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Stupidcrazyevil

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Suppose someone says something that is obviously and non-controversially false.  This is pointed out to him.  He then keeps repeating it anyway.  There are, it would seem, three possible explanations for this behavior:

The person’s reasoning abilities are so defective that what is obviously false to persons of normal intelligence is not so to him.

The person suffers from a mental and/or emotional illness or syndrome.  He would recognize that the statement is obviously false, if not for the interference with the reasoning process caused by a psychological disturbance of some sort.

The person knows that the statement is false but chooses to lie.  (A variation on this are statements made with  indifference to their truth or falsehood, aka Harry Frankfurt’s well-known distinction between lies and bullshit.)

ETA: As commenters are pointing out, these explanations are not exclusive of each other, and may indeed work synergistically to create a political singularity of stupidcrazyevil.

Consider this case:

President Trump met Tuesday morning with a group of sheriffs from the National Sheriffs Association, a group that consists of more than 3,000 sheriffs from around the country. And to this sworn group of  law enforcement veterans, with reporters taking notes, he again repeated a falsehood about the murder rate in America.

Trump told the sheriffs, “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” He blamed the news media for not publicizing this development, then added, “But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, 45 to 47 years.”

The country’s murder rate is not the highest it’s been in 47 years. It is almost at its lowest point, actually, according to the FBI, which gathers statistics every year from police departments around the country. . .

Here are Trump’s exact words to the sheriffs:

“And yet the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years. I used to use that, I’d say that in a speech and everybody was surprised. Because the press [gestures to reporters] doesn’t tell it like it is. It wasn’t to their advantage to say that. But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, 45 to 47 years.”

Trump made the same claim several times during the presidential campaign.  Many people have pointed out that this statement is obviously and non-controversially false (Even in the age of alternative facts, there are some statements that retain that status, at least for now).  What explains Trump’s persistence?  Is he stupid? Mentally ill?  Evil?  Displaying some combination of these characteristics?  It would be irresponsible not to speculate:

Stupid 

I think this has some explanatory salience here.  Trump is, it seems, a pretty dumb guy.  He’s also apparently an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, that is, he’s a dumb person who, as a consequence of his lack of reasoning ability, has an unrealistically high assessment of that ability.  In a money and celebrity worshiping culture, there’s a natural tendency to resist the conclusion that rich and famous people are often quite stupid, but in fact it’s not unusual for this to be the case.  You can be, as Jeeves described his employer, mentally negligible, and still be very rich.  (The easiest way to achieve this is to inherit so much money that you would be much richer today if you had simply stuck all that money in market-tracking investments.  This probably describes Trump’s financial situation).  As for fame, the correlation between intelligence and celebrity is weak at best, and quite possibly inverse.

In short, Trump is the kind of person who hears that the murder rate rose between 2014 and 2015, and sees on the teevee (I almost wrote “reads” but let’s not kid ourselves) that murders are spiking in Chicago and Baltimore, and then out of sheer intellectual laziness and stupidity confabulates some nonsense statistic in his head, which he then proceeds to convince himself is true because he genuinely believes he’s a very smart guy, so therefore what he’s concluded must be true.  An idiot in other words.

Crazy 

I understand that it’s dangerous to make medical diagnoses from a distance, and that it’s important not to stigmatize mental illness in general.  Still:

President Donald Trump was confused about the dollar: Was it a strong one that’s good for the economy? Or a weak one?

So he made a call ― except not to any of the business leaders Trump brought into his administration or even to an old friend from his days in real estate. Instead, he called his national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, according to two sources familiar with Flynn’s accounts of the incident.

Flynn has a long record in counterintelligence but not in macroeconomics. And he told Trump he didn’t know, that it wasn’t his area of expertise, that, perhaps, Trump should ask an economist instead.

Trump was not thrilled with that response ― but that may have been a function of the time of day. Trump had placed the call at 3 a.m., according to one of Flynn’s retellings ― although neither the White House nor Flynn’s office responded to requests for confirmation about that detail.

For Americans who based their impression of Trump on the competent and decisive tycoon he portrayed on his “Apprentice” TV reality shows, the portrait from these and many other tidbits emerging from his administration may seem a shock: an impulsive, sometimes petty chief executive more concerned with the adulation of the nation than the details of his own policies ― and quick to assign blame when things do not go his way.

Unsurprisingly, Trump’s volatile behavior has created an environment ripe for leaks from his executive agencies and even within his White House. And while leaks typically involve staffers sabotaging each other to improve their own standing or trying to scuttle policy ideas they find genuinely problematic, Trump’s 2-week-old administration has a third category: leaks from White House and agency officials alarmed by the president’s conduct.

“I’ve been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this,” said Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official under President George W. Bush and a member of his National Security Council. “I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy president.” . . .

To Cohen, who now teaches at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, the problem is not the leakers. It’s the president. Because Trump has shown no true affection or respect for anyone outside his immediate family, Cohen said, he cannot expect that of his staff. “This is what happens when you have a narcissist as president.”

Speaking of Johns Hopkins, there’s this guy:

Gartner, a psychologist in private practice in Baltimore and New York, author of a psychobiography of Bill Clinton, and a former instructor in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, contends that Trump “manifestly” meets the DSM-published criteria for at least three personality disorders: narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial personality disorder, and paranoid personality disorder. They are a “toxic brew” that in his view not only make Trump “dangerous” but add up to “malignant narcissism,” not a diagnosis formalized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual but a label coined by the German-born psychologist and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm.

Gartner argues that Trump’s symptoms are so extreme that there’s no reason to adhere to the so-called Goldwater rule.

Evil

Finally, it’s possible that Trump isn’t really dumb or mentally disturbed at all, and that all the apparent stupidity and narcissism are just part of an elaborate act, put on by an evil mastermind — a veritable Bond villain come to life and elected president of the United States.  But that hypothesis reeks of paranoia, and personally I believe I’m far too smart and mentally well-balanced to fall for it.

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  • N__B

    Nice picture of Donald Unpleasance the First.

    • rhino

      Prince of Orange?

      • N__B

        He’s D U 2.

  • Cheerfull

    What is strange, a little, is that there are numerous accounts of people in casual conversation with him where by all accounts he acts relatively normally, save for a preoccupation with himself. He can chat, ask questions of the other person, talk about stuff. It’s like there’s a shell of normality but once you crack it, nothing beneath but a void of excruciating neediness.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      That’s narcissism: they need constant validation from others, and so they often become quite adept at “soft skills” (it’s a survival skill) but other people are almost always a means to an end for them. Note that Trump seems to have basically no strictly personal friends.

      • Anyway, the cost of slinging some bullshit in casual conversation is generally minimal. Policy-relevant pronouncements by the president of the United States are a whole different thing.

      • addicted44

        Yup. It’s like how when he met the NYTimes editors and reporters, he praised the crap out of it, calling it the Jewel or reporting.

        YEt, the moment he stepped away from them, he constantly tweets about how it’s failing and is terrible.

        I think people are struggling to recognize that Trump really doesn’t care whether his statements are true or not. Basically, his thought process when saying something, never includes the “is this true?” heuristic. The only thing that matters is whether it will help him.

        He could say “The Sky is blue” or “Blagga Cusha Boo Boo SDFDsdnf sjkdhfksj”, and for him, both statements would have been equally valid, depending on the reaction of the audience.

        • Joe Bob the III

          …Trump really doesn’t care whether his statements are true or not.

          And therein you have the foundational principle of the Bullshit Artist.

          Another applicable concept is situational ethics: do or say whatever works or, in Trump’s case, sounds good in the moment.

  • CP

    What explains Trump’s persistence?

    To go all Hannah Arendt, he (and the millions who believe and say the same thing) isn’t saying what he thinks is true. He’s saying what would have to be true to justify what he and his supporters want to do.

    • efgoldman

      He’s saying what would have to be true to justify what he and his supporters want to do.

      And he can’t even be consistent in his lying (although the murder rate fantasy persists). He’ll just as often make up some bullshit, be recorded and observed saying it, and then deny he ever said it because the opposite is true.
      Good thing he has Bannonazi to really run things, huh?

    • Little Chak

      Ergo, retweeting a neo-Nazi twitter post falsely claiming that black people are the perpetrators in 81% of murders of white people, when basically the exact opposite is true.

      It was just a retweet, though, by someone running to be President of the United States, and it came from sources that weren’t really credible, what can he tell you?

    • UnderTheSun

      It’s not as if he’s alone in this. Throughout her political career, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly lied and got away with it. Hillary Clinton lied about Benghazi and got away with it. Hillary Clinton lied about Syria and got away with. Hillary Clinton lied about Ukraine and got away with it. Hillary Clinton lied about the Baltic states and got away with it. Did so-called liberals and progressives protest about her frequent lies? No, of course not, they would have made her president if Trump hadn’t defeated her.

      • Rob in CT

        Liar.

      • Abbey Bartlet

        It’s not as if he’s alone in this. Throughout her political career, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly lied and got away with it. Hillary Clinton lied about Benghazi and got away with it. Hillary Clinton lied about Syria and got away with. Hillary Clinton lied about Ukraine and got away with it. Hillary Clinton lied about the Baltic states and got away with it. Did so-called liberals and progressives protest about her frequent lies? No, of course not, they would have made her president if Trump hadn’t defeated her.

        Quick q–have you considered deleting your account and, just as a thought, drinking drain cleaner?

      • sigaba

        I’m really sorry boss, none of those things happened.

        • Rob in CT

          In alternative factland they did.

      • rhino

        Citation needed.

        Except don’t bother, because ain’t nobody clicking the kind of links you would be trotting out. Infowars would be the least diseased of them. Sticking my computer in them would be like hooking up with your mother, a sure trip to the clinic with a drippy port.

        I would have preferred a different nominee to Hillary Clinton, for a number of reasons, but one thing I had no problem with was her relationship to the truth. As politicians go, she was unusual in saying what she believed, not concealing her relationships to supporters that could (and did) cause her political grief, and she was not afraid to stand up and defend her position *OR* change it when successfully challenged on the merits.

        That’s the kind of honesty I need from a politician.

        Even the thing that most bothered me about Clinton, her cosy relationship with ‘wall street’ was an honest one. As a centrist democrat, Clinton supported big business not because they bought her, but because she embraced capitalism. And as an honest one, she would have accepted their donations and still regulated them precisely as promised in her campaign. Would she have regulated them as harshly as I would like? No, but at least I could expect her to keep her campaign promises.

        • UnderTheSun

          Into necrophilia then you sick tosser?

          • ColBatGuano

            Projecting again are you?

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Man, I really hope that this troll didn’t take the name from one of my favorite Black Sabbath songs. That would be disappointing.

        • efgoldman

          That would be disappointing.

          Trolls live to disappoint us.

          • SadOldGuy

            Man, what is it with all of the dudes who love pie on this site?

  • Warren Terra

    The country’s murder rate is not the highest it’s been in 47 years. It is almost at its lowest point, actually, according to the FBI, which gathers statistics every year from police departments around the country. . .

    The answer is simple: he just mis-spoke. The country’s murder rate is the highest it’s been in 47 weeks. A simple mistake anybody could make over and over again for the last four months or so, often several times a day.

    • Denverite

      I actually think he did misspeak, but not in this way. The year-over-year *increase* in the murder rate in 2016 was the highest in 45 years. It increased about 10.7 percent; the last time it increased by more was 1971, when it increased 11.0 percent. I think that’s the stat that Trump was trying to convey.

      (To be clear, it’s a bullshit stat. The murder rate had decreased to the point where the raw number of increased homicides isn’t the highest in 45 years. Nine percent of a lot is much greater than ten percent of half as much. But it is a real number.)

      • Paul Campos

        “And yet the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.”

        He’s said this exact same thing several times now. It’s not a slip of the tongue in other words. It doesn’t fit with your interpretation unless you think he’s so stupid that he literally doesn’t understand the difference between a change in a rate and an overall rate.

        • Denverite

          unless you think he’s so stupid that he literally doesn’t understand the difference between a change in a rate and an overall rate.

          I literally just came back on here to clarify that I don’t think he understands the difference; someone told him that the increase in rate was the highest in 45 years and he equates that with raw numbers or highest rate. So, yes, that stupid.

          • sibusisodan

            Yup. Sounds all too plausible.

            Trying to decide if that’s worse than just straight bs. I’m leaning towards yes, surprisingly.

            • BigHank53

              It’s not the things you don’t know that kill you. It’s the things that you are 110% certain of, so you never bother to check them.

              • rhino

                This is why, as a plumber, I don’t try to memorize figures or charts. At the beginning of a job, I do up my drawings with the relevant codebook open. It takes me an extra half hour or so to figure it all out, but I won’t ever spend two weeks ripping out 50k worth of undersized copper water pipe, and lose the company half a million bucks like one of my foremen did a few years back.

                We have reference materials in most situations, from plumbing to physics to politics. Use them.

                Education should give you what you need to find the truth. An understanding of the principles, the tools to process the data, and the knowledge of how to find that data. Memorizing data is *dumb*.

                • Dennis Orphen

                  Excellent comment.

                  Intelligence isn’t knowing things that are true. It is knowing why they are true and how probable that truth is.

                • efgoldman

                  This is why, as a plumber….

                  You busy next week?

              • Lost Left Coaster

                Wow that is a hell of a story.

            • gmack

              I don’t think it’s incompatible with straight bs. He probably didn’t understand the difference between the two claims, but then also doesn’t care. Also, as Rob in CT mentioned below, he tends to interpret any correction to something he says as an “attack” on him that must be defeated and dominated.

              • Lost Left Coaster

                Yeah, it’s the not caring part that is really important. Truth isn’t important at any stage for him — he’s trying to close a deal here, what matters is that you hand your money over to him. He is and always will be a flimflam man.

          • Rob in CT

            I suppose that’s possible.

            And then, when people pointed out that he didn’t understand the numbers, he decided that obviously they’re just out to get him, and kept doubling down. After all, the crowds loved it…

            • Crusty

              I have zero doubt that he doesn’t understand that an increase in murders from 1 to 2 is a bigger increase than from 99 to 100. Its only 2? How could that be bigger than 99 or 100? Now, if someone told him that there was a town where murders went from 1 to 2 and technically that was an increase of 100%, he would go around saying that murders were up by 100. He does know that that is incorrect, but he couldn’t explain why and doesn’t care.

          • tsam

            Yes, and I don’t think what he means when he says that is debatable. He literally thinks that there are more murders than ever before. He doesn’t need to understand the difference to use the statement to paint America as the WORST. TOTALLY OVERRATED. SAD.

        • McAllen

          unless you think he’s so stupid that he literally doesn’t understand the difference between a change in a rate and an overall rate.

          I mean…you could tell me Trump thinks murder is a kind of pudding and I’d believe it.

          • Warren Terra

            murder is a kind of pudding

            There seems to be some documentary evidence for this theory, though the odds are in favor of pie or cake over pudding.

            • Aaron Morrow

              I don’t think that pies or cakes have ever killed because they mean to win Wimbledon.

            • bender

              On the other side of the Atlantic, pie and cake are pudding.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Mmmmmm….. mur-der pudding…

        • elm

          He did rather famously say a number of times in his campaign that “GDP is 0.” He clearly meant GDP growth (which also wasn’t 0, although at least it’s theoretically possible it could have been.). I think Donald does have trouble understanding the difference between level and change. He heard the stat Denveritemmentioned, didn’t quite grasp it, and is now convinced anyone who tells him otherwise is lying to him because he is too dumb to understand why the stat he heard might be right but the stat he’s saying is clearly wrong.

          So, I’d say some of 1, some of 2, a large dash of motivated reasoning, which we are all subject to, smart and well balanced or not.

          • Jay

            I think Donald does have trouble understanding the difference between level and change.

            It’s “growth vs. proficiency” all over again.

      • Warren Terra

        Yeah, sure, but he “mis-spoke” that statistic starting about a month before the election (maybe earlier?), and kept on “mis-speaking” it several times a day thereafter (I think he may have said the correct statistic once or twice).

        The “47 weeks” statistic is also true, more or less, and a funnier correction of him “mis-speaking”.

        • Denverite

          See above. I think it’s stupid.

      • john theibault

        Thank you for this explanation. Between it and the Bowling Green Massacre story I think I’m beginning to understand the mechanism that produces these bizarre claims. A true claim that might be mildly damaging but is hard to explain in a clear way to inflict the damage gets noticed by some right winger. To make it useful, it needs to be streamlined into something that is more damaging and easier to explain. During the streamlining, the information in the claim that made it true gets stripped out and it becomes a falsehood, but one that begins to circulate in the nether regions of the right wing noise machine. There it bumps up against other similar claims and creates a self-sustaining narrative. After it circulates for a while it picks up a truthy veneer and reckless people higher up the right wing food chain begin to adopt it. It then becomes official right wing doctrine and can’t be walked back without damaging the noise machine that created it. Perhaps, sometimes, the whole process takes place in Trump’s head from first hearing the mildly damaging claim.

        • Gwen

          The way I see it, and this might just be a restatement of what you said:

          1. Find a statistic or fact that is true but relatively meaningless (two guys in Bowling Green were maybe possibly future terrorists; increase in the murder rate is highest it’s been in 45 years).

          2. Deliberately mis-state the fact in a way that makes it sound much more important or significant than it is. (Bowling Green massacre, highest murder rate in 45 years).

          3. Plan “A” is that nobody will doubt you, your idiot followers repeat it uncritically, and it is accepted as truth even when it is not.

          4. Plan “B” is to attack any fact-checkers with deflection, like “omg it was just a slip of the tongue, how dare you call us liars.” With the added benefit that anyone fact-checking the claim is just repeating it.

          5. Net effect is that people believe blatant falsehoods while also distrusting anyone who would try to set the record straight. It is a self-perpetuating bubble of alternative reality.

          Where I would differ is in the idea that this is the result of a sick man playing himself.

          I think this is all very deliberate, either on the part of Trump himself or on the part of people like Bannon and Conway.

          • Gwen

            And the answer, btw, to “how dare you call us a liar” is, simply, to point out that anyone with a shred of decency would accept personal responsibility for their mistruths, rather than seek to blame or demonize the fact-checkers.

            The reason I believe they are deliberately lying is, first, that they keep doing it, and two, very rarely do we ever see anyone apologize for doing so, particularly when there is not massive political pressure.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Nah, that’s too generous man. Trump does not have that fine-grained of an understanding of the issue.

        He’s like a Breitbart commenter, or someone’s grumpy, racist uncle. He thinks he knows what’s true and has no interest in actually knowing what’s true. Whatever he thinks is good enough for him. And in Trump’s case, it has to be good enough for the rest of us.

        In other words, a combination of stupid/crazy/evil.

        • paul1970

          +1/0

        • kvs

          The archetype you’re looking for is JV High School Debater reading someone else’s clips from the Cato Institute.

  • Cheerfull

    Sort of off topic I suppose, but what explains McConnell? Ryan seems an Ayn Rand True Believer, and the so-called President is a syndrome wrapped around a grievance wrapped around a vacuum, but McConnell? It’s not clear to me he has an ideology as such other than Republican should be in power and I should be in charge of making sure that happens. Is that all there is?

    • Warren Terra

      You’re being completely unfair to McConnell. His philosophy extends beyond the banal notion that the Republicans should be in power, and he should help. He has a much more principled, ideologically consistent stance than that, which is that he should be in power, and the Republicans should help.

      • rhino

        My perception of McConnell is that he is driven by a desire for personal power. What puzzles me is that, despite having no discernible ideological fanaticism, an despite seeming to be basically not corrupt, he pursues that power doggedly.

        What puzzles me is what he wants the power for.

        • addicted44

          The power is what he’s for. He really doesn’t have any deeper desires than that.

          If he was a human being, he would be a really terrible one. Fortunately he was born as a turtle.

          • It is as Orwell wrote in Nineteen Eighty-Four: power is its own motivation to people like Yertle McTurtle.

    • CP

      I’m pretty sure it is, yeah.

      The Goopers who had any integrity bailed a long time ago. The people who are left are people who may or may not be crazy and sociopathic, but decided a long time ago that being on the side of the crazy and sociopathic was the way to go.

    • Derelict

      McConnell presents an interesting kind of craven. He is very much about Republicans being in power. But judging from his record, his next most-important motivating philosophy seems to be that there are not nearly enough people suffering as badly as they should be. He’s not pure evil, but he’s definitely heading in that direction.

    • King Goat

      Trump won the Kentucky GOP primary and in the general he won with 65 (!) percent of the vote. McConnell has to keep his seat to be a national player.

    • rea

      what explains McConnell?

      What explains Iago? Coleridge famously said, “motiveless malignity”.

    • NewishLawyer

      McConnell is a cynic and only believes in the perpetual employment of Mitch McConnell. There was an interesting article on this in Vox.

      http://www.vox.com/2017/1/2/14123496/mitch-mcconnell-motives

      He apparently started out as a relatively liberal or moderate Republican especially in his local political career but he decided that his 1984 Senate victory margin was too narrow and he would never be that close to defeat ever again.

  • Derelict

    Why can’t we have all three?

    He’s crazy–the evidence for this is pretty much indisputable.

    He’s stupid–how the fuck do you go bankrupt running a casino? Especially when the state’s government is shoveling you tax breaks and cash incentives?

    He’s evil–his pettiness and taste for vengeance have been on display since he announced his campaign. He’s the kind of person who likely tortured animals as a youngster.

    • Peterr

      I’ll go with “all of the above” too.

    • CP

      This, all of it.

    • efgoldman

      Why can’t we have all three?

      Right.
      The worst of all possible worlds.
      None of the three things is mutually exclusive.
      In a strange way, maybe we’re lucky. Each of the three things makes the consequences of the others less than they might be.
      Imagine if he were really brilliant.
      Or if he were only evil, but not so manifestly incompetent and able to learn.
      It’s going to be a long potential four years…..

      • ΧΤΠΔ

        As has been noted here, the Allies in WWII owed much of their ultimate victory to Hitler being a meth-popping fuckshit, which is why they genrally tried to can hits on him.

        • tsam

          I don’t get it. This completely ruined my chances at becoming a megalomaniac dictator. WHAT WAS HIS SECRET?

          • CP

            You can be a dictator, just not a megalomaniacal one.

            This is something that occurred to me while watching the Arab Spring happen: if you’re a dictator, have a retirement plan. Give yourself a nice run of a decade or two, spend all that time skimming off the top of your country’s taxes and other revenues, build yourself a nice little nest egg elsewhere… and then fuck off to Switzerland and spend the rest of your days painting or something. Don’t get greedy and try to hang onto power forever.

            (Of course, if one could think like that, one presumably wouldn’t be a dictator in the first place).

          • efgoldman

            This completely ruined my chances at becoming a megalomaniac dictator. WHAT WAS HIS SECRET?

            You chose the wrong avatar, is what it was.

            • tsam

              SHIT FUCK DAMNIT.

              On the hunt for an UBER AVATAR. Just you wait. JUST YOU ALL WAIT. I’LL SHOW THEM ALL!!!!!

        • Stag Party Palin

          IMHO the Allied victory was assured but a matter of time that Hitler shortened by being an MPF, as you said. It makes me a bit more confident that the fall of Il Douche will be a matter of time as well.

          • Richard Gadsden

            Which means that Hitler being an MPF probably saved Germany from being nuked.

            • tsam

              Yes, and an Allied victory at SOME point was probably inevitable, just by virtue of the numbers. But his stupidity and incompetence and insistence on total control of military operations really hurt the effort.

    • Rob in CT

      Well, yeah, this is hard to argue with.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      He’s evil–his pettiness and taste for vengeance have been on display since he announced his campaign. He’s the kind of person who likely tortured animals as a youngster.

      And, it is said, raped his first wife and ripped chunks of hair out of her head.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        And, it is said, raped his first wife and ripped chunks of hair out of her head.

        If I read the news correctly, this is now A-OK in Russia.

        • Colin Day

          Is that why Trump likes Putin?

      • Little Chak

        For the “crime” of referring him to her plastic surgeon for hair restoration surgery, who then “ruined him”.

      • socraticsilence

        And punched his college age son in the face for the crime of not wearing a suit to a baseball game.

    • Asteroid_Strike_Brexit

      He’s stupid–how the fuck do you go bankrupt running a casino? Especially when the state’s government is shoveling you tax breaks and cash incentives?

      In fairness to Trump, there is the possibility of corruption. He must have mob links up to his armpits.

    • JustRuss

      Regarding the casino, from what I understand the casino went bankrupt and his investors lost their shirts, but Trump made out like a bandit, he didn’t have much of his own money invested and he made a fortune in fees and other grift. I still think he’s lazy-stupid, as evidenced by his word salad, but he he has a gift for being cunningly devious.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      He’s the kind of person who likely tortured animals as a youngster.

      I don’t doubt it. And let us not forget that he’s a serial sexual assailant.

  • McAllen

    I actually come down in evil here, just because it’s a pretty simple strategy. Lying about crime statistics riles the base up, and if the media contradicts you it makes the base distrust the media. Not quite the 11th dimensional chess that’s sometimes attributed to Bannon.

    • McAllen

      To put it another way, Trump may or may not believe it’s true. H e probably doesn’t care; he just knows it’s useful to say.

      • Thom

        Yep–this has it right, I think.

        • CP

          It’s right, but I also think that after a lifetime of bullshitting, Trump literally can’t tell what’s true from what’s not anymore. You can’t spend that much time immersed in that kind of lifestyle without it seriously affecting your link to reality.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            He’s also not spent a lifetime inquiring into facts and knowledge, revising his opinions, learning new things, knowing which sources are better than other sources. And neither has much of his base.

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            I’d phrase it as he’s learned that it doesn’t matter very often, so he can say whatever he wants with a low chance it matters beyond the effect it has on whoever he’s talking to at the moment.

            • CP

              Yes, I’d say that’s about right. He’s grown up with a silver spoon in his mouth, failed upwards all his life, and never learned that anything he does has consequences because he’s never been the one to face them. And because he surrounds himself with sycophants who reassure him that every one of his fuckups was really someone else’s fault.

              And Bilo is right that he shares at least some of these traits (especially that last) with his base.

    • osceola

      riles the base up, and if the media contradicts you it makes the base distrust the media

      Stoking fear worked for him last year, as did feeding widespread resentment of the media. And it will continue to work for a segment of the population.

  • Warren Terra

    Trump was not thrilled with that response ― but that may have been a function of the time of day. Trump had placed the call at 3 a.m.

    I hate to say it, but assigning research tasks to your underlings at three in the morning without waking them up and having to deal with their disorientation sounds like a perfect job for … email.

    • McAllen

      You’re assuming Trump can read and write.

      • Warren Terra

        He’s apparently on record as not using a computer and not using email – apparently he uses his phone to make calls and tweet, and that’s his complete engagement with modern technology (and with the written word – it’s clear he hasn’t read a book in decades, and it seems incredibly unlikely he reads a serious newspaper or magazine).

        You can read web pages linked through Twitter, but who knows if he even fires up his phone’s web browser independent of Twitter?

        • efgoldman

          it seems incredibly unlikely he reads a serious newspaper or magazine

          No, but he can see his name and likeness on the cover, to have the periodical framed….

        • CaptainBringdown

          You can read web pages linked through Twitter, but who knows if he even fires up his phone’s web browser independent of Twitter?

          If he’s not using the phone’s browser, that is a good thing.

          • Warren Terra

            I suspect Twitter’s browser – which might be the phone’s browser operating within the Twitter app, I’m unclear on the details – is no impregnable fortress.

            • CaptainBringdown

              As the linked article points out, the phone is likely pregnant many times over already.

      • efgoldman

        You’re assuming Trump can read and write.

        You’re also assuming, evidence to the contrary, that he feels or cares one molecule about somebody else, where they are, what they’re doing, or how they feel (mentally, physically, or emotionally).
        His default is “I need you/it/whatever NAOW NAOW NAOW!”

        • Hogan

          “You sound happy, Sidney. Why should you be happy when I’m not?”

    • Thank goodness we escaped the nightmare scenario of electing a president who uses email!

  • Morbo

    “Dan Quayle is all three!”

  • Amadan

    Said it before, but here goes again: Dems have to stake out the Art 25 ground before the Confeds (with sorrow, but in the National Interest) beat them to it.

    Post a comment on Fox laughing at libtards who whinge about Trump getting the facts wrong. Ha Ha libtard, we know he’s nuts but we don’t care! You should provoke a chorus of approval for the wrongness, make them own it!
    The 27% will love it, but there are about 10% of Trump-curious ones who will begin to doubt.
    These people decide on emotions. Use it.

    • Karen24

      I endorse this strategy. Those animated entirely by their resentment of people who use correct grammar will never budge, but they’re about a quarter of the population. The remaining 15 – 20 % are decidedly persuadable.

      • Amadan

        Also, make Art. 25 talk ‘unpatriotic’. Ring the local Nutjob talk show and complain about libtards demoralising Real Americans by going on and on about Trump getting the facts wrong all the time. Screw them! Who wants a smart President, he’s going to bring in a real healthcare plan for everyone real soon, Obummer couldn’t do that!

        Dems have been crippled by FUD for years, give them some back.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Do you mean the 25th Amendment?

    • Joe Bob the III

      For the record, straight up impeachment is a much more straightforward path to removing Trump from office than the 25th Amendment.

      25A requires: Round 1: Majority vote for removal among the cabinet secretaries plus the VP. If the President resists removal then – Round 2: A second majority vote for removal among the secretaries plus VP and approval by 2/3 majorities of both the House and Senate.

      Impeachment requires only: a) some basis under the rubric of high crimes and misdemeanors, and b) a simple majority in the House and 2/3 vote in the Senate. If Bill Clinton can be impeached based on alleged perjury and obstruction in a civil suit totally unrelated to his duties as President – then if there is the political will to impeach Trump there are already ample grounds.

      • bender

        I don’t see this Cabinet ever removing Trump for mental illness. I think they would, indeed perhaps already do, cope with that by workarounds. Only chance of that happening would be if Pence is more ambitious and more reckless than he looks (since a party line vote in either house would make it a spectacular fail.)

        I can see them using the 25th amendment in the Woodrow Wilson scenario, because television would make it impossible to conceal that the President was unable to communicate effectively. I think most Trump supporters would abandon him if he were obviously severely physically disabled, because they voted for a strongman.

        Clinton was impeached but not removed from office. The Clinton impeachment established that you can impeach a ham sandwich, but you have to convict the sandwich to remove it from the White House.

  • Rob in CT

    It’s not “evil mastermind” stuff, exactly. The Base must be kept fearful, and “American Carnage” is one way to do it. And, conveniently, Americans (as a whole, not just The Base!) believe that crime is always getting worse, courtesy of the Media, to which falls the task of debunking the false perception they’ve fostered for decades!.

    And blatant lying & unwillingness to admit fault are things that Trump has done for a long time, mostly to his benefit. So he’s learned it works.

    • bender

      Is there polling evidence that that Americans as a whole believe crime is getting worse? I’m asking because I am old enough to remember the last time crime was at something like its current levels, and remember the gradual rise, and my recollection is that people got upset because they noticed the rise directly, through their personal experiences and the experiences of people they knew. I would expect that people would notice now that they aren’t getting mugged, their apartments aren’t being broken into, etc.

      OTOH, the middle class has become paranoid about the physical safety of their children. Unsupervised play isn’t allowed any more. This might have more to do with the fact that people are having fewer children than fear of crime.

  • King Goat

    He’s stupid in the obtuse way that many privileged people are, and that kind of obtuseness almost always facilitates harmful, evil seeming results.

    • efgoldman

      that kind of obtuseness almost always facilitates harmful, evil seeming results.

      “Seeming?”

    • humanoid.panda

      I don’t know. I can’t point anyone else in American public life who is willing to produce the displays of ignorance and bad grammar he daily puts on Twitter (it’s not that other privileged people are not ignorant- but they do have aides to make sure they don’t appear so). There is something there beyond “he is a rich idiot.”

      • efgoldman

        There is something there beyond “he is a rich idiot.”

        See the list of disorders in Paul’s second section.

      • CP

        I can’t point anyone else in American public life who is willing to produce the displays of ignorance and bad grammar he daily puts on Twitter

        Sarah Palin comes close. But I suppose Trump was the next stage in evolution after Palin, much as Palin was the next stage after Dubya.

  • Warren Terra

    Seems relevant:

    Donald Trump’s staff get him to agree to policies by saying ‘Obama wouldn’t have done it’
    Military officials got Donald Trump to agree to the botched Yemen raid by suggesting Barack Obama would never have had the courage to do it, it has been reported.

    • humanoid.panda

      This story should, at the very least, put a crimp in the cult of Mattis the Rational who Will Save us All.

      • CP

        Honestly, my main interest with Mattis was the possibility of his being a counterweight to Trump’s Putinist tendencies. That doesn’t necessarily translate into agreeing with him all over the board.

        • No Longer Middle Aged Man

          Yes this. I’m not expecting Mattis to be the 2nd coming of George C. Marshall, more like that he won’t be Curtis LeMay or similar fringe military nutcase. Solid competent middle of the road conservative/military officer is an extreme best case with Trump and I put Mattis in that category. The DeVos-Perry-Price-Sessions standard as SecDef is too scary to contemplate.

      • ExpatJK

        I think that can be said for any of the saner members of the team – so, Tillerson as well? Is it just Mattis and Tillerson who were considered relatively rational?

        • CP

          I think we should also consider the George W. Bush precedent when considering the “saner ones” on Trump’s team. It’s entirely possible that the only reason Trump keeps “saner ones” around is to use them for cover, ignore them, and then throw them under the bus as soon as they’re no longer useful (see also Colin Powell).

          • humanoid.panda

            Another angle on this: it’s totally plausible that someone planted that story to undermine Mattis.

          • efgoldman

            It’s entirely possible that the only reason Trump keeps “saner ones” around is to use them for cover

            I’m betting he didn’t pick any of his cabinet on his own, including the “saner ones.”
            Maybe Flynn, who is as dangerous as any of them.

            • CP

              The story about Mattis is that Trump picked him entirely because he liked the idea of having a guy named “Mad Dog” on his staff. And I totally believe that he’d be that shallow.

        • ΧΤΠΔ

          Partially incorrect; it was Mattis and Kelly who were considered rational (although Kelly received much less emphasis as a counterweight). The left’s issue with Tillerson has never been that he was irrational, but rather that he’d prove to be a corrupt Putinist and thus useless as a counterweight to Il Douche.

          • Warren Terra

            Also, that international business is not the same as international diplomacy. Tillerson has a lot of frequent flyer miles, but that doesn’t mean he’s qualified.

    • Rob in CT

      2 things about this:

      1) I totally saw someone, somewhere (Balloon Juice?) call this as the likely selling point; and

      2) Fuck those Military officials with a rusty pitchfork. I wonder, are those guys even the slightest bit remorseful now? No, of course not.

      • efgoldman

        are those guys even the slightest bit remorseful now? No, of course not.

        Actually, they are, but not for the reason you expect.
        A fuckup like that can be a career killer in terms of further promotions or commands.

      • bender

        Kennedy signed off on the Bay of Pigs.

        I think we have to spot Presidents one botched military action early in their first term and hope they learn from it.* This at least was not the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I don’t think the wisest and best advised president can take any constructive action in Yemen as long as US foreign policy is tied to propping up the Saudis.

        *In Trump’s case, this is a vain hope. Perhaps his advisors will learn from it.

    • vic rattlehead

      Simultaneously unsurprising and terrifying.

      I’m tempted to write him a letter – “Obama never would have supported single payer.”
      Better yet “Obama never would have resigned because the press was mean to him.” What a wuss! I can do that! I resign! Take that Obama!

      • Rob in CT

        No:

        “Obama didn’t have the GUTS to put through a real national health plan! He was scared of Congress! Show us how a real man handles things!”

        • vic rattlehead

          Ha! It would never get through congress but I bet you could get him to rant about it for days before someone on his staff or Tom Price manages to talk him down.

      • efgoldman

        “Obama never would have resigned because the press was mean to him.”

        Fun to think about but (1) He can’t read (2) Bannonazi or whoever is the dedicated minder that day would never let him see it.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        The flaw in your plan is that Trump never reads letters.

        You need to get on TV and say it.

    • CP

      Donald Trump’s staff get him to agree to policies by saying ‘Obama wouldn’t have done it’

      It continually amazes me just how much these people act like stock TV villains.

      When I first saw Wrath Of Khan as a kid/young teen, I remember rolling my eyes at the scene where Kirk baits Khan into an incredibly obvious trap with an incredibly obvious provocation. Years and years later, I see “please proceed, Governor” on national television, and now this. And I’m like “wow, people really are that shallow and that dumb in real life.”

      • psychomath

        Well, CP, if that is your real name, I think you were a bit snotty as a child. I’m laughing at your “superior” intellect.

        • CP

          Well played.

    • FMguru

      Reminds me of Rumsfeld, who figured out early on that his boss had a Christ fetish and so filled his briefings to the President with biblical quotes about righteous smiting and whatnot.

      • El Guapo

        Yes. IIRC, Bush spoke to some foreign official about the Iraq (mis)adventure as the coming of Gog and Magog or something. I’m sure the briefings were John of Patmos levels of eschatology. Hence why Repubs like an executive who can easily be manipulated in one form or other.

        • vic rattlehead

          It was Chirac I think. Supposedly his reaction to his staff was to the effect of “what in the holy fuck was that idiot going on about?” and his staff reached out to some biblical scholar elsewhere in Europe to decipher wtf Bush meant.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          I remember that Bush thought he had seen Putin’s soul and proceeded to witness to him about Jesus. I’d pay serious money to know what Putin thought during that meeting.

          • rea

            I remember these guys sending Khomeini gifts–a Bible and a cake.

            • Trump will double down by sending Khamenei a YUUGE cake with a naked girl spy in it.

    • Aaron Morrow

      … and that’s just straight up Key & Peele’s “Obama meets with Republicans” sketch from the first season (link to video).

      EDIT: vic rattlehead and Rob in CT have the idea.

    • howard

      What really seems relevant is the complete lack of interest the Benghazi zealots have in investigating this raid.

  • LosGatosCA

    Republicans are great at disinformation and misdirection. Social Security is going broke (so we should just cut it until we get the chance to drown it in the bath tub), we could have won in Vietnam if we had been allowed to (because Nixon didn’t secretly bomb Cambodia or anything like that), Cadillac welfare queens, etc, etc, etc.

    But they had enough offsetting credibility Nixon with foreign policy, Reagan could smile, etc that some folks could defend their not so naked greed, bigotry, sexism. Trump just cuts through all that. The noise to signal ratio on Republican themes is nearly zero. Fuck stats, common sense, rational thought, just feed my dark side with high octane nastiness. Trump’s got it down to an art. The party of Reagan, Quayle, Bush II, Palin, Pence was bound to come up with someone who stripped the veneer off the evil.

    He’s as perfect representative of Republican intellectualism as there has been in my lifetime.

  • Frank Wilhoit

    Your categorization is not exhaustive. It neglects storytelling. “Conservative” rhetoric has devolved into a form of literature that masks itself as rational discourse. Its texture is made up of allegories; nothing is about what it appears to be about.

    Stories are distinct from lies. Stories are neither true nor false; they do not inhabit the spectrum of truth. They advocate, they persuade, they warn, but always indirectly. It is a category error to respond to them literally.

    This is not to say that your classification #3 does not exist. Lies are told — but not for gain; they are told for only one reason, and that is to humiliate their audience.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Great comment that could probably be expanded into a great essay.

  • elk

    “Lucky [us]. [We] hit the trifecta.”

  • Bruce B.

    Paul, like some others here, I think you got the evil option wrong: you can be evil without being a mastermind. Lots of people are evil without successfully being masterminds, and lots are evil without even trying to be. In Trump’s case, evil intent gets screwed up by the stupidity and the derangement, but it’s still evil intent, particularly when Bannon is around.

  • sk7326

    While TRUMP might be stupid, his handlers are not. They fit evil nicely.

  • “Is my cock big enough? Is my brain small enough? For you To Make me a Star.”

    Apparently, Jello was wrong about needing the first.

    • vic rattlehead

      I’ll admit, I burst out laughing at my desk. Gotta be careful reading LGM at work it seems

  • EvanHarper

    K-Drum has been pushing the “Trump has a brilliant, secret, manipulative strategy that’s completely obvious if, like me, you know how to uncover it” line pretty hard in response to Trump’s various idiotic pronouncements. I just can’t see it.

    My own sense is that Trump’s worldview is, essentially, that of someone who watches a whole lot of cable news and makes the dreadful mistake of taking it seriously. He doesn’t understand that it’s just noisy entertainment, just people yelling simplistic nonsense at each other. He treats cable TV like it’s serious intellectual discourse.

    If you think about it, it all fits. On cable everything is always awful, because negativity bias means that will get better ratings than realistic analysis. But the problems and the solutions are always straightforward and personalistic, because that’s what fits in a sound bite. Everything is being ruined because the people in charge are stupid and evil. If only the people in charge weren’t stupid and evil, they would do this one weird trick that would fix things. That’s the Trump worldview. That’s what he actually believes.

    • humanoid.panda

      This. The thing with most republicans is that they are pushers, not users: Mitt Romney would not watch Fox and Friends, if his life depended on it and I’m pretty sure that Paul Ryan never listens to Rush. So, they speak the language of National Review and think tanks (a language that has to have some superficial appeal to non-conservativeS) to people who are consuming Fox and talk radio. No wonder that someone who is native in that language beat them like a rented mule.

      • Rob in CT

        I think the line between the pushers and the users has been decaying for some time now. But I’m in agreement that there is no such line w/Trump. He’s both.

        • ExpatJK

          Yeah, I think they have gone full Scarface at this point – high on their own supply. I think a significant % of the GOP elite are probably both, especially with respect to economic beliefs. Scott Walker would be a prime example of this.

          • humanoid.panda

            It’s a bit more complicated than that though. First, there is the issue of language- the think tanks etc use language that is understandable to the outside world, Fox and Friends not so much. Second, there is conspiracy theory: a lot of republicans play footsie with it, few endorse it loudly. Maybe the more accurate thing is that as the “center” of the GOP moved to the right, the right moved to JohnBirchLand – and Trump was the first to make the jump to it.

            • CP

              I think it’s simply not possible to spend so much time pumping out so much bullshit and defending it in public without at some point losing the plot. You might not believe all the bullshit, but you’re no longer capable of telling where the line is.

              Also what GeorgeBurns said above:

              I’d phrase it as he’s learned that it doesn’t matter very often, so he can say whatever he wants with a low chance it matters beyond the effect it has on whoever he’s talking to at the moment.

              This doesn’t just describe Trump, it applies to a stupendous number of one percenters.

    • ExpatJK

      Yeah, I agree with this. What % of his tweets are dedicated to cable news/celebrities – it must be well above 50? It’s pretty clearly his main information source, and it’s reasonable to assume it informs his worldview.

    • vic rattlehead

      I think Bannon and Miller have their own evil strategies. And I think we should take them seriously. But that does not require regarding them as evil geniuses.

  • John F

    For Americans who based their impression of Trump on the competent and decisive tycoon he portrayed on his “Apprentice” TV reality shows, the portrait from these and many other tidbits emerging from his administration may seem a shock: an impulsive, sometimes petty chief executive more concerned with the adulation of the nation than the details of his own policies ― and quick to assign blame when things do not go his way.

    Some one never watched the show, he did not come across as a “competent and decisive tycoon”

    • sigaba

      A “brand” is what you know about something in the absence of any actual knowledge or experience of it.

  • Slothrop2

    Fromm also said that when you wound his narcissism, the response is murderous rage often completely undirected at the person or persons who would have actually wounded his narcissism.

    It’s Bannon who seems evil. What he has to say about anything is vapid, like Himmler:

    Additional elements of Himmler’s character structure are contributed by other observers. A leading Nazi, Dr. Albert Krebs, who was excluded from the party in 1 932, spent six hours of conversation with Himmler on a railroad train in 1 929-that is, when Himmler had little power-and noted his obvious insecurity and gaucheness. What made
    the trip almost intolerable for Krebs was the “stupid and basically meaningless chatter with which he intruded upon me all the time.” His conversation was a peculiar mixture of martial braggadocio, petit bourgeois small talk (Stammtischgeschwatz) and zealous prophecy of a sectarian preacher. (Quoted by J. Ackermann, 1 970) . The intrusiveness with which Himmler forces another person to listen to his endless chatter, thus trying to dominate him, is typical of the sadistic character

  • Crusty

    Clearly he’s stupid.

    The intersection of crazy and evil is an interesting one. I consider him evil. The interesting question is when we talk about his personality disorders, the narcissism, etc., we are talking about conditions that can’t be helped and that one can be afflicted with a case of narcissism just like pneumonia, or is it something less clinical than that- can it be helped? When we say he suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, that sounds almost like we’re excusing it. If you say he’s a raging asshole and really needy too, well, that’s just how it is. It goes back to the question of whether he can control it. Generally, we don’t hold things against people that they can’t control. Do any of the personality disorders he suffers from preclude the ability to change those behaviors? I don’t think so. Therefore, the decision to embrace his narcissism and inflict it on the rest of us makes him evil.

  • artem1s

    Finally, it’s possible that Trump isn’t really dumb or mentally disturbed at all, and that all the apparent stupidity and narcissism are just part of an elaborate act, put on by an evil mastermind — a veritable Bond villain come to life and elected president of the United States.

    Not sure why evil is equated with intelligence. Studies of serial killers show that they tend to have average to below average IQs. Bundy’s was around 110, I think. They are not super-geniuses that crime shows love to depict. Yes, they are also mentally ill; narcissists or sociopaths certainly. But not every narcissist or sociopath goes down the path of torture and murder or delves into this level of anti-social behavior. I’ve known a few narcissists. Most of them can pass, but if you are familiar with the disease, once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it. The SoCalledPresident can’t pass with sane people. He can only function because he has groomed his family and close associates to not ‘see’ it. Now he has surrounded himself with a buffer of other sociopaths and narcissist who have no upside in exposing or even recognizing his behavior. Grooming takes some amount of cleverness. But it doesn’t make him a mastermind any more than Jerry Sandusky was a mastermind. Sandusky managed to groom the entire board and coaching staff of Penn State into not ‘seeing’. I do think that level of grooming, pushing the level of what they can get away with, also takes some amount of evil. so no, it’s not paranoid to believe that there is some aspect of evil present in this administration. Don’t talk yourself into unseeing what you looking straight at. Gaslighting, it’s the narcissists’ favorite trick.

  • NewishLawyer

    I would say he is at least stupid and probably crazy. Saying he is evil is a hard call. He is clearly petty and vindictive. But yeah let’s throw in evil as well. Trump was taking about birthirism, Muslim bans, and how blacks are horrible criminals for years and decades before he ever met Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller.

    • Crusty

      I think evil is actually the easiest one. I suppose it sounds a tad extreme for someone who as far as we know hasn’t murdered anyone with their own hands, but if we use a lighter term like “bad hombre” it is very easy. If evil is limited to Hitler and Hanibal Lecter, I see the hesitation.

  • rhino

    Jesus, Paul, my day sucked already.

    The linked article is not helping.

    Fuck.

    Well, the impeachment process should at least destroy the administration’s ability to form coherent (to the extent coherence has every been their forte) policy for a while. That’s something. President Pence is likely even more dangerous (at least to Americans and Canadians) than Trump, which may put democrats in the bemusing position of delaying the proceedings as long as possible.

    Political strategy: How long can we keep the shit swirling around the toilet bowl before it flushes.

    Fuck.

    • Abbey Bartlet

      President Pence is likely even more dangerous (at least to Americans and Canadians) than Trump

      Stop. Fucking. Saying. This.

      • Rob in CT

        I’m with her.

        Pence is terrible. Pence is not as flat-out crazy. Yes, he’s still a 21st century Republican, which means he too lives in a world of alternative facts. It’s a difference of degree there. But I doubt he’s the unhinged narcissist that Trump is.

        This may seem like a fine distinction, but we’re talking about POTUS here. US Military. Nukes. Come on.

        Pence would be terrible. Pence would be better.

        • Abbey Bartlet

          Pence is a particularly vile Republican. He is not the potential destruction of Western (and other) society. The Republic would recover from him, eventually. I don’t know if it will recover from this.

          Also, too, FUCKING NAZIS.

          • Richard Gadsden

            Even if the United States might not recover from Pence, it would be much less likely to destroy the rest of the world on the way down.

          • tsam

            I’m not sure that winning this argument one way or the other is worth the time having it.

  • postpartisandepression

    But the truly relevant question is did any of the sheriffs push back and tell him this is not true?

    No? then this is truly scary.

  • Warren Terra

    In more stupid:

    Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump

    My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!

    7:51 AM – 8 Feb 2017

    • Abbey Bartlet

      always pushing me to do the right thing

      Welp. Either he’s lying or he doesn’t listen to her.

      • Warren Terra

        I took it as a threat: why bother ever to do the right thing at all, if Nordstrom isn’t going to reciprocate by paying his daughter?

    • Bitter Scribe

      Gee, it’s almost as though being a bad president is not always great for your kid’s brand.

  • Bitter Scribe

    Hell, in a way Trump is just intensifying a Republican tradition. Republicans (and, inexplicably, some others) now revere a president who went around saying that plants and trees were the leading source of air pollution.

    • DAS

      But it’s true. If it weren’t for oxygenic photosynthesis poisoning our atmosphere with oxygen, anaerobes would have a much better time of it. After all, our atmosphere wasn’t always polluted with oxygen. Time was that our atmosphere didn’t have much toxic oxygen gas in it at all.

  • Rob in CT

    By the way, we haven’t really gotten into it (probably because it’s just so obvious, or maybe because it’s ignorance rather than outright demonstrable lies), but the guy who (allegedly, anyway) captured hearts & minds via banging on about trade doesn’t know what strong dollar/weak dollar means.

    Also, I love that Flynn didn’t know either & punted. Granted, he doesn’t actually need to know for his job so whatever. But it’s not the most complicated subject in the world either.

    • ExpatJK

      But he’s a businessman!! They are supposed to KNOW THINGS!! How could this happen? *shocked face*

    • CP

      Also, I love that Flynn didn’t know either & punted.

      Honestly, I think a lot of people in the admin are going to be punting as much as they can on everyone else. When one of Trump’s ideas goes tits-up, they don’t want to be the ones he turns to and goes “you! It was you who advised me on this! This is all your fault!”

    • Richard Gadsden

      I also think that part of it was “fuck you, you have economic advisors for this shit. Don’t wake me up in the middle of the fucking night.”

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Hey, let’s none of us assume he’s not calling up the head of the OMB for advice about the next raid in Yemen.

    • Warren Terra

      Honestly, Flynn punting is the first smart thing I’ve ever seen from him. The President is asking for an informed opinion, and half-assing it along the lines any of us could do … just isn’t good enough. The President need actual expert advice, not common knowledge, and needs to be told so.

    • bender

      Since the correct answer is “It depends,” I think Flynn did right to decline to explain what it depends on.

      Weak dollar is better for an export economy. Strong dollar is better for imports. Which is better for the US economy, cheap oil or selling our goods abroad? ETA: which is better, keeping Putin in power or increasing US exports?

  • DAS

    Are stupid, crazy and evil really the only choices? Where does simply drinking too much kool-aid/being massively misinformed fall?

    For instance, I know a person who thinks our biggest problem is our national debt. I know that he is not stupid about all economic matters: he’s a very experienced commercial real estate appraiser. I know that he is not crazy. And certainly by his behavior in his personal life, he is absolutely a swell fellow and not evil. Of course, being in the finance/real-estate sector, the paper of record for him is the Wall Street Journal. So he is massively ill informed by the very paper that’s supposed to inform him the most about economic matters.

    I also know another person who believes that Keynesian economics is a failed doctrine. He’s not stupid — he’s an actuary. He’s not crazy: he’s one of the happier, mellower people I know. And he’s not evil: again, in his personal life, he’s a swell fellow, etc. But he’s a libertarian who fully believes in “limited government”.

    • Warren Terra

      It would be nice if we had a smaller national debt, of course. But I’m betting your friend doesn’t vote for Democrats, the party that has consistently delivered a shrinking deficit and a growing economy, instead listening to the low tax sales pitch of the Republicans, who consistently deliver the opposite.

      • DAS

        My budget obsessed friend actually is a reliable Democratic voter. He fears, however, the degree to which the Democratic party is shifting to the “hard left” (and wishes the Democratic party would be more like the party as it was in the early 1960s, when he was a teen); to him anyone left of 1990s Bill Clinton is “hard left”.

        • Rob in CT

          I know a guy like that (though to him, the proper place for the Dems is Bill Clinton circa 1996).

          ETA:

          wishes the Democratic party would be more like the party as it was in the early 1960s

          Wait, I thought the Democratic Party was the vanguard of the proletariat back then. I’ve been told…

    • Rob in CT

      I don’t think those things are comparable. Those people are misinformed about reasonably complex things.

      Trump is flat-out lying about a statistic that is trivially easy to check.

    • DAS

      Come to think of it, Frank Wilhoit already answered my question in his comment.

  • Dennis Orphen

    I vote evil.

    Big Lie (an oldie but I goodie): A lie told often enough that it becomes perceived as true.

  • wabon2

    Reptile brain.

    I first heard of it when I was chatting with a trial lawyer about jury persuasion. Turns out it is a marketing tool, too.

    Oddly, Trump’s reptile brain seems adept at tapping the reptile brains of others.

  • Joe Bob the III

    I think the example chosen to illustrate Crazy in part loops back to the provisions of Stupid. A corollary of the Dunning-Kreuger effect is that not only do stupid people overestimate their own abilities they also fail to recognize or they discount real expertise where it exists in others. Put another way, stupid people not only find stupid people smart, they are just as likely to find smart people stupid.

    Therefore: Dunning-Kreuger helps explain why Trump did not seek out an economics expert for help with his currency question. It doesn’t explain why Trump perceived Mike Flynn as a smart person who would have this answer. If I were to speculate on other Trump motives I would say that he asked Flynn because he considers him a trusted friend. Trump would not go outside his tight circle of trusted advisors for advice because with third parties he would fear the loss of face that might come from not knowing the answer.

  • ixnay

    I’m surprised no one has linked to this, one of my favorite discussions of the problem, plus, Venn diagrams!
    http://vagabondscholar.blogspot.com/2010/11/stupid-evil-crazy-vortex.html

    • ΧΤΠΔ

      Love It! I actually saw this a few years ago, but when I went back to find it I’d forgotten the link & kept looking for it on No More Mister Nice Blog (also very good).

  • tsam
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