Wouldn’t It Be Nice To Just Stop Taking Trump Seriously (Let Alone Literally)

I am ready to show the next president the same courteousness and deference that he and Mitch McConnell gave President Obama.

I am prepared to take Trump’s tweets and other public statements just as seriously (or literally) as Vladimir Putin does.

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It’s Not Like This Is 1937, Yet–So Choose Battles Wisely

Of course Trump is “not normal.”  Not even close.  But progressives and liberals will do well to turn away now, for the most part, from process issues and focus on the pain that most Americans, including many if not most Trump voters, are about to feel.  That’s assuming that China and Russia do not take immediate advantage of chaos in the changeover, throwing us into foreign policy confrontation that distracts from all domestic issues and even perhaps serves as pretext for extraordinary executive powers.

Trump made a lot of promises to the “forgotten men and women” he invoked over and over, and those forgotten persons, whether “poorly educated” or not, are likely to take Trump’s promises seriously and literally.  Trump may (as he did in the Carrier case) act surprised, and even actually be surprised, at such literalness.  That is likely to be one of his biggest weak spots.  His “truthful hyperbole” is not likely to wear well among those who voted for him if he goes along with Speaker Ryan’s agenda of shredding the safety net.

Protests against Trump and Trumpism are least effective when they implicate Trump voters as fools or worse.  That way leads toward a nightmare of mutual treachery (as in Stalin’s 1937 purges–no, we are not there yet, neither is Russia today, but…).  Any vote for a president is an educated guess about the future, and we would not have elected either Trump or Obama if Americans were not prepared, maybe too prepared, to take a flying leap into the unknown.  Thinking that our Constitution and our “system” will save us from bad consequences may or may not turn out very well this time, and hope isn’t enough of a plan and never was.  In any case, best to keep some powder dry for the day, coming soon, when Trump gores the ox of actual regular Americans (some but not all of whom will be black or Muslim or Mexican or gay).  Trump will provide spectacle and circus; if he provides enough bread and does not use his presidential power to sow hate, that would be wonderful.  But more likely, there will be ample opportunity and need for protest and assembly and nonviolent resistance before long.  As talented as Trump is as exploiting our biases (see Michael Lewis’s Undoing Project and the work of Kahneman and Tversky; also Robert Cialdini’s Pre-suasion) he did not succeed in gaslighting all of us or even a majority of us.  Staying woke in 2017 will be a challenge–but it’s always a challenge.  Fake news is not new–Thucydides wrote in his History of the Peleponnesian War (Book 1: 20) that “most people expend very little effort on the search for truth and prefer to rely on ready-made answers.”  Resisting Trumpism will require punchy, compelling, clever storytelling as well as tenacious focus on the real-world harms his regime is imposing on real people, including but not limited to us.

Gotta Admire The Guy Sitting In The Middle Of The Swamp On His Gold-Plated Toilet

Who among us does not aspire to sit on a gold-encrusted toilette, surveying the swamp that one has just filled with…but let me not descend into unseemly details.  Details about exactly how the next bubble will be inflated.  The right wing has whined and quibbled and moaned about the supposed monetary manipulations that have kept asset prices bubbling these last few years.  Will they object to the humongous deficit-spiking stimulus on tap in 2017?  Insufflate me?  No, insufflate you!

David Runciman addresses the hypocrisy to come: “the heart of {Silicon Valley investor Peter} Thiel’s case for Trump is that the generation of Americans represented by the Clintons–the baby-boomers–had inflated one bubble after another in their desperate desire to avoid facing hard truths and continue their own soft existence.  There hadn’t just been equity bubbles and housing bubbles: there were humanitarian bubbles and political correctness bubbles–anything to keep the wolf of how-things-really-are from the door.  Yet the idea that Trump, who…has been as cosseted as anyone, offers something different is laughable.  The Trump bubble is likely to be the biggest of all” (London Review of Books, 1 Dec. 2016).

If the Trump bubble bursts soon, he might be able to blame Obama, but I think it’s more likely that we will see an ugly spectacle of blame and retribution, especially if another financial crisis is accompanied by millions getting shut out of health care by insurance market chaos caused by the uncertainty of “repeal and delay.”  (And watch out too for when the “Putin Hearts Trump” bubble bursts.)  Remember when Republicans beat Obama over the head over the business “uncertainty” he supposedly caused?  Isn’t the new Trump uncertainty exhilirating?  Maybe not, if you were discounting some of what Trump said as innocuous boasting or joking, particularly if it was directed at others, but took him very literally when he promised something that would benefit you.  

How to play (or just survive) the Trump bubble?  That’s a question to take seriously and literally.

Is Trump Drilling The Swamp Because He Was Hypnotized By The KGB?

It could just be accidental, all this drilling of the swamp.  Maybe it’s not the result of KGB hypnosis administered years ago, maybe decades ago.  Right–and Rick Perry might possibly remember the name of the federal department he is nominated to lead.  As Jennifer Rubin points out in her Right Turn column in the Washington Post, if Trump had in fact been turned by Russian intelligence, what would he be doing differently than he is in fact doing?

Of Course I Love The Beautiful Tenth Amendment

There’s a headline in today’s National Review Online: “Trump: An Opportunity For Federalism,” and let me say, have I ever “mocked anyone who invokes the Tenth Amendment”?  Of course not.  Have I ever even thought to myself that “any discussion of federalism [was] code for Jim Crow or even slavery”?  Hmm, maybe, possibly, I may have thought that.  But no matter.  Have I mentioned lately how the Tenth Amendment is a great amendment?  It is the last but not least of the first beautiful ten amendments otherwise known as the Bill of Rights.  We are going to need every single one of those ten amendments real quick.  Subsidiarity, great Catholic and catholic principle.  It doesn’t just apply, as National Review author points out mockingly, just to “stinky cheeses, raw milk, microbrews, and weed.”  He is right.  Let a hundred flowers of progressive federalism bloom, along with the reactionary Keynesianism I expect from the new administration.

Swampy Drainy Thing Not Going Well

Don’t give up already, before you have even inaugurated, you lazy wuss of a Trump! Some people took your promises seriously AND literally. Probably because we are too poorly educated to tell what’s a “euphemism.” You have plenty of power if you just pick your battles with a tiny bit of intelligence, Mr. Big. Don’t tell us “the whole place is one big lobbyist.” Sorry, but you said you “alone can fix it.” You said you are our voice. And be real sure you keep your little government hands off of my Trumpcare.

Donald (The Chairman) Trump Swims In Potomac; Sarah Palin Sent To Re-Education Camp

Thinking that normalizing Trump will work just by pretending he’s getting more sensible? That swim Trump is said to have taken in the Potomac today might give you pause. Remember Mao’s swim in the Yangtze exactly 50 years ago? That ended well, didn’t it? Expect Steve “Lin Piao” Bannon to keep applauding from the wings, and don’t worry too much about Sarah Palin being sent to a detention camp near Yucca Mountain. Free speech wasn’t meant for incorrigibly ignorant crazies like her, as you know.