}

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Dumber than a box of markers

One of the many "Sharpie-Gate" photo memes.
There’s a harsh, cold reality that the current occupant of the White House just doesn’t seem to understand: When you dig yourself into a hole, stop digging! Everyone else understands the truth of that statement, though smart people can be dumb about this and fail to pay attention to the wisdom. But the current occupant has staff—are there no grown-ups left to tell him he’s being an idiot over the latest hurricane?

Another reality is that if he’d merely mistakenly Tweeted out an already old forecast that Alabama was at 5-20% risk of tropical storm conditions in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, he could have easily moved on by saying that in the earliest stages experts thought it may have been true, but that they later felt otherwise. Most of us would have ignored that—after all, he says and does truly dumb and laughable things in the course of an average day, and this didn’t need to be that.

In this case, his bizarre overreaction to criticism of his erroneous Tweet says a LOT about him.

First, he pulled out an obviously doctored map to “prove” his erroneous claims about the possible path of Hurricane Dorian were “true”. Then he claimed he had no idea who doctored the map, but then reports emerged that he was the one who doctored the map, with an unnamed White House official commenting to The Washington Post, “No one else writes like that on a map with a black Sharpie.” Indeed, he always uses one when publicly signing a document, both real and fake.

As if that wasn’t dumb and laughable enough, then he Tweeted out a doctored CNN video to try and back up his false claims. So, when he Tweets out a doctored video, isn’t that the definition of “fake news”?

All of this comes from a man who claimed, "I'm not sure that I've ever even heard of a Category 5. I knew it existed." Trouble is, he said the exact same thing back in 2017 after Hurricane Irma hit. In fact, there have been four Category 5 hurricanes since that man took up residence in the White House, three of them since Irma. But, despite all that, he didn’t remember having heard of Category 5 hurricanes before, even though, well, he did—at least three times before Dorian.

Things then took yet another bizarre—and very ominous—turn when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is supposed to be a scientific agency, politicised the weather by taking the side of the current occupant of the White House. They claimed that their National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, was wrong when they Tweeted on Sunday that the Alabama was not at risk. NOAA said the Birmingham office’s Tweet was “in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.” Oh, really?! In fact, there was one prediction that southeastern Alabama might face a 5 to 10 percent chance of experiencing 40 mile per hour winds. In the end, winds there were actually no more than 9mph—proving the original assessment was correct.

So, why did they rush to defend the current occupant from—well, what exactly? Alarming people for no good reason? Or maybe it was because he was merely caught out misunderstanding something he heard somewhere (maybe on Fox “News”?). Whether it was their intent or not, they ended up running political interference designed to help the current occupant, but, worse, their politicisation also means people can no longer trust the NOAA to provide accurate forecasts—unless, it’s purely by accident, and in accordance with what seems to be their new mission of making the current occupant of the White House look good.

As for the latest utterly bizarre behaviour from the current occupant, there are several plausible conclusions. First, and simplest, it’s merely another example of his malignant narcissism, where he cannot be criticised, he cannot be shown to be wrong, and he has to lash out—lying whenever necessary—to “prove” his lies were true, and that he was “unfairly” criticised. However, it’s also entirely possible that this is the result of advancing dementia, or perhaps underlying insanity. Whatever the case is, this latest bizarre behaviour is clearly not normal, and there’s something seriously wrong with him—as in, 25th Amendment seriously wrong. That option won’t be used, obviously, so we must expect to see a lot more utterly bizarre and inappropriate behaviour from the current occupant.

We also now know that there are no grown-ups in the regime, no one who can tell him to stop digging himself in deeper. At least when he does dumb things like this it gives us yet another reason to laugh at him. Right now, that’s all we get. Hopefully in November 2020 the joke will finally end.

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