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Weaponizing Nonsense

© Tom Tomorrow

Ironically, this comic is an example of the very thing it is making fun of. According to Tom Tomorrow:

This cartoon was initially inspired by Trump’s “Obama tapped my wires” tweets, and the laughably supportive GOP response. It was supposed to run a couple weeks ago, but I ended up bumping it for a last-minute cartoon on the Syria missile strike. Bannon had just been kicked off the NSC at that point; I wasn’t entirely sure he’d still be in the White House by the time this one finally ran. It’s not easy staying ahead of the news these days.

So, before he could make fun of one thing Trump tweeted, something else happened, then something else, and so on. Who can keep up?

There’s a really good opinion piece in The Guardian titled “100 days of gibberish – Trump has weaponised nonsense“. I recommend you go read it, but here’s a short excerpt:

Trump lies relentlessly about his achievements (claiming, for example, that he’s “mostly there” on his 100-day plan, despite appearing not to know what it is), admits he “never realised” how big a job it is to be president, forgets how many missiles he fired at Syria, even though he got the number right only 17 words earlier, and compares his TV ratings favourably to those for 9/11.

But one of the funniest parts is when it talks about a conversation Trump had with congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Trump recalls the his talk with Cummings:

Well he said, you’ll be the greatest president in the history of, but you know what, I’ll take that also, but that you could be. But he said, will be the greatest president but I would also accept the other. In other words, if you do your job, but I accept that. Then I watched him interviewed and it was like he never even was here. It’s incredible. I watched him interviewed a week later and it’s like he was never in my office. And you can even say that.

Can you even understand what Trump is saying? Even worse:

Cummings remembers the exchange differently, explaining that he told Trump he “could be” a great president if he stopped doing literally everything that he was doing and started doing other stuff that wasn’t horrible instead.

Even when Trump can’t form a complete, coherent sentence, he still manages to lie.

But there is an even scarier explanation. Vanity Fair recently published “Is Trump’s Chaos Tornado a Move From the Kremlin’s Playbook?” The whole article is worth a read, but the short version is that the constant lies (and doubling down on lies), shifting positions, and apparent hypocrisies creates a “permanent state of disorder: a de-stabilized media, an exasperated citizenry, and a fractured opposition, divided and pulled into mudslinging sideshows.” Sound familiar?

Indeed, Trump’s barrage of tweets that lie and contradict makes it impossible for the press to conduct any “vigilant analysis or coherent investigation into his administration” and its conflicts of interest, nepotism, racism, or even treason. Instead, it provides a subliminal message that provokes an emotional response so confusing and annoying that people just tune out:

This shape-shifting propaganda makes just enough of a lasting impression to leave people feeling distrustful and victimized. But before any one line of thinking can be pursued for too long, the narrative jumps to something else. People are left distracted and angry, but unsure of why or at whom.

After all, if facts don’t exist because people no longer care enough to distinguish reality from lies, then nobody can hold Trump accountable. For example, it becomes acceptable to not show your taxes. And this toxic cynicism promotes the idea that all politicians (and political parties) are equally corrupt, so there is no incentive to even vote.

By clogging the news with mini-scandals, bald-faced lies, and provocative tweets, the White House sends journalists and media outlets into haphazard frenzy. President Trump’s lies alone have become their own beat, forcing publications to devote precious resources to invalidating the many outrageous claims he makes daily, sometimes within a single interview. White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s early press conferences suggest that he too will serve as media antagonist, baiting reporters with arrogant fallacies and extending the Trump regime’s brand of bullying truth and democratic values into wary submission.

Facts are replaced by “alternative facts”. Trump continues to insist that millions of people voted illegally in the presidential election. The rule of law is replaced by the rule of the jungle as people become so angry and frightened that even a dictatorship starts to sound preferable to what we have.

The end result? Our constitution and our democracy are lost.



  1. ebdoug wrote:

    When I worked with Alzheimer’s patients, they would walk up to me and call me by name……………as long as I was wearing my name tag. In other words, Trump could read the speech to congress that someone else wrote. Just like Reagan. Just don’t ask any questions after. The AP interview was totally disjointed.
    The Alzheimer’s patient could read the Reader’s digest, get to the end of the page and start again at the top. Everything was gone by the end of the page.
    The widow could be taken to her husband’s funeral, be brought back to the nursing home, start folding laundry as she liked to do just as cheerful as always. As her three children left, they waved at her “Goodbye Mom” She waved back with no comprehension of whom she was waving at.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 4:00 am | Permalink
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Republican healthcare hypocrisy

    and more trump “clean the swamp” hypocrisy

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 6:35 am | Permalink
  3. Ralph wrote:

    What’s it gonna take to trigger the Emoluments Clause, a KFC in the West Wing?

    Meanwhile, in a parallel Universe, Congressional committees have concluded their investigations into Russian meddling in the parallel-2016 election and have initiated impeachment proceedings.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink
  4. Jwhat wrote:

    I started becoming aware of the right wing propaganda machine starting a little over 30 years ago. Even back then I thought that the hate being spread from it would not be good for our country….and it hasn’t been. I wonder if that could have been the beginnings of Russian (USSR then) tampering with our society and form of government. Remember they said they would destroy us from within…I’m thinking they may be showing some success there. I’m usually not one for conspiracy theories but this theory would sure connect a lot of weird dots for me.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink
  5. Wildwood wrote:

    Ebdoug, that was my MIL. She would read the newspaper over and over and it was a new experience each time. She would ask where her husband was and cry each time we would tell her he had died. She saw snakes under the chair across the room and panthers on the patio. The preacher, (whoever that was), would sneak into the house at night and, well you know. He was going to take her away soon and marry her and then she would giggle like a teenager. In the early stages she could act completely normal at times, (usually about an hour), when she needed to. Trump might be at the start of a mental decline, but who knows if he is, or if this all a plan to disrupt the country so much that we all just give up. When I start hearing about him roaming the White House in the wee hours with nothing but a shirt on, then I think we can say which is which. Ugh! That is certainly a horrible mental image that I will have trouble forgetting.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink
  6. Trumpoid wrote:

    You know, because FAKE NEWS, I am and could as, best ever and largest, and we will, since I can. This needs to, because it must.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink
  7. Wildwood wrote:

    Jwhat, I was thinking the other day that this started under Reagan. This came from the likes of Newt and Norville and the “Contract” with the Repubs in office to only vote in concert or else. I think that is when I stopped even considering voting for a Republican again. I had not voted for anyone in that party very often prior, but at that point it stopped. I didn’t and do not care how wonderful a candidate might be. If they can not be wonderful and be either a Dem or independent, then I will vote for someone else. There is something so distasteful and I think possibly illegal in requiring people to vote how you tell them to, (the Republican version of the Mafia), instead of how you want to. We need to get the money out of the equation for things to get better.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink
  8. Ralph wrote:

    Speaking of 100 days, here’s an interesting comparison with the last two POTUS I hadn’t thought of and just came across:

    Countries Presidents visited the first 100 Days in office




    Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Permalink
  9. notycoon22 wrote:

    Ah, but Ralph, he send out his vassals, does he not? Why, Ivanka just returned from a joyous event in Europe where she defended his holiness with bold phrasing and facial expressions.

    Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 8:26 pm | Permalink