Trump and his supporters: “his reality is their reality and real reality doesn’t exist anymore”

What a great quote from the article I’ve spent 4+ years trying to understand Trump supporters. I’m all done now (

From the article:

Trump’s gist is this: “The government is broken. I’m an outsider, but clearly a powerful one because I have money and fame. I alone can fix what’s wrong. The problems are simple and are caused by [insert ‘other’ group—undocumented immigrants, Muslims, Democrats, long-time public servants, etc.] and the solutions are simple too [build the wall, ban them from the country, vote for me—I’ll drain the swamp]. Yay, America!”

No matter how ridiculous that all sounds to many of us, there’s a significant portion of the country who relish in such simplicity. We don’t want to have to think about complicated problems or work through unclear solutions. Making things black and white, removing all the gray area and nuance and complexity from the issues, feels refreshing to a lot of people. It doesn’t matter if it’s based on falsehoods instead of facts. Keeping problems simple and making it seem like solutions are cut and dry makes people feel safe.

The problem is, in order to reach that simple, safe world, you have to appeal to people’s prejudices and fears. People of every persuasion are easy prey for fear-mongering. Prejudices are common, fear is an easy instinct to manipulate, and Trump is shameless about combining the two. Scary caravans of immigrants. Scary Muslims coming in from scary Muslim countries. Scary gang members moving in next door. Scary poor people coming to live in your suburban neighborhood. Scary rioters. Scary ANTIFA.

Trump does the Big Lie thing, where if you say untrue things enough times and with enough conviction, people will believe you, even when what you say is verifiably false.

Misinformation is Trump’s engine and praise and flattery are Trump’s fuel. The more he gets, the more he pushes the simple messaging and fear-mongering that give people the brain chemical releases they crave. (If you think people don’t like having their fears triggered, there’s an entire horror movie industry that disagrees with you.) And the more he gives people what they want, the more they give him what he wants—big crowds and rabid fandom and heaps and heaps of adulation. And so the cycle goes on, with Trump seeing himself in the thousands of faces in the crowd, which serve as narcissistic mirrors in which he sees his power and glory.

Which he then turns around and claims is all for them. And they believe him because at this point, his reality is their reality and real reality doesn’t exist anymore.

And the really sad thing is, Trump’s “great leader” schitk works 70+ million people in our country.

Paul Krugman and other mainstream trade experts are now admitting that they were wrong about globalization: It hurt American workers far more than they thought it would.

Stated another way, “Sorry about gutting the workers economy for the past 30 years. Our bad. But you can still trust us.” (from

I respect Paul Krugman immensely, but this is a profound mistake on a historic timescale.

If the McConnell Rule Is Dead, Court-Packing Is Permitted

Eric Levitz in the New York Magazine really gets to the raw ugliness of Republican power:

In actuality, the right’s position, plainly stated, is this: America’s anti-GOP majority has no preferences that Senate Republicans are bound to respect. The fact that a plurality of Americans rejected Donald Trump does not mean that he must show some deference to their views by nominating moderate justices to the Court. To the contrary, it is perfectly legitimate for the timing of various deaths — and the structural biases of America’s electoral institutions — to award conservatives with a far-right Supreme Court majority for decades to come, even as their party has lost the popular vote in six of seven presidential elections. What’s more, it is also legitimate for that majority to strike down the last Democratic president’s signature legislative achievement on specious grounds, or gut voting-rights legislation that Congress has recently authorized, or remove an entire categories of economic policy from the realm of democratic contestation — because legislating from the bench is only “judicial activism” when liberals do it; when we legislate from the bench, it is “constitutionalism.”

The Neoliberal Looting of America (NYTimes)

From the NYTimes:

Private equity firms use money provided by institutional investors like pension funds and university endowments to take over and restructure companies or industries. Private equity touches practically every sector, from housing to health care to retail. In pursuit of maximum returns, such firms have squeezed businesses for every last drop of profit, cutting jobs, pensions and salaries where possible. The debt-laden buyouts privatize gains when they work, and socialize losses when they don’t, driving previously healthy firms to bankruptcy and leaving many others permanently hobbled. The list of private equity’s victims has grown even longer in the past year, adding J.CrewToys ‘R’ UsHertz and more.

In the last decade, private equity management has led to approximately 1.3 million job losses due to retail bankruptcies and liquidation. Beyond the companies directly controlled by private equity, the threat of being the next takeover target has most likely led other companies to pre-emptively cut wages and jobs to avoid being the weakest prey. Amid the outbreak of street protests in June, a satirical headline in The Onion put it best: “Protesters Criticized For Looting Businesses Without Forming Private Equity Firm First.” Yet the private equity takeover is not technically looting because it has been made perfectly legal, and even encouraged, by policymakers.

An examination of the recent history of private equity disproves the neoliberal myth that profit incentives produce the best outcomes for society. The passage of time has debunked another such myth: that deregulating industries would generate more vibrant competition and benefit consumers. Unregulated market competition actually led to market consolidation instead. Would-be monopolies squeezed competitors, accrued political power, lobbied for even more deregulation and ultimately drove out any rivals, leading inexorably to entrenched political power. Instead of a thriving market of small-firm competition, free market ideology led to a few big winners dominating the rest.

And we can move beyond the myths of neoliberalism that have led us here. We can have competitive and prosperous markets, but our focus should be on ensuring human dignity, thriving families and healthy communities. When those are in conflict, we should choose flourishing communities over profits.

Epidemiology of COVID-19 Spreading via Breathing, Coughing, Sneezing, Singing, & Talking in Various Settings

This just one of the fascinating examples in this article of how epidemiologists tracked down very specific examples of COVID-19 spread in different situations:

Some really great shoe-leather epidemiology demonstrated clearly the effect of a single asymptomatic carrier in a restaurant environment (see below). The infected person (A1) sat at a table and had dinner with 9 friends. Dinner took about 1 to 1.5 hours. During this meal, the asymptomatic carrier released low-levels of virus into the air from their breathing. Airflow (from the restaurant’s various airflow vents) was from right to left. Approximately 50% of the people at the infected person’s table became sick over the next 7 days. 75% of the people on the adjacent downwind table became infected. And even 2 of the 7 people on the upwind table were infected (believed to happen by turbulent airflow). No one at tables E or F became infected, they were out of the main airflow from the air conditioner on the right to the exhaust fan on the left of the room. (Ref)



We Are Living in a Failed State The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken

From the June 2020 edition of The Atlantic.

This article is long, brutal, and essential.

Normally, I try and paraphrase the article I’m referencing, but this article makes so many powerful points, I can’t do that.  Here’s the opening paragraph instead:

When the virus came here, it found a country with serious underlying conditions, and it exploited them ruthlessly. Chronic ills—a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public—had gone untreated for years. We had learned to live, uncomfortably, with the symptoms. It took the scale and intimacy of a pandemic to expose their severity—to shock Americans with the recognition that we are in the high-risk category.

The crisis demanded a response that was swift, rational, and collective. The United States reacted instead like Pakistan or Belarus—like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering.