Today in Politics: A Time Capsule For Your Grandchildren


I’m feeling overwhelmed. Everywhere I turn, I find yet another nugget that’s hardly worth a blog post but nonetheless feels like a nutshell version of politics this year. So consider this post a time capsule. Someday you can show it to your grandkids to demonstrate how far off the rails our country went in 2016.

Reporters have been griping forever about Hillary Clinton not holding a press conference. She’s been interviewed plenty of times by national reporters, but I guess that’s not good enough. So over the past few days she’s finally decided to open up more, and this morning she even held a full-fledged presser. Here is Chuck Todd’s reaction:

Hillary just can’t win, can she? Here’s a headline from The Hill:

There are two ways you can take this. Option 1: By God, we are going to make this story about the emails no matter what. Option 2: It’s a snarky acknowledgment of the fact that once they finally got their press conference, reporters didn’t even bother asking about the very thing they’ve been obsessed with for months. My money is on #1.

Moving on, the latest idiot right-wing conspiracy meme, promoted by lunatic late night conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, is that Hillary Clinton was wearing an earpiece at the Commander-in-Chief forum last night. Donald Trump Jr. passed along the news:

Followed by a retweet of this:

That’s right: the Republican candidate’s campaign is now passing along psychotic delusions from Alex Jones. Before long they’ll be channeling the ghost of Rasputin. Meanwhile, at last night’s forum Trump insisted that in his recent intelligence briefing he learned that President Obama had blown off the intelligence community. “I have pretty good with the body language. I could tell they were not happy. Our leaders did not follow what they were recommending.” This is a pretty outrageous breach of what’s supposed to be a classified briefing, and it’s also a lie. Intelligence professionals agree pretty unanimously that no briefer would ever do such a thing.

But did Trump really lie? Last night I used Trump as a flimsy excuse to name check famed physicist Wolfgang Pauli, so today I’ll use Trump as an equally flimsy excuse to bring up famed mathematician Kurt Gödel. In 1931 Gödel proved that in all mathematical systems1 there are true statements that are unprovable. Paul Waldman says that’s our problem with Trump. He uses Trump’s claim to have a secret plan to crush ISIS as an example:

Here’s the problem this presents. What he’s saying is so transparently phony that it just boggles the mind, yet you can’t do an “objective” fact-check on whether Trump has a secret plan to defeat the Islamic State, because you can’t prove that he doesn’t. But he doesn’t.

….Now let me point to a second exchange in the forum, when Lauer asked about the intelligence briefing Trump received….Just as with his secret ISIS plan, I can’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trump is lying here, but he’s lying. If the briefers told him “what our experts said to do,” it would be unprecedented. And the idea that they communicated with their “body language” that they are unhappy with the administration’s decisions? Please.

We could call this Trump’s Incompleteness Theorem: In all political campaigns, there are false statements that are unfalsifiable. Literally everyone knows that Trump is bullshitting, but the rules of the game don’t allow anyone to say so.

In other news, Wells Fargo was fined $185 million because it opened 1.5 million bank accounts and applied for 565,000 credit cards—without telling the customers involved it had done so. That is not a typo. They opened fake accounts and applied for fake credit cards. This outrageous scam was uncovered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Trump wants to eliminate. In fact, the entire Republican Party wants to eliminate it. They think it’s too tough on banks.

Finally, today is the 50th anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek in 1966. Normally, this wouldn’t be something I’d mention in a political blog, but the episode titled “Mirror, Mirror” is surprisingly apropos of this year’s presidential campaign. Whenever someone asks what’s going on, just say, “We’re in the Spock-with-a-beard universe.” That should be enough.

1Technically, his theorem applies only to mathematical systems complex enough to describe the natural numbers. In other words, every mathematical system we actually care about.