Saudi Arabia, Trump Anxiety, Republican Distraction: 3 Stories You Should Read 10/12/2018
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In the category of: Yet another serious scandal we barely notice.
His corruption is a national security issue.
A foreign government — an American ally, no less — can’t just murder a US resident with impunity while he’s on the soil of a NATO member state because they didn’t like his newspaper columns.
And yet that seems to be exactly what President Donald Trump wants to let Saudi officials do, explaining to reporters on Thursday that he does not want to respond to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi because “I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money coming into our country” and “I don’t like stopping an investment of $110 billion in the United States.”
In the category of: A whole new kind of crazy.
Psychologists’ couches are filling up as Americans seek relief from Trump Anxiety Disorder.
During normal times, therapists say, their sessions deal with familiar themes: relationships, self-esteem, everyday coping. Current events don’t usually invade. But numerous counselors said Trump and his convulsive effect on America’s national conversation are giving politics a prominence on the psychologist’s couch not seen since the months after 9/11—another moment in which events were frightening in a way that had widespread emotional consequences.
Empirical data bolster the anecdotal reports from practitioners. The American Psychiatric Association in a May survey found that 39 percent of people said their anxiety level had risen over the previous year—and 56 percent were either “extremely anxious” or “somewhat anxious about “the impact of politics on daily life.” A 2017 study found two-thirds of Americans’ see the nation’s future as a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.”
In the category: Pay much closer attention to what they don’t want you to notice.
One underrated aspect behind why Republican politicians have gone increasingly all-in on culture war, bigotry, enraged nationalism, and bug-eyed conspiracy theories is that they have nothing concrete whatsoever to offer most of their voters. The donor class — generally the top 1 percent, but also any self-interested lobbying group — has an absolute hammerlock on the GOP policy agenda. With rare (and generally grossly incompetent) exceptions, the laws you get when you vote Republican are deregulation of industry (especially finance and bad polluters), and massive tax cuts for the rich paid for by gouging huge chunks out of social insurance. Then, to disguise this incredibly unpopular set of policy priorities, Republican politicians serve up heaping portions of culture war red meat.
Now, this tactic should not be underestimated. For instance, in terms of uniting the Republican base, the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has proved successful precisely because of his multiple sexual assault allegations and his snarling partisan testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Infuriating liberals by nominating a beer-swilling Republican hack operative and accused sexual predator allows conservatives to experience their very favorite thing: marinating in victimhood.
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