Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: They Come Out At Night

More like Speechwriter for Evil, Speaker for Evil, and Chaotic Evil, to be honest.
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Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: The Loneliest Monster

The Media Village Idiots at Politico are trying on a new narrative: Trump is just a uniquely “self-contained” individual, who doesn’t respond to normal primate responses like ‘friendship’ and ’empathy’. He’s not really a monster, he’s just isolated, poor thing!

As someone who also has trouble connecting with humans, I will attest that this is the biggest load of shit since Ringling Brothers disbanded its animal acts. Trump, like any other circus performer, is an entertainer. He’s spent his entire life crafting a “Donald Trump” character, a media-friendly mock-up of everyone’s nightmare Big Boss Business Guy… the guy behind the curtain is just a meatsack that craves familiarity and doesn’t want to be touched.

The tragedy, for the rest of us, is that just as the aging monster’s physical and mental decline became inevitable, a confluence of Republican venality, American stupidity, and Russian cupidity propelled the Donald Trump Show into the White House. Great news for the parasites, not so much for the rest of us:

He’s increasingly isolated in the White House, but for Donald Trump, being alone is not a liability. It’s where he’s most comfortable…

His critics might see his growing isolation as a product of his political inexperience—an aversion to the norms of the legislative process, a penchant for topsy-turvy management. But as unprecedented as this might be in the annals of the West Wing, it’s merely a continuation of a lifelong pattern of behavior for Trump. Take away the Pennsylvania Avenue address, the never-ending list of domestic and international crises, and the couldn’t-be-higher geopolitical stakes—and this looks very much like … Trump throughout his entire existence. Isolated is how he’s always operated…

“One of the loneliest people I’ve ever met,” biographer Tim O’Brien said in an interview. “He lacks the emotional and sort of psychological architecture a person needs to build deep relationships with other people.”

It’s been this way always, because he’s always been foundationally, virulently untrusting. “There’s a wall Donald has that he never lets people penetrate,” a former associate told me. Trump has a dark, dour view of humanity. He considers the world “ruthless,” “brutal” and “cruel.” Through this zero-sum, dog-eat-dog lens, friends aren’t friends—there’s no such thing. “They act nice to your face, but underneath they’re out to kill you,” he wrote in his 2007 book, Think Big. “… they want your job, they want your house, they want your money, they want your wife …” Why he’s like this is the subject of vigorous discussion among psychology experts. The deep-seated influence of his formidable father? The wound of the alcohol-fueled death of his more mild-mannered older brother? Simple genetics? Trump is not self-reflective—“I don’t like to analyze myself because I might not like what I see,” he told a biographer several years back—but he can be self-aware. And on this front, he’s been quite clear, and remarkably consistent.
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Late Night Roundup: Statler, Waldorf & Groucho Review Trump’s “Afghanistan” Speech


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“Let’s Get This Over With” edition:


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Idiot Savvy-ant Open Thread: Ross Doubthat Has A Modest Proposal

Ten thousand bucks, cash on the barrelhead, if he never has to hear from You People again. No, really:

Instead of reparations as an addition to our current affirmative-action regime, then, maybe they should be considered as an alternative — one that directly addresses a unique government-sanctioned crime against part of the American people, without requiring a preference regime that makes lower-class white Americans feel like victims of a multicultural version of The Man.

So, this week’s immodest proposal: Abolish racial preferences in college admissions, phase out preferences in government hiring and contracting, eliminate the disparate-impact standard in the private sector, and allow state-sanctioned discrimination only on the basis of socioeconomic status, if at all. Then at the same time, create a reparations program — the Frederick Douglass Fund, let’s call it — that pays out exclusively, directly and one time only to the proven descendants of American slaves.

What would it pay out? Reparations advocates talk in trillions, which would take this already-unrealistic proposal into the realm of the utopian. But right now, giving every single African-American $10,000, perhaps in a specially-designed annuity, would cost about $370 billion, modest relative to supply-side tax plans and single-payer schemes alike. The wealth of the median black household in the United States was $11,200 as of 2013; a $10,000 per-person annuity would more than double it.

In so doing it would hardly eliminate racial disadvantage, but then again neither has 50 years of affirmative action. What it would offer is a meaningful response to an extraordinary injustice, but a response that does not involve permanent discrimination…

How does that man walk around without an umbrella, to protect him from the passers-by continually spitting at him?

I actually checked to make sure this appeared under the actual NYTimes banner — that it wasn’t a spoof site intended to mock revanchist apologists like Our Mr. Douthat. There are so many layers of wrongness to this idea, from the meagreness of his calculations to the voter-ID twist that surely every local authority would accept the testimony of a prospective “beneficiary” as to their ancestry. It would be nice if a qualified professional, like Jamelle Bouie or Ta-Nehisi Coates, were to fisk Douthat the way he deserves… but why should they waste their efforts on such a pitiful specimen?



Early Morning Open Thread: Red(state) Princess Ivanka

ivanka-trump-fashion-line-sheneman

(Drew Sheneman via GoComics.com)
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A concept imported from China, like Trump’s campaign hats: the “Princelings” eliding the line between political machine and business empire. Neither of her adult brothers seem to be capable of doing much beyond collecting ‘honorariums’. Ivanka, on the other hand, is not only a chip off the Trump block (or at least presenting herself as one), she’s done double familial duty by allying herself to another wealthy real estate crime family by marriage…

Interesting Esquire piece on young Jared: “His father-in-law is moving into the White House, and he’s got a seat at the table”:

And yet for all that Jared has helped Trump, there is a sense among Jared’s friends and business associates that he sees the gold-plated vision of a Trump White House as the ultimate step in a carefully plotted ascent to redemption, one that began when his father’s scandal tarnished the family name…


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Dear Washington Post

Here’s another slightly edited dispatch from my ongoing off-social-media conversation with some political reporters on the obvious implicit bias I see in coverage of Clinton vs. Trump.  The reporters I’ve engaged publicly and privately don’t see it that way — and they are, I firmly believe, sincere and honest in that belief.  So the task, as I see it, is to build the argument story by story and (as possible) in analysis of the sum of coverage, that they’re wrong, and to do so in a way that honest and expert reporters can read, analyze, and, I hope, become persuaded by.

What caught my eye today was this article in the Washington Post, “Inside Bill Clinton’s nearly $18 million job as ‘Honorary Chancellor’ of a for-profit university,” by Rosalind S. Hellerman and Michelle Ye Hee Lee.  That story has received professional praise as a well reported deep dive — and it is!  Really.

School of athents

By that I mean:  it is definitely a long (2604 words) and detailed dissection of Bill Clinton’s involvement with Laureate University, a major international for profit higher-ed company.  The reporters play fair by the rules of the craft:  they show their work, and a reader can see where each individual fact comes from.

But does that make it a good story, an honest one, or one that within the larger story — that of the 2016 presidential election — meets basic standards of journalism as it serves readers interests?

Not at all.

That’s what I argued below in my note to one of my correspondents.  Here, the point is that the elite political press — like any group of people working on the same stuff in substantial isolation from the outside world — has its own professional criteria for excellence.  They’ve got a value system and an expectation or understanding of what represents good work or bad.  They’re not all wrong in that.

But as far as I can see from the outside, theirs is a bunker-dwelling, mostly technical standard: well reported = good, for example.  I don’t think that there is a conspiracy at the Times  or the Post, or CNN or what have you simply to shiv the Clintons.

But what I think outside the bunker (and please do recall:  a presidential campaign is a mind-and-body deranging experience; these folks really are working without access to a lot of the reality checks that could help) those of us who are looking at the coverage both closely and synoptically see the problem not as one of reporting, but of coverage.

That is, what matters is the way stories are assigned, framed, their narratives interpreted within each piece, how they’re edited and placed (2604 words!) affects the overall message readers and the electorate as a whole receive.

Thus, the ongoing and increasingly inexplicable failure of The New York Times to engage what should be a burgeoning Trump bribery scandal with state attorneys general and Trump U.  Thus all the stories on the Clinton foundation which (a) failed to show what was implied and (b) omitted crucial context, like the Bush Foundation headed by a Powell.  And thus today’s story, in which two good reporters distill what had to have been a substantial amount of work that taken all-in-all demonstrates that Bill Clinton made a lot of money while there was, in the words of the story itself, “no evidence that Laureate received special favors from the State Department in direct exchange for hiring Bill Clinton…”

What there was, instead, was a reason to ask whether or not such special favors might have taken place.  The answer was no.

There the story should have ended.  But because this was the Clintons, and this is the elite political press, it was impossible to accept that answer.  Hence what is a type specimen for how the press is getting this election wrong — with potentially disastrous consequences.

With that as prologue (I know…logorrhea…), my breakdown of the piece for my journalist-contact.  We began by marveling at the size of Bill’s fee — which truly is pretty astonishing:

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I agree with you on the sum, though from where I sit, with my full time job in higher education (and a professor’s kid, and w. two professor-siblings and, and, and…) what bothers me most about that clearly outsize wage is that it is less of an outlier than it should be.  As I’m sure you know, top academic positions at a lot of places are now paid at seven figure levels.  A million or so/year as a college president  is different from $3.6 million/year as an honorary chairman, certainly.  But it’s also true (and a scandal) that higher ed, both non and for profit has headed down the same path for CEO and senior management compensation that large businesses have.  That’s troubling.

But what got me about the story was the contrast between the reporting craft you rightly recognize: meticulous, detailed pursuit of both individual incidents and the financial details…and the lack of any substance to the clear thrust of the story: that this was another example of soft corruption in the Clinton family.  You look at the lede and it clearly asserts a pay-off.  Clinton invites someone to a working dinner who is an FOB, who later hires Bill for lots of money.   Read more



Open Thread: Pastor Dobson Has A Sad

James “Focus on the Family (While I Pick Your Pocket)” Dobson is very, very disappointed by all us haterz who cruelly mock his optimistic embrace of “baby Christian” Donald Trump…

And not just the unsaved Christianist-haters, either:

Poor saintly Mr. Dobson just wanted to remora Deadbeat Donald’s #WINNING grift while that shark is still moving — living off a host’s, uh, leftovers is an honorable tradition among his clan. How was he to know how rapidly the gilt would wear off the Trump scampaign, once it was exposed to the acid examination of non-believers?