The schmendrick of all schmendricks.

Woodward evidently realized that he was dealing with a chump, a sucker, a patsy, a galoot -- the schmendrick of all schmendricks.

For what it's worth, I believe that there is much less than meets the eye to the most headline-grabbing quote in Rage: "I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."

As recorded, that reads like a cold-blooded confession that Trump intentionally concealed deadly knowledge at a time -- February and March -- when that knowledge could have saved lives. But you can reach that conclusion only if you believe that Trump knows things the way fully rational people know them: as statements about reality that exist independently from the speaker. Trump's mind does not work that way. He does not observe the world and then use words to describe it. He speaks the words he wishes you to believe, and then trusts the world to conform to his wishes. [...]

But despite the hashtag #TrumpKnew, Trump did not actually know anything. He said things to meet the need of the fleeting moment.

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39 Responses:

  1. Jeffrey L Bell says:

    Who said "It only looks like a Deep State if you are standing in a shallow presidency"

  2. Clambino says:

    Don't let Fauci off the hook.

  3. Dave says:

    The really, really sad thing is that even though I didn't vote for him last time, and I consider him to be clearly the worst president in US history I'm still undecided as to who to vote for. I keep hoping someone says "Just Kidding! Here's our real candidate!"

    • Dude says:

      Yyyy--no. We went through this whole "what's-the-difference-between-Trump-and-the-other-candidate" shit four years ago. (Just look at the comments for this old jwz blog post.) Remember how that turned out?

      Sure you do. It's the point of this blog entry, all the "Previously" posts beneath it, and the four-year clusterfuck of democracy that resulted in the Bay Area living in a literal red-sky Hellscape.

      There's no plausible deniability here; no "Don't blame me; I voted for Kodos" excuses. If you vote for Trump or choose not to vote at all, then yes: the problems of this country are your fault.

      2020: I’m stranded in a sundown town and it’s dusk. Voting for Biden/Harris is me hot-wiring the only car available. It’s janky, I’ve never driven a stick-shift before AND the radio is broken. But I’m gonna make it work if that’s what it takes to get somewhere safer.
      -- Saeed Jones (@theferocity) August 21, 2020

      • jboy says:

        TIL a new phrase: sundown town

        (forgive me, I'm not from around here)

        • jwz says:

          It is the plot of the first episode of Lovecraft Country, which you should watch.

          In the grand new tradition of Watchmen of making black people shake their heads at white people saying, "Wait, that really happened?"

          • jboy says:

            OK OK, I really will watch Lovecraft Country ep 1. Obtaining it now.

          • Dude says:

            I'm reminded of the lyrics of the song "Sole Brother" from Passing Strange, which is about a Black teen in the 1970s. In the song, he imagines being the lead of a punk band (The Scareotypes) to mock an imaginary white audience:

            So, Roots blew your mind?/
            You didn't know it was that bad?/
            I learned that shit in 3rd grade, in Miss Maderas's class...

            I honestly go back-and-forth on what's worse: the whites (willfully) ignorant of racism or those who insist insist things were better for Blacks under slavery.

          • Nick Lamb says:

            When I watched the first episode of Watchmen (after a friend persuaded me it's actually good like 2-3 weeks in) I was like OK, I knew about Tulsa, but surely they didn't have a fucking aeroplane right? That's got to be just the effects people going over the top? Nope.

            It's a rare treat when somebody takes an opportunity as big as that (Watchmen is about masks, and there are lots of things worth saying about masks but there are also plenty of crap stories you could tell with that background) and actually doesn't just disappoint the hell out of me. And I was not set up to expect Lindelof to knock it out of the park. The soundtrack is just icing.

      • tfb says:

        I find it seriously hard to understand people not knowing which way to vote: there are two candidates, of whom one is a fascist and the other isn't. Since the other candidate is also not a socialist, who seem to frighten Americans unduly, the decision is surely not hard?

        That being said: the whole red-sky hellscape thing was probably coming anyway: climate works on quite long timescales, which is why we are failing so utterly to fix it.

        • Dude says:

          To the former point: Trump supporters are a cult. Not hyperbolically, literally. When they say "I would crawl through broken glass to vote for Trump", then there's no doubt of it. Those trying to do the "both sides are the same shit" are either woefully ignorant or willingly trying to do a Pontius Pilate-esque hand-washing of any responsibility for the role they play in their country's democracy.

          To the latter point: by that logic, Hurrican Katrina would have happened with or without Dubya. That doesn't change the fact that it happened on the watch of an election-stealing Republican PotUS whose reaction to the disaster was as wrong as one could fucking be. In both cases, said Republican could should have ordered more support (and both were responsible to the cutting of federal funds that left the damaged area unprepared leading up to the disaster).

          The only real difference is for Katrina, Dubya stuck to the "Aww, too bad" tragedy angle, whereas Trump - being walking excrement - has gone with the "Fuck you, California!" approach.

          • Nick Lamb says:

            Only some of the Trump supporters are a cult. The Believers certainly exhibit all the expected properties of a cult. That's true for both QAnon and the Evangelicals. The Believers are the biggest danger if Trump loses narrowly because of how cults behave when confronted with unpalatable reality. Seems like the prophecy isn't coming true? Well then I'm going to go out with this AR15 and I'm going to make it come true.

            But Trump got millions of non-Believer votes in 2016. A big faction that matters and doesn't consist of Believers is the big group of white Americans for whom priority #1 is the suffering of black and brown people. They're heroin for the modern Republican Party, it's clearly a terrible idea to court these people, you know nothing good can come of it, but it's addictive. You can treat this group really badly, just terribly, so long as they can see black and brown people getting it even worse.

            Trump did what this group wanted to see. They weren't expecting anything good per se, cheaper healthcare, better pay, anything like that - so Trump's inability to deliver any clear benefits was par for the course. But what they wanted to see was black and brown people suffering, getting treated like dirt. These groups don't care about pedophile conspiracies and Jesus showing up in person to thank Trump voters, they just want to see more lynchings and Trump did OK on that score, they'll turn out for him again.

            • Dude says:

              You're using "cult" as a specific identifier of religious affiliation. The Cult of Trump is by no means limited to the Religious Right.

              It's anyone and everyone pledging loyalty to the red hat. In other words, it's the entire Republican party.

              The Religious Right doesn't help, but the whole party is a cult.

              • Nick Lamb says:

                I'm distinguishing between Believers, some of whom wouldn't characterize themselves as religious, and those for whom Trump's actual policy actions are what they wanted.

                In some sense "Treat black people worse" is an ordinary political desire, no different from "Legalize marijuana" or "Build more freeways". It's repugnant, but it's policy.

                I don't anticipate the Democratic Party suddenly deciding it wants to attract voters on that basis, but it's different from "Donald Trump is the hero leader of a secret conspiracy to overthrow the mask-wearing pedophiles that control the universe" because it's a policy position they could adopt rather than just a free floating belief about the world.

                Because of the Establishment Clause and its subsequent interpretation, religion takes on a weird role in American society that it ironically doesn't have in many places with an established Church, but Belief isn't any different just because of the label.

                • Dude says:

                  None of that makes MAGA-heads any less of a cult, religious affiliation or not. This is what the Republican party has been leading to since Dubya, since even Sarah Palin overshadowed her running mate. I don't use the term "alt-Right" because this isn't on the fringes, this is now mainstream conservatism.

                  Call them what they are: masses who blindly and unwaveringly following a figurehead. That is a cult.

            • K J says:

              The cleanest version I've seen of it: these supporters don't know what winning feels like, but they know what losing is, and if the other guy is losing, they figure they must be winning.

          • tfb says:

            I think you're right that support has become a cult, in the sense that it's lost all touch with reality.

            For the second point, I agree. What I meant was that dealing with the underlying thing that is making these events more frequent and serious (human-driven climate change) takes longer than a term, so the event would have happened (or maybe would not, the events themselves are only made statistically more or less likely by changes to the climate, it doesn't tell you if one will happen on a given week).

            You are completely right that the response to them would be different, and that that response is a big deal in terms of the human cost of the events. Sorry if I gave the impression that I didn't think that.

            • Dude says:

              Except that Trump is responsible for the natural disaster because his EPA cuts over the last four years left response organisations unprepared for the disaster and the environmental damage caused by the US exacerbated the impact.

              Neither Trump nor Dubya is "free" of their respective disasters, be it environmentally or executively.

              • tfb says:

                I think we may be arguing at cross-purposes. I agree about the unpreparedness of response people and this clearly being on his watch.

                For climate specifically I claim (and I worked on climate, so ...) that the timescales are long enough that the change he's caused will not be severe, yet. This doesn't let him off the hook: doing nothing (or doing less than nothing) is unforgivable, it just won't have made this event much worse. The long-term behaviour of his party certainly will have made it worse, however. The whole problem with climate is that it's this long-term thing which is why we're failing so badly to deal with it: humans don't do long-term.

                There are likely other environmental things (paving large areas, cutting down lots of trees, damaging water systems, relaxing planning controls) which could have made the impact worse and be directly his fault. I don't know enough about these particular events to know.

                In any case this is not meant as a defence of Trump, still less of his policies on climate which are appalling.

        • thielges says:

          I did a stint registering voters within a very liberal group. While it was successful with hundreds of new voters registered, I encountered a surprising large amount of fervently apathetic people. They generally claimed that American democracy was a sham and voting just perpetuated that false structure. After the first two or three I gave up on the “so what to you propose instead and how are you going to accomplish that?” discussion because it was clearly a waste of time with these meatrolls. I got a whiff that they felt they would assume part of the blame for government’s wrongs by voting. So stay at home on Election Day and remain untainted.

          Hopefully the last Presidential election has clarified the hazard of throwing your vote away. Not all of these people will cast a ballot but hopefully some will and continue to engage in democracy going forward.

      • Dave says:

        Climate change is slow. The Trump Hellscape is still in your future. Your current weather is brought to you by previous adminstrations and the state of California which apparently did not know climate change would happen.

        The problem with the car analogy is we already took a ride on the Biden bus before its engine seized. It drove around in a circle for 8 years and dropped us off pretty much where we started.

        I really would like a reason to vote for Biden but all I'm hearing is "he really loves us, he won't beat us this time." I'm leaning toward voting my conscience and letting the chips fall where they may. If that means things have to get worse so they can get better then I guess I'm OK with that.

        • jwz says:

          You "voting your conscience" means there's a very real chance that my friends will end up in CAMPS.

          Fuck you.

        • Dude says:

          Your take on the car analogy falls apart due to 1 - Biden had no executive power as VP (that position is one of "bench-warmer", not policy-maker... unless you're Dick Cheney), and 2 - the Obama Admin. was the one that joined the Paris Agreement, took the most active part in Kyoto, put more than 100 new environmental policies into effect - all 100 of which Trump pulled out of for no other reason than than they were done by Obama.

          And you say

          I really would like a reason to vote for Biden...

          The one and only person stopping you from doing that is you. Lying to yourself that he's no different than Trump is the same as climate-deniers and anti-vaxxers denying equally proven facts to the contrary. And, just like anti-vaxxers, you saying "I need to go with my conscience with this one" is bullshit because in both cases your selfishness is putting everyone else in danger.

          It's the democratic equivalent of walking into Target without a mask, because " 'Murica!!!!" You think your conscience is stopping you from voting for Biden? Trump is destroying mailboxes. Let that fucker win and see what really stops you from voting in the third term he seriously thinks he's entitled to have.

          • margaret says:

            i'm curious what her sign will say when she is unable to get birth-control or health insurance.

            • dzm says:


              CANCER SCHMANCER

              I SPIT IN YOUR FOOD. ENJOY

              These all seem viable.

              • Jim says:

                "Why is my morning after pill so expensive when my Governor wouldn't expand Medicaid into the means-tested free public option?"

            • Dude says:

              I imagine it'll be something like what we heard from the MAGA parasites who had their own booth at SF Pride last year (when we could actually walk around other people) or something akin to the bullshit justification used in this Jessica Valenti piece:

              For white women, like the 53 percent who voted for Trump, it means feeling confident that somehow the patriarchy—which diminishes and discriminates against people of color, immigrants, and the LGBT community—will not also come after you.


              Consider anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly, widely credited with stopping the ratification of Equal Rights Amendment in the late 1970s. She proclaimed that the movement for gender equality was “a fight with human nature” and that women didn’t need any more rights than they already had. The arguments she made decades ago paved the way for conservative beliefs on women and sexual assault in the 21st century: She insisted that “virtuous women” aren’t sexually harassed and that there's no such thing as marital rape—victim-blaming that’s still rampant today. She opposed the ERA partially on the grounds that bathrooms would have to be unisex, which she claimed would put women in sexual danger, the same faulty argument now used to discriminate against trans people. Incredibly, Schlafly's work also focused on telling women that they...shouldn't work. She preached that a woman's place was in the home, while she herself enjoyed a successful and lucrative career as a writer and speaker who traveled the world.

              So... yeah... basically that, but with a red hat.

            • Clambino says:

              She'll go to the well funded by private donations Planned Parenthood for her birth control and find one of the many well funded clinics just for womens healthcare.

            • MattyJ says:

              I'm curious why she has a bandana around her neck.

        • MattyJ says:

          I don't recall that Biden has previously been President. What the hell are you talking about?

          Personally, I'm voting for Kamala, if you catch my drift. You should too if that makes it easier.

        • tfb says:

          So let's just ignore the whole fascist thing, right? After all, things can get better from fascists like they did before, and who really cares if a few million people end up in ovens? Vote your disgusting 'conscience', vote for Trump and gassing people, why not? In 80 years things will be fine, right, and they won't gas you or your vile friends I'm sure.

          But this is wrong: things won't actually get better because the past isn't a guide to the future. If we do not do something really fucking serious, really fucking soon about climate change then we'll likely end up the other side of some path-dependency like the Greenland ice-sheet going away and nothing we can do (including magically sucking all the CO2 out of the atmosphere) will get us back for thousands or tens of thousands of years. Most humans will die: civilisation will certainly die.

      • Aristotle says:

        It’s not “what’s the difference”.

        The options on the table are Trump and the Republicans on one hand and the people who got America into the Iraq war and who created much of the modern reason for BLM in the first place on the other hand. (Also, if I may bring that up (considering the audience on this site), Biden has a horrible track record on online freedom and the copyright mafia and all that kind of thing.)

        Don’t be surprised that people are put out by being asked to vote for all of that in order to vote against Trump. The only options on the ballot are “toxic” vs “radioactive”.

        And if Democrats win, you know they won’t understand that as a vote against Trump. They’ll learn all the wrong lessons from it. (They have already spectacularly failed to learn their lesson from Hillary’s loss.) Because of that, and because there’s no actual fix-the-problems option on the table, voting Biden means voting for a backlash to the other side in a term or two, like the one that Trump rode into office after Obama. And even if Trump vanishes, the Republican party won’t. Pence 2024? Or someone even worse?

        And Trump, though scary as commander in chief in ways that a conventional military-industrial-complex candidate wouldn’t be, has shown himself quite reluctant to do the military-industrial complex’s bidding. Much as it pains me to say so, that is one thing the Trump presidency has spared us. In retrospect it seems beyond clear that Hillary would have launched another war or two, and I’m glad her loss kept that from happening at least. Voting Biden means giving up on that.

        Of course voting for Trump is out of the question. But voting for this Democratic ticket is damned hard to stomach too, and on the matter of foreign wars, Trump is… a better choice. I can’t believe I’m saying that at all, even if it’s only on this one point, but tell me that’s wrong. And I didn’t think it was possible to make the ticket worse after nominating Biden… until they picked Harris as VP. I groaned out loud when I read the news. If you’ve gone out on the streets protesting, or you support the cause in general at all, well, your options on the ballot are now to vote either against the cause or against the cause. Because fuck you.

        What you should be is furious at the fucking Democrats for having the kind of genius to manage to turn what should have been a complete gimme, an absolutely blink-of-an-eye no-brainer, into a legitimately difficult choice, at least emotionally.

        Of course, that has been Democratic party MO since Clinton, at the least. “Who’re you gonna vote for, the Republicans? What? No, you can’t have any third parties. Them or us, and shame on you if you protest-vote against us or stay home. Even though we are going use this setup to screw everyone who voted for us, and you know that, and we know you know that, and you know we know that, but that’s what you get for being little people. Fuck you, vote for us, and shame on you if you don’t.”

        Only, of course, this time, with Trump and this new bunch of Republicans, the other side is so radioactively harmful that the Dems have room to take this game to entirely new depths.

        America is fucked.

        People are being given a vote only in whether that should happen ASAP or merely soonish. Of course they’re going to struggle to answer that. Even if it’s clear which of those two options one should pick.

        • Dude says:

          I stopped reading this word-vomit after the first paragraph where you tried to blame Dems for Dubya's fuck-ups in Iraq.

          Your trying to whitesplain racism to a Black man isn't even worth getting into.

          I'll just wait for Jamie to delete your RWNJ trolling as I go burn a flag, sit during the anthem, and yes, vote for Biden.

          • Aristotle says:

            As well you should, even if you are useless at explaining to people why they should do that even when they find it hard to stomach. And if calling me a RWNJ was an attempt at comedy… actually, you know what, then maybe you should quit your day job – that was hilarious.

    • jwz says:

      More succinctly, if you don't vote for Biden -- and I cannot emphasize this enough -- FUCK YOU.

      You don't have to like him.

      • Clambino says:

        I wish they focused on Harris' background more. If they want to use her race for an extra vote boost I think her Indian/Jamaican lineage is just as interesting as her false ADOS is.

  4. narf says:

    The really, really sad thing is that even though I didn't vote for him last time, and I consider him to be clearly the worst president in US history I'm still undecided as to who to vote for

    I find it seriously hard to understand people not knowing which way to vote: there are two candidates, of whom one is a fascist and the other isn't.

    Don't be an ass. If you consider Trump to be the worst president in history, vote him out. I am a little shocked jwz left your comment up, but yeah... any vote against fascism is needed. If you don't understand that, just.... troll somewhere else.

  5. Nibby says:

    I'm still surprised that people think the president is in power. Here's the only truly ethical person I've ever voted for that office, explaining a little:

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