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Saturday, January 6, 2018


Not the weather, which is frigid but clear and sunny here.  I refer to the prospects for America.  I had never heard of Michael Wolff before his latest book appeared, and I accept uncritically the apparently universal judgment that he is, as a journalist, something of a sleezeball.  But his picture of Trump is judged to be accurate by Washington reporters who say they have been hearing the same things off the record for months.  One tiny item quoted from the book caught my attention.  

"At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends."  It is the phrase "heavily made-up" that struck me.

The man is clearly in very bad shape psychologically.  


Anonymous said...

He claims to be a genius. He had better be. Only a rare genius could disguise their intellectual superiority beyond recognition.

s. wallerstein said...

What strikes me from what I've read about Michael Wolff's book is the incredible lack of loyalty of Trump's inner circle.

I know of no other case, neither in the U.S. nor here in Chile, when a president's inner circle revealed so much malicious gossip about him while he was still in office.

Maybe people are less loyal than they used to be in general or maybe Trump's inner circle was chosen from a sector of the population which is notable for having no loyalty at all. In both cases it's frightening, not because I want to defend Trump from revelations about what an idiot he is, but because loyalty is an important virtue.

One thing is that members of Trumps inner circle are willing to expose his crimes (and in that case, not exposing his crimes may be considered loyalty to a bad cause), but another thing is that they go out of their way to expose his hang-ups about his toothbrush.

David said...

Meanwhile, on January 16, the CDC is offering a presentation on how to prepare a public health response to a nuclear detonation. Kid you not.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I saw that, David, and was so appalled I could not bring myself to write about it. If you live in a large metropolitan area, especially on the west coast, you should make contingency plans now to get yourself and your family out of the area at a moment's notice. I am not kidding. One hour before disaster strikes you can hop a plane to anywhere safe and put the cost on a credit card. Ten minutes after is too late, because the roads will be jammed. I am not kidding.

During the Cuban Missile crisis, I was living in Chicago. I had a Geiger Counter and dried food in my VW Beetle and plane reervations to Canada and Mexico [depending on which way the wind was blowing.] I have never thought I was being hysterical.

LFC said...

If N Korea does send a ballistic missile w a nuclear warhead on it toward a West Coast city with some accuracy (which I doubt will happen but let's say it does), will there be an hour's notice? Not, I would think, for people in the direct target path. The missile will either be (1) intercepted by the U.S.'s expensive but highly fallible missile defense "shield" (which is one consequence of G.W. Bush's withdrawal from the ABM treaty and, before that, Reagan's 'Star Wars' thing) or (2) go off course and land in the ocean or (3) the missile will get through. If it gets through and you're in the target path, I'd say all bets are off. There isn't going to be an hour to hop on a plane. Now there might be an hour if you're a couple of hundred miles downwind and you get sufficient warning, but I'm not sure.

In the pre-nuclear age, an enthusiast of air power (I think it was the British politician Stanley Baldwin but I'm not taking time to check) declared that "the bomber will always get through." That wasn't true when he said it or for some time after, though it got truer (or less false) over time. Updating for the nuclear age, will the missile "always get through"? For a nascent nuclear power like N Korea which has made fast progress on this front but is still probably working out some kinks, the answer is probably "maybe, maybe not."

I don't mean to be at all cavalier about this, but if you live, say, in San Francisco and the missile is aimed for that city and it's an accurate trajectory and not intercepted, it's probably curtains. Cd be wrong, but that's my impression.

For reasons mentioned in another thread, Kim Jong Un would have to be insane to do this, or else a bad series of miscalculations and misperceptions would have to spiral out of control. The latter is not impossible, but it seems unlikely, even under present conditions. Still, the whole situation is somewhat unsettling. Though I did hear on the news that N Korea and S Korea have reached some kind of agreement on the former's participation in the Olympics.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I am sorry, I did not make myself clear. If the missile has already been fired, there is nothing you can do. I meant if things were clearly spiriling out of control.

LFC said...

Oh, ok. Thank you for the clarification.

s. wallerstein said...

I might be wrong but I believe that Kim just outsmarted Trump.

If Kim makes a deal with South Korea, he's won. South Koreans probably then can travel to the North to see their relatives and spend dollars there besides passing dollars to their North Korean relatives. That's what we may call the "Cuban solution": the Communist Party retains control (I realize that the Castro brothers are nowhere near as repressive as the Kim family), but you open the economy to tourism, especially from family members, from South Korea or from Cubans outside of Cuba, who bring dollars or euros or whatever hard currency they have.

If Kim reaches that kind of deal with South Korea, well, Donald J. Trump is going to have to coauthor the next edition of the Art of the Deal with him, because Kim is his master at dealing making.

Venkataraman Amarnath said...

S. Wallerstein,

You said exactly what I was hoping. Never judge the head by its outward appearance.