Trump’s attack on Congress was an attack on America and all who hold its values dear. It was a desperate bid to cling to power by a weak, ignorant and selfish demagogue who has shown himself an enemy of democracy, a friend to tyrants and unfit to be president. When he belatedly realised, amid near-universal condemnation, that he had crossed a line, he caved and cravenly disowned his own supporters.
From The Observer view on Donald Trump’s assault on US democracy.
Also worth a read is John Scalzi’s post, But What If We Didn’t, which looks at the way that the Republican party’s deliberate and consistent abuse of the country’s constitution has led directly to the rise of Trump and the events of last week.
Much has been said about what happens next but, for me, I don’t think the US will be able to seriously describe itself as a functioning democracy until the Republican party finally collapses. Once that happens, the Democratic party would be able to split into the centre-right and centre-left parties it clearly want’s to be, rather than the uneasy coalition of the sane that it currently is.
But let’s not pretend that these authoritarian impulses are a particularly American thing. In Britain, Johnson, Gove and the rest of the Conservative party have spent the past four years fawning over Trump. They are trying to back away now, but it shouldn’t be forgotten just how much they embraced Trump and what he stood for.
Elsewhere, there’s Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Andrzej Duda in Poland and others.
Democracy only works when those in power are willing to embrace democratic norms. This is something we should never forget.
David Allen Green makes a good point about the rationality of Trump’s refusal to concede that he has lost the election.
Of course, any decent person would have conceded in order to allow the incoming administration to start preparing for power and Trump’s refusal to do so is both dangerous and deeply undemocratic.
Trump, of course, is not a decent person and right now he has a thing — power — and sees no advantage in giving it up. Why would he? We all know that he’s only in it for himself and he has nothing to gain from stepping aside and everything to lose.
Trump’s going to milk the White House for as long as he can get away with it.
Both the UK and Ireland — which happen to be the only European nations with Trump golf courses — are exempt.
— The Register’s Matthew Hughes reporting on the Panicking President’s recently announced attempt to combat COVID-19 by issuing a travel ban against EU countries, something the WHO explicitly recommends against.
New Europe reports that Yale psychiatrist, Dr. Bandy Lee is calling for a psychiatric evaluation of Donald Trump.
Lee argues that President’s Trump public language in infused with a pattern of “decompensation,” that is, “loss of touch with reality, marked signs of volatility and unpredictable behaviour, and an attraction to violence as a means of coping.” Dr. Lee believes that the President’s deteriorating condition is perhaps triggered by the ongoing Robert Mueller investigation over his campaigns links with Russia.
President Donald Trump’s Twitter account has become a major concern, as he recently retweeted violent videos posted by a British far-right violent group and he referred to Elizabeth Warren as Pochahontas during a speech honouring Navaho World War II heroes.
I can’t help but feel that speculation about Trump’s mental state is a bit beside the point. His behavior makes him unfit for office and it’s because of his behavior that he should be ejected from office.
Why he behaves as he does doesn’t really have any bearing on this and speculation like this — regardless of how professionally grounded it is — runs a sizable risk of distracting attention from his many failings.
A guy basically went mad, right there on the stage in front of you, and you cheered and booed right on cue because you’re sheep and because he directed his insanity at all the scapegoats that your favorite radio and TV personalities have been creating for you over the past three decades.
— Charles P. Pierce addresses the people who waited for hours in 105-degree (Fahrenheit) heat to listen to Trump vent his spleen.
President Trump will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ dinner this year due to fears that people will make jokes and be mean to him.
America’s premier snowflake said he will break a 35-year tradition by avoiding the dinner in April because his skin is as thin as the margin of his electoral victory.
‘President Snowflake’ is such an obvious moniker, I’m surprised that this is the first time I’ve seen anyone use it.
[A] bizarre melange of the unqualified and the unhinged.
– Mehdi Hasan on the Trump cabinet
In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman looks at the mental shortcuts we take and the ways in which these shortcuts mislead us. In doing so, he describes two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is quick, intuitive and emotional while System 2 is slower, more deliberative and more logical. Both systems have their place, but System one tends to dominate and is relatively easy to manipulate.
AC Grayling argues that this has happened, both in the Brexit referendum and the Trump election.
What Kahneman and other researchers have empirically confirmed in their work is that the majority of people are ‘System One’ or ‘quick’ thinkers in that they make decisions on impulse, feeling, emotion, and first impressions, rather than ‘System Two’ or ‘slow’ thinkers who seek information, analyse it, and weigh arguments in order to come to decisions. System One thinkers can be captured by slogans, statements dramatised to the point of falsehood, and even downright lies, because they will not check the validity of what is said, but instead will mistrust System Two thinkers whose lengthier arguments and appeals to data are often regarded as efforts to bamboozle and mislead.
Grayling goes on to say:
A senior BBC news editor told me that there was fierce debate among his colleagues about how they were reporting the Brexit referendum campaigns. They were conscious that that the Leave campaign, in particular, was putting out highly doubtful if not downright dishonest statements either very late or very early in the day in order to have them reported in morning news programmes, knowing that fact checking and the need to modify or retract misleading statements would only come later in the day, by which time the statements would have done their work with System One audiences.
And the media often compounds this problem by seeking a balance that (unintentionally) results in false equivalence.
I’m not sure what the solution to all of this is – or even if there is one – but surely it starts with more teaching and use of critical thinking and a better use of journalistic resources so that untrue and misleading claims can be quickly and effectively debunked.
Pop Will Eat Itself‘s 1994 song about immigration seems more relevant today than ever.