THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2020
But what about us Over Here?: Anthropologically speaking, this has become a remarkable time for the study of human mental dysfunction.
In recent years, our species' mental dysfunction has been on wide display. In the past few days, the New York Times has done an excellent job chronicling the current behaviors which speak to this age-old problem.
What's the current state of this mental dysfunction? Consider this manifestation of The Crazy, as reported today:
ALBA AND FRENKEL (12/17/20): Sidney Powell, a lawyer who was part of President Trump’s legal team, spread a conspiracy theory last month about election fraud. For days, she claimed that she would “release the Kraken” by showing voluminous evidence that Mr. Trump had won the election by a landslide.
But after her assertions were widely derided and failed to gain legal traction, Ms. Powell started talking about a new topic. On Dec. 4, she posted a link on Twitter with misinformation that said that the population would be split into the vaccinated and the unvaccinated and that “big government” could surveil those who were unvaccinated.
“NO WAY #America,” Ms. Powell wrote in the tweet, which collected 22,600 shares and 51,000 likes. “This is more authoritarian communist control imported straight from #China.” She then tagged Mr. Trump and the former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn—both of whom she had represented—and other prominent right-wing figures to highlight the post.
As President Reagan might have said, there she went again! Now the emergence of Covid vaccines was said to represent "authoritarian communist control imported straight from China!"
As their report continues, Alba and Frenkel describe additional promulgation of The Crazy by the barrister Powell. Is Powell some version of "mentally ill?" While we're at it, how about Michael Flynn and his business associate son, each of whom seemed to be involved in PizzaGate true belief?
Is the barrister Powell some version of "mentally ill?" By any standard of rationality, that same question ought to be asked about the reigning commander in chief—but here in Our Town, our leading lights have long since agreed that the question must never be asked.
So it has gone as our nation has slid toward the sea. To a remarkable extent, apparent human mental dysfunction has been on remarkably wide display, even right here in Our Town.
Below, we'll offer a partial list of behaviors observed in Our Town. We'll start by returning to the question we posed in yesterday's report:
How is it possible that anyone would publish such a poorly-reasoned column? We refer to the New York Times column in which Wajahat Ali said we should all give up on the idea of speaking to Those People, the utterly hopeless Trump voters.
Why would anyone publish a column based on the comical reasoning Ali put on display in his column? In truth, such absurd decisions are amazingly common right here in Our Town.
For today, we want to take a quick look at the first thing we read today. It was written by someone who's perfectly competent. This may explain why the gods briefly laughed at his composition.
The post was written by Jonathan Chait. Eventually, Chait would come close to redeeming himself, but he started off like this:
CHAIT (12/16/20): One of the very few remaining mysteries surrounding Donald Trump—a very simple man prone to blurting out his feelings around the clock in whatever medium he has available—is whether or to what degree he is conscious of his lies.
To what degree is Donald J. Trump "conscious of his lies?" What could Chait possibly mean by that strained construction?
As Chait continues, it seems to us that his meaning becomes quite clear. He's actually asking whether, or to what degree, Trump believes his own crazy misstatements.
Of course, if Trump believes his crazy misstatements, then his misstatements aren't "lies." It's clear that Chait even understands that! Here's the fuller passage:
CHAIT: One of the very few remaining mysteries surrounding Donald Trump—a very simple man prone to blurting out his feelings around the clock in whatever medium he has available—is whether or to what degree he is conscious of his lies.
Trump deceives his audience promiscuously, often on matters he knows full well are not true. (He repeatedly insisted he had “no business with Russia” when he surely knew he was engaged in a lucrative negotiation with Moscow.) But Trump also appears at times to genuinely convince himself of his own lies, which makes them no longer lies.
Is he a sociopathic liar? Delusional? Both?
A point in favor of “delusional” comes via CNN, which reports that Trump not only insists he actually won the 2020 election but has maintained at times that he will not vacate the premises on January 20...
It's fairly clear that Chait is actually asking whether, or to what extent, Trump believes his own crazy misstatements. As he continues, he says a recent report from CNN suggests that Trump may, in fact, actually believe some of his craziest claims.
Is it possible that Trump believes some of his craziest statements? We know of no obvious way to answer that question.
In a slightly more rational world, carefully selected medical / psychiatric specialists would be asked to assess such questions. Here in Our Town, our journalistic elites have agreed that such consultations must never occur.
In Our Town, that question can't be asked! According to knowledgeable sources, this is one of the many reasons why the gods on Olympus continue to laugh, even at us in Our Town.
According to these sources, why are we laughed at in Our Town? Let us count the reported ways:
In recent weeks, the gods have laughed at our constant claims that we mustn't try to reason with Trump voters.
They've roared at our ridiculous claims that newspapers fawn to Trump voters but never discuss our views.
They've laughed till they've cried about the way, from Obama on down, we've tried to discuss the possible problem with a certain slogan / demand: "Defund the police."
Dating back to 1992, they've howled with delight at the way we slumbered and snored as ludicrous claims were directed at Clinton and Clinton and also at Candidate Gore.
(The claim that Hillary used cocaine syringes as White House Christmas decorations is said to have been a special favorite. Also, all the murders the Clintons committed! Yes, that includes Vince Foster!)
They laugh at the ways we now discuss, or pretend to discuss, issues of race and gender. Also, at the ways we now refuse to discuss anything else, after decades of averting our gaze from such areas of concern.
At the ways we invent phony facts when we conduct such discussions. At the way these misstatements may their way from our professors down to our gullible scribes.
Our discussions of these failings will continue in the next few days. Today, concerning Chait's construction, we will offer this:
Chait is suggesting that Trump may believe some of his craziest statements. He even says this, in slightly disguised fashion:
If Trump believes his crazy statements. that "makes them no longer lies!"
It's perfectly clear that Chait understands the logic of this bone-simple matter. But here in Our Town, we have come to dearly love the deeply pleasing word, "lies."
Almost surely, that explains Chait's jumbled presentation of a very simple question. How the gods on Olympus laugh when they see our childish behavior—when they see comical columns like the one we reviewed yesterday.
Tomorrow, we'll return to that comical column, and we'll continue from there. Sadly, the leading newspaper in Our Town decided to put it in print.
Sidney Powell seems to be nuts. The commander seems deeply disordered too.
Mental dysfunction seems to be quite widespread. What's up with us Over Here?
Tomorrow: The logic of speaking to others