aware of has been beating the drum about that.

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  91. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @de stijl: Essentially, unless Roberts decides to channel Kennedy–the Conservative social agenda will be unchecked for a generation. The only counter Democrats have is to expand the Court. Let me be clear that this would be an unfortunate necessary path to take–Congress should be making the laws. However, 30+ years of Congressional ineptitude, fueled by Barron-preferred campaign financing has taken a toll.

    This would be the easier messaging ever–“are we going to let 5 ivy-league ideologues (and one uncle tom) shape the social fabric of this nation–or are we going to get 2-4 people, with real-life experiences who understand nuance on the Court to weigh in for the People.”

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  92. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Dems have been telling the same tired story down south since Bill Clinton and it’s not resonating…not because of the interests its narrating…but because the South/Southwest is patriarchal by nature. The Democratic stories/narratives are essentially made-for-tv Lifetime movies–told in NASCAR land. Of course Southerners and Southwesterners turn the channel.

    So yes, voters are, on average, dumb. However, Parties and politicians also have to own their own stupidity for telling dumb stories. Know your audience rules any messaging strategy.

    The day democrats develop a masculine version of their story (which resonates)…is the day they take it to republicans on their home turf. The current story is so bad that white college educated and non-educated white males are on the same friggin voting team! There is no way that these demographics have the same interests…what they do share is a the same dissonance towards Dem messaging…which makes them voting buddies by default. Neither of these guys likes Lifetime Movies.

    I completely agree. But it is absolutely impossible given the mindset of the Left. I’ve had my brains beaten in (and lost a lot of business) because I’ve been arguing in kidlit circles that the Left is actually internalizing and validating racist and misogynist narratives. Unintentionally, of course. The insistence on ‘own voices’ for example rests on the belief that black people, brown people, are all so very different from white people that white writers should not attempt to write POC characters. The notion of the African-American as so different as to be impossible to understand, is basically the narrative you’d have heard from any plantation owner in 1860. It is at heart a dehumanization of POC, a setting apart. Literary segregation.

    The Left has its collective head too far up its ass to allow for nuance, subtlety or patience, all of which would be required in order to pull off the kind of narrative arc you’re talking about. Anyone who tried would be instantly set upon by the Left – another point I’ve tried to make, followed by the inevitable beating from people I thought were allies.

    But as you say, I’m an outlier. I think the point is to win, to have our ideas prevail. Much of the Left is stalled on the idea of representation, they want to signal their team allegiance but not actually put any thought into it. As I said in another thread we are past the point of persuasion, we are at the point of brute force as expressed in shunning, demonstrations, boycotts and eventually votes. The Right is shut up in their little cult and the Left is too busy enjoying its outrage high to actually focus on practical matters, so its down to two sides beating on each other.

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  93. An Interested Party says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Yes, yes we have heard this for awhile now…how the Dems are the “Mommy” party and how the GOP is the “Daddy” party…that can be seen in how Republicans tried to feminize Obama…of course, your ideas beg the question, can a female ever be elected president? I guess she’ll have to be a pretty butch lady to get the job done…

    When is this party going to start playing hardball?

    When McConnell stole away Obama’s SCOTUS pick, everyone should have realized that Republicans would play any dirty move they could to keep SCOTUS full of their picks…when Kennedy announced his retirement I did think that the only way the Dems could counter the GOP was to expand the court, but I wonder if Schumer (and whatever Dem president we may end up with) has the balls to do that…

    Trump and the GOP promised 70% of their corporate tax cut would end up in working people’s pockets.

    When have Republicans ever passed tax cuts that ended up more in working people’s pockets than with their fat cat supporters…

    As I said in another thread we are past the point of persuasion, we are at the point of brute force as expressed in shunning, demonstrations, boycotts and eventually votes.

    What do you think of this advice

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  94. Yank says:

    To ignore is to accept. Propaganda must be met with countervailing facts which rather requires us to pay attention to Trump’s tweets. I’m at a loss to understand why we should just ignore a man with control of thousands of nuclear weapons. It’s nonsense, unsustainable and ends by helping Trump.

    The counter to lies is truth, not indifference. Europeans were indifferent to anti-semitic lies until suddenly they couldn’t be. The GOP ignored the racism in its base until it was consumed by it. We must be as devoted to truth as they are to lies.

    Agreed.

    In fact one of Hillary’s biggest mistakes IMO was not going after Trump’s apparent bullshit during the debates. She spent a great deal of the time just ignore Trump’s bullshit on her and his policies and I think it ended up hurting her. It is funny the one guy who actually did a good job when it came to handling Trump’s BS was Rubio. I forget what the topic was but Rubio effectively debunked one of Trump’s bullshit answers and it sent Trump to ramble on like the ignorant no-nothing that he is truly is.

    That is how you expose a bullshit artist. You go at him and leave no lie untouched. It doesn’t matter how small or big the lie is, you don’t let go unnoticed.

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  95. gVOR08 says:

    @Yank:

    You go at him and leave no lie untouched. It doesn’t matter how small or big the lie is, you don’t let go unnoticed.

    The Gish Gallop is an effective tactic because they can throw out lies faster than you can possibly refute them.

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