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I'm Loyal to Nothing Except the Dream


#333

Trump is definitely unprecedented, and a major reason why is his refusal to simply submit to the attacks by the mainstream media, and to point out their obvious bias. This is largely what got him elected. This is totally unprecedented in recent memory, and it is driving the left nuts:


#334

If “fuck America” is what you’re voting for, Trump is definitely that. As I noted in July 2016:

Like I said before, I’d vote for a ham sandwich before I voted for Trump. I’d vote for literally every other presidential candidate in every presidential election this country has ever had, before I’d vote for Trump.

The irony of “Make America Great Again” is that Trump – because he is such a terrible leader – makes America much worse.


#335

Now where did I say that? Or where did anyone reasonable say that? I realize you are utterly freaked out by this election, but get a hold of yourself.


#336

Who said that? You did.

Apparently the “important” part of Trump is that he makes people angry – because he’s so damaging to American government and American values. He rejects everything that traditional politicians stand for, and does and says anything that pops into his head. That’s reveling in destruction and nihilism. You may enjoy that, but I don’t.

I understand that many people hated Hillary Clinton’s guts – and I can’t really say I was a huge fan, she was absolutely a politician’s politician. But we are, all of us, diminished under Trump. It’s sad.

On the plus side, there will be an incredible activism movement and more people will realize that they must be active citizens to prevent these kinds of outcomes in the future.


#337

Is there any measure, any measure at all, by which in four years you would reconsider your evaluation of Trump as a “terrible leader”?

For example, if the economy was growing at 4% a year and there was peace in the middle east, would that matter?


#338

I said no such thing.

I understand that you think that a vote for Trump is a vote to “fuck America”, or that liking the fact that Trump has taken on the major media for bias, or is willing to call Islamic terrorism by its name, is to “fuck America”, but if you ascribe your feelings to the motivations of the half country that voted for Trump, your “incredible activism moment” is not going to turn out well.

It is counterproductive if you actually want to change things.

Added:

Jeff, it occurs to me you actually interpreted the quoted passage as me saying that it didn’t matter to me what policies Trump puts in place. I was in fact referring to you and your criticism of Trump - I thought that was clear.


#339

I thought it was clear I was asking for examples of precedent in relation to the actions of the executive branch, not for reactions to it. Orders of magnitude say a lot about the resistance that was building against Trump since before he even took office, but they tell us exactly nothing about what the man has actually done.

Let’s unpack the rest of your examples, using two simple metrics: a) is the claim actually unprecedented? b) is the precedent meaningful within the context of this discussion (i.e., does the precedent significantly alter, or stand to significantly alter, the functions of the executive branch in relation to either other government offices or the American public at large)?

Not releasing tax returns.

a) This isn’t unprecedented. Gerald Ford didn’t release his either.
b) This isn’t meaningful given the context. A presidential candidate isn’t required to release his tax returns, so inferring some sort of nefarious intent in declining to do so is about as sophisticated as saying “if you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t care about your privacy.”

Weird Russian ties resulting in the resignation of Flynn

a) First, let’s clear up exactly what you mean by “weird Russian ties”, since that doesn’t convey much. Flynn had a telephone call with a Russian ambassador, in the course of which Obama’s recently imposed sanctions against Russia for the DNC hacking came up. Flynn suggested (not promised, according to the intelligence official who was tapping the phone call) that Obama’s sanctions wouldn’t necessarily carry over into the new administration.

That’s it. That’s the sum total of all the ZOMG RUSSIAN TIES!!! media headlines you undoubtedly saw for a week straight. Now, the only thing Flynn is potentially guilty of in having had this discussion with a foreign diplomat is violating the Logan Act, which states a private citizen cannot conduct diplomacy on behalf of the United States.

This is neither unprecedented nor particularly meaningful.

The “betrayal” and firing of the attorney general

Again, this warrants some clarification (you’ll notice an ongoing theme here. This is what happens when you seek to discuss current events from a level any deeper than drive-by rubbernecking).

Firstly, Yates was the acting attorney general, left over from the Obama admin, who was biding her time until Trump’s appointment was confirmed. This matters because firing someone from a position you appointed them to rather than one they temporarily hold from legacy signals something entirely different (see: the media coverage of Flynn vis a vis the internal state of the Trump admin).

Secondly, while “betrayal” may touch on the melodramatic, it’s not really inaccurate. As AG, Yates was obligated to fulfill the duties of her office, even when that meant enforcing executive orders she didn’t like. Her own department had determined that Trump’s order was legal, so her rebuke of the order was a rebuke of her own department.

a) This, too, is not without precedent. Nixon canned his AG.
b) Nor is it meaningful within the context, for the reasons already provided above.

Historically low popularity ratings

a) This is true, at least as far back as Gallup polls go (1940s).
b) However, it’s not particularly meaningful for our context here. Again, reactions != actions.

Calling the free press the enemy of the American people

a) Most likely unprecedented.
b) Very meaningful, but not in the manner you think. The media is an enemy of the American people in that they have been asleep at the wheel of their journalistic responsibilities for the last 8 years, and have only now woken up to the terrifying headlights of the Mack 10 truck barreling down at them full speed. What’s most precious about this point is that even now they aren’t really doing their jobs because they’re too busy tripping over themselves to lash out at Trump the brand.

His “victory” with the largest popular vote loss in history

a) This isn’t unprecedented (others have lost the popular vote but won the election), but the degree to which Trump lost the popular vote is the largest.

b) This, too, isn’t particularly meaningful. We have this thing called the electoral college. I realize a lot of Americans woke up on November 9 and looked up this process for the first time in their adult lives (and now, surprise, they’re calling for the system to be changed! Isn’t it adorable?), but for those of us whose attention span stretches beyond the last decade, there is nothing about this that’s particularly noteworthy. Just because you don’t like the person who’s in charge now doesn’t mean the system failed you.

I agree that he’s embarrassing, clownish and cringe-worthy. I did not, however, state that he is a bad leader. I don’t believe anyone can make such a statement when the man has only been in office for a month. It would be quite prudent for all of us to pause, catch our breaths, and evaluate Trump based on how he actually performs in the White House over the next 4 years. Maybe he’ll live up to the staggering amount of negative hype and crystal ball-gazing that so many of us have been doing lately. Maybe he won’t. That remains to be seen.

The important point here is that, as others have put it, too many grown adults are quite literally freaking out over Trump’s presidency without having the required sociopolitical acumen to justify not only why they’re freaking out, but over what. Travel bans that aren’t substantively different than previous orders, transgender bathrooms, lewd remarks caught on tape–none of that is truly important, not if you really care about issues of government and liberty. That’s the fluff. That’s the shiny bauble that distracts people from recognizing that regardless of who’s in office, none of them really care about you and me. They’re all of them supporting their own brand.

The precedent for that was set a long, long time ago.


#340

Traditionally when you go to a job interview, they look at how you perform on the interview, your past work and school experience, and also past job references to try and estimate how you will perform in the future.

So again, what exactly are the good qualities in Trump that should inspire confidence in us to wait and see how great a president (or not) he will be?

For me what is unprecedented with Trump is the magnitude of conflicts of interest he has by not divesting of his businesses completely (not that it is possible since it involves so many businesses and countries), and how many poor qualities of his character and actions Trump supporters are willing to overlook. Other candidates would have been cast aside by voters for any one of the dozens of things he has done, but he seems to be given a perpetual free pass. I think it is a disturbing chain of events because if this shell of a human has been chosen to be acceptable to govern then in my opinion it speaks poorly of those that chose him.

He may well be a good president when all is said and done, only time will tell. But we have chosen Walter White to run the DEA… We have chosen Bernie Madoff to run the SEC… It could turn out incredibly well or go horribly wrong.


#341

You shouldn’t wait and see how Trump performs out of any particular confidence, but out of respect for our democratic process. Despite so much gnashing of teeth about the breakdown of American democracy (including here in this very blog post), the truth is our democracy is functioning exactly as it was intended to.

There are very good reasons the electoral college was written into the Constitution; the fact that people are pointing to the popular vote and claiming that our system has somehow failed us demonstrates the rather depressing preponderance of sociopolitical immaturity.

Regarding his businesses, if he isn’t breaking any laws, then all you’re really left with is opinion. You may find that distasteful, but so what? That doesn’t mean he’s doing anything wrong. Armchair suspicion doesn’t amount to much. And politicians don’t ever really sever their business connections–they just go about them more covertly.

Poor qualities of character…again, that’s more opinion. We all fully understand that many, many people don’t like Trump. But so what? That’s the fluff, not the substance. A lot of people would seemingly rather have a smooth talking, stately crook for a president rather than an honest buffoon. That just shows you how easily people at large are manipulated–that’s the very nature of politics! Trump has manipulated his supporters just as deftly as Bernie manipulated his own.

I don’t think Trump the man speaks poorly of those who supported him. I think people have all kinds of reasons for voting that cannot be judged in a monolithic manner. Divisiveness is what’s really tearing so many people apart right now, not Trump.


#342

So do 58% of Americans.

Your stats are a bit wrong there.

He lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2,864,974, which is 2.1 percent of the total vote. That is the second-largest margin (by percentage) by which anyone who lost the electoral vote has won the popular vote since the 1824 election, which was actually resolved by the U.S. House.

And note that only about 78k voters in particular states actually elected Trump, courtesy of the electoral college.

In the end, Trump won by taking three key battleground states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) by a combined margin of 77,744 votes. That, my friends, is crazy close in an election where more than 136 million votes were cast: just over one-twentieth of one percent of the vote.

(It’s also true that many people weren’t voting for Trump as much as they were voting against Clinton. A certain segment of voters really hated her guts, much more than anyone realized before the actual election.)

The closest analog to Trump’s presidency so far is probably Nixon, but even comparing this…

… the difference is that Nixon said what he said about the free press in private. Trump says that stuff in public! That is why Trump is a threat to actual democracy.

My favorite Trump campaign moment is that the Russians supporting his campaign actually paused their efforts when Trump smeared the parents of the fallen American muslim soldier, as they thought Trump had finally damaged his chances for election beyond repair.

Yep, joke’s on us. All of us.

This is so deeply and profoundly cynical. The attitude here is “politicians are all bad, so we might as well pick the worst one in history, because what’s the difference?”

Here’s a crazy thought: how about we elect politicians who represent the best of us, rather than the worst of us?


#343

It’s a good question: what are the actual effects of Trump?

There is of course the economy angle. There’s some evidence that Trump’s crazy immigration policies are already affecting US tourism, but I agree that the economy is a wickedly hard problem and presidents get credit (or blame) for whatever happens on their watch, regardless of whether they had anything to do with it. We’ll have to wait and see.

From a morality and values perspective, having elected someone to the highest office in the country who is such an overt narcissist, willing to attack so many other people in such petty and vicious ways, “punching down” as it were …

I guess I just like to think of the president as someone about whom I could say to my children

One day, kids, if you work hard and strive to be a generous, caring, confident leader, you could be elected President of the United States!

With Trump, those days are gone.

Who in the world would aspire to be… Trump? Who thinks making fun of a disabled person in public, on stage as a public figure, is a good idea, or … three dozen other things I could list? For that matter, who would ever want to run for any kind of public office at all, if this is the sort of person we’re electing to the highest office in the country?


#344

On the contrary, what you call cynism is actually part of the core of the American ethos–or at least it used to be.

Our founding fathers were pretty damned clever men. They had a profound mistrust of government and those in power, which is why they so carefully instituted the various checks and balances we have today (the electoral college being one especially relevant example here). It’s why the federal government’s powers are explicitly enumerated while all other affairs should fall to the local states. A central authority is literally the antithesis of the American democratic institution; this is why who is or isn’t in the Oval Office ultimately doesn’t matter.

It’s why Trump’s claims that he’ll “fix it all” are patently ridiculous. It’s why SNL’s parting homage to Obama was equally ridiculous.

Of course, you’re forgetting that half of Americans did precisely that. You simply have a different idea of what represents our best than they do.


#345

“Stats”? I said “half the country” that voted for Trump. It was immaterial to my post if it was 37.54566% of actual voters of whatever it was.

No one is disputing that Trump did not win the popular vote, or that Clinton narrowly lost many states. Or that a many Americans don’t vote. There is no need to keep re-posting pictures and links about this over and over again.

The point I made is that Trump won the election, and if you view his voters as people who want to “fuck America” (your words), you clearly have no understanding of a major chunk of the American population. You would be well served to actually make some effort to understand both the people of this country outside your circle of friends, and the ideas and philosophy that animates libertarians and conservatives.

It is clear that your obsession about the popular vote vs the electoral college and your hysteria over the “threat to democracy” is only because your candidate lost, and that if Clinton had won under the same circumstances you would not be concerned.

For those who have actually been paying attention to American government for the last 50 years there is an actual threat to democracy, which is the growth of the administrative state, and the great power of un-elected and unaccountable bureaucrats to make up law.

Unfortunately you have no one to blame here but yourself and the left in general. The Democrats chucked morality and values out the window a long time ago when they circled the wagons for Bill Clinton. This is why the attacks on Trump by Hillary could not even really be launched, let alone vigorously pursued. Similarly as Trump exercises his phone and pen, for good or ill, the precedent has been set by the left.

For the record, this is fake news. Trump ridicules a lot of people in public, and it is never nice. But he did not mock a reporter due to his disability. He mocked generals and Ted Cruz and many other exactly the same way he mocked the reporter. You can see the video clips here:


#346

Agreed, and these systems will get quite a workout under Trump. We’ve elected the worst president in the last 200 years, but ideally the system has enough checks and balances to deal with that. It’s too bad Trump coincided with a period of Republican domination of house and senate, or there’d be a bit more “check” and “balance” going on. Hopefully that will change in the 2018 midterms.

If by “half”, you mean the 25% of eligible voters that voted for Trump. I’m also not convinced all of those 25% voters really voted for Trump so much as against Clinton. The final vote tallies were 65,844,954 (48.2%) for Clinton and and 62,979,879 (46.1%) for Trump.

And remember the polls, most polls, had Clinton with a 90% chance of winning in the runup to the election. So why bother voting in that case, or why not vote for a marginal outside candidate like Jill Stein if the result is a foregone conclusion…

I understand that some people are single issue voters, and if one candidate is pro-abortion and the other is anti-abortion, they will vote for that candidate. It’s just shocking how far that goes, because we’ve never had a presidential candidate with such relentlessly negative leadership qualities.

I’m concerned because we’ve elected the worst president in the last 200 years. I don’t really care who wins, provided it isn’t Trump. Hell, I’d be beyond ecstatic if we could put Dubya in legally for another four years, or Romney, or McCain… these are reasonable leaders. I don’t care about ideology, I care about leadership and in terms of actual leadership skills and temperament, Trump is the equivalent of a third world dictator.

As to why we have a two party system that offers only those two candidates, and some people found both candidates unpalatable such that they felt forced to vote one way or the other … well, as I said in the blog post: I’d like to see a viable three party system rather than the straitjacket of Democrat and Republican.

And Electoral College reform.

Wow, catholics4trump.com – quite the authoritative, totally unbiased source there. Speaking of fake news, did you register that domain name and create that website, David? Let’s try a source people have actually heard of.

In an interview on Thursday, Mr. Kovaleski said that he met with Mr. Trump repeatedly when he was a reporter for The Daily News covering the developer’s business career in the late 1980s, before joining The Post. “Donald and I were on a first-name basis for years,” Mr. Kovaleski said. “I’ve interviewed him in his office,” he added. “I’ve talked to him at press conferences. All in all, I would say around a dozen times, I’ve interacted with him as a reporter while I was at The Daily News.”

And Trump said:

“I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovalski [sic], is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence,” Trump said. “Despite having one of the all-time great memories, I certainly do not remember him.

Or watch the video yourself.

Trump lies about a lot of stuff. This is another thing he’s lying about. Alternatively, perhaps he is senile, as the oldest president yet elected.

Even if you accept his “I don’t remember” explanation in this particular case, there’s plenty of other nasty stuff Trump has done to fall back on. You might say it’s a pattern. Take your pick:


#347

You do realize that when you attack the source rather than the actual content, you have lost the argument.

I am merely pointing to a link that has video clips of Trump mocking many people in exactly the same was as he did that reporter. From generals to Ted Cruz. And the mocking they show is not pretty either. What is clear is that Trump mocks all people the same way. You can say that I am lying, the clips don’t exist, or that they are doctored, or that they show no such thing, or you can mock my source. You chose the latter.

Your conception that you are getting unbiased news from the NYT, WaPo, and NPR is part of the problem. It is the reason you woke up shocked the day after the election.


#348

This is obviously not true, or you would have voted for Romney over Obama.


#349

Are you serious? Your information source is catholics4trump.com and you’re criticizing my choice of media?

  • “Isis is very tough”… he waves his hands around briefly with open palms, more of a spreading hands gesture. Not similar in my view.
  • “I don’t wanna talk about it” … much shorter, though it does indeed resemble the Serge clip; both arms and gestures.

Given Trump’s level of general callousness to all human beings, I see your point – this could be his general “I make fun of people unable to remember things” routine, even though ironically he couldn’t remember this reporter had a disability which made that mockery especially risky.

Either way, Trump has to be responsible for his actions. And Trump is the first person to say it’s someone else’s fault. Each and every time.

It’s a relative contest. Unfortunately for Romney, Obama was and is a fantastic leader.

I do think Romney is a very solid guy. I felt bad that he was in that terrible picture opposite Trump.


#350

This is the difference between left and right today. You read the NYT, WaPo, and NPR, take it as gospel, and dismiss any contrary view. I read the NYT, the WaPo, and I listen to NPR, as closely if not more closely than you do, but I recognize the bias and check out other sources as well. Again, this is why you are in shock today about Trump.


#352

Incorrect. I assume that articles from mainstream, well known, professional sources of journalism will be well sourced and credible to begin with. It is the difference between “guilty until proved innocent” and “innocent until proven guilty”.

Whereas you seem fine assuming that an article from catholics4trump.com is an unbiased source of information about Trump that should be viewed completely uncritically.

Are you honestly telling me that if I posted a link to atheists4obama.com defending something Obama did, you would click through immediately and take whatever information was posted there at face value?

That said, all the media focus on Clinton’s emails, which were basically irrelevant, certainly didn’t do anyone any favors – and paint the mainstream media in a very bad light. If it bleeds, it leads…


#353

@codinghorror you probably already saw this but your choice of Captain America seems to be in keeping with its creators’ intent. “My grandfather helped create Capt America for times like these.”