Blow and Krugman

In “The Power of Disruption” Mr. Blow tells us history shows that it works.  Prof. Krugman, in “Ignorance Is Strength,” says what they don’t know can hurt them, but also us.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

The Trump resistance movement is stretching its wings, engaging its muscles and feeling its power. It is large and strong and tough. It has moved past debilitating grief and into righteous anger, assiduous organization and pressing activism.

Welcome to the dawn of the fighting-mad majority: The ones who didn’t vote for Trump and maybe even some who now regret that they did.

They are charging forward under the banner of sage wisdom that has endured through the ages: Show up, get loud and fight back. Do it with your body and words, with your time and money, with every fiber of yourself. They see what this dawning regime means and they don’t intend, not even for a second, to wait around to see what happens. “What happens” is happening right now and it’s horrific.

Donald Trump is a vulgar, uninformed, anti-intellectual, extremely unpopular grifter helming a family of grifters who apparently intend to milk their moment on the mount for every red cent.

Trump still hasn’t released his taxes or fully disconnected from his businesses. His wife is suing The Daily Mail because she believes the newspaper may have injured her “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to “have garnered multimillion-dollar business relationships for a multiyear term.” When his daughter Ivanka’s clothing line was dropped by Nordstrom, Trump lashed out at the retailer on Twitter, citing Ivanka as something of his moral compass: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” This begs the question: “Why do you need someone to push you to do the right thing?”

Then, top Trump adviser Kellyanne “QVC” Conway, from the confines of the White House briefing room, said during a televised interview: “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would say.” She continued: “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.”

Unethical is too kind a word for these classless cretins. Furthermore, Trump has nominated, and his Republican conspirators in the Senate have confirmed, a rogues’ gallery of some of the least qualified, most questionable appointees in recent memory. Aside from some of them being the fiercest critics of the very agencies they are charged with leading, some have also been accused of bigotry, plagiarism, insider trading and overall vacuousness.

Trump’s Muslim ban has also been an absolute disaster and has met some much-applauded resistance in court, most recently with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rebuking the administration’s lawyers like children.

This administration is already manifesting as the disaster we knew it would be; the stench of its rot surrounds us. What is there to wait and see? A rose will never bloom from a weed; you must snatch that thing up at first sight, by the root.

That is why you are seeing so much grass-roots resistance from a multiplying array of groups. One of the most prominent is called “Indivisible.” The Nation interviewed Ezra Levin, a former Democratic staffer and co-founder of the project and reported on the exchange: “Levin says that Indivisible built on the Tea Party’s model of ‘practicing locally-focused, almost entirely defensive strategy.’ This, he adds, ‘was very smart, and it was rooted in an understanding of how American democracy works. They understood that they didn’t have the power to set the agenda in Washington, but they did have the ability to react to it. It’s Civics 101 stuff — going to local offices, attending events, calling their reps.”

I would add that these groups are practicing one of the most effective tactics of confronting power: disruption. Town hall meetings have been disrupted; protesters disrupted Education Secretary Betsy Devos’s plans to enter a Washington school.

Disruption works!

When Frederick Douglass attacked Abraham Lincoln by saying that he “seems to possess an ever increasing passion for making himself appear silly and ridiculous, if nothing worse,” Douglass was being disruptive.

When women suffragists paraded through Washington, they were being disruptive.

When Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat, she was being disruptive.

When civil rights activists marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were being disruptive.

When LGBT people fought back at The Stonewall Inn, they were being disruptive.

When Act Up flooded Times Square, they were being disruptive.

When Occupy Wall Street refused to move from their parks, they were being disruptive.

When Black Lives Matter took to the streets and ground traffic to a halt, they were being disruptive.

When Native Americans stood in resistance at Standing Rock, they were being disruptive.

When Elizabeth Warren persisted, she was being disruptive.

Disruption is not a dirty word; in this environment, it’s a badge of honor.

Yes, it’s important to show up on Election Day, but it is also important to show up on the hundreds of days before and after. This is what the resistance movements are saying to Trump and his America: Buckle your seatbelts, because massive disruption is in the offing.

Trump is not normal. He is not competent. And we will not simply sit back and suck it up.

Now here’s Prof. Krugman:

When I travel to Asia, I’m fairly often met at the airport by someone holding a sign reading “Mr. Paul.” Why? In much of Asia, names are given family first, personal second — at home, the prime minister of Japan is referred to as Abe Shinzo. And the mistake is completely forgivable when it’s made by a taxi driver picking up a professor.

It’s not so forgivable, however, if the president of the United States makes the same mistake when welcoming the leader of one of our most important economic and security partners. But there it was: Donald Trump referring to Mr. Abe as, yes, Prime Minister Shinzo.

Mr. Abe did not, as far as we know, respond by calling his host President Donald.

Trivial? Well, it would be if it were an isolated instance. But it isn’t. What we’ve seen instead over the past three weeks is an awesome display of raw ignorance on every front. Worse, there’s no hint that either the White House or its allies in Congress see this as a problem. They appear to believe that expertise, or even basic familiarity with a subject, is for wimps; ignorance is strength.

We see this on legal matters: In a widely quoted analysis, the legal expert Benjamin Wittes described the infamous executive order on refugees as “malevolence tempered by incompetence,” and noted that the order reads “as if it was not reviewed by competent counsel at all” — which is a good way to lose in court.

We see it on national security matters, where the president continues to rely on a chief adviser who, suspicious closeness to the Kremlin aside, appears to get his strategic information from right-wing conspiracy theorists.

We see it on education, where the hearings for Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, revealed her to be completely ignorant about even the most elementary issues.

We see it on diplomacy. How hard is it to ask someone from the State Department to make sure that the White House gets foreign leaders’ names right? Too hard, apparently: Before the Abe flub, the official agenda for the state visit by Theresa May, the British prime minister, repeatedly misspelled her name.

And on economics — well, there’s nobody home. The Council of Economic Advisers, which is supposed to provide technical expertise, has been demoted from cabinet rank, but that hardly matters, since nobody has been nominated to serve. Remember all that talk about a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan? If you do, please remind the White House, which hasn’t offered even a ghost of a concrete proposal.

But let me not be too hard on the Tweeter-in-chief: disdain for expertise is general in his party. For example, the most influential Republican economists aren’t serious academics with a conservative bent, of whom there are many; they’re known hacks who literally can’t get a number right.

Or consider the current G.O.P. panic over health care. Many in the party seem shocked to learn that repealing any major part of Obamacare will cause tens of millions to lose insurance. Anyone who studied the issue could have told them years ago how the pieces of health reform fit together, and why. In fact, many of us did, repeatedly. But competent analysis wasn’t wanted.

And that is, of course, the point. Competent lawyers might tell you that your Muslim ban is unconstitutional; competent scientists that climate change is real; competent economists that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves; competent voting experts that there weren’t millions of illegal ballots; competent diplomats that the Iran deal makes sense, and Putin is not your friend. So competence must be excluded.

At this point, someone is bound to say, “If they’re so dumb, how come they won?” Part of the answer is that disdain for experts — sorry, “so-called” experts — resonates with an important part of the electorate. Bigotry wasn’t the only dark force at work in the election; so was anti-intellectualism, hostility toward “elites” who claim that opinions should be based on careful study and thought.

Also, campaigning is very different from governing. This is especially true when the news media spend far more time obsessing over your opponent’s pseudo-scandals than they do on all actual policy issues combined.

But now things have gotten real, and all indications are that the people in charge have no idea what they’re doing, on any front.

In some ways this cluelessness may be a good thing: malevolence may indeed be tempered by incompetence. It’s not just the court defeat over immigration; Republican ignorance has turned what was supposed to be a blitzkrieg against Obamacare into a quagmire, to the great benefit of millions. And Mr. Trump’s imploding job approval might help slow the march to autocracy.

But meanwhile, who’s in charge? Crises happen, and we have an intellectual vacuum at the top. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Oh, trust me, Paul — I’m terrified.

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