BREAKING: A time of turmoil and chaos!


No distraction left behind:
In his latest display of 16-dimensional chess, Steve Bannon is claiming that he actually resigned from the White House last week.

Privately, Bannon is telling friends that he simply decided he wanted to spend less time around Donald Trump's family. Many others may feel the same longing in this time of turmoil and chaos.

With help from folk on many sides, Donald J. Trump has created an amazing amount of turmoil in the twenty-six months since he announced his run for the White House. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, this turmoil has basically come to define what's left of the national discourse.

At times of turmoil, we the people tend to start racing in many directions. Relatively unhelpful ideas are bruited across the land.

Our lack of competent leadership becomes painfully obvious. No distraction is left behind!

Today, we'll be returning to our sprawling campus from our current location in the impossibly chic Hudson Valley. Tomorrow, we'll start exploring this era of turmoil and chaos. Again and again, a voice instructs us to frame it as "Anthills Down."

Easy to be hard: In this morning's New York Times, Charles Blow offers these thoughts about Donald J. Trump. Headline included:
BLOW (8/21/17): Failing All Tests of the Presidency

We are leaderless. America doesn’t have a president. America has a man in the White House holding the spot, and wreaking havoc
as he waits for the day when a real president arrives to replace him.

Donald Trump is many things—most of them despicable—but the leader of a nation he is not. He is not a great man. Hell, he isn’t even a good man.

Donald Trump is a man of flawed character and a moral cavity. He cannot offer moral guidance because he has no moral compass. He is too small to see over his inflated ego.

Trump has personalized the presidency in unprecedented ways—making every battle and every war about his personal feelings. Did the person across the street or around the world say good or bad things about him? Does the media treat him fairly? Is someone in his coterie of corruption outshining him or casting negative light on him?

His interests center on the self; country be damned.
Personally, we don't think it's a great idea to try to determine which public figures are morally "despicable."

But alas! Setting Blow's moral declarations aside, it's amazingly easy to write that same passage about our American press corps, even about our professors. It might go something like this:
BLOW, REVISED: Failing All Tests of Intellectual Leadership

We are journalistically and intellectually leaderless. America doesn’t have a functioning press corps,
or even a helpful academy. America has people in newsrooms holding those spots, and wreaking havoc as they wait for the day when real journalists arrive to replace them...
That would be harsh, but it wouldn't exactly be wrong. Have you read all of Mika's books? The problems with our broken discourse extend well beyond Donald J. Trump.

We've entered a time of general turmoil and chaos. Tomorrow, we'll start exploring the era the savants now refer to as "Anthills Down."


  1. Those who talk about politicians as 'leaders' and 'great men' really do sound a lor like mid-20th century fascists.

    1. They should at least be held to legal and ethical standards, no? Perhaps to a higher degree than average citizens...

    2. Nah. A lot of them are lawyers (Obama, Clinton), which usually means: no detectable sign of ethics whatsoever. Politicians are similar to trial lawyers, imo; people engaged in adversarial disputes. The average citizen might believe that lying is unethical; for a politician it's the standard operating procedure.

    3. That's a canard. Lawyers on the whole are more honest and ethical than the public at large. It's also a juvenile cliché about pols. They do have to get elected. If they were completely honest, they'd never get elected - the truth hurts. "No detectible sign of ethics whatsoever" - that's hyperbole, except perhaps for our present POTUS, for whom you are a sophistical apologist.

    4. detectable sign of ethics whatsoever.

      The Office of Government Ethics just shared an astonishing measure, above, of public alarm over President Trump's potential conflicts of interest.

      The OGE works to identify and avoid conflicts of interest among the members of the executive branch. The ascension of Trump, a wealthy executive with his own sprawling business empire, to the White House has created a challenge for the ethicists and lawyers tasked with keeping track of all the president's entanglements.

      Among other things, Trump has

      •Refused to release his tax returns

      •Refused to completely divest from his businesses

      •Secretly issued ethics waivers to some staffers

      •Traveled to his private resort at taxpayer expense numerous times

      And when it comes to potential ethics violations, those are just the tip of the iceberg.

      The OGE's numbers in the chart above suggest that many voters are deeply concerned about these issues. During the two fiscal quarters covering Barack Obama's first election and inauguration (October 2008 to March 2009), the OGE fielded 733 inquires from the public.

      By contrast, during the comparable period for the Trump administration (October 2016 to March 2017), the office has received 39,105 inquires -- an increase of roughly 5,200 percent.


      While the White House has dismissed ethics concerns, saying that legally speaking it's impossible for a president to have conflict of interest and claiming that the public doesn't care, this past weekend saw widespread public protests calling on the president to release his tax returns.

      Trump responded by alleging, without evidence, that the rallies were paid for by some unknown third party.

      A tRump supporter talking about "ethics"! Bwahahahaha!!!!

    5. "It's also a juvenile cliché about pols. They do have to get elected. If they were completely honest, they'd never get elected - the truth hurts"

      It's odd that you first call it 'juvenile cliche', and then give a perfectly logical explanation why what I said is true and real: lying is their standard operating procedure, they lie as they breathe. What gives?

    6. All people lie, in all professions. That's why what you said is juvenile.

    7. Many of the signers of the Constitution were lawyers. Mao, your view is nihilistic. Lawyers scum, politicians scum...who else...journalists of such thing as honor...just because Trump is a lying scumbag doesn't mean everyone is

    8. Are you the same Greg? Bipolar much?

      As for Clinton, Obama, and other scumbags (to borrow your term), surely it's a matter of perception? To me, they are indistinguishable from the rest of politicians: war-mongers and bunksters' minions, with no ethics whatsoever.

      If they had any ethics, how would they get elevated this high? It takes a whole bunch of money, y'know. And those who give money want services and no ethics.

    9. "o me, they are indistinguishable from the rest of politicians: war-mongers and bunksters' minions, with no ethics whatsoever."

      Unlike the war-mongering, in-the-bag-for-Wall Street Donald J. Trump, who would rather let the people suffer than raise money from the elites to help them.
      Bi-polar much?

    10. Let's not call Mao "bi-polar".
      It's obvious from Mao's posts here that war-mongering politicians with ties to Wall Street really, really bothers him, if the politician is a Democrat, and not a Republican.

  2. Of interest for Bob?

  3. It isn't the role of professors to provide leadership of any kind. Their role is to create and disseminate new knowledge.

  4. Charles Blow is listed as an Op-Ed columnist. "Op" meaning "opinion."

  5. "The Responsibility of Intellectuals"

    1. Chomsky has an opinion!

      Intellectuals are suposed to find and speak truth.

    2. "Intellectuals" disagree about the "truth". Their assessments sometimes support their political views. Right leaning "intellectuals" find Trump praise-worthy...

  6. Corby, you seem dismissive of Chomsky's opinions, despite the fact that they're grounded in deep historical knowledge.

    In the case of Chomsky, he supports political views if they support his humanist principles. Politics, especially in this modern age, have usually been divorced from humanist ethics - but not always.

    That's what we need to strive for in our politics as well as discourse. I think that's what Chomsky and Bod are trying to do, though it does often seem that they're tilting at windmills.


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  8. Obviously, in normal times deciding which of our leaders is morally despicable is not a good idea. Bob points out that these are not normal times, but retreats to his same old frameworks. Because he can't not lecture liberals, it's the only thing that makes him happy.

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