What a fool believes he sees/no wise man has the power to reason away

If you're old enough to remember 1979, let me remind you of a song. "What a Fool Believes" was never a favorite of mine, but a dependably good tune from that era, and one with a title that works well today, especially for anyone who believes anything the president says.


The tune is apt any day, hour, or minute of this presidency, but this past week Trump took the dissembling express into the Middle East. On Friday he claimed to have held off a missile attack on Iran when he asked how many deaths it would entail and was told it would probably kill 150 victims. One-hundred-fifty Iranian victims. It’s important to make the distinction, because Trump has made it clear that he cares only about Americans (and white Americans at that), and it seems unlikely—absurd even—that a cost of 150 “foreigners” would cause him to blink.


Like most sane people I am grateful that in this volatile situation no lives were lost. But if he really did ask the question, did he also ask it

  • when he instituted his first Muslim ban? Did he consider the rise in hate crimes that resulted from putting his imprimatur on the hatred of Muslims?

  • when he rolled back government restrictions on the use of pesticides like Trichloroethylene and N-Methylpyrrolidone, the first of which has been proven carcinogenic, while the second causes birth defects? Both were restricted pre-Trump, now they're available to all.

  • cwhen he removed restrictions on coal burning power plants even after the administration’s own analysis predicted the new rules would lead to 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030, up to 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory problems, a rise in bronchitis, and tens of thousands of missed school- and work days, all in a country with no real health care system. And that's not counting the danger to the health of the miners themselves.

  • when he incarcerated children as young as four-months old in retention camps lacking food, water, and sufficient health care? If you have a strong stomach, read about what’s happening in the little border town of Clint, Texas, under Trump’s watch.

  • when he declared the Central Park Five guilty and worthy of execution before they were even tried, and proclaimed their guilt well after they were exonerated. As he wrote (or someone helped him write) that now-famous editorial asking for a return of the death penalty to kill these five young men, did he stop and say before he sent it off, how many deaths will this entail?

To assert that Trump is a liar carries no weight anymore—it’s a twice-told tale that his followers seem not only to dismiss but in which they actually seem to revel. I hope they realize how inconsequential their lives are in his grand scheme of things, where he stands at the center of some Ptolemaic universe and his red-hat brigade revolves around him in steady and predictable orbits. Like his political rallies, only bigger. And if they really don't realize it...there's this song from 1979...

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