Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Trump Is Only Interested In Praise of Trump



Adding to what I said before, Trump's pardon statement on Scooter Libby:

In light of these facts, the President believes Mr. Libby is fully worthy of this pardon. “I don’t know Mr. Libby,” said President Trump, “but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”

And what really matters to Trump:

Libby's attorneys, Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, issued a statement thanking Trump for "addressing a gross injustice" they said was inflicted by Fitzgerald and Comey. Toensing told the Associated Press that she submitted the pardon papers for Libby to the White House counsel's office last summer. She said the president called her midday Friday to deliver the news.

"He said, 'He got screwed,'" Toensing recalled.

Trump knows the attorneys and had sought to add them to his legal team in the Russian investigation, but it was determined diGenova and Toensing had conflicts of interest that would prevent them from joining.

A spokesman for Bush said the former president was "very pleased" for Libby and his family. Rep. Liz Cheney, a Montana Republican and daughter of the former vice president, said Libby was the victim of a "miscarriage of justice," and she thanked Trump for "righting a terrible wrong."

In the meantime this has been pushed off the stage by the bombing of Syria, of which Trump is very proud:


And the military, which is clearly just an extension of his....ego; yeah, let's go with "ego":
Although one can be forgiven for thinking of the guy bragging about his new car.   He didn't get the approval he wanted from the corners he cares about, however:

On Fox News, hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham were uncharacteristically critical of the president, questioning Trump’s decision to launch the strikes.

“I guess it feels good because there are horrible things happening there,” Ingraham said, sparring with former White House official Sebastian Gorka. “But what do we really accomplish here tonight in Syria? This is not why Donald Trump got elected."

Noting Trump’s criticism of the Iraq war on the 2016 campaign trail, Carlson remarked “This is clearly not something he ran on, and and it’s inconsistent with a lot of things that he’s said over the years.”

Pro-Trump Far-right media personalities were apoplectic.

“Fuck Trump, and fuck these fucking people,” said Infowars’ Alex Jones, and launched into series of conspiracy theories about the raids before bursting into tears.

“If he had been a piece of crap from the beginning, it wouldn’t be so bad,” Jones said of Trump. “We’ve made so many sacrifices and now he’s crapping all over us. It makes me sick." 
Trump's cries of "fake news!" always involve news that doesn't make Trump look good or feel comfortable.   Whether these responses become "fake news" remains to be seen (although since they aren't on CNN or in the NYT augurs against that label).  As for Trump's attempts at tyranny,  Auden gave a description of a tyrant once:

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

Trump is nowhere near that dangerous.  He's not interested in perfection of any kind, except the perfection of a report on how great Trump is at just being Trump.  He knows nothing of human folly,  although he displays it with every utterance he makes; he is impressed with armies and fleets only as an abstraction, and he won't be responsible for killing anybody.

Let’s be clear: These limited strikes almost certainly did not destroy the Syrian government’s entire chemical weapons stockpile, let alone seriously set back its ability to fight anti-government rebels.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs James Dunford seemed to admit as much at the same Friday press conference, saying there were “other targets” they could have hit related to the chemical weapons program, but that they chose not to because of a high risk of civilian casualties.

In other words, this was symbolic strike, designed to signal loud and clear to the Syrian government that the use of chemical weapons would provoke American retaliation, thus hopefully deterring Assad from doing so again.

One can’t help but feel a little bit of déjà vu. Almost exactly one year ago, the Assad regime used chemical weapons on a civilian population center, killing over 80 people. This prompted Trump to launch limited airstrikes, that time on a Syrian airbase. Again, the idea was to show Assad that the US would not tolerate such actions and thus deter him from ever doing so again.

Clearly, that failed.
It is laudable that we don't indiscriminately kill civilians any more than necessary, in retaliation for an indiscriminate attack on civilians (although it's a missile strike of over 100 missiles, so we probably did).  But Trump is only interested in the bright and shiny things.  He's proud of how powerful our military will be; he seems wholly unaware, as even his Secretary of Defense is, as to just how limited that military power really is.  He's dangerous in what he allows; but in what he does, he's not really as dangerous as Bush or Obama before him.

Think back to his claim he would return to the TPP.  He made that comment in a roomful of Congresspersons from farm states, and Trump wanted their praise so he said what they wanted to hear.  But midnight he'd heard from the same critics now complaining about the strike in Syria, and suddenly it wasn't so clear he was so anxious to join the TPP.  He cares nothing for anything except that people say nice things about him.  That makes him dangerous in some ways for the office he occupies, pitiful in others.

And it seems to be clearer and clearer to the general public that the emperor not only has no clothes, but is a pitiful child in the body of an old man.

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