52 Movies: Week 13 - Track of the Cat
52 Movies: Week 14 - Winter Light

Donald Trump Is Not Right in the Head

It's not just that he has a long history of being a jerk, continues to be a jerk, and often seems proud to be a jerk. After all, we've had a number of presidents who were jerks.  It's not just that he is not now and never has been any sort of conservative, and that he is sabotaging what a year ago looked like a promising opportunity for a conservative swing back from the Obama years, and is very likely to complete the destruction of conservatism as a force in American politics. It's not just that he dealt a body blow to the pro-life movement yesterday. 

It's not even, God help us, that he seems to have little or no idea how the government works, and apparently thinks that he is running for monarch (well, he wouldn't be that unusual there). 

It's that his mental processes appear to be utterly incoherent, except insofar as megalomania imparts a certain overall thematic unity. I thought so when I listened to the speech he made here back last summer, and I was only incorrect in that I didn't realize just how bad it is. And, again, as with every other defect in his qualifications, he appears not to care, and to trust that he will always be able to beat down any opposition by any means he can muster. At the level of rhetoric, that means he doesn't really much care what comes out of his mouth as long as it asserts his will and his delusions of grandeur. At the level of practice--well, who knows what he might do with the power of the presidency in his hands? 

I guess you already know all this. And I'm certainly not going to try to muster all the available evidence. But I want to point out just one example: this transcript of a CNN "town hall meeting" hosted by Anderson Cooper

The first topic is the accusation by a journalist named Michelle Fields who claimed to have been physically jerked around by Trump's campaign manager. Notice the way Trump denies what Cooper says about Fields's statement and demands that Cooper read the transcript, then denies that the words say what they say. Then suggests that the reporter's pen could have been a bomb or a knife.

A normally dishonest politician (think of Bill Clinton) would have evaded the whole question (which Trump also does, trying to change the subject to Ted Cruz). Trump's babbling is not normal dishonesty. It sounds more like the voice of a man who literally does not know what is true or false, or doesn't think it matters.

And the whole transcript goes on like that. In case you don't want to wade through the whole thing, I'll give you a couple of other examples. You may have heard about the bizarre claim that "I alone can solve" the problem of terrorism.Here's how he supports that claim:

COOPER: You talked about the death toll [of the Easter bombings in Lahore]. And then you said, I alone can solve. What do you mean by that?

TRUMP: I think I alone because I know my competition. Look, I know my competition.

COOPER: You, alone, among the Republican candidates.

TRUMP: I see Hillary with Benghazi, you know the famous ad, 3:00 in the morning, guess what, the phone rang, she wasn't there. Unless Sidney called, if Sidney called she was there.

COOPER: But you're the only one who can solve terror problems in Pakistan? I mean, Pakistan…

TRUMP: Yes, of the ones that are running, I'm the only one. I know what I'm running. I know the competition. And believe me, I know, I watched Ted Cruz.

COOPER: How though? I mean, what…

TRUMP: So phony. I mean, you know, I know you have couple people out there because he put them in the audience. But it's so false. You know, the whole thing with the five-second intermissions between sentences. No.

Yes, I think I am the one to be able to solve the problem.

COOPER: But, I mean, there's problems in a lot of different countries, problems in the United States. How can you solve the problems all the way over in Pakistan when the Pakistanis, themselves, are struggling with it?

TRUMP: Look, look, Pakistan is a very, very vital problem and really vital country for us because they have a thing called nuclear weapons. They have to get a hold of their situation.

When I see that and when I see it put in a park because it was mostly Christians, although many others were killed other than Christians, I think it's just absolutely a horrible story.

But I'm talking about radical Islamic terrorism. I will solve it far better than anybody else running.

I can't decide whether this next item is the most off-the-wall part of the discussion, or if that award should go to the part where he suggests that Japan and South Korea should obtain nuclear weapons while he insists that nuclear proliferation must be stopped, and refuses to acknowledge that he is contradicting himself--not contradicting something he said in the days of yore a week ago, but in that moment.  I'll go with this one, since it involves fundamental concepts. This is a question from the audience.

QUESTION:  Good evening, Mr. Trump.  In your opinion, what are the top three functions of the United States government?

TRUMP:  Say it again?

QUESTION:  In your opinion, what are the top three functions of the United States government?

TRUMP:  Well, the greatest function of all by far is security for our nation.  I would also say health care, I would also say education.  I mean, there are many, many things, but I would say the top three are security, security, security.

We have to have security for our country so that we can continue to exist as a country.  We are in danger.  Thousands and thousands of people are infiltrating our country.  We don't know who they are.

There's a very vicious world.  We're living in a very vicious world and we're doing something that is against a lot of very smart people's wishes.  I can tell you, it's totally against my wishes.

COOPER:  So top three, you're saying, security.

TRUMP:  Security.  I say all top three are security, but health care, education, would be probably three that would be top.  And then you can go on from there.

But the military and the secure country, so that we have a country.  Believe me, we've never been in a position, in my opinion, where our country is so vulnerable.  Our military is being eaten away.

When General Odierno left recently, a year ago, I was watching him on maybe your show, one of the shows, and he said that the United States Army, the United States military forces have never been so - and I think he used the word depleted.  But basically he said they're exhausted.

COOPER:  So just to follow-up, though…

TRUMP:  And that's a pretty - that's a pretty sad commentary.  And honestly, even though he was retiring at the time - and I had a lot of respect for him, good man, but even though he was leaving at the time, people shouldn't say that because you're giving the enemy ideas.

But if I get in, our military will be bigger, better, stronger than ever before.  It's the cheapest thing we can do.

COOPER:  So in terms of federal government role, you're saying security, but you also say health care and education should be provided by the federal government?

TRUMP:  Well, those are two of the things.  Yes, sure.  I mean, there are obviously many things, housing, providing great neighborhoods...


COOPER:  Aren't you against the federal government's involvement in education?  don't you want it to devolve to states?

TRUMP:  I want it to go to state, yes.  Absolutely.  I want - right now...

COOPER:  So that's not part of what the federal government's...


TRUMP:  The federal government, but the concept of the country is the concept that we have to have education within the country, and we have to get rid of common core and it should be brought to the state level.

COOPER:  And federal health care run by the federal government?

TRUMP:  Health care - we need health care for our people.  We need a good - Obamacare is a disaster.  It's proven to be...

COOPER:  But is that something the federal government should be doing?

TRUMP:  The government can lead it, but it should be privately done.  It should be privately done.  So that health care - in my opinion, we should probably have - we have to have private health care.  We don't have competition in health care.

The problem that we have in our country is we don't have competition.  It's made because the politicians - by the way, I'm self-funding.  I am self-funding.  So the health care companies aren't taking care of me.  But they're taking care of everyone else.

Wait one second.  We don't have - we don't have bidding.  We don't have competition in health care.  And it's a disaster.  Obamacare, if you take a look at your premiums, they're going up 35 percent, 45 percent, 55 percent, and the deductibles are so high, you'll never get to use it.

Granted, it's not a very good question: did the questioner really mean something like "current top three priorities"? But it's still an incoherent answer. And by the way, if you're a citizen of this country and are wondering what's wrong with listing education and health care as two of the top three functions of the constitutionally-defined government of the United States of America, I hope you'll consider renouncing your citizenship. 



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

You could not get more #neverTrump than I am. He has said some truly cretinous things. As for the evil things he has said and done, down to mimicking a disabled journalist - back in August or September, right near the start of his campaign ... well, its just mind boggling that around 33% of Republican voters in the primaries and caucuses support this utter cad. I don't know how much of a disaster his comments about punishing women for abortion will be - they were immediately mocked by pro-lifers. Someone rightly said that it was a nonpro life liberal trying to sound like a conservative prolifer. That was on the nail.

But I have to admit that I didn't get what was wrong with saying that security, education and health were the business of the federal government. Neoneo con and others mocked it, but I didn't really see what was so wrong about that. After I read this piece I googled what is the federal government and got stuff about the three branches and so on. I'm confused about where one actually draws the line. Because for example the president picks the judges on the Supreme Court, and really whether any change is made to Roe/Wade depends on the composition of the Supreme Court. I didn't know education had NOTHING to do with the government in Washington. I'm assuming from what I read this morning from google that the Federal Government is the government in DC, and then there is State government. I've learned since being in New York that all the States have different laws about home schooling, for instance. But the tests high schoolers do, the SATs, these are national are they not? Would the federal government have nothing to do with managing them?

As to health, since I came to the US in December 2010 there has been an argument going on about Obamacare. And in 2012 it seemed that Romney had some alternative to Obamacare? I'm stretching my memory back a bit here. So to me, just picking up from what I've seen, it does not feel as if education is entirely detached from federal government. It seemed as if in 2012 all the presidential candidates had to have an alternative to Obamacare or support it.

So I'm entirely with you on the stupid things Trump has said, and the evil things, like the pictures of Mrs Cruz and the comments about her.

But I didn't see what was so wrong with 'security, education, health' as the three things a president should concern himself about.

When he was running for Prime Minister back in the day before the day, Tony Blair said his three central concerns were Education, education and Education.

He didn't do so badly there, in fact. The labour government helped to pioneer the free / academy schools which the conservatives have since then promoted.

Sorry, I'm out today and this is from my phone, so I can't really reply now. Maybe this evening. But like I said, "current top priorities" is defensible. "Top *functions*" really isn't, from the constitutional pov.

Right. I definitely think he had no idea about the question. Functions and pririties are definitely not the same things. I'm not well acquainted with US government, but I think it's all pretty well defined in the constitution.

And yes, his replies look even worse than I'd expect from the average political candidate. He really doesn't come across as rational.

I could be wrong, of course, but US politics today just comes across as completely fake.

"At the level of rhetoric, that means he doesn't really much care what comes out of his mouth as long as it asserts his will and his delusions of grandeur."


"It's not just that he is not now and never has been any sort of conservative, and that he is sabotaging what a year ago looked like a promising opportunity for a conservative swing back from the Obama years, and is very likely to complete the destruction of conservatism as a force in American politics. It's not just that he dealt a body blow to the pro-life movement yesterday."

I think I agree with Grumpy about the pro-life thing, but when I first read these sentences, I was thinking, "Isn't he doing this deliberately?" I mean, isn't he just deliberately trying to destroy whatever is left of conservatism? Isn't this his aim?

National Education ends up being one-size-fits-all government mandated indoctrination. Government decided what kind of folks they want and they are educated for that. Remember, we are talking about a country in Europe, we're talking about a country the size of Europe, with different cultures and ways of looking at things in different states.


To be fair, I don't think he twigged straight away that the question was specifically about the federal government. He is a buffoon though.

"U.S. Government" and "federal government" are synonymous, though, to Americans. You and Grumpy and Louise wouldn't necessarily hear it that way, but Americans do. Only the federal government is the government of the United States. Others are referred to as "state" or "local" or something if there's any ambiguity. Or the specific locale, as in "the government of Alabama".

Ok, at computer now, although I only have ten minutes or so. This is a big subject and obviously I can't do it justice in a blog comment, but just to start with: the United States has that name for a reason. The constitution specifies a structure in which the powers of the central government are limited. It's very much an exercise in practical subsidiarity, or at least it was originally. Over the 250 years or so of its existence, more and more power has accrued to the central government. One can debate whether that's a good or a bad thing. One can debate whether the federal government should be involved in, for instance, health care. Or education. One can debate whether such things are allowed by the constitution or not.

But what's *not* debatable is that the constitution makes absolutely no explicit provision for anything of that sort. That's what makes Trump's answer so bizarre. Of course he then proceeds to contradict himself, and I know there's no real point in trying to insist on a specific meaning for his words. Still, no one who can give that answer to that question should be anywhere near the levers of federal power.

Sadly, the preceding sentence more or less applies to all the Democratic candidates, and some of the Republicans. But that's what we've come to. They would give a more sophisticated answer, probably, but they wouldn't see the question of law and principle as significant.

This is probably no longer true, but there was a time, not so long ago, when anyone with a high school education would have reacted with bewilderment to the suggestion that healthcare and education were "chief functions" of the federal government. Even education, which has been a mostly-governmental function for well over a hundred years, was the the province of state and municipal governments. The federal Department of Education was not created until the 1970s.

Now, though, a large number, probably a majority, of Americans have no real conception of constitutional limits on federal power, and just think that if something is good the federal government should do it.

Janet points to the practical question. I think a lot of Europeans don't really grasp how big and diverse the USA really is. We're told that we should have a healthcare system like Denmark's, for instance. Well, Denmark and Alabama have about the same number of people, and Alabama is small potatoes among American states. And Denmark is probably more culturally homogeneous. What works on that scale (roughly 5 million people) won't necessarily work in a nation 70 times larger, and way way more fragmented culturally.

I don't think a system in which the federal government directly runs the healthcare system is necessarily wrong in principle. If the National Health Service suits the people of the UK, it suits me. The same structure can't necessarily be transplanted here, though.

As a practical matter, I think it's a bad idea for us. I laid out my reasons for thinking so in this post back in 2009. I haven't seen any reason to change anything in it, and the problems I predicted have in fact appeared.

A way to think about this from the European point of view is to compare the American federal government to the EU. Would you want the EU in charge of a single healthcare and/or educational system for all member states? Not just in a broadly guiding sort of way but at a very specific detailed level?

My 16-year-old daughter happened upon this and has asked me to congratulate the author.

My thanks to her.

Don't think I truly appreciated the size of the U.S. until I moved to New Zealand and then started making some comparisons. The population of Los Angeles County alone, for instance, is 10 million, while the population of all of New Zealand is 4.5 million.

I assume US Gov't means the federal gov't. Australia is also a federation of states. State gov'ts have certain functions and the federal gov't has certain functions. I'm sure our constitution defines these, though I have never read the whole thing.

Paul might be right that Trump didn't initially get the question, but if he just doesn't understand it, then he shouldn't be running.

In any case, it sure looks like he's not right in the head.

I'm just re-reading your post about the healthcare system. I recently watched an old (1994) clip of Peter and Christopher Hitchens on C-Span with Brian Lamb (youtube) in which they discuss the US health system, among other things. Some of the responses were - as you can imagine - energetic!

From your 2009 post:

"We live in a country in which the whole concept of “citizen” is disappearing. We have many, many people who feel no personal stake in or responsibility for the nation as a whole. We have three major ethnic groups (African, Mexican, and European) who dislike and mistrust each other. We have two large socio-political factions (broadly if inaccurately labeled “liberal” and “conservative”) who hate each other with an intensity approaching violence. We have a very powerful and very rich central government which is the object of constant manipulation by thousands of people paid very well to direct that power and wealth toward specific organizations, commercial and otherwise."

Now that I'm here, I can certainly see this.

"What should we do instead? Well, I have no detailed plan, but I can see a more productive direction. The craziest thing about our system is the assumption that one’s employer pays for one’s health insurance. That connection desperately needs to be broken."


"We should be aiming for a situation where most people, people of normal means, purchase their own health insurance, just as they purchase their own house, auto, and life insurance, and those who can’t afford it are assisted."

" We need an approach that, while making sure that everyone has access to some reasonable and decent level of medical care, works with rather than against the temperament and gifts of the American people, does not dig our national financial hole far deeper, and does not exacerbate our internal tensions."

I agree.

I can't quite get over the fact that you have 300 million people in this country (many of whom are very talented), yet you have... Hillary and Trump.

"We should be aiming for a situation where most people, people of normal means, purchase their own health insurance, just as they purchase their own house, auto, and life insurance, and those who can’t afford it are assisted."

That's basically the Belgian system (a country with a population, I now know, equivalent to that of Los Angeles county). But the insurers are mutual societies, rather than companies with shareholders who are not the customers.

Apparently somebody is suggesting, in light of recent events, a Europe-wide FBI-type organisation (a step beyond Europol, which co-ordinates the sharing of information, arrest warrants and such between national police forces). I'm pro-European, but I shudder.

"But the insurers are mutual societies, rather than companies with shareholders who are not the customers."

There were or are "medishare" groups here that I know people have used and they are similar I think. I think they will no longer be permitted in the new system here. (Or they will be "grandfathered.")

"a step beyond Europol, which co-ordinates the sharing of information, arrest warrants and such between national police forces"

I can't say this is appealing to me either!

Marianne, I'm flying into LA Friday and you're making me feel like I'm going to be smothered in people.


Smothered in people almost seems preferable to me those times when I'm waiting at a stop-light and up next to me pulls a truck carrying sheep before I've had time to close my window. Cannot describe the odor, which lingers. And this happens a lot here because there are 30 million sheep in NZ.

I was surprised how few sheep we saw on North Island. Not that we didn't see any, but fewer than we saw cows.

The population of Alabama (52,000 sq mi) is about the same as that of New Zealand (103,000 sq mi). So Los Angeles County (4751 sq mi) contains more people than Alabama and New Zealand combined (155,000 sq mi).

Sounds claustrophobic.

Those co-operative "medishare" type groups do exist in this country, and reportedly work pretty well. Seems like a good pattern to build on. I don't know how they fare under Obamacare, but it's safe to say that the people pushing for a single national system don't look kindly on them. One aspect of that push that isn't admitted, but is very obvious, is that it represents an opportunity to enforce conformity on various disputed moral questions like abortion. If there was any doubt about that before the passage of Obamacare (there certainly wasn't on my part), the administration's actions have removed it.

That sort of thing is part of the reason why my concern about the constitution is not just academic, why I can't just say "Oh well, it worked okay for a while, but it doesn't meet modern needs, blah blah blah." This country is very deeply, dangerously divided. Federalism--the willingness to let different regions of the country run things their own way--seems to me the only way to prevent some sort of explosion.

The problem is that all those people in LA are on the expressway.


Many of them hostile.

"Federalism--the willingness to let different regions of the country run things their own way--seems to me the only way to prevent some sort of explosion."

One of my favorite quotes along this line is from Bill Kauffman, who said in reference to the whole SSM thing, "Why can't we just let Utah be Utah and Massachusetts be Massachusetts?"

He's right, but the problem is that progressivism is nothing if not totalizing and tyrannical, and will not allow it.

This post is a disaster!! Written by someone not interested in making America great again!

You left out "loser". :-/

I've said similar things, Rob. As you say, the idea is just unacceptable to progressivism. That's what these posts called "What Is Actually Happening" are about. There will be more of them.

Speculation: perhaps a hundred or two years from now historians will pick the untimely death of Antonin Scalia to mark the point where the American republic began to unravel in earnest.

No I think that Janet and Mac misunderstand my comment. As a conservative, I don't doubt that the central or as you say 'federal' government should control as little as is consonant with the common good. I don't doubt that education, for instance, should be run as locally as possible, for instance. But at times, the national government may need to get involved, for instance if teachers unions are preventing children from getting a good education, and the only way to curb the teacher unions is through the central/federal government. Have not come to the misunderstanding yet - I'm just saying here that, in terms of the way things ought to be, there is little disagreement between us.

The misunderstanding is that, in my comment above, I'm not talking about how things ought to be, I'm talking about how things are. Famously, or at least to my recollection, when the news came through about the September 11 atrocities, President Bush was reading a story book to children in a school. That seems to me to indicate some involvement with education, at least on a 'figurehead' or inspirational level. So to me as a resident alien in the US, it looks like central government has some kind of involvement with education. It seems to me from observation to be maybe more a First Lady kind of inspirational thing, but as I said above, does the central govenrment run SATs? If it does, its involved with education. Second, health: again in my increasingly bad recollection, in the 2012 elections, the Republicans had to say what their alternative was to Obamacare. So effectively because of Obamacare, the president does have to say something about health, even if its that he doesn't think the president/federal govt should be involved too much in this.

So can you see why, although I think Trump has said some extraordinarily stupid things, like wanting Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia to build their own nuclear bombs, to me, setting as his three presidential priorities, 'security, health, education' does not sound insane?

I don't doubt also that he is intellectually lazy and poorly prepared to be running for president, and that he pulled those three out of the air.

SATs and ACTs come from privately-owned companies. Colleges and universities make their own determination which of them they will require or whether or not they will require one at all. They are, however, one of the things that accrediting agencies look at. Accreditation is also voluntary and is not run by the government. The connection with the government is that accreditation determines whether or not the schools are eligible to participate in federal and state financial loan programs for tuition. Accreditation is in many ways a racket, and does not seem to benefit the schools in any way that has to do with real education, but it's like a protection racket--if you don't participate, you aren't considered good enough to send students to good jobs or higher institutions of learning.

More later.


"The misunderstanding is that, in my comment above, I'm not talking about how things ought to be, I'm talking about how things are."

Right, I understand. I thought I covered that. Undeniably, the federal government is involved in both education and healthcare. I'm really not talking about either of those--"ought to be" or "are." I'm talking about the basic specifications of the system, regardless of what people think it should be or how it's actually operating at the moment. As the question was phrased to Trump, to American ears, or at least to ears as old as his and mine that can be presumed to have had basic education in what used to be called "civics"--fundamentals of the constitution etc--it's a reference to that.

You refer to Trump "setting as his three presidential priorities" these three things (security, education, healthcare). But that wasn't the question--like I said above, if the question had been "what are your three presidential priorities?" his answer would have been ok. "What are the chief functions?" is a very different question.

However, I do grant that in making that distinction I'm expecting too much, definitely of Trump and maybe of other politicians. I should have picked the other example, the one about nuclear proliferation, to quote in the post. It's really more egregious.

Ok, I assumed SATs were central government, because if such a thing existed in the UK, it would be run from the Department of Education, which is run by a member of parliament (for an explanation of 'run by', see 'Yes Minister').

I have a lot of work to do, evidently, before I apply for citizenship.

It is confusing in a way to a English person or a European because for us the word Federalist has many meanings. As the Austro-Hungarian Empire draw to its sad demise, some theologians proposed 'federalist' models for it, such as power being deleted (from the center, of course) to the States, on the principle of subsidiarity. The principle of subsidiarity presupposes that there is a kindly monarch at the centre who is saying, 'alright children I give you permission to do a little legistlation on your own under my kindly patronage'. On the other hand, in today's parlance, a European Federalist is someone who wants the nations of which the EU is composed further to be deprived of sovereignity in favour of the unelected 'government' in Brussels. That's no so very different from the first, Austrian-Hungarian case.

But neither is like what Americans seem to understand by 'Federal'. So far as Mac and Janet and others who have been assigning a political value to Trump's mis-statement are concerned, 'federal' means the central government in a narrow sense, which ought never to be expanded (eg to include education or health). That's the opposite of its meaning in English or European terms.

Actually, I can't think of any English usage of the term. Its a post tridentine Catholic term, so far as it is used in European discussion, drawing by analogy the Catholic principle of ecclesial subsidiarity into the political realm. So there is always a 'papacy' at the centre and the local churches on the outside, to which the one is kindly delegating some authority. This is a bad analogy for considering the interactions of sovereign nation states.

I mean 'delegated' not 'deleted' to the States

Wait. I didn't assign anything to Trump's statement, indeed, I don't even remember the statement you are talking about.

To become a citizen, according to the government, you need to know very little. There are 100 questions to which you need to know the answers. You can get a booklet with the information. There are flashcards online that you can print to learn the answers. I know all this because I helped a lady from the Sudan with her "test." They don't ask you very many questions--sometimes only 5 or 10.

Of course, any citizen ought to know much more than this, but that is what is required.


The American idea of Federalism is that the states take care of their own business within their own states and the Federal government handles things that cross state barriers, such as national defense, interstate commerce, etc.

As we become more interconnected, and people are less settled, more things fall under that category of concerning all states rather than just one. There is a great debate over where to draw the line, but basically we lost the States' Rights issue in the Civil War. It's a great example of how one great evil brings about a multiplicity of others. Because the idea of States' Rights was tied to the evil of slavery, we lost the good by trying to hold onto the evil.


We use the term "federal" in somewhat contradictory ways, too. That word specifically almost always refers to the national government--if "Federal" is the first word of the name of a government agency, it's part of the national government (Federal Bureau of Investigation).

On the other hand, the word "federalist" today generally refers to a view of things in which significant power is reserved to the states, i.e. a preference for limiting the national government. It's now associated with conservatism. Although two hundred years ago the Federalist party was the party of strong central government.

The 10th Amendment to the constitution was an attempt to specify some limits to the consolidation of power at the national level. It's part of the Bill of Rights, ten amendments added immediately to the constitution to satisfy those who didn't think basic liberties were guaranteed strongly enough by the original constitution. That's where freedom of the press, religion, assembly, etc. are spelled out. The 10th Amendment is something of a dead letter today.

As enjoyable as some of Trump's craziness has been during this election season, it is really sad to think that he or Hillary may end up as POTUS. She is then the only sane choice. But I will not vote for either.

I'd have thought you would hold your nose and vote for Hillary. I won't vote (for president) if that's the choice, as I can't even pick a least-worst between the two of them. But I confess there is a perverse part of me that would kind of prefer to see Trump win that match, just to see what would happen.

I cross-posted with Janet. Her definition of American federalism is a good functional one. And that's an interesting point about losing the good by holding on to the evil. I never thought of that situation in that way, but it's true. I think of it as a permanent tainting of the idea of states' rights, and nowadays of pretty much anything that doesn't come out of Washington, because the pattern was repeated a hundred years later with segregation. Now any effort to limit the control of the national government over state and local affairs can be conveniently tarred with the racism brush.

I folliwed some of what Janet is talking about when I wrote my PHD with two chapters on the Southern Writets. There was no google back then and I couldnt make head or tail of what they were talking about when 'federalism' came up.

No Mac Im sure your example is fine for American ears, including those of Donald Trump. Its just when I heard conservatives getting upset about his answer, I could not see it was so terrible.

Tate wrote some on Jackson and on Lee. For instance

I'd have thought you would hold your nose and vote for Hillary.

I know. I was laughing because I'm going to end up in the same place as Stu.


Did anyone see Sarah Palin's speech in Wisconsin for Donald Trump? She makes The Donald seem like a big brain politician.

It's rather like when I ask students what the three branches of government are, and get an answer like "legislative, police, and telephones".

Aberdeen is the largest city in the NE of Scotland. Its population is much smaller than the midwestern town in which I reside

Yes, Paul, exactly.

Sarah Palin--what a mess. I actually had hopes for her when she first appeared on the national scene. They were soon crushed.

I was at an airport a few hours ago and the TV was on saying yesterday that there will be a massive recession. Then it showed him from today saying he didnt mean that, he meant there would be a brighter day when he becomes president. Another woman and I burst out laughing. It really does not matter what quotation one goes from. Trump is not being refreshingly politically incorrect, as a FT article said today online. He is not a jester who speaks truths, as another FT article said the other day. As Maclin says, he is simply out of his mind

It was Trump who said yesterday there will be a massive recession and today that it will be a brighter day when he is president.

Its appallingly damaging for the Repiblican party that thirty percent of them have voted for Trump as the nominee

It's appalling in a number of ways. It's civil war within the Republican party and there's serious talk of whether it can survive at all. Most serious conservatives are blazing with fury.

Here's an example of the fury. This is Jim Geraghty of National Review, from a daily email called The Morning Jolt. He's one of those people who follows electoral politics in extreme detail, and much of the time he's going on tiresomely about polls and statistics. When he's not doing that, he's pretty insightful about broader questions (and often quite funny). This appeared last week. He's reacting to several prominent Trump supporters--Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich (!!), and someone whose name I can't remember who recently quit the Trump campaign--who are now expressing reservations about Trump. The next-to-last paragraph describes the likely outcome of Trump's candidacy, and the reason anti-Trump Republicans and conservatives are so angry.

Just FYI, Trump supporters, no one should let you off of that bandwagon now. You should be handcuffed to that Titanic you volunteered to crew.

Donald Trump didn’t suddenly change in the past few days, weeks, or months. He’s the same guy he always was, the same guy that most of us in the conservative movement and GOP have been staunchly opposing for the past year. He didn’t abruptly become reckless, obnoxious, ill-informed, erratic, hot-tempered, pathologically dishonest, narcissistic, crude, and catastrophically unqualified for the presidency overnight. He’s always been that guy, and you denied it and ignored it and hand-waved it away and made excuses every step of the way because you were convinced that you were so much smarter than the rest of us. You were so certain that you were on some superior wavelength giving you special insight into the Donald; only you could tell that it was all an act. Only you could grasp that his constant courting of controversy was just to get attention from the media. Only you could instinctively sense that his style would play brilliantly in the general election and win over working-class Democrats. (SPOILER ALERT: It isn’t.) You insisted that you could “coach him.”

You came to those conclusions not because you’re smarter than the rest of us, but because you’re actually more foolish than the rest of us. You insisted Occam’s Razor couldn’t possibly be true -- that Trump acts the way he does because this is who he is, this is the way he is all the time, and he will always be like this. You fooled yourself into believing that Trump was playing this nine-level chess game that only you and a few others could perceive and understand. Only you could see the long game.

But there is no long game. He’s winging it. There is no grand strategy. There is no master plan. Trump doesn’t look ahead to the next sentence, much less the next step in getting elected.

“Our candidate is mental?” No Shinola, Sherlock, some conservatives said this from day one and all we got for it was the alt-Right vomiting forth endless vitriol and profanity and threats.

Oh, what’s that? Trump’s Twitter behavior is “utterly stupid,” Newt? Thanks for noticing; six days ago you were telling the media there was absolutely nothing about Trump that worries you. Maybe your previous comparison of Trump to Reagan was frankly, fundamentally, profoundly wrong from A to Z.

“Trump only cares about Trump”? Gee, thank you, turncoat former insider, for this shocking bit of secret intelligence. News flash, some of us didn’t need to work for Trump for several months to figure that out. We saw it, we said it, and you called us liars for saying it.

Technically we’re supposed to welcome previous Trump fans-turned-foes with open arms. But barring some miraculous comeback by Ted Cruz, the Trump campaign will have cost the Republican party the presidency after eight years of Obama, and perhaps the Senate and even the House -- not to mention Scalia’s replacement on the Supreme Court. Years of effort spent attempting to dispel the accusations of inherent Republican misogyny, xenophobia, hypocrisy, ignorance, and blind rage have been undone by Trump’s campaign. And every Trump advocate in front of a camera had a hand in this.

We’re not just gonna hug it out.

Yeah I read that. Im surrounded by Trump fans at work and I sit reading national review online and neoneocon on my phone

Im not that worried about a GOP civil war. I hope that Trump does not win on the first ballot and then someone else wins on the second ballot.

Yes some Republican Trumpkins will sulk and refuse to vote for the actual nominee. But bear in mind that a lot of Sanders supporters are #neverClinton. They wont vote for her.

And then, whoever wins in November, the attempted hostile takeover over the Republican party by White supremicists will be over.

Well, I hope you're right. As I've said many times, I'm no big fan of the Republican party, but at least it's some kind of counterbalance to the forces of progressivism, so I don't want it to collapse. Unless it were replaced by something better, of course, but I'm temperamentally inclined to think the change would be for the worse.

I'm shocked to hear that you're surrounded by Trump fans at work.

I just saw this that you posted, I assume by accident, on the Week 13 movie thread:

"I realize that sounds hopelessly optimistic but the writing is on the wall: Trump is unelectable. He trails Clinton by 20 points and any senstor or congressman running down ticket of him is up the creel without a paddle. This fact has finally sunk in"

Yes, that's what all the conservative anti-Trump people have been saying. I think there are a lot of people on whom it has yet to sink in, though.

So am I Mac so Am I :) !

Yes I am thick as a brick I put it in 52 movies


And :-/ about the work situation.

I dont know much about the GOP. This is the first Primary Ive followed with any understanding. I didnt know the delegates were actual live people till someone at work told me that. But in principle I think a conservative supports the actual existing political vehicles of conservatism in their country. The GOP or any other party is not like the RC church - something one may never give up on. But I think a conservative needs bery good reason to abandon it. This is why the folks atvwork shock me

"The GOP or any other party is not like the RC church..." Right. I think in past conversations you and I have been in agreement that electoral politics is not a place where one should insist on philosophical purity and correctness. I also think I got the phrase "least worst" from you in a discussion about politics some time ago, and that's usually what I think I'm choosing in voting for Republicans.

But apart from that, the thing about your co-workers and Trump is he's NOT EVEN A CONSERVATIVE. I know people who are not really much interested in politics and don't have a real political philosophy that could be called either liberal or conservative, but have a sort of pugnacious nationalism, and I can see Trump's appeal to them. But people who are consciously conservative...I don't get it. I don't think anyone can come up with a non-circular definition of "conservative" that fits him.

They believe that they are siding with the poor against the Elites. They believe the elites have engineered or refused to stop mass immigration, which deracinates people. I don't think (I hope they are not that nutz, but I'm not sure) they think the Elite are deliberately deracinating people, but they think the Elite are down with it. So there is mass immigration, and then the jobs are all going out to China. There should be tariffs on all these Chinese goods, they think, because these cheap Chinese (etc) imports hurt the poor.

They believe these are conservative threads in Trump's message, and they think that elites, including conservatives, don't give a damn about these conservative threads or the poor.

One senior editor actively supports Trump. He hates liberals. He thinks elites do not understand Trump supporters, but that is not all - he does actively want Trump to be president. One junior editor (who may be in fear of his job) says Trump is making many true pronouncements,like a court jester, but you don't make the court jester king (ie president). One editor is really really pleased with himself for 'understanding' Trump supporters, and really delighted that the GOP is going to explode. The secretary also supports Trump because she hates liberals.

Reflecting on my response to your post. I habitually empathize with public figures who 'mispeak' in public because I'm hopeless at talking without notes. I garble my words all the time. Or I just mispronounce them. Or talk nonsense. I could have said most of Bush's Bushisms, except for that I'm not as funny as he is. I felt sorry for Palin when she was asked what newspapers she read and she said 'all of them'. My mind often totally blanks when someone asks me a direct question. Actually, that happens to a lot of professors, and we give each other a free pass on that. But no one gives these figures a free pass!

By the way, if a liberal person was mocked for getting their words out backwards, I'd feel sorry for them too. It's not about 'the liberals always find an excuse to call conservatives stupid' kind of issue.

I don't go to all lengths. I didn't feel sorry for the GOP candidate in 2012 who said he had three essential issues and then could not remember the third one. That was just hilarious. In that situation, you have to memorize it!

But now thinking over this conversation about Trump, I'm realizing that he has not mis-spoken in the way that Bush, or Palin or that hapless 2012 GOP candidate did. He says outrageous things and then 'walks them back'. Or he carries on and on insisting on them, like building this wall to keep the Mexicans out. Or calling the Mexicans who come here racists. ETc etc etc. The 'federalist' comments, the comments about the nukes, the comments about punishing women who have abortions. This is not that kind of mis-speaking at all, is it?

Its just like you say, actually he is not in control of his thought to mouth process.

Right, it's not "mis-speaking" in the sense that Bush did it, or even Todd ("legitimate rape") Akin. By the way I think "misunderestimate" is a great word. It's just plain incoherence. When someone mis-speaks, if you keep listening to them or put the mis-speak in context (as with the Akin remark), you realize what they were trying to say. Not so with Trump. In fact it's the opposite--the more you listen to him, the more you're inclined toward a conclusion like the title of this post. Nothing coherent beyond "I am the greatest" ever emerges.

Of course I'm saying "the more *you* listen to him" etc knowing that that generic "you" is not by any means always reacting the way I describe, as the examples given in "you know who I am"'s comment show.

"They believe these are conservative threads in Trump's message, and they think that elites, including conservatives, don't give a damn about these conservative threads or the poor."

Yeah, and they have a point there--there are conservative "threads" in Trump's babbling (sometimes, and also liberal threads). And the elites (of both parties) are contemptuous of the little people. But I don't understand how intelligent people can see Trump as an effective antidote. As someone said, it's the politics of the middle finger. I can relate, but it's not a tactic likely to lead anywhere good.

"They believe these are conservative threads in Trump's message, and they think that elites, including conservatives, don't give a damn about these conservative threads or the poor."

Yeah, and they have a point there--there are conservative "threads" in Trump's babbling (sometimes, and also liberal threads). And the elites (of both parties) are contemptuous of the little people.

But don't they see that Trump is himself contemptuous of the little people? I think a perfect example was when he said he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and none of his supporters would care. Only in his case, the contempt is used to fashion sound bites that appeal to them.

"...don't they see...?" Apparently not. That's one of the things that drives so many other people crazy. Supposedly a lot of his appeal is to less educated, less affluent people, i.e., people he would consider to be "losers."

Now it begins to become apparent that the best material for brains is cheese.


There does seem to be a correlation, but I'll hold off on that conclusion until after the general election.

Trump is bringing us together. In a way.

I'm glad boomers are on the way out. You all sit here and talk about conservatism all the time but what have you ever conserved? I'm 23, how exactly is this country the same as it was when you all were my age? Maybe you haven't noticed since you all were able to get work and start families immediately after college or even high school, and since then you've been riding a wave of affluence into your golden years, but none of that is possible anymore and the America you grew up in is gone.

The conservative movement. What has it accomplished? The pro-life movement, what has it accomplished? The republican party, an effective opposition to liberalism? Then why has the country become inexorably more liberal? The Constitution. If a mostly catholic supreme court can find a right to murder children in the constitution then the constitution is utterly meaningless.

And Geraghty lamenting that the repubican party will now be seen as misogynist, xenophobic, etc. So? Has that ever stopped the left before? Ask yourself why the "conservative movement" constantly loses ground. Ask yourself why Trump was able to singlehandedly walk all over the republican party. It's because the only thing standing between us and the left for the last hundred years were absolutely worthless men. Whether they were beholden to donors or just men who wanted an easy life at the expense of the people they represented, they were utterly worthless.

I read this blog for the mildly consoling religious discussion and I'll continue to read it, but I don't really care if the republican party, the pro-life movement, the constitution, fat conservative pundits, out of touch baby boomers and whatever else is destroyed by Trump. They deserve it.

To tell you the truth, I'm not sorry to be on the way out. If I didn't have children and grandchildren I'd probably be glad.

When we were your age, many of us were just as angry about the world we were inheriting. Good luck doing a better job of fixing it.

But what in the world makes you suppose we haven't noticed the destruction? That's an odd thing to say.


I'm about your age, and I also don't care what happens to the conservative movement or the Republican party. But why would you read this blog, only to insult the people who write and comment on it, even wishing them dead? They are doing the only things one can do right now: having plenty of kids, going to Mass, and presenting a joyful witness to the world, knowing that Jesus Christ has triumphed over sin, death and hell. You would do well to imitate them. You'd probably also do well to go to Confession: at most churches in my time zone, it starts in about an hour.

Thanks, Nathan. Your advice to KK is well taken.

Let me clarify a few things. First, I'm not particularly offended. I've encountered that "hurry up and die" sentiment about baby-boomers before, and it was a bit of a shock the first time, but it doesn't really bother me. I can even sympathize with it a bit, although usually it stems from the assumption that all baby-boomers are leftists rather than a complaint that conservative b-b's have not been effective.

Second, when I said "good luck," I meant it in two ways. I meant it in the usual sarcastic way, as in "good luck moving that mountain," but also sincerely. I wish the right-minded members of the younger generation all the best in trying to work against the present culture. My impression is that your generation is, overall, even worse than mine, but by all means prove me wrong.

Third, I don't care about the Republican party, either, for its own sake, or have any illusions about what we can expect from it. But I would rather have a weak and ineffective resistance to the left than none, which is what a Trump victory might mean.

"I wish the right-minded members of the younger generation all the best in trying to work against the present culture. My impression is that your generation is, overall, even worse than mine, but by all means prove me wrong."

I would agree with this. Meanwhile, we (young and old) do the best we can to live a good and happy life, including trying to fix the bad things.

Yep. And try not to let the deteriorating cultural situation get us too discouraged.

Indeed. That in itself is just about a full time job.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)