Good Luck With That

Mr. President, Sir, It’s Time to Do What’s Best for the Country by Resigning and Never Speaking Again.

Great last paragraph:

“Detractors may point out that we have called on Donald Trump to resign four times this year already and that it won’t work because he doesn’t read Slate and is not a fan of the ‘ideas journalism’ sector in general. Those detractors are traitors to the United States and President Pence should arrest them.”

The Trump Quandary

We desperately need to pivot from Donald Trump and Dan Barry is here to help. If I could only share one article on Donald Trump with some person in the future curious about the Trump Era, it would be Barry’s from today’s New York Times, “‘Loser’: How a Lifelong Fear Bookended Trump’s Presidency“.

It’s not angry or mean, it’s thorough, thoughtful, and explanatory without succumbing to rampant psychological speculation. Barry doesn’t inflame and doesn’t even analyze Trump as much as he describes what has happened, or more accurately, is still happening.

I could excerpt most of it, but in case you’ve already exceeded your recommended daily calories, here’s just a taste:

“. . . his famous aversion to the label of loser has now reached its apotheosis.

Since Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner of the Nov. 3 election — and Mr. Trump therefore declared the loser — the president has repeatedly trafficked in baseless allegations of a fraudulent and corrupt electoral process. What was once considered the quirky trait of a self-involved New York developer has become an international embarrassment, nearly upending the sacred transition of power and leaving the world’s foremost democracy — grappling with a deadly pandemic and a teetering economy — with a leader who refuses to concede despite the basic math.

‘AND I WON THE ELECTION,’ Mr. Trump tweeted last week. ‘VOTER FRAUD ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.'”

We’re in a quandary. We need to move on from DT for the sake of our own mental health and our relationships with our conservative friends, but we also need to remember the past.

It’s not psychological speculation to assert that Trump’s preoccupation with winning is his dad’s fault. Pay attention to the stories from his childhood. When I do that, I feel extremely sorry for him. He never stood a chance.

I suppose, like many people approaching sixty, I now realize internal, personal contentment is preferable to any exterior notions of life success.

More specifically, I now realize you can’t beat me in anything if I refuse to compete with you. Knock yourself out winner. I’ll be seeking contentment, quietly, outside of your view.

I’m profoundly thankful on this day that my dad was Donald J. Byrnes and not Fred Trump.

Are You Ready to Sip Unflavored Almond Milk?

Biden Transition tweets of note.

Lachlan Markay, “One of the more remarkable—but unremarked-upon trends of the past three weeks has been the relative calm of the Biden transition in the face of Team Trump’s frantic shit stirring.”

Jake Sherman, “THE BIGGEST SHIFT in Washington in January won’t only be that Democrats are taking the White House. It will be that the BIDEN administration will be — as @ BrendanBuck pointed out — “delightfully boring”. 

@ harrispolitico calls it “Joe Biden’s Team of Careerists.”

Sherman, “By design, they seem meant to project a dutiful competence, as Biden creates a government overseen by those who have run it before. THEY BELIEVE IN A LINEAR, plodding purposeful and standard policy process. EXPECT INTERVIEWS with JOE BIDEN to be a big deal — meaning, they won’t happen often, which givens them an extra oomph. We’ll complain, and they won’t care.”

The end of Sherman’s thread is money:

“IN OTHER WORDS, if the TRUMP White House was like downing a vat of Tabasco sauce over the past four years, the BIDEN White House will be like sipping unflavored almond milk.

Someone pass me a dictionary. . . what do these words mean—competence, purposeful, standard? Yo no comprendo. 

Rush Limbaugh Is Dying

Justin Peters with a smart history lesson on Limbaugh’s legacy. Peters argues we have him to thank for Trump in “Rush Limbaugh’s Fight to the Death.”

The conclusion:

“Limbaugh might have had a choice at one point, a choice to stop being a crabbed, reactionary loudmouth and do something different. That choice is gone now. The conservative movement—the wackos and the reply guys, the pundits and the dissemblers, the Q disciples and the truthers—has barricaded itself within the echo chamber Rush built. They swap memes and theories in a big windowless room that admits no outside light, and they have grown so accustomed to the smell that they’re convinced it’s the outside world that stinks.

This is the right wing we’re stuck with, even if Trump loses, even after Limbaugh dies. And a Biden victory can only make it worse, for there is nothing conservative media like more than playing the victim. Spinning spurious grievances into bullshit extending beyond the horizon is the quintessential talk-radio trick. Limbaugh pioneered it. Trump perfected it. It’s a potent, brilliant idea that will outlive them both.”

“Spinning spurious grievances into bullshit extending beyond the horizon.” If that prediction could be monetized into a proposition we could gamble on, I’d slide every last one of my chips into the center of the table. 

Too Much and Never Enough

Thank you Dahlia Lithwick for explaining the key insight of Mary Trump’s new book so well and saving me from having to read it. Day one, a million copies. To quote Adam Sandler, “Not too shabby.”

“Mary Trump’s Book Shows How Donald Trump Gets Away With It.”

“. . . what she reveals is a devastating indictment of all the alleged adults who stick around Donald Trump, who came together to fail America, to leave vulnerable populations to fend for themselves, and who continue to lie and spin to pacify his ego. They do it because they can’t admit the payoff is never coming, and to save themselves from the embarrassment of having to admit they were catastrophically wrong.”

But let’s not forget the conscientious objectors.

The Demagogue’s Playbook

By Eric Posner. This podcast episode with Posner is excellent.

What, according to Posner, is a demagogue?

“Despite it’s overuse, ‘demagogue’ has a core meaning that has remained stable over millennia. It refers to a charismatic, amoral person who obtains the support of the people through dishonesty, emotional manipulation, and the exploitation of social divisions; who targets the political elites, blaming them for everything that has gone wrong; and who tries to destroy institutions—legal, political, religious, and social—and other sources of power that stand in their way. The demagogue is frequently considered to be (and in many cases actually is), crude, vulgar, and violent—contemptuous of manners, civility, and norms, which the demagogue sees as structures that keep the elites in power.”

Reminds me of someone, I just can’t put my finger on it.

Thursday Assorted Links

1. Why I’m Learning More With Distance Learning Than I Do In School. By Veronique Mintz, 13 years old. Starts strong.

“Talking out of turn. Destroying classroom materials. Disrespecting teachers. Blurting out answers during tests. Students pushing, kicking, hitting one another and even rolling on the ground. This is what happens in my school every single day. . . . Based on my peers’ behavior, you might guess that I’m in second or fourth grade. But I’m actually about to enter high school in New York City, and, during my three years of middle school, these sorts of disruptions occurred repeatedly in any given 42-minute class period.

2. Don’t forget the other pandemic killing thousands of Americans.

3. How Yukon’s ‘one caribou apart’ physical distancing campaign became a sensation. I really miss Canada.

4. Was Donald Trump good at baseball? I couldn’t help but smile throughout this one.

Trump said he shoulda, coulda, woulda gone pro, but an intrepid reporter dug deep into the archives only to find:

“Combined, the nine box scores I unearthed give Trump a 4 for 29 batting record in his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons, with three runs batted in and a single run scored. Trump’s batting average in those nine games: an underwhelming .138.”

Then the reporter asked Keith Law, a senior baseball writer for the Athletic and author of The Inside Game who covers the MLB draft, if Trump’s numbers sounded like those of a pro prospect.

“‘There’s no chance,’ said Law, who once worked in the front office of the Toronto Blue Jays assessing high school players. ‘You don’t hit .138 for some podunk, cold-weather high school playing the worst competition you could possibly imagine. You wouldn’t even get recruited for Division I baseball programs, let alone by pro teams. That’s totally unthinkable. It’s absolutely laughable. He hit .138—he couldn’t fucking hit, that’s pretty clear.'”

That may be my favorite quote about Trump of all time. Just flip the bat and touch em’ all.

5. The Best Television Shows To Stream Now.