Stereolab: Dots and Loops
A Nice Appreciation of Elizabeth Goudge

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid Trump Controversies

A few months after Trump's election I realized that there was no point in following the news stories about him. Every few days there was some new burst of outrage, and at least two thirds of the purported scandals turned out, when I read more about them, to be exaggerated, trivial (what was that nonsense about Melania's jacket a while back?), or sometimes just plain false. It's just not worth the bother of paying attention. Even the big He's A Russian Agent!! story pretty much fizzled out, and in fact, according to some non-crazy people, was more of an FBI scandal than a Trump scandal.

I thought most of the media had thoroughly discredited themselves years ago, but they continue to dig their hole deeper. They clearly see destroying Trump as part of their mission, at the moment probably the most important part. And I suppose it works for them in some ways. It does serve to keep the anti-Trump outrage at fever pitch. But for those who, like me, don't much care for him but have kept some sense of balance, it produces only irritation and disdain. And of course his millions of active supporters just dig in their heels and see him as a hero-martyr. All in all, it serves only to deepen the cloud of anger and mistrust that has enveloped the country.

As of today the completely stupid uproar about Trump's statement that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama has been going for about a week. I frequently use Google News to get an overview of the day's news stories. This is about half of the stories about Hurricane Dorian currently displayed there. 


This is crazy. On both sides. It's hard to tell at this point who's baiting whom, and who's crazier. I'm not sure what Trump originally said, but the fact is that we here in Alabama were worried about Hurricane Dorian for a while. "Threatened" might be overstating it, but the projected path of the storm for several days had it heading more or less due west across the Florida peninsula. It is not only possible but has in the past happened that a storm has done that and then re-strengthened after it got into the Gulf. And I assure you that any hurricane in the northern Gulf of Mexico is always a big deal for us. Damn right we were concerned, and watching closely, until it became more or less certain that the storm was going to turn north. In calling it a threat to Alabama, Trump was not lying and not crazy. At worst he was exaggerating and/or speaking carelessly. It was not a big deal

But then of course the Trump Derangement Syndrome sufferers in the press and social media had to jump in and start jeering and accusing. And then of course the thin-skinned egotist in the White House had to respond. And the thin-skinned egotists in the press had to respond to that...and here we are, a week later, still talking about it as if it were important. I wonder if anyone has brought up impeachment yet.

I would like to think that this is some sort of nadir, but it can probably get worse. 


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I heard on NPR last night that it was very important that we talk about it, and how changing that map was illegal, and how it could have been incredibly dangerous.


Apparently, it could have caused something like "the worst commercial shipping accident in modern history, the wreck of the El Faro."

Because, I guess that all seafaring vessels rely on maps hand-drawn by presidents.


Right. Technologically sophisticated navigation systems are all well and good, but if they conflict with the president's hand-drawn map, of course any competent captain would go with the latter.

I guess in a bizarre sort of way this fits with the president-as-all-wise-all-powerful-ruler syndrome that I frequently denounce.

I skippedJonah Goldberg’s weekly newletter because it was about the freaking bloody sharpie. I even skip the Commentary podcast if it has ‘Muller’ or Comey in the title. I could not care less.

Having said that, there have been some recent tweets, like the ones ordering American companies not to trade with China, which border on the insane.

It does look like the next American election will be between two guys with dementia


It’s like the whole country is having a nervous breakdown. But it’s really just the people who live and breathe politics.

Maybe it's best to think of this as a TV ratings war and we're stuck in a permanent sweeps week. From a piece in the NY Times by a TV critic: "The Real Donald Trump Is a Character on TV":

The “Donald Trump” who got elected president, who has strutted and fretted across the small screen since the 1980s, is a decades-long media performance. To understand him, you need to approach him less like a psychologist and more like a TV critic. ...

If you want to understand what President Trump will do in any situation, then, it’s more helpful to ask: What would TV do? What does TV want?

It wants conflict. It wants excitement. If there is something that can blow up, it should blow up. It wants a fight. It wants more. It is always eating and never full.

That seems all too accurate as far as it goes, but it leaves out 50% of the picture: the TV industry itself. If Trump is a TV star, the press is the TV industry. Well, the press plus Twitter, I guess.

But even journalists who dont have trump derangement syndrome write about it because ... I suppose they have to because it’s part of the news

Certainly, they do. But they don’t have to do it in the way they do. The hurricane business being a case in point. This critic’s analysis is pretty brilliant as far as it goes, but it’s incomplete. You can’t have a reality tv star without reality tv. “It wants excitement. It wants conflict.” That’s every bit as accurate about the media (including social) as it is about Trump.

If people would just ignore Trump's tweeting, for instance, he'd probably quit doing it. What would be the point? He obviously loves goading people. Everybody knows, or ought to know, that when you allow yourself to be provoked by someone who likes to provoke people, you just get more of it.

There was reason to believe in 2016 that the media were consciously hyping Trump, in part because they wanted to help Hillary and thought that he'd be easy to beat if he were the Republican nominee, and in part because he was great for their ratings. They helped create the thing they now regard as a monster.

I heard an interview with Amy Klobuchar on NPR yesterday, and the interviewer brought up the weather map. She was wise enough to brush it off, but good grief. It will be interesting to see how long this lasts.

My great fear is that the cultural overlords will decide that since Trump loves Sharpies, they must be shunned. I love Sharpies. I really don't want them to disappear.

I think I will print off some weather maps and alter them.


I think the media hyped Trump, maybe slightly on purpose because they thought he could not beat Hilary, but also just because he was such a novelty and circus. He was what any newsman would call a 'story' in a way that Jeb Bush was not a story.

That's certainly true. But don't underestimate the commitment of the non-Fox media to progressive politics. They openly regard it as an essential part of their mission now.

I doubt Sharpies will be banned, Janet. But common-sense regulation might happen.

This is an interesting discussion of Trump as a reality TV star

That's the guy (Poniewozik) who wrote the piece Marianne linked to.

I only meant that they would be banned socially. They will become the new MAGA hats. To use a Sharpie will be equivalent to admitting that you are a racist.

I don't know if I have mentioned here that I think the definitive winning slogan for the Democratic presidential candidate would be Make America Great Again, but I doubt if any of them are clever enough to cotton onto that.

Heh. That's brilliant, but yeah, they probably aren't. Also true about Sharpies and racism, but that doesn't really matter all that much, because the word now means pretty much any disagreement with progressive doctrine.

Three of these signs have popped up in my neighborhood recently:

They make me feel unsafe.

I like this one better.

If you pay an extra $2.99, you can get a secret decoding card, but simply put, it's roughly equivalent to "No Irish Need Apply."

I love, "Love is Love." Who could question that?

Also, "Water is Life." A friend pointed out, "Yes, but sometimes water is death." Ask anyone in the Bahamas.

My earlier comment about the press building up Trump was based on vague memories of things I'd read at the time, so I looked around to see if I could find anything definite. Found this among others:

'So to take Bush down, Clinton’s team drew up a plan to pump Trump up. Shortly after her kickoff, top aides organized a strategy call, whose agenda included a memo to the Democratic National Committee: “This memo is intended to outline the strategy and goals a potential Hillary Clinton presidential campaign would have regarding the 2016 Republican presidential field,” it read.'

“The variety of candidates is a positive here, and many of the lesser known can serve as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right. In this scenario, we don’t want to marginalize the more extreme candidates, but make them more ‘Pied Piper’ candidates who actually represent the mainstream of the Republican Party,” read the memo.

“Pied Piper candidates include, but aren’t limited to:
• Ted Cruz
• Donald Trump
• Ben Carson
We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to [take] them seriously."

Then of course it blew up in their faces. That "tell the press to..." is pretty revealing. Where politics is concerned, there's not that much distance between much of the press and the Democratic Party.

Oh yes, I saw a number of those signs in DC a year or so ago. Some kind of acme of virtue-signaling. "Signaling" doesn't really capture the egregiousness of it though.

I think "science is real" is the one that just makes me splutter. This from the party that believes Bruce Jenner is a woman.

I didn’t realize Marianne sent a link I thought it was just the quotation

I can see that was the Clinton party strategy. I dont think most papers, radio shows and TV channels take instruction from the DNC. Trump was a circus

No, they don’t take instruction as a rule, I’m sure. They’re just on the same page. They both want to see Democrats elected.

Which is not to say they only gave Trump all that attention in order to help Hillary. He is indeed a circus and the more media attention he got the more of a circus he was, so the more attention he got.

NYT "White House Pressed Agency to Repudiate Weather Forecasters Who Contradicted Trump"

It will be interesting to see how long this goes on. You would think that it would be obvious that this is going to garner more votes for Trump than his opponent.


A pro-tRump friend of mine continues to complain about Hillary. I told him that he should thank Hillary every day for being the D candidate because anyone else would have beat tRump. It took someone very hated to lose to him. Also, he should thank Joe Biden every day for not running in 2016, he would have certainly beaten tRump. Yes, I agree that we will probably have two men with the beginnings of dementia running against each other next year. Oh joy.

I guess. I wonder if they can even stop themselves though. They're in such a perpetual frenzy.

I think that tRump's tweeting is a very large cause of continual press coverage and tRump derangement syndrome, Mac.

Before this administration no president was putting his thoughts out there 24/7. He is his own worst enemy.

I was replying to Janet at 1:51 above.

"I think that tRump's tweeting is a very large cause of continual press coverage and tRump derangement syndrome, Mac."

Oh yeah, it certainly is, and I wish he would shut up. But I also wish the press would stop reacting. Do they not realize that they're just encouraging him? Or do they get a thrill out of it, too? I sort of think they do. It's like that tv critic in the New Yorker piece and the podcast said:

'If you want to understand what President Trump will do in any situation, then, it’s more helpful to ask: What would TV do? What does TV want? It wants conflict. It wants excitement.'

As I said earlier, in that picture, "TV" also includes the press. In their hearts they want conflict and excitement as much as he does.

Janet 1:51 - I picked up a Bible and looked for the Book of Janet, but could not find it.

Do they not realize that they're just encouraging him?

I don't think he needs any encouragement at all. He's been using the media in one form or another to keep himself in the public eye since forever. And Twitter seems custom-made for him.

A NYT story about this is the fourth item from the top on the main page of Google News tonight.

Marianne, I mean they encourage him to keep harping at things like this, to be more outrageous. Certainly he will always be trying to keep attention on himself. But he wouldn't be able to use the media as he does without their cooperation.

Stu, you must have been looking in the Protestant Bible.

Church of Scotland.

Now I remember that I got JotS from inter-library loan.


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