What does "insanity" look like?

FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 2022

It may look something like this: Unless you read the paper on-line—more on that below—the New York Times offered a lengthy report yesterday about Donald J. Trump's road to January 6.

In print editions, the lengthy report was promoted on page A1 through the use of seven photos. Inside the paper, it consumed the entirety of four pages (A12 - A15), appearing beneath this headline:

Inside Trump's Battle to Stay in Office

How crazy were Donald J. Trump and his inner circle? You're asking an awkward but fairly obvious question! 

What follows isn't exactly new. But according to the report in the Times, he and they were often as crazy as this:

FEUER ET AL. (6/9/22): It was Dec. 17, 2020, three days after electors in state capitols across the country cast their votes in the Electoral College to formally confirm that Mr. Biden had been elected the 46th president of the United States. Under ordinary circumstances, that would have been accepted as the end of the election.

But appearing on Newsmax, the conservative news channel, [Michael] Flynn, the onetime national security adviser, had other ideas.

Mr. Trump, he said, “could immediately on his order seize every single” voting machine in the country.

“He could also order, within the swing states, if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election in each of those states,” said Mr. Flynn, whose pardon for lying to F.B.I. agents investigating his ties to Russia had been issued less than a month earlier.

“It’s not unprecedented,” he said, adding that while he was not advocating the use of martial law, it had been used dozens of times in American history.

A day later, Mr. Flynn was in the Oval Office, pressing his case directly to the president—an extraordinary episode that underscores how Mr. Trump was willing to at least consider steps associated with autocracies.

Throughout Mr. Trump’s presidency, informal advisers and allies used their television appearances to try to bring his attention to outlandish claims and influence how he used his power. Often, a group of aides inside the White House worked to keep him from pursuing those ideas.

But as Mr. Trump listened less and less to his staff, he proved receptive to the ideas put forth by Mr. Flynn. On the evening of Dec. 18, 2020, Mr. Flynn, [Sidney] Powell and others joined Mr. Trump in the Oval Office, armed with draft executive orders that they wanted him to sign—based in part on the baseless conspiracy theories about voting machine fraud promoted by Mr. Waldron.

What ensued was among the most heated clashes of Mr. Trump’s presidency, one in which he weighed the viability of employing his commander-in-chief powers to baldly political ends: his own survival in office. For hours, first in the Oval Office and later in the White House residence, Mr. Trump openly entertained ideas from the fringes of politics, even as appalled White House aides maneuvered furiously to try to head off a decision to act on them.

The report continues from there. According to the Times, Flynn and Powell were so remarkably crazy this day that the reliably crazy Rudy Giuliani was forced to come in to argue against their position.

As noted, the Times report continues (at great length) from there. Yesterday, people who read the Times online may have missed the lengthy report. 

Inexplicably, the gigantic report was somehow omitted from the New York Times' "Today's Paper" site. Every report in yesterday's paper was listed—except for the longest and most consequential report. If you read yesterday's Times by scrolling through the "Today's Paper" site, you wouldn't have known that the report had appeared in the paper at all.

As of today, this giant report is still absent from the listings for yesterday's New York Times. With that point noted, let's return to the question of what "insanity" may look like.

Within the limited intellectual realm of our own failing tribe, our tribunes have enjoyed describing Trump as a liar. 

The possibility that Trump is some version of insane has almost wholly been set the side. It's easier, and more fun, to tell the simpler, less complex story, when you remember to link to your report on the story at all.

Flynn, Powell and Giuliani were constant sources of crazy ideas. At some point, a fairly obvious question arises:

To what extent can Donald J. Trump separate reality from what is insane?

At this site, we aren't qualified to discuss such questions. Especially on cable news, but elsewhere within the upper-end press, it's been easier not to wonder or ask about such matters at all.

Our failing discourse tends to be like that. It's simplified all the way down.


  1. Jeez, dear Bob. Your tribe's smartest, the most mentally capable man known as Mafia Joe is the president. Your tribe also controls the congress and the senate.

    Obviously, the country is flourishing. Everyone is happy beyond your wildest imagination. Like never before. Approval rating are through the roof!

    It's practically a paradise on earth! Paradise, we tell ya.

    Enjoy, dear Bob. Enjoy! What do you care about a few crazies, eh?

  2. "Within the limited intellectual realm of our own failing tribe, our tribunes have enjoyed describing Trump as a liar.

    The possibility that Trump is some version of insane has almost wholly been set the side. "

    You cannot call Trump crazy when he is surrounded by people with equally crazy, self-serving, criminal ideas. At the point that several people are sharing in a set of beliefs, they are not considered crazy (to the extent that colloquial, derogatory term has any meaning at all).

    Somerby seems to be obsessed with the idea that Trump must be crazy, but the term can be applied to anyone you want to disparage, because it is not a technical term, not a medical term, not any kind of descriptor other than to connote disapproval and social deviance -- but is the kind of craziness Trump displays really that different from so many others on the right? Trump didn't even originate these ideas -- they are described as being fed to him. He certainly didn't invent birtherism, his entree to right-wing politics. He has eagerly grasped ideas that serve his personal interests and greed. That doesn't make him crazy. It makes him venal.

    But why is Somerby pushing this idea so hard? It doesn't fit Trump's behavior and it certainly won't excuse his crimes. Is Somerby perhaps hoping to argue that Trump's followers are to be excused too? Or does he think Trump's accusers will back off if Somerby can generate empathy for him? I don't see that happening.

    Note that Somerby never actually makes much of a case for Trump's insanity. He just asserts it and then claims we owe him some lenience. Nope. That isn't going to fly, Not until Trump brings back all the gifts he stole from the white house.

  3. "Especially on cable news, but elsewhere within the upper-end press, it's been easier not to wonder or ask about such matters at all."

    Somerby doesn't really think Trump is crazy. He just wants to beat up the press for not considering the idea. But it would look like real partisanship and bias if the press did seriously call Trump crazy, even though every sane person recognizes that Trump has been using some pretty wild lies and justifications for his attempts to steal power.

  4. What does insanity look like? There are plenty of excellent films, including documentaries, showing us what actual mental illness is like. None of them resemble Trump.

    The Definition of Insanity (PBS)

    What is it like to have schizophrenia?

    A Day in the Life of Depression

    OCD Through my Eyes

    This is what mental illness is like. This is not what Trump is like.

  5. “The possibility that Trump is some version of insane has almost wholly been set the side. It's easier, and more fun, to tell the simpler, less complex story”

    On what planet is insanity the more complex explanation for a person’s behavior?

    That actually tends to smooth out the rough edges, taking inconvenient and complex things like motive, intent, and purpose and rendering them moot.

  6. Is Somerby prepared to call Ginni Thomas crazy? It is easy to pick on Guiliani, but what about Eastman? Kevin McCarthy has refused to say whether Trump lost or not. Is he crazy too? Is Somerby prepared to call most of the right-wing establishment crazy? Because that is what he would have to do in order to convince people that Trump is crazy, since they not only hold the same views but take them whole steps further.

    But why use a word like crazy at all? Why not use the words that fit, such as "wrong" and "self-serving" and "dishonest" and "conniving"? Why not the word "criminal"?

    1. Because the right word is "crazy." Fanatics willing to fall on their swords.

    2. Except it isn’t the right word and it demeans those who are mentally ill.

    3. Take it further, FDR. What difference is it supposed to make to call Trump “crazy”? He and his followers (the entire GOP really) are trying to take power by taking away the vote by various unlawful/unethical schemes. Is that “crazy?” If so, does using that word change how to handle them? You know where Somerby takes it…we should have “pity” on Trump. Does that make any sense to you? Does that stop the Republican schemes?

    4. The GOP has been crazy since Joe McCarthy.

    5. For a crazy group of people they have accomplished quite a bit by long-term strategy. Doesn’t sound crazy at all (as in insane or mentally ill, as Somerby is using it).

  7. Here is a reaction from Bocha Blue at Palmer Report:

    "There were certain things that are just fact, and one of them is January 6 was a coordinated and planned event coordinated and planned by traitors, by people who are not true Americans and who don’t give a damn about America and all of our freedoms and independence.

    Will people be convinced? I think some will. There were many moderates watching and even some Republicans. I say this because of the reaction on social media. I will give a couple of examples.

    “He(Trump) he knew he f#### knew all along!”

    “My dad called me. He’s a Fox News watcher. He was in shock, saying I had never heard about any of this. I felt like saying to him, of course, you did. Fox isn’t going to tell you any of this.”

    “Oh my, have I been clued out this year? I didn’t know anything.”

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that everybody will be convinced. Some people hate America and us and the rule of law because they’re hateful, anti-American lawless assholes. And Maga is still going to maga. That will not change.

    Most of the people in the country however care. They’re just not tuned in regularly. We saw a general outline of Trump’s last stand in act one. It was a frantic and clumsily put-together plan that would never have worked. It was the last stand of a doomed traitor who knew he was powerless."

  8. By now, it’s pretty hard to argue Bob isn’t
    out of his fucking mind himself.

    1. You are an idiot fanatic, and as sick as any Trump supporter.

  9. I don't see Trump as any different from Reagan and Bush family. All were willing to believe their version of reality, and there's hell to pay if you dare to disagree.

    1. Of course he is different. Reducing the differences trivializes Trump’s crimes.

    2. Both Reagan & Bush cared what others thought & worried about public opinion. Trump doesn’t care except to seek adulation, no matter who it comes from.

    3. He cares about Hispanics. He loves them.

  10. The word "entertained" is spin. Who knows just what it means. The only FACT is the Trump REJECTED the dangerous, nutso proposals.

    1. No, people around him refused to carry them out or threatened to resign.

    2. Whose nutso proposal was this?

      "So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state," Trump said.


    3. Actually, to "openly entertain ideas from the fringes of politics" is just what the doctor ordered, in our humble opinion.

      Because in liberal zombie-speak "fringes of politics" is everything outside the bullshit propagated by war-mongering globalist establishment.

  11. But one thing we can all agree on is that Thursday night represented the end of an y talk of gun control or bans on assault weapons. The children of Uvalde that you pretend so much to care about are now officially put out of the conversation and accordingly, out of your thoughts. Totally gone from your thoughts and any public conversation. That issue is officially over and put back on the shelf until the next deadly shooting and subsequent empty rhetoric and finger pointing and pretending to care about dead people only because they extend your political point of view.

    1. The 45 seconds between talking about it too soon, and it being old news has expired.
      Better luck next time.