Category Archives: Psychology

When the factual basis of knowledge is open to question, our focus shifts to psychology. It becomes more important than ever to think about how we think.

Charlie Sykes

Charlie Sykes lost his influence after losing touch with reality

Former radio talk show host Charlie Sykes made a difference for a while. In Wisconsin, a truly politically competitive state, Sykes helped Republicans to top offices. But after a year of waving the #NeverTrump banner, his talk show is over and his role as an influential conservative long in the past.

Donald Trump goes to work in the White House each morning. Charlie Sykes goes to work at MSNBC.

Charlie Sykes MSNBC

To appreciate the paradox, you have to bear in mind that if not for Charlie Sykes, there’s a good chance Governor Scott Walker would not have prevailed over massive national-Democrat-led opposition — twice — in Wisconsin.

Sykes was a political force during those two battles, and he was reviled for it by the left.

Sykes also served as a key media ally of Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan.

Which makes us wonder, maybe karma is real after all. Or maybe Charlie Sykes just went nuts. He certainly did not become irrelevant all at once.

Sykes used his media platform throughout the 2016 presidential campaign all right …. to convince voters to vote against the Republican ticket. He even publicly asked the Democratic candidate to make a play for disenchanted Republicans.

And while thus working to put Hillary Clinton in the White House, he fancied himself such a paragon of righteousness that he lectured conservatives on how to be better conservatives.

Sykes worries about a biased American media …. working for President Trump.

Living in a delusion has a cost, which Charlie Sykes has now learned the very, very hard way:

“When you’ve devoted your whole life to certain beliefs and you think now they have been undermined and that you might have been deluded about things,” he began. “So. So. Um…”

His radio audience turned hostile and faded away, apparently having a clearer understanding than the host of what a “binary choice” actually means in a presidential election. Once touted as the guy who might single-handedly cost Donald Trump Wisconsin and the presidency, Sykes ended up the befuddled big loser.

….as former Wisconsin Democratic Chairman Mike Tate put it, “a guy who slowly fed poison to his dog for 10 years then, when the dog dies of poisoning, throws up his hands and says, ‘My God, how did that happen?’”

It is a sad tale. Sykes seemed to believe his #NeverTrump stance was going to put him on a pedestal of sorts, that there was “going to be a premium on conservatives” who turned their backs on Trump in November 2016.

That didn’t happen. And influence — or power, or pull, or whatever metaphor you want to use — which may not the the most important thing to political talk radio hosts, but once achieved is invaluable, is no longer part of Charlie Sykes’ resume, and likely never will be again. Delusion is hard to come back from.

Flaming NeverTrump diehards

Flaming NeverTrump diehards almost ready for the ash heap

With the fire of a thousand bags of shit on America’s doorstep, flaming NeverTrump diehards like Rick Wilson and Marybeth Glenn are reaching supernova on this, the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration as America’s 45th president. The day they screeched mockingly would never come, is here. And boy, they sure seem mad.

And boy, are they about to become irrelevant. Not merely “less relevant than the more influential people” but racing off into insignificance, actively fading from the realm of the germane, they will become like black holes in the social world.

Tonight they are objects of laughter but tomorrow and in the days to come they shall be objects of indifference and perhaps pity, former politicos whom only the twisted or stupid would heed.

But before we run down the list of burning head NeverTrumpers, let us point out one positive story that may bode well for the state of Virginia:

Shaun “Hillary” Kenney, the useful idiot Republican who almost single-handedly delivered Virginia to the Clinton “win” column, has left the blogosphere. Gone. Poof.

After writing what was quite possibly the dumbest political post of 2016, when the shellshock of Trump’s victory apparently still rang in his ears, Kenney did what Kenney rarely seems to do, which is to shut the hell up.

Though he still mucks about on Twitter Kenney has largely abandoned the topic of Donald Trump. But what we really appreciate: No more bloviating, self-righteous, holier-than-thou and more-conservative-than-thou blog posts – in fact no blog posts whatsoever. This is a huge improvement for America, for Virginia Republicans, and probably for the fate of Shaun Kenney’s immortal soul. Maybe after a few years of self-reflection, he will reappear bearing the mark of humility that, thus far, seems utterly foreign to the oh-so-godly conservatives at that faux-Republican website who ultimately failed to put Hillary Clinton in the White House.

But you know who hasn’t shut up, but just keeps on keepin’ on like a man whose inner moron never sleeps? The bald, burning noggin of Rick Wilson – who just two years ago was, unbelievably, considered a witty, savvy GOP insider.

Today, Rick Wilson’s desperate attempts at wit consist of reposting items from left-wingers like

Rick Wilson twitter

Tomorrow, Rick Wilson will watch the Republican Party turn the bend far down the road and leave him behind, forever.

Our next smoking ember of melted brain tissue is the Wisconsin wabbit, Charlie Sykes, who quit his gig as a “conservative” talk radio host and disappeared into a hole in the ground, piping up occasionally feeble, ignorant comments about America’s president-elect.

Charlie Sykes twitter

Irrelevance, outsider status, and being generally wrong about everything are a challenging trifecta for any career in political commentary, so it may be a long time before Charlie Sykes makes it back into the funny papers, much less an op-ed page that anyone wishes to read.

We can’t really talk about flaming NeverTrump diehards without mentioning the brightest burning head of all, David Frum: former White House speechwriter, current “editor” at a once-relevant media operation …

…and tomorrow, just another dumbass in America.

Because when you claim that anything coming out of Merkel’s government qualifies as a “stiff warning” to Donald Trump, then you, my friend, have beclowned yourself. Hard.

David Frum twitter

From certain beclownings, there is no coming back. And sadly enough for David Frum, the the circus has closed.

Finally on our list of heads exploding in fire with the ascension of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land, is another Wisconsinite; Queen of the flaming NeverTrump diehards:

Marybeth Glenn
Marybeth Glenn, Wisconsin’s queen of the self-righteous

Yea, even Marybeth Glenn the Holier, who alone wields the authority of God on Earth for the judgment of Christians.

Marybeth: who alone knows good from evil. Marybeth: who alone recognizes Donald Trump as a monster.

Marybeth Glenn twitter

Marybeth, who in one human being encompasses the entire spectrum of whining-toddler NeverTrumpism like perhaps none other whom the Lord has sent down from Crybaby Mountain to yell at His people.

Many Americans are giving Donald Trump a chance to at least get into office before judging his presidency, and many Republicans who at one time did not support Trump have recognized that Trump has earned their support for now, and could turn out better than many U.S. presidents – including the last two Republicans.

But there remain a few rabid NeverTrump disordered personalities, unique in their willful ignorance and in their lack of self-awareness. We marvel at their self-destruction.

Today, we can actually begin to count down the hours until Donald Trump assumes the presidency, and the flaming NeverTrump diehards are but a distant, unpleasant odor.

dear conservative

Dear conservative critics of Donald Trump

[A few thoughts inspired by the sad implosion that is Marybeth Glenn] — Dear conservative NeverTrump diehards, who denounced Donald Trump throughout 2016 and cannot quiet your chatterbox brains long enough to understand what just happened in America:

We who have not suffered neurological short-circuits almost feel sorry for you, and if not for your willful ignorance we’d probably promote public sympathy for you with tender entreaties and pictures of teddy bears.

But because you insist on being so loud and dumb we’re going in a different direction.

What do normal people see when they look at you?

First of all, the NeverTrump holdouts appear twisted by bitterness and unaware of of the fact they are embarrassing themselves.

Marybeth Glenn
Some Trump critics saw his victory as a learning experience. On the other hand, there is Marybeth Glenn.

They think they are the conservative movement’s “remnant church,” the keepers of the flame of truth, when in fact they are the conservative movement’s crazy uncle.

They wear their bitterness like a soup-stained shirt. Their worldview, an alternate reality where everything Trump does is the Worst Thing Ever, becomes more tiresome each day.

When they talk, people don’t listen. What they write goes unread. They are the ones who fancy themselves kingly raconteurs of Facebook, but have long been unfollowed by most friends and left fulminating into the ether.

What brought them to this sorry state?

Their thought process got demented, pushing them to weird positions ungrounded in reality. Before the election, it was promoting Twilight Zone campaigns like Evan McMullin’s and promising a “final surprise” that would end Donald Trump; since the election, they waste everyone’s time with witless, empty criticism and petty blathering.

The NeverTrump lecturers share the familiar unhinged perspective that poses magical solutions to other people’s real-world problems, much like libertarians, Christian Reconstructionists, and other varieties of sociopathic egotists.

Of course, the world is full of Democrat kooks who will make surreal claims about any Republican, and whom many Americans find easy to ignore. But the NeverTrump crazies, we must admit, are actually knowledgeable about American politics and they present themselves as having a degree of expertise in their unending castigation of Trump.

They should, and probably do, know better.

They know that most presidents have made mistakes that have harmed the country. With presidents, we get problems. A Hillary Clinton presidency would have brought immense problems solely on the basis of what she said she would do, apart from the unintended or unstated consequences.

The NeverTrump conservatives know these things. They also know, therefore, that as far as we can tell at this point, Donald Trump could easily become one of the better conservative presidents. Might not happen, but it might. His cabinet appointments so far are promising. He might be better on immigration and federal spending than Reagan was. He might appoint better Supreme Court justices than did George H. Bush or his son. Could certainly be better than Nixon in many areas. And Trump surely may be better in every respect than every Democratic president going back half a century or longer.

From what we can see so far, there is no reason on earth to be pessimistic about Trump based on our experience with the Bushes or any other president of the past fifty years.

Yet, somehow, with Trump still weeks away from taking office, the NeverTrump critics – often boasting a mantle of Godly righteousness – find it worthwhile to expend effort tearing down his every move. They spend far more time on this than any of them spent criticizing Hillary Clinton – or, for that matter, Barack Obama, during the past few years.

Unlike Trump whom the NeverTrump egotists predict will fail, the Republican Congress has in fact failed miserably in living up to their pre-election promises for several elections now but, oddly, NeverTrump conservatives are willing to give that record a thorough whitewash.

An impartial observer would have to say that is some pretty nasty BS you are trying to dump on Americans.

So to you, dear conservative NeverTrump has-beens, let us say: We have you figured out. And your predicament is not complicated.

You are on the outside looking in. Your opportunities for greater fame, money, and especially influence, vanished on the morning of November 9. Your subsequent humiliation, and need to basically find a new reason for anyone to pay attention, signal your descent into irrelevance.

You bet on the wrong horse.

We get it: To any self-imagined conservative hotshot, this is Hell. And nobody should listen to the voices from the outer darkness.

Charlie Sykes exits

Charlie Sykes exits stage left with dolly, dishes

Today Charlie Sykes exits the Wisconsin radio hosting job he held for many years. Undoubtedly some of his fans will miss him, as will the few Republicans and conservatives whom Charlie has not written off as “broken” or “deeply compromised.”

For the vast majority of Americans, Sykes’ departure from the public stage will be met with a heartfelt “Charlie who?”

A vocal #NeverTrump conservative, Sykes is one of the diehard commandos who donned the cloak of self-righteousness when other observers began to take a realistic view of the Trump phenomenon.

Fitting perfectly the template of self-absorbed kindergartner, Sykes early on and after the election explained away “Trumpism” as the degradation of righteousness and character on a massive scale, afflicting everyone supporting the Republican presidential ticket.

Apart from a tiny group – a “small desert island” – of intact believers on the Right, including himself, Sykes sees conservatism itself as “damaged.”

A regular, unsurprisingly, on MSNBC, Sykes used the liberal platform of the New York Times to remind everyone that we was making good on his promise to take his dolly and dishes and bid the Party adieu.

I was under the impression that conservatives actually believed things about free trade, balanced budgets, character and respect for constitutional rights. Then along came this campaign.

I thought that I was well within the mainstream of conservative thought — only to find conservative Trump critics denounced for apostasy by a right that decided that it was comfortable with embracing Trumpism.

The American people, you see, have let Charlie Sykes down.

Which, incidentally, vaguely reminds us of someone else – we can’t quite put our finger on whom – whose grandiose sense of self seems almost like a learning disorder, causing him to vastly overrate his own competence to the point of being unable to acknowledge his own failures.

The future that Charlie sees is a frightening one, with a “weaponized media” aimed at Donald Trump’s critics – which sounds scary until one gives it a nanosecond of thought, whereupon one realizes that Charlie the media guy is actually projecting a teeny bit. After all, Charlie himself and his doggedly anti-Trump website served pretty consistent artillary duty attacking Trump and Trump’s supporters throughout 2016.

We’ll continue to read Charlie as a psychological case study, but we believe that America and the conservative movement will be fairly unaffected by his exit from the radio waves. We predict he will be found on MSNBC or similar left-wing media outlets with ongoing regularity. He may prove us wrong, but in our experience the narcissist requires an audience.

NeverTrump conservatives

Everything you need to know about NeverTrump conservatives you can learn from a kindergartner

As The Hill reported recently, a few former NeverTrump conservatives are quietly transitioning to “I didn’t mean NEVER Trump,” possibly to salvage their careers on the assumption that everyone they spent 2016 spouting off to will have short memories.

Some of these Trump denouncers know their trek back to relevance will be long, and will begin on their knees.

Not all of them, though.

A dedicated corps of NeverTrump true believers refuses to accept the war is over. They’ve slathered themselves in mud, donned the boots they will die in, and fire volleys from their caves, seemingly following orders from long ago.

Let us note that out in the wilderness is a very bad place to be for political movers and shakers which, in their own minds at least, likely describes every single NeverTrumper. We offer this observation to explain what appears to be a mass descent into madness.

Their careers likely are wound up with their self-images as indispensable political experts, but they have just proven to be not only quite dispensable, but also laughable. Once the Trump Administration is in the White House, these formerly influential Republicans will no longer be the jokers, but the butts-of-jokes.

They have not been merely mistaken about the 2016 election, but have been so flamboyantly and persistently wrong they’re sort of hard to figure out.

Reading their bizarre post-election statements, one has to ask “Who could take this crap seriously?”

The answer is: no one with a brain.

But NeverTrump conservatives, who at one time were each viewed as intelligent people, seem unaware that when your sphere of influence is a circle of fools, you are probably seen as not too bright yourself.

To understand these odd ducks, these eternal soldiers of the petulant mind, we need look not to the Japanese Lubang holdouts but, much closer to home, to the kindergartner in the back seat of the car.

Psychologically, the NeverTrump conservative and the American 5-year old are the same person. Here are the key signs to look for:

1. Rude in victory:

If you’ve spent any time with the average kindergartner, you know that when they get their way, they’re happy but it’s a giddy sort of joy, frequently boisterous and graceless toward those who wanted something different.

In the run-up to the 2016 election, NeverTrump conservatives were champagne-popping dictators-in-waiting, as well as budding Torquemadas, obviously planning for a Trump shellacking and power vacuum in the Republican Party. They began celebrating and leveling insults, and announced purges, punishments, and blacklists, before the first votes were counted.

Amanda Carpenter, joined by the self-anointed conservative purists at RedState set the tone way back in March with an enemies list to blackball, in perpetuity, anyone who endorsed or supported Donald Trump.

Notably, they emphasized Trump supporters “have forever forfeited their right to have their opinion taken seriously,” a proposal to which we’ll return at the conclusion.

More recently, Rick Wilson called for a thorough purge of “the Trumpkins” with their “ignorant and angry primal screams,” and declared his intention to humiliate Trump and teach his “minions” a lesson: “You’re not purging us. We’re purging you.”

David Frum promised “a scorched earth period of recrimination” in the Republican Party against Trump supporters.

With a dark warning of plans for “holding current and future Republican leaders accountable for their acceptance of Trump and other non-Republican con artists,” a group of anti-Trump Republicans unveiled their agenda to clean house at the GOP.

Displaying that same vengeance fever, Marybeth Glenn, the Angriest Christian In Wisconsin, promised such a “hostile environment” for that “subset of the GOP” after Trump’s upcoming loss, that they would either change or leave – but would never be trusted: “Forgive those who messed up, but don’t let them forget it.”

Retribution and mockery were the drivers of #NeverTrump social media:

Ben Howe on Twitter

Ben Howe on Twitter

Rick Wilson on Twitter

Liz Mair on Twitter

Liz Mair on Twitter

marybeth glenn on Twitter

Amanda Carpenter on Twitter

2. Thuggish in defeat:

But when someone else gets their way, watch out. The kid who lost out often retreats into an irrationally gloomy world, with the menacing portent: “It’s going to be TERRIBLE now.”

As we now know, Trump supporters chose wisely, causing the denouncers to look like fools themselves. Donald Trump is the top figure in the Republican Party, soon to be commander-in-chief. His wife and son will reflect on the insults as the First Family. And generally, those who did the threatening and premature grave dancing have a long, maybe impossible, journey back to credibility.

Unlike those who after the election sought forgiveness, the NeverTrump holdouts have doubled down, declaring how awful everything will now be, how every rumor and every Trump decision signal a disastrous and totally non-“conservative” presidency.

Having no historical basis to justify their portentous claims, since the last two Republican presidents were themselves pretty atrocious “conservatives,” the NeverTrump conservatives apparently intend to sway us with their moral authority and their credibility.

It has been so frankly surreal we could fill volumes, and likely will in the future. For now, a wafting from their burning heads will suffice.

Continue reading Everything you need to know about NeverTrump conservatives you can learn from a kindergartner

Surrendering Attention

Surrendering attention is our most wasteful habit

If you’re anything like us, you frequently find yourself reading or listening to some person’s ideas about current affairs and then immediately asking yourself, “Why do I pay attention to these idiots?” Our conclusion is, we allow ourselves to be robbed. This habit of surrendering attention underlies a lot that is wrong with our world today.

A few cases in point:

Jake Tapper, whose “news” program got caught coordinating messages with the Democratic National Committee, somehow saw fit to critique Donald Trump and his “Trumpkins” over Trump’s failure to subject himself to questions from the Jake Tappers of the world in a manner timely enough for Tapper.
Jake Tapper
Jake Tapper still presumably makes a good salary, commands sufficient audience attention to earn that money, and is not hooted off any stage on which he appears. You may see him on TV tonight.

David Frum, once considered a person with relevant opinions, who delivered one of the most laughably misguided takes on the GOP’s future (along with innumerable truly ignorant social media outbursts) is now reduced to trying to gin up controversy between the First Lady and First Daughter.

David Frum
David Frum not only has not been derided into quiet irrelevance, but he commands an influential position as senior editor of The Atlantic, and apparently never shuts up. He has 214,000 Twitter followers.

Finally, Rick Wilson, Republican consultant and self-proclaimed media guy (on both of which, much more on another day), who manages to be so wrong, so loudly, so consistently, like a machine gun of error, it’s a wonder anyone ever paid attention to him at all. Here he is in October explaining why the 2016 election would result in the destruction of the Republican Party. If you want to steep in stupid, read Rick Wilson’s Twitter feed for the past several months.

Wilson’s output since the election has devolved into schoolyard insults and a staccato outpouring of predictions and spittle. But he’s still got over 73,000 followers and still gets to appear on second-tier television programs now and then. If you follow political news, you’re likely to see his name come up in contexts other than raucus hysteria.

Rick Wilson

The common themes are, first, that each of these individuals deserves to be laughed at so hard that nobody who values an audience would ever allow them a public platform again. Second, despite being proven egregiously wrong, these bozos and plenty of others like them shrug it off and come right back at us, fulminating and lecturing, as though nothing had happened, and certainly not chastened nor hampered by self-reflection. Third, as though cogs in their machine, we continue surrendering attention to them.

Why do we, the audience, allow this plunder to go on?

Continue reading Surrendering attention is our most wasteful habit