The Trump Show


“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion,” said Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “but not his own facts.”

No, wait. It was James Schlesinger. In 1973.

We looked it up.

That’s a thing we do, looking it up. You think you know something, but not really, you just heard it somewhere, and maybe you heard it wrong. And maybe sources today aren’t dependably authoritative the way they used to be, but you can use your judgment whether to accept the Wikiquote discussion as sufficient, or follow the links to see whether Schlesinger really was quoted saying that in a Senate Intelligence Committee document.

Ain’t that hard, really. Not if facts matter to you. Not if reality matters to you.

What we’ve been learning lately is how tenuous reality is. Not that we haven’t known this, not that we haven’t seen examples of it forever, but when fantasists gather in sufficient numbers, they can really fuck shit up. They may be living in their own world, but their collective delusion affects the real one we share with them. They can take a whole planet down that way.

One of the great philosophical questions regards the relationship of language to reality. Goes all the way back to Plato. Turns out, there is none. Language is just stories we tell ourselves. Where it does happen to capture reality, well, good for us, we clever monkeys, but there’s nothing inherent about it, nothing about language itself that distinguishes fact from bullshit. You can look it up, but it’s a lot easier to just make it up.

Not long ago, we had a rule about that, not written, but understood. We called it “spin”. You could bullshit all you wanted, but your bullshit needed to be grounded, a fact beneath the feces. You could argue its meaning, its significance, its relevance, but you couldn’t argue its existence. That’s what Moynihan, or Schlesinger, or maybe Bernard Baruch in 1950, was getting at. You can’t deny reality.

Except you can. It’s easy. It’s fun! You can live a lie all your life if you want to, and you have the means. You can invite others to live that lie with you. Maybe it all ends in Kool-Aid — no, wait, Flavor Aid — or maybe the planet melts in your lifetime, but in the long run we’re all dead anyway.

Robin Williams released his album “Reality… What A Concept” in 1979. It was during a formative moment for us, being 20 and all. It was also really fucking funny. The very title is one of the greatest lines ever landed, that you can be such a space cadet that reality is just one option among many.

And the next year, Ronald Reagan made the joke real. Lied through his teeth, on national television no less. Didn’t matter. Ronnie’s happy lies made a better story than Jimmy’s dour truths. Wouldn’t you rather live in a world where the people in charge tell you everything’s fine? Doesn’t matter that it’s not, doesn’t matter that they’re diligently making it worse, it’s still a better story, and really, what’s the difference?

We’ve been living with that reality for forty years, not that our leaders are shameless liars, but that they have vast numbers of followers who swallow the lies whole. What’s different now is that their followers are onto the game as well, that everybody can play, everybody can wield a Sharpie, everybody can just make shit up and laugh off your diligent attempts to set the record straight. It’s all just words, man.

In The Truman Show, Jim Carrey is born into a lie, a fantasy world completely constructed for his life — literally, a TV set, broadcasting 24/7. In the movie, he breaks out to discover the real world beyond, the reality of things as they are.

But the movie is a comic fantasy with a happy ending. Instead we’re living in The Trump Show, where it’s not just Dear Leader whose whims must be cynically accommodated, but millions of people who share those fantasies, who have shut out reality entirely, for whom every fact is fake, every truth is a lie. Trump himself will pass, but they will remain, waiting for the next leader who understands that reality is nothing more than a story we tell ourselves, and all you need to do is tell them a story they want to hear.

They’re not going away. And they’re going to get us all killed.

27 comments:

12:21 am • Sunday • September 8, 2019

Nojo, thank you for saying everything so beautifully that I’m so fucking tired and sad to figure out the words. I just want to stand on the corner of Market Street and Embarcadero and scream on top of my lungs but there are already numerous crazy people doing that many times a day.

10:20 am • Sunday • September 8, 2019

Time for another feel-good Cletus Safari story about all the rural voters who’ve been ruined by Tr666p’s kleptocracy and trade war, and their plan to blow their brains out right after they vote for him again in 2020.

2:02 am • Monday • September 9, 2019

Based on the Trumpites in my family (US Amercian Aunt and Uncle) and at work (immigrant too) is that they live in a glass menagerie of their own making.

Always constantly lying to themselves. Like my aunt and uncle who believe that despite their Korean origins that they’re the elite of US Amercia despite the fact my uncle lost almost everything in a lawsuit. Still rants about how their ambulance chasing son should have gotten into Havhahd Law but didn’t because black people. Not realizing one damn bit that any of their so-called (mostly white) friends didn’t give a shit about them and only their poor Canada City relatives actually helped them out. I am almost at the point where I am ready to demand my money back with interest+inflation.

The Trumper at work got fired last month because he fucked up so badly on some tests that even his powerful connections couldn’t save his dumb ignorant ass. Turns around and pronounced that he got a high paying job at another pharma company, but I laughed over that lie because I have gone through the hiring process there and it takes 6 weeks to hire someone at the job level he claimed he got. More lies and deceptions. Some people excused him because he was just a kid (he’s 28!) and going to learn.

One thing I noticed (not the only one) is that the Trumpers are mad at many of the same forces we lefty/leftyish types are mad at, but they voted for those forces many many many times though.

At least many of us admit when we’re wrong. I have never heard my uncle or immigrant ex-coworker Trumper admit failure.

8:44 am • Monday • September 9, 2019

@ManchuCandidate: You have to hand it to the Ru$$ians for guessing correctly that they could leverage the insatiable greed of Plantation America’s rulers, along with the sinister stupidity, racism, and xenophobia of our worst people, to destroy the United States from the inside.

These dumbfux don’t even care that Emperornazi AntiChrist has no freakin’ clothes or functioning brain cells. They love him cuz his just as hateful, spiteful, and moronic as they are.

1:41 am • Tuesday • September 10, 2019

A million starbursts. Simple Sarah dumbass Palin is single and she wants to (Christian) mingle!

10:35 am • Tuesday • September 10, 2019

@ManchuCandidate: Say a prayer for the blessed Palin children, especially Summit, Avalanche, and Canyonero.

10:44 am • Tuesday • September 10, 2019

And lo, the children whose brains have not been totally fried by a steady diet of booze and pills and dope shall read in the history books that in the month of September, in the year of our Lord 2019, that the Prezinazi AntiChrist proclaimed the wife of a beloved singer to be foul-mouthed, to which she astutely replied that he is, in fact, a “Pussy Ass Bitch.”

This is today’s edition of Great Moments in American History.

1:31 pm • Tuesday • September 10, 2019

Now that John Booshy Moostache has been shitcanned in a suitably humiliating twit, he’ll be spending more time trying to get his family to start WWIII.

10:28 pm • Tuesday • September 10, 2019

Why is Condi Rice on Colbert? (I watch Monday’s episode on Tuesday evening).

@¡Andrew!: Sigh. The entire special on criminal justice reform has been overshadowed by this shitshow.

2:03 pm • Wednesday • September 11, 2019

@SanFranLefty: Someone else reminded me of the wrong note in the Colbert Report finale: Palling around with Kissinger. We’re all in this together!

12:45 am • Thursday • September 12, 2019

I CAN’T DEAL WITH THE NEWS ANYMORE! WHEN I DIDN’T THINK IT COULD GET ANY WORSE, IT CAN AND IT DOES AND WTF? TURN AWAY BAHAMIANS! NYT COMMENTS ARE ALL LIKE, FUCK THE LATIN AMERICAN ASYLUM SEEKERS. NOW WE’RE GOING TO WAREHOUSE HOMELESS PEOPLE IN SOME SECRET FAA FACILITY IN LA?

I AM SMOKING COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF POT AND WATCHING A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW AND DERRY GIRLS UNTIL THIS FUCKING NIGHTMARE ENDS.

Thank you

11:07 am • Thursday • September 12, 2019

@JNOV: I just downloaded the new Margaret Atwood novel, The Testaments, and it’s the feel-good hit of the fall! JK, it’s like 1984 without all the comedy.

I’m about a third of the way through, and it’s quite a compelling novel. Atwood has always had a unique and decisive voice, and the seething rage that she feels over our current toxic dystopia of sexism, insanity, stupidity, and environmental collapse radiates off every page. In that respect, it’s a scathing indictment of our vapid, cruel society. It’s already on top of many lists for best novel of the year, and with good reason.

That said, her sardonic wit and trademark gallows humor provide some surprising levity:

“A momentary psychotic break,” [Aunt Lydia] said. “The strain of being in a strange and debilitating environment, such as Canada, can have that effect.”

“Gilead has a long-standing problem: for God’s kingdom on earth, it’s had an embarrassingly high emigration rate.”

“A law degree and a uterus: a lethal combination.”

11:38 am • Thursday • September 12, 2019

@¡Andrew!: <3 You always talk me down. Thank you Dear One.

Fresh Air reviewed the novel. It's on my list of books to download from the libraries. I have accounts with Seattle, King County, and Timberland. Put holds at all three shortens the wait. <– that's a Pro Tip right there. I can't afford books, and I can enlarge the text (yeah, there goes the near vision, even with glasses).

There's a new book about MK-Ultra, "The Poisoner in Chief" (?) I'm waiting for the digital edition.

I've also been reading about spies and just evil shit we've done.

Then I'll read a palate cleanser. I never finished Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and I am enjoying the hell out of Ursla K. Le Guin. Philip Dick went super odd and boring, so I'm done with him.

I'll do damn near anything to escape this shit.

Oh – much ducks (two) are laying, and I’ve begun to process the drakes. I have five Swedish Blue and five Swedish Black ducklings arriving later this month.

I have to distract myself, and hauling around five-gallon buckets of water, 50# bales of straw and 50# feed bags has made me strong like bull.

Ugh work.

8:47 pm • Thursday • September 12, 2019

YAZZZZZZZZ! Kamala gets the hard questions!

9:51 pm • Thursday • September 12, 2019

Uncle Joe looks like the Crypt Keeper

5:28 pm • Friday • September 13, 2019

I saw a rapist take a shit on Geary Street to the applause of LIBBY! enablers which is exactly why the SEC should be disbanded and Social Security should be handed over to a guy from Kazakhstan who TRUMP! can actually trust!

MAGA! DABA! DOO!

10:15 pm • Friday • September 13, 2019

@JNOV: You are a genius. I was trying to think of something to fix my funk. The Black Lady Sketch Show is perfect.
Now I just have get HBO.

also, HEY GIRL I’VE MISSED YOU.

4:28 pm • Saturday • September 14, 2019

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: All my love to you!

Yeah – it’s way past time for a show like this. The inside jokes aren’t too insidery – most of the comedy is universally funny. There’s usually one sketch per episode where I think, “That’s my crazy ass family!”

4:37 pm • Saturday • September 14, 2019

@ManchuCandidate: Someone should write a song about people voting against their own self-interests. We keep thinking people will understand, finally, that they are fucking themselves at the ballot box.

“Self-interest rightly understood” is a joke as well.

And the “Order! Order! OrrrrrrrrDurrrrrr” guy is quitting Parliament. Maybe he’ll record an audiobook.

4:38 pm • Saturday • September 14, 2019

@FlyingChainSaw: We need a FCS-English dictionary :P

10:45 am • Sunday • September 15, 2019

@JNOV: I’m gonna miss the “OR-DAHHH, OR-DAHHH” guy; he’s one sassy bish.

The Bri-tish politicians are playing a game of reverse survivor, in which the losers are the ones stuck in parliament.

11:50 am • Sunday • September 15, 2019

@JNOV: I like Bercow. Of course, the 100 ways he has to say or_DUH! is great but I also love it when he tell an interrupting MP that he doesn’t need help from them to rule from the chair.
Hilarious

7:24 pm • Tuesday • September 17, 2019

@JNOV: Nothing makes sense because the Trump people can’t be parodied.

12:54 am • Wednesday • September 18, 2019

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: Yes! We need a Bercow mix tape. I just skimmed his Wikipedia page (thanks for mentioning his name), and he’s a fan of Arsenal FC and holds season tickets. I guess it’s an important part of a bio. For Whom Do You Hooligan?

@FlyingChainSaw: So true. House Democrats are scaring me. The Lewandowski hearing made them look pretty stupid and powerless.

1:59 pm • Wednesday • September 18, 2019

@FlyingChainSaw: OMFG your cannibal anarchy prophecy is coming true!1!

Trump supporter pleads guilty to threatening to eat Harvard professor

https://www.rawstory.com/2019/09/i-will-bite-through-your-eyeballs-trump-supporter-pleads-guilty-to-threatening-to-eat-harvard-professor/

6:18 am • Friday • September 27, 2019

@JNOV: They need to learn to enjoy dragging the Trump administration across a cheese grater and to love the screams and splatter. Slowly murdering pure evil is a rare gift.

6:18 am • Friday • September 27, 2019

@¡Andrew!: I never thought I’d see the day – which is why I predicted it! HATE! SELF!

Add a comment