Does watching Donald Trump lie make me dumber?

Donald Trump is like if the evil country club president in Caddyshack and Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack were the same character. “Hey everybody,” he yells in his underground bunker as hot Korean nuclei blast through our widening eyes. “We’re all gonna get laid!” He’s not as funny as Dangerfield or Ted Knight, much less both of them together. But he owns a lot more golf courses. Today your New York Times reports that one of his golf courses contains a plaque commemorating Civil War battle along a nearby stretch of the Potomac it calls “The River of Blood”:

“Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot,” the inscription reads. “The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’” The inscription, beneath his family crest and above Mr. Trump’s full name, concludes: “It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!”

He put an exclamation point on the plaque. That’s a rookie mistake in the area of inscription. Also, that river of blood thing is made up. According to at least three regional historians, no battles were fought at the future site of Trump’s golf course. While soldiers sometimes crossed the river there, none of them died.

“How would they know that?” Trump asked when confronted with this information. He went on to say that several historians had told him of a battle there, declining to give their names, before saying that the historians had actually spoken to several of his employees, whose anonymity he also preserved.

This raises an interesting question: Can learning about thee president’s various insipid lies eventually cause my brain to shoot out of my nose like when you squeeze a Capri Sun? Like must I spend each day in astonishment at the next dumb elaboration of the last poorly constructed lie, or will the astonishment hormones build up until they finally explode and spray my face in an even layer across my windshield? In this scenario I’m just driving around, thinking about how Trump said no one can prove he didn’t bang Selena or whatever. One minute I’m alive, outraged for the 852nd consecutive day of the administration, and the next minute I’m dead—or not dead but driving without a face, bearing down on the accelerator and wildly twisting the wheel in the hopes that these movements coincide with correct driving, because I have no sense left but taste.

I was going to say that Trump put forward a classic cracked-plate defense with his multilevel evasion here, but fuck, man—when will we get something from the day’s experience besides an expanded taxonomy of lies? Is it just going to be Ecclesiastes from now on, marveling at how unfair everything is until we are dead? It’s times like these, when presidents are TV personalities who lied about Civil War battles in commemorative plaques on their golf courses, that you realize how useless outrage is. I deserve better than this, you think, looking at the daily news. Someone should treat me with respect. Then you feel the lash of your Korean overseer, and you drop your phone and get back to work. The whole country has gone to seed, and you know whose fault it is? Bernie Sanders.

What doesn’t Donald Trump know?

Very little

Combat! blog has been crushed under an avalanche of work today and whimpers from the rubble but faintly. The world doesn’t stop for us to make money, though. Among other people whose work experience consists of pretending to have big, dynamic ideas on whatever subject is presently at hand, history continues apace. Yesterday, on Twitter, President Trump sang the praises of Republicans’ new bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which may come to the House for a vote this week. “New healthcare plan is on its way,” he tweeted. “Will have much lower premiums & deductibles while at the same time taking care of pre-existing conditions!” As Robert Pear of the New York Times drily put it, “Which bill Mr. Trump was referring to is not clear.”

He probably means the new version of Trumpcare, which “takes care” of people in the mafia sense of the phrase. One of the concessions that makes this bill more appealing to conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus is a waiver that will allow states to let insurers charge higher premiums to customers with pre-existing conditions. The bill would also remove minimum coverage requirements that are currently part of Obamacare. That takes care of pre-existing conditions only in that it will let insurers charge prohibitively high premiums to cover them. For example, before the Affordable Care Act, I had a $38,000 deductible on my left shoulder because of previous injuries. That was basically the same as not having insurance, except I still paid premiums every month.

As for Trump’s promise of “much lower premiums and deductibles,” that might be true, if anyone cared to find out. Although the last bill Republicans proposed was expected to raise premiums 15% to 20% next year, no such information is known about the current bill. Rep. Chris Collins (R-New York) told the Times that House Republicans are “not planning to seek a new cost-and-impact estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.”

Whatever—the president is just going to say a bunch of stuff anyway. Also this weekend, Trump gave an interview to Salena Zito of the Washington Examiner, in which he compared himself to Andrew Jackson. If you’re thinking that’s kind of an odd choice of role model—given that he was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Indians and wrecked the economy by eliminating the Bank of the United States—you have made a classic error. President Trump is not familiar with American history. I quote the leader of the free world:

People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?

When Trump says “people don’t realize this,” he means “I just learned this.” Given that he attended high school 50 years ago, you can almost forgive him for saying “people don’t ask” the question that literally every American history class asks. But Jesus Christ, man, he went to the United States Military Academy and then Wharton. He is the president of the United States. Is it too much to expect him to muster a B-level understanding of the most significant event in American history?

Anyway, Trump’s assertion that Jackson “was really angry what he saw with regard to the Civil War; he said, ‘There’s no reason for this'” is not true. Jackson did not say that, and he died 15 years before the war broke out. But who cares, right? The president says some stupid shit that literal schoolchildren know is not true, and it doesn’t matter. None of this matters. Nuke Korea, bankrupt me because I dislocated my shoulder again—the important thing is that a bunch of Jimmy Buffett fans got revenge on college students for not being able to say the n-word anymore. America is great, again.

Friday links! Half-remembered pasts edition

Parker Posey in Kicking And Screaming

Parker Posey in Kicking And Screaming

First of all, sorry for scaring everybody yesterday. I’m still vertiginous, and the Missoula health care system is still unwilling to care for my health on shorter notice than it takes to quit a job at Taco Bell, but I have not given up on life. One reason I will not just sicken and die is that I live in a tower of iron will. Remember the six months in 2007 when I broke my hand, dislocated my shoulder and tore my transverse abdominus? This is not as bad as that, although I’m pretty sure music was better then. It’s hard to remember, because drugs were better, too. Today is Friday, and I suspect that everything was easier in the past, but I can’t prove it. Won’t you compare epochs with me?

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Thursday scary graph jam

If only there were some way to make this graph that did not put percentages on both axes. That would be class warfare, though. You’re looking at a visual representation of historical US income inequality that is A) extremely conjectural in red and blue, and B) terrifying. It’s from this article in the Atlantic, which tentatively alleges that ours is a less equal America than it was on the eve of the Revolution and the Civil War. Numerous qualifications after the jump.

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“Is it possible we have been so deceived by false reports?”

The above political cartoon hails from around 1861, and it advances an argument popular in the South during that time: that slavery was analogous to the factory system in industrialized England, only preferable because it made black people happy and white people, you know, not stunted mill workers. You must not try to read the dialogue in the image above, or your retina will focus all the light in the room into a laser that burns through your brain; read this one instead. “Is it possible that we of the North have been so deceived by false Reports?” marvels a gentleman visitor to the South, where his friend’s slaves have finished work early to have some sort of dance party. “Why did we not visit the South before we caused this trouble between the North and South, and so much hard feelings amongst our friends at home?” Here it should be noted that the dialogue in this cartoon predates the development of naturalism, which sort of explains why a British mill worker in the bottom half of the image would casually remark, “I say, Bill, I am going to run away from the Factory and go to the Coal Mines, where they have to work only 14 hours a day instead of 17 as you do here.” Bill has to listen to this shit all the time, but he knows they’re both going to work at Cloth Factory for the rest of their lives.

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