And the level of crazy keeps rising …


I think we have to be resigned to two things: (1) Donald Trump will keep raising the stakes on saying crazy things and that many of the other Republican candidates will follow him and even try to outdo him; and (2) his popularity among Republican voters will keep increasing even as the rest of us look on in horror.

His latest idea is first to (wrongly) allege that most of the Syrian refugees are ‘strong, powerful’ men (i.e., likely terrorists) and then use that as the basis for calling for the resumption of waterboarding.

John Oliver tries to talk some sense about Syrian refugees and this absurdly hyped fear of the risk of terrorist infiltration but I fear it will have no effect. Americans, while boasting that they are the home of the brave, are a very scared people.

Meanwhile Glenn Greenwald tells a CNN news anchor to his face that CNN is an accomplice in this anti-refugee hysteria.

Comments

  1. Nick Robertson says

    According to the latest UNHCR figures, of the almost 900,000 refugees and migrants that have arrived in *Europe* by sea so far this year, about 62% are men and about 51% are from Syria and another 20% from Afghanistan. I don’t know the percentage of men among Syrian refugees and migrants. See http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.php

  2. lorn says

    As is so typical the right has a bit of a point, but they 1) vastly exaggerate the problem and 2) focus on one modality while ignoring several others. Entering the US with the intent of staging an attack by applying as a refugee seems like possibly the worse possible way of getting in. Which isn’t to say one or two might not try but If I had to get in I would try by applying as a tourist through the visa waver program. It seems much less time consuming and involved. Alternatively, landing in Canada and walking across the border is also an option.

    Of course that overlooks the obvious. Some of the Paris attackers were French or Belgian citizens. Recruiting American citizens seems like an efficient method of getting operatives onto US soil. Once on US soil gaining guns would be child’s play. No need to go to Belgium to get firearms into France. Every state in the Union has gun shops and/or gun shows where firearms are sold to pretty much anyone. Lots of people take it as their patriotic duty to make sure everyone is as heavily armed as their wallets will allow.

    So sure. Raise a stink about the least likely route to get terrorists into the US while strutting and posturing about how you are patriotic Americans ‘Just being careful’. Propose changes that will make no effective difference. The GOP really wants an attack like Paris to go down on Obama’s watch. They have been looking for a club to beat him with for seven years. They want ISIS to enjoy a small victory so they can discredit the Democrats. It would give their collection of lame incompetents and lunatics a shot at winning. The GOP is all about winning, and if some Americans have to get maimed or die … it is a small price to pay to get those who are born to rule into office. For the good of America, of course.

  3. says

    Reminder: calling lying political hacks “crazy” is ableist. Mental health problems are not a lifestyle choice; people with mental health problems do not choose to be disordered, when you liken these political asshats to “crazy people” you are being unfair to people who actually have mental problems, yet still manage not to embarrass themselves and everyone around them.

  4. says

    It’s important to remember that the refugee problems from Libya and Syria are both the direct result of CIA ‘regime change’ efforts; the usual US-backed ‘opposition leaders’ (aka: “exporting terrorismdemocracy”) The horrible assholes in Washington that are trying to make political mileage out of a humanitarian disaster we caused are … horrible assholes.

  5. Mano Singham says

    Marcus @#3,

    I am struggling to find words that are not ableist and yet capture succinctly the idea that people are saying and doing things that no rational person would. All the words that come to mind, like lunatic and insane and their derivatives, all suffer from the same problem as ‘crazy’. Any suggestions?

  6. Mano Singham says

    Silentbob,

    Thanks, that list is helpful. My problem was that as I was not sure if the alternatives to ‘crazy’ that came to my mind were also problematic. This list clarifies things.

  7. says

    I am struggling to find words that are not ableist and yet capture succinctly the idea that people are saying and doing things that no rational person would. All the words that come to mind, like lunatic and insane and their derivatives, all suffer from the same problem as ‘crazy’. Any suggestions?

    I do have some suggestions.

    I have always used a mental trick for splitting invective, to render it less painful; it also serves as an invective detector. You can weaponize the technique and it works pretty well, too. Simply put it goes like this:
    – If someone says something nasty and hurtful about me it is either:
    a) true
    b) false
    – If it is true, then it is either:
    a) something I can’t help (no choice, no blame)
    b) a consequence of my choices

    If someone throws words at me that fall down a) a) (i.e: “You wear glasses!”) then, uh, they’ve made a statement of the obvious. If I am bothered by the fact that I wear glasses that’s me being bothered by reality, not by the other guy.
    If someone throws words that take me down b) then they’re just lying to try to hurt me. In which case I reply, “you know that’s not true” and may further proceed to attack their credibility. “Marcus: You’re a cop! Cops suck! You suck!” “Uh, no, I am not a cop. You just said that to try to hurt me and instead you now look ignorant or manipulative. Which is it?”
    If someone throws words that take me down a) b) then they are criticizing my choice (i.e.: “Marcus, you are wearing an ugly grey sweatshirt!”) “Uh, yes, this is my favorite sweatshirt. I don’t have to share your taste in clothes and it’s not your problem because I wasn’t going to let you wear it anyway.”

    Invective draws its strength from invidious comparison: you’re saying something manifestly untrue in order to liken your target to something that is accepted by many as unpleasant or bad or whatever. When you say the republicans are crazy, the strength of your insult is not its truth – because the republicans are not crazy and we all know it – the strength is that we all know being crazy is bad and you’re saying the republicans are bad because they are like something bad (crazy people). Deconstructed like that, you can see you’re committing splash damage (or, as the CIA drone pilots say: “insurgent target killed!”) against people with mental problems and aren’t hurting the republicans at all. Because a republican, in that case, would simply say “no, I’m not.” That’s path b) above.

    My argument, then, is that poorly constructed invective is not just more likely to cause splash damage, it’s bad strategy.

    So, to weaponize invective, your best option is to use creative language to describe aspects of the person that are unpleasant, a consequence of the person’s choices, and true!! Path a) b) above and hammer them for choosing to go down that path.

    “Trump continues to shamelessly* manipulate* his propagandized worker-drones into following him off the political cliff**, in what resembles nothing so much as a stampede of sheep in tea-partier clothes.”
    (* True!) (* True!) (** Hopefully true)

    That’s probably not a great example because I just popped it out on the fly, but you’ll see it contains other techniques of invective that I derived from Sun Tzu’s lesser classic “The Art of Dinner Party Conversation” There is a lot of well-poisoning and weaponized exceptionalism in there. The well-poisoning is obvious:
    “shamelessly”
    “manipulate”
    “propagandized”
    “worker drones”
    “sheep”
    They’re set-ups so that anyone objecting to any of those in detail is basically acknowledging that they aren’t X, but are close enough to X that they can be mistaken for X. Or to object, you wind up owning something worse:
    Trump: “I’m not shamelessly manipulating anyone!”
    Me: “Well, you should be ashamed. That’s the problem, right there…”
    Tea Partier: “I’m not a sheep!!”
    Me: “Oh, my mistake. You’re one of the .001% of tea partiers that are political sophisticates yet manage to be libertarian?”

    The short form, as Sun Tzu says, “The mightiest dinner party insult the general can deploy, is to tell the truth about anyone. Except the host. Never tell the truth about the host.”

    Let me try a few:
    Donald Trump will keep raising the stakes on saying crazy things
    Donald Trump will keep raising the stakes by radicalizing his followers’ views to the point where they’re disconnected from political reality. Eventually they will wake up sore and disempowered and realize they were played.

    And the level of crazy keeps rising …
    The republican base is punch-drunk on propaganda …

  8. says

    A final thought on use of invective:
    See Thompson, Hunter S. or Taibbi, Matt. Twain, Mark, also very good.

    This from Thompson:
    As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity.

    Sun Tzu writes: “General Thompson’s strategy was to poison the well. Yet be poisoned also the land and the air surrounding the well. The enemy walked up, thinking “the well is poisoned but I will check” and was defeated.”
    In his comments on Sun Tzu, LePew writes: “well poisoning in argument is like sowing the ground with the teeth of the dragon.” CMDR Surly Badger once said, “the greatest ninja leaves his blade where his enemy will walk on it two years later.”

    In the example by Thompson above, someone who is stung by that description is in a “land war in asia” scenario going “I’m not myopic!”

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