Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Age Of Unreason. Or Life in The Trump Reich.

It is the fall of 2019.  The president of the United States, the most powerful country on this planet, has impetuously and with no real understanding of the consequences withdrawn US troops from Northern Syria.  This a direct invitation for Turkey to take over the vacuum thus created, and Turkey quickly follows the invitation.  The resulting uproar at home, even among some arch-conservatives, makes Trump pen a carefully worded and strong letter to the dictator of Turkey:

The vocabulary of that letter is on at least third grade level!  So things are going well.  And even though it doesn't use any complicated adjectives or verbs or demonstrate any real understanding of Erdogan's probable motivations, it's strongly worded!

Erdogan threw it in the trash bin, we are told.

That letter is real.  It's from Donald Trump, and he is very proud of it.  The letter, of course, made no real difference in Erdogan's plans.

A few days later Trump calls Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, a "third-rate politician" at a meeting about the Syria mess.  According to Pelosi, Trump had a meltdown at the meeting.  According to Trump, Pelosi had a meltdown:

There is no public transcript or recording of the gathering, but by most accounts, Trump admonished former Defense Secretary James Mattis for not being as “tough” as him, complained that he didn’t want to even have the briefing he was supposed to lead, suggested Democrats are vaguely sympathetic to ISIS because the terrorist network includes “communists,” and insulted Nancy Pelosi to her face, dismissing her as a “third-rate” politician.
Since the discussion obviously wasn’t going to be constructive, Democratic leaders saw no need to stick around.
The House Speaker described Trump’s bizarre behavior as a “very serious meltdown,” adding that Americans should “pray for his health.” Because the president routinely finds it necessary to respond to every slight in a I’m-rubber-you’re-glue sort of way, Trump published a tweet soon after accusing Pelosi of being mentally ill, adding, “Pray for her, she is a very sick person!” Since he heard the Speaker accuse him of a “meltdown,” Trump also accused Pelosi of having had a “meltdown.”

Actually, Trump's tweets were much more insulting than the above quote suggests:  "Nervous Nancy's unhinged meltdown."

In a calmer world I'd enjoy writing about the way Trump, his administration and Republicans in Congress in general so very often use psychological projection in their arguments.  But we do not live in a calmer world.

Rather, we live in a world where the president's outrageous acts pile up quicker than we can digest, let alone protest.  For instance, today we find that Trump is going to host the 2020 G7 summit at his own Florida resort, thus keeping the profits in the family, so to say.

The other night I was thinking about all of this, and suddenly realized that thinking is really old hat and arguments are mostly pointless if nobody respects reason.  Facts don't matter, because the other side will simply call them fake news or uses  projection or some weird form of "whataboutism" to suggest that everybody does whatever crime is being investigated.

So then I went all despondent and started wondering if we might live at the dawn of the global Age of Unreason*. 

The large number of new strongman-dictators frightens me.  Brazil, the Philippines, Hungary, Russia and Turkey have them (though the Russians of course always had dictators). 

They appear to have been voted into power for the very reason that they are not reasonable, but are willing to act with great brutish force, that they don't consider all the citizens of their countries to be of equal importance, but privilege some over the others, that they are quite willing to strangle all dissent at birth, with whatever means available, including murder, and that they do not care about human rights in general and women's rights in particular, but wish to return to traditional gender hierarchies.

It's hard to figure out how to handle dictators, because what can one do after kowtowing and flattery and so on?   Reason, in all its forms, really is irrelevant.  I think the American politicians are learning that lesson quite rapidly.


* I hope not!  When I'm less tired I feel quite optimistic in the longer-run, though it's still horrible to think that Trump might win another four years of country-wrecking time.  We must work hard to stop that from happening.