Thursday, March 30, 2017

Trump - A Study in Ignorance

One of the dangers of having a malignant narcissist in the White House is that Der Trumpenführer thinks he is smarter than everyone else and, perhaps even more dangerous, he is so self-absorbed that he refuses to see his own ignorance on a host of issues. His emotions and views become "facts" even when utterly wrong.  Sooner or later, this will have likely catastrophic consequences, especially since the man has surrounded himself with sycophants and ideologues to whom true facts are likewise irrelevant.  A column in the New York Times looks at the disaster(s) down the road.  The take away? Be very, very afraid.   Here are excerpts:
How prepared is our president for the next great foreign, economic or terrorist crisis?
After a little more than two months in office, President Trump has raised doubts about his ability to deal with what the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously described as the “known unknowns” and the “unknown unknowns.”

“President Trump seems to have no awareness whatsoever of what he does and does not know,” Steven Nadler, a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote me. “He is ignorant of his own ignorance.”
During his first 63 days in office, Trump made 317 “false or misleading claims,” according to The Washington Post.
The FBI, the Treasury Department and two congressional committees are probing whether Trump’s campaign aides and advisers — including Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Roger Stone and Michael Flynnwere complicit in alleged Russian interference.
Without an obvious mandate (as the world knows, he lost the popular vote by 2.87 million), Trump has proposed a profound retrenchment of domestic policy.
His 2018 budget, the potential impact of which he does not seem to grasp, calls for cutting $54 billion from programs that pay for education, housing and child care assistance for low- and moderate-income families, protection against infectious diseases, enforcement of environmental, worker and consumer protection regulation, national parks and a host of other social programs.
Trump proposed these cuts in spite of what Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, described in as essay titled “The World Without America” as threats to “the domestic foundations of American Power,” including “crumbling infrastructure, second-rate primary and secondary schools, outdated immigration system, and slow economic growth.”
In addition, Trump has antagonized the leaders of allied countries like Mexico, Australia and Germany, and he has repeatedly demonstrated an extraordinary lack of knowledge about foreign affairs.
This is the president who faces what Warren Christopher, President Clinton’s first secretary of state, called problems from hell. . . . . How dangerous is the situation that the United States faces?
Steve Nadler of the University of Wisconsin had more to say:
Donald Trump and the people with whom he has filled his cabinet are perfectly unqualified and unprepared to handle any and all of those developments and trends. The lack of experience and understanding of the world, especially of our historical and contemporary relationship with our European allies and rivals is frightening, especially in today’s world, where the stakes and the dangers are so much greater than ever.
Andrew Bacevich, professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University and a retired Army colonel, wrote that Trump is “utterly unqualified, both intellectually and by temperament, for the office he holds,” adding that “The possibility that Trump will disastrously mishandle” foreign policy “is real.”
Of the multiple international tensions that could turn into crises at any time, North Korea could lead the way.
Toby Dalton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment, focuses on this growing threat. In an email, he writes:
Between an impulsive president who seems uninterested in details, an advisory systems that does not (yet, at least) produce good advice, a general lack of respect for expertise, and a distrust of intelligence, a crisis with North Korea could go very poorly.
The current situation is not stable, Dalton said
David Bell, a historian at Princeton, emailed his thoughts on Trump’s capacity to handle the difficulties that will face his administration:
Trump himself is abysmally ignorant about both international and domestic affairs, and he is nearly always guided by a single principle: his own self-interest.
Given the magnitude of the problems that lie ahead and the embedded contradictions that make them difficult to solve, we face precisely the kind of world President Trump is least equipped for, mentally and morally.
And let's not forget the two groups responsible for the dangers now facing America: evangelical Christians and racist working class whites who refused to grasp their own shortcomings and prior bad decisions. They wanted to say "Fuck you" to the system, but in the process have likely fucked over them selves and the nation.  They need to be held responsible.  They deserve no respect, deference or attempts to understand them.  They are deplorable. 

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