More Behaving Badly

  • Robert Reich on Trump, ever the con artist;
  • David French on the warping of American life by MAGA threats of violence;
  • Trump doesn’t realize he’s the cause of US demise;
  • The informant who inspired the Republican Biden investigation has been arrested for passing false information;
  • Trump and his family show a lack of remorse that “borders on the pathological”;
  • Another hate preacher who says gays should be exterminated;
  • Republicans and their battle against the zombie apocalypse;
  • How sounding crazy is part of Trump’s appeal;
  • Fareed Zakaria on how Tucker Carlson and the populist right prefer clean cities run by authoritarians in conformist societies to actual American cities in a diverse democracy.
– – –

Robert Reich, 16 Feb 2024: How Trump is liable for fraud even though no one was hurt, subtitled “He was never a successful businessman. He was always a con artist.”

Trump’s lawyers had argued — and will surely argue on appeal — that there was no fraud because there was no victim and no one had been harmed. In a statement on Friday, a Trump Organization spokeswoman noted that the company had “never missed any loan payment or been in default on any loan” and that the lenders “performed extensive due diligence prior to entering into these transactions.”

So where’s the fraud?

Trump’s lenders thought they were making safer loans than they were because Trump inflated the value of his assets to make it seem like he had more collateral than he actually did, and therefore he was a more reliable borrower than he actually was.

Same piece at AlterNet, 17 Feb 2024: Opinion | Trump was never a successful businessman — he was always a con artist


NY Times, Opinion, David French, 18 Feb 2024: MAGA’s Violent Threats Are Warping Life in America

Amid the constant drumbeat of sensational news stories — the scandals, the legal rulings, the wild political gambits — it’s sometimes easy to overlook the deeper trends that are shaping American life. For example, are you aware how much the constant threat of violence, principally from MAGA sources, is now warping American politics? If you wonder why so few people in red America seem to stand up directly against the MAGA movement, are you aware of the price they might pay if they did?

Assassination threats on public officials. And on newspaper columnists.


Given the previous item, what Trump thinks may be becoming to be true. But he’s the cause.

Salon, Joseph Neese, 18 Feb 2024: “We are worse than a third world country”: Trump claims his “persecution” will lead to demise of US, subtitled “At a campaign rally in Michigan, Trump sharply criticized a judge’s order for him to pay a $355 million penalty”


More lies on the right.

Slate, Molly Olmstead, 17 Feb 2024: Republicans’ Star Informant Against Hunter Biden Was Just Arrested by the FBI, subtitled “This guy was at the heart of obsessions over the ‘Biden crime family.’ Oops.”


Media Matters, 16 Feb 2024: Fox News hyped a flimsy report that made dubious claims about Joe Biden. The FBI just arrested the informant who falsified the information.


No moral compass at all among these people, apparently.

Slate, Mark Joseph Stern and Alexander Sammon, 16 Feb 2024: Trump and His Family Are Fined $355 Million for Fraud—and a Lack of Remorse That “Borders on Pathological”, subtitled “The ruling, if upheld, marks the end of the Trump Organization as we know it.”


Hate preacher.

LGBTQNation, 17 Feb 2024: Hate preacher says gays should be killed by electric chair because it’s “a little more painful”, subtitled “He also said ‘they should do it publicly for everybody to see.'”


As I’ve said, conservatives seem to have a loose grip on reality.

AlterNet, D. Stephen Voss and Kentucky Lantern, 16 Feb 2024: Opinion | The monsters we create: Republicans and their battle against the zombie apocalypse

I mean: You should take pity on any conservatives in your life, because they occupy a world much scarier than where everyone else lives.

People who see the world as a hostile place are more likely to lean rightward. Show a video with something lethal, like a snake or spider, and conservatives focus more on the threat. Make a loud noise; they’re more likely to react. Show a yucky photo and their gag reflex kicks in faster.

With so many fears and aversions to encapsulate, it might be tempting to give up on identifying one creature that haunts Republican nightmares – instead settling on a show like “Supernatural,” which sent brothers Sam and Dean careening across the flyover states to battle a rapid rotation of beasts.

But no, one monster did enjoy special cultural resonance leading up to Trump’s presidency: Zombies!!!


Sounding crazy is part of his appeal.

AlterNet, Alex Henderson, 16 Feb 2024: Long-form analysis revels why attacking Trump for ‘sounding crazy’ doesn’t work with MAGA


I bet North Korea is really clean and shiny, too.

Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria, 16 Feb 2024: Opinion | Carlson, like the populist right, dislikes what makes America great

Many of his jibes were simply untrue. He praised Moscow, saying it is one of several “wonderful places to live” because, unlike the United States, Russia apparently doesn’t suffer from “rampant inflation.” But using the Russian government’s own data from last month, the country’s inflation rate was 7.4 percent, almost 2½ times that of the United States. That’s why interest rates in Russia are 16 percent, about three times higher than U.S. rates.

More to the point, and concluding:

Carlson speaks enviously of cities such as Tokyo, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. I’ve been to all these cities many times — some of them in the past few months — and they are indeed wonderful in their own distinctive ways. But what’s striking about all of them is that they are somewhat tame and subdued, the product of authoritarian governments or conformist culture — or both.

American cities are different. They are the product of decentralization and diversity and democracy. Jane Jacobs, a great writer on urban life, always described the best cities as bottom-up systems, seemingly anarchic but organic and in the long run far superior to the abstract drawings of central planners. American cities are expressions of democracy, places where people have to negotiate differences and find ways to live together. That makes them messier and dirtier and sometimes chaotic. But perhaps that is what has made these cities so vibrant and innovative, and why they have been at the forefront in making the United States the country that leads the world in economics, technology, culture and power.

Once upon a time, American conservatives praised the United States’ organic communities, rooted in freedom and choice, built bottom-up not top-down. But the new populist right despises these cities, and that disgust is in part a rejection of modern, pluralistic democracy itself. Increasingly, they are dazzled by the clean and orderly ways of dictatorships, populist authoritarians and absolute monarchies.

After all, say what you will about Putin, he makes the subways run on time.

Ironically, conservatives decry government oversight and control, but how else would get a clean shiny city like those Carlson admires?

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