Friday 10/28/16

  1. Recognizing reality
  2. Too much to ask?
  3. DJT: “Most people aren’t worthy of respect”
  4. Epochal
  5. Fake newspapers
  6. Ryan under fire from “conservatives”?

Secondary Things

1

Exxon Mobil said that it may be forced to recognize that billions of barrels of its reserves are no longer profitable to produce. The disclosure came as the oil producer reported a 38% decline in quarterly profit.

(Wall Street Journal) Gosh, Exxon! You’re only now recognizing that?

2

Tertiary Things

What I’m thinking about this week is a focus group led by Peter Hart, the veteran Democratic pollster, Tuesday night, in Charlotte, N.C., still a toss-up state. Present were a dozen late-decider voters, three Democrats, six Republicans and three independents.

What struck me about the group wasn’t its new insights, which were few. What was powerful was its averageness, its confirmation of what you’ve already observed. The members weren’t sad, precisely, but they were unillusioned. They were seeing things with clean eyes and they were disappointed. They wanted a candidate they could trust and believe in.

Which when you think about it shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Raise your hand, said Mr. Hart, if you like both candidates. No one did. Raise your hand if you like one candidate. No one did. Raise if you don’t like either. All 12 did.

When asked to describe the America they want, they wrote things like “a solid education system,” “no longer at war,” “people have joy in their work,” “leading the world in everything, including morals,” “equal opportunity and reward based on work,” “people haven’t lost their homes” and “a culture that improves us as a people.”

(Peggy Noonan, The Great Disappointment of 2016) Other than “leading the world in everything,” that doesn’t seem unrealistic.

3

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but what do you do if you’re not sure it’s dead? Or if you think, despite all experience, that there’s a teachable moment at the graveside?

I have vilified the man a majority of my former party nominated to be President of the United States primarily in terms of extreme personality disorders: narcissism and sociopathy. There were ample incidents to support that characterization even if the American Psychiatric Association has ethical rules to prevent remote diagnosis in political contexts (a legacy of crackpot diagnoses of Barry Goldwater).

Other insist on talking about his supposed “policies” as if a narcissistic sociopath were capable of reliable promises or truthful disclosure about his convictions.

Well, the New York Times (H/T Rod Dreher) is making me feel very affirmed in my amateur diagnosis:

[I]n the more than five hours of conversations — the last extensive biographical interviews Mr. Trump granted before running for president — a powerful driving force emerges: his deep-seated fear of public embarrassment.

The recordings reveal a man who is fixated on his own celebrity, anxious about losing his status and contemptuous of those who fall from grace. They capture the visceral pleasure he derives from fighting, his willful lack of interest in history, his reluctance to reflect on his life and his belief that most people do not deserve his respect.

In the interviews, Mr. Trump makes clear just how difficult it is for him to imagine — let alone accept — defeat.

“I never had a failure,” Mr. Trump said in one of the interviews, despite his repeated corporate bankruptcies and business setbacks, “because I always turned a failure into a success.”

The interviews were conducted in 2014 by Michael D’Antonio, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who later wrote a biography of Mr. Trump called “The Truth About Trump.”

Mr. D’Antonio now disapproves of Mr. Trump’s candidacy and gave transcripts of the interviews to Hillary Clinton’s campaign this year. After a brief meeting with a few Clinton aides, he said, he never heard back from Mrs. Clinton’s staff.

Over the past few weeks, Mr. D’Antonio gave The New York Times access to the original audio as well as transcripts of his interviews with Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump’s first wife, Ivana, and his three oldest children. The Times is using them as the basis for this article and a two-part episode of its election podcast, “The Run-Up.”

So come November 9, Mr. Trump will be moving onto his next triumph, probably Trump TV, thus miraculously turning yet another failure to success.

But what of his followers, who may be slaughtered as they march on the White House with pitchforks to oust the b*tch who “stole” the election?

“For the most part,” he said, “you can’t respect people because most people aren’t worthy of respect.”

4

A Wall Street Journal story says Republicans Rode Waves of Populism Until They Crashed the PartyI suspect that the Democrats are sitting on their own time bomb, evidenced by the popularity of Bernie Sanders and, to a lesser extent, Elizabeth Warren.

We live in interesting times which, I suspect, will draw lots of interest from political scientists and historians of the future. I’m pretty sure it’s epochal.

5

One bit of political manipulation has particularly irritated me these recent weeks.

Evan Bayh (or his surrogates) are running TV ads against Todd Young in the race for the Senate seat Dan Coates is vacating. There are lots of lurid allegations of campaign finance illegalities, expense account junkets and such.

The manipulative twist — at least it’s one I hadn’t noticed before — is screaming headlines about this scandals plastered across the front pages of fake newspapers, to lend credibility to some pretty obscure incidents.

Is that new? Had I just overlooked it before?

6

House Speaker Paul Ryan, under fire from conservatives for rebuffing Donald Trump, is likely to remain in the top job next year, but his path to get there will be precarious.

(Wall Street Journal) Noted because I don’t think “conservative” is the right label for Trump’s supporters, so this spin bugs me.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.