Dilbert says: Politics has Always been 100% B. S. …. Trump Just Does it Better than Anyone Else.

Not really the comic strip character Dilbert saying it, but his creator Scott Adams, who asserted very early in Trump’s campaign that Trump would not only win the nomination but the presidency as well while other commentators, like moi, were calling him a clown.

The basis for Adam’s assertion was that Trump was such a highly skilled persuader that only a fellow expert persuader, as Adams dubbed himself, could appreciate Trump’s advantage.  I have qualms about Adam’s acting as if he were the voice of detached reason in all of this – he has done his own B. S. ing to promote his stature –  but the insight that Trump is the Albert Einstein of B. S. and could make facts seem irrelevant cannot be denied.

These days he completely ignores anything that does not fit with the message he wants to sell, and the press seem impotent to challenge him, like a few days ago on the White House lawn when they appeared like a bunch of yapping puppies and he their master, avoiding answering anything really, just a lot of B. S. and evasion.  The press must rethink how they are going to handle this slippery serpent.

I’m not going to further describe the obvious as one either sees what I’m talking about or can’t be convinced, but I get nervous when I hear talk of a “blue wave”  when so much depends on who wins the battle of conflicting narratives in the minds of those relatively few who seem likely to tip the fall elections to one party or the other.  Just like with the presidential election.

And in winning those folks over, successful B. S. might be the big divider – certainly not the weight of facts – so I think it a good idea to become familiar with Scott Adams’ views expressed in his:  blog.dilbert.com  By the way, the truncated analysis borrowed for the title above comes from Episode 104 of his blog, titled:  Propaganda videos, Peace with NK and Racism.

In there you’ll also find Adam’s high praise for the propaganda video given to Kim Jong Un, a video that most observers, again like myself, laughed at.  Before wading in be prepared to feel uncomfortable.  Seeing him tearing apart positions you might hold dear, such as the inhumanity of putting “kids in cages,” a position he calls “fraudulent, but deeply effective persuasion.”

His emphasis on the effectiveness of the persuasion rather than the right or wrong of it can be disconcerting.   I would imagine he would give high marks for Hitler’s persuasiveness.  Still, bottom line.  His analyses seem well worth reflecting upon, especially for liberals who place too much emphasis on facts to sway others, which could leave us shocked once again by the results of the next election.


P. S. – A little self confession.  I can’t watch much of Rachel Maddow’s show anymore.  I respect her ability and knowledge, but she continues to teach facts, often repeating and reconnecting ones she has taught before, as if continued speculative analysis of  of the Mueller probe is going to persuade anyone anew.  I for one just want Mueller (and those investigating Michael Cohen) to finally present their findings before it becomes awkward to do so too close to the fall election.   People hearing “witch hunt” incessantly while Mueller remains silent is a troubling brew.

I think for these cases to drag on through the election will confirm Trump’s being a victim B. S. in the minds of many who are on the fence awaiting a push to the Dem side or to that of the Trumpublicans.

Much more than usual, which party winds up controlling the House of Representatives will dictate much of what is to come in the next two years.

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Trump declares North Korea ‘no longer a nuclear threat’….Really??

When it comes to creating illusions, my first thought would normally be David Copperfield, but the “historic event” in Singapore that Trump ginned up takes the cake.  Like most I would agree with Churchill’s statement that “jaw, jaw is better than war, war.”  But if the continued jawing creates a false fantasy of progress, that is a danger in itself.  Pleasant dreams our nice, but at some point we must wake up.

“No longer a nuclear threat,” Trump tweets.  Why?  Because he got a long famously with the former little rocket man who Trump now views (or says he does, who knows?) as “talented… funny… smart… a man who loves his people”.

Loves his people?  This is a guy blamed for the murder of his half-brother, not to mention many others in his regime who he viewed as threats.  And this is also a guy who has continued the family tradition of imprisoning hundreds of thousands of possible detractors earning his nation the reputation of being the most oppressive on earth.

All Kim Jong Un offered was a promise to “work toward the complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula”…… No specifics whatsoever (including what complete denuclearization means) and Trump treats this as a huge victory for peace from a nation that has broken every arms agreement it has made with us.  Trump was so grateful to appear to have made peace that he offered to stop joint military exercises with South Korea (like the ones this August), or at least suspend them until further notice.

(This must have come off the cuff as South Korea and other allies along with our military seemed startled at the announcement).

In exchange for this fantasy the American president acted like he just found his long lost brother while the world watched Trump embrace the most oppressive dictator on the globe as if we Americans had no history of being the beacon of freedom in the world.

This is where Trump’s lack of knowledge and concern about history comes into play.   His sense of history goes back about two weeks, the time he and Kim have been being nice to each other.  As he has indicated, all he knows is that with him Kim has been a fun guy, a guy who Trump believes he can do business with.

Gag me with a spoon.   Trump has pulled out of the Iran agreement for being too weak.  It has over 100 specific, verifiable demands that Iran has been meeting, while all he has from Kim is a promise to try to work things out.  It is that belief alone that separates us from NOKO being a nuclear threat.  All the threats and tough talk and this empty document is what Trump got out of it.  It is only about two to four pages depending how you space it…… Hey, you can read it in 10 minutes (includes a break to get coffee).

What I find particularly irritating is the tendency for commentators to call this meeting a “historic event,”  even those quite critical of it.   Such a term tends to carry positive connotations, implying – as Trump claims – that only he could bring about such a meeting.

WRONG, VERY WRONG………..  the Kim family line has always craved such a meeting, but previous presidents did not want to legitimize this string of dictators in the world’s eye.  Dictators who, to remind you again, have broken every arms agreement we have made with them.

Now, with the president saying “there is no longer a nuclear threat,” how can we hold together the nations that have been sanctioning North Korea?   Those who call this a historic event should occasionally note that such events are not always good, such as the Munich agreement between Hitler and English prime minister Chamberlain, who believed Hitler could be bargained with and when returning home announced to his nation that he had “saved peace in our time.”  A premature judgement if there ever was one.

When it comes to being a historic event, I’ll borrow Trump’s frequent answer to any question that touches upon the future “We’ll have to wait and see.”

I’ll wait to see if this mutual expression of good will between two of the biggest liars on the planet actually leads to a North Korean denuclearization plan with  a series of verifiable steps.   Until then,  I’ll just mark this summit down as one more self-congratulatory publicity stunt by the man I affectionately think of as Trumpenstein.

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P. S. – I did not cover all of the wacky elements of the Singapore meeting.   Trump also presented Kim with a four minute movie apparently designed to dazzle him with the economic possibilities of playing ball with us.  This film was labelled “sensational idiocy” by the folks at the New Yorker, a term that pretty much sums up my sense of the entire summit.  Take a glance at the video and the magazine’s response here.

Correcting My Previous Post

Dear Regular Blog Followers:

I have rewritten my May 18 post.   While I have made small changes in other posts after the fact, this is the first time in six years that I have made noteworthy changes.

Of course, I blame it all on Trump.

I was upset and a little inebriated when writing the previous version, and disliked the final product enough to take another shot at it.  Here’s a link to the site, if you’d care to give it another look.

Richard

The Houston Area: Yet Another High School Massacre

It is just past noon and I am already into the wine.   Trying to figure out a post this morning among the near infinite possibilities was difficult enough and then I heard about the latest school shooting, this time in Texas with 10 killed and 10 injured.  That pretty much shut the door on my thinking.

Do these media types really expect us to watch the umpteenth repeat of the same old story?  The over speculations on causes and what we can do to make this “never happen again.”  Of course, it will happen again.

The assurances of our so-called president that these victims have “our support forever.”  Could words be any more empty?

And I can’t stand to listen to any more “how did you feel” interviews, or any of the other stuff that the cable stations wedge in to show they care.   And, though feeling some guilt, I don’t want to listen to another story of a child’s promising life that was so cruelly cut short.   I feel badly for those families, but when slaughtering school children becomes common place, I don’t want to know every detail.

Tell me something new.

What I want is more insights as to what sort of coordinated effort we might develop to reduce the chances of repetitions.  The bulk of coverage of these school shootings is so uniformly preliminary as to tell us nothing.  I’m still waiting for a detailed report of what happened in Parkland, which I hope can give us some solid clues as to how to better guard against future shootings.

Unfortunately, while the state of Florida has a commission working on this, the last I read in April they weren’t coming up with a full report until next January.  I hope they eventually do give us some useful insights, though the slow pace is maddening.  Given that the shooter was throwing up more red flags than a Moscow parade, I most want to know more about the failure among the various agencies involved – the police, schools, etc. –  to communicate with each other.

But that article points out other problems as well such as flaws in the school’s and the police’s response procedures.  One simple but huge problem source sticks out to me.  The classrooms could only be locked from the outside, so to lock up one’s room a teacher had to lock themselves out.

Mr. President, instead of being supportive forever, how about injecting some money into the Florida commission to help them finish the job sooner?  And then actually act on the conclusions the study draws.

For those interested in reading that April article, go here.

Trump is Betting Politics will Save him if the Law Won’t

Rudy Giuliani exploded on the Washington scene last week, supposedly coming on board the Trump legal team, but acting independently in what seemed like a loose cannon being shot at them.   He blabbed all sorts of contradictory statements and misstatements on various political talk shows, beginning with Hannity last Wednesday.

Giuliani seemed to be making Trump’s legal status worse off.  Turns out he hadn’t gone rogue, as he’d cleared much of what he would say with Trump, therefore surprising the legal team but not the president, who later seemed pleased with his work and kept him out there babbling.  I suspect the two bluster boys are working in tandem and let the legal team be damned.

I am guessing this reflects a decision by Trump that Mueller has the goods on him and he can’t escape this legally, so best to put all his money on winning the political game in the fall and afterwards.   Don’t agree to an interview or accept a subpoena and take it all the way to the Supreme Court next year.  Who knows?  There might be a new Trump friendly Supreme by then.

Meanwhile, just make the investigators look bad, so you have an excuse for not complying with their demands.  Trump has been driving his “witch hunt, no collusion” mantras into our brains for months in preparation for this shift in emphasis and the ongoing Giuliani show tells me Trump hopes his political narrative will save him where the law will not.

And part of that thinking is the Stormy Daniels case is a loss, but the kind of thing that Trump can use as an ongoing distraction because the media loves to cover it.  In the end, assuming Trump doesn’t perjure himself, what will the government do, fine him?  Convict him of some minor lie?   The guy that has rattled off about 3000 of them so far in office according to the Washington Post?

Big deal.

I think this kind of disproportionate coverage contributes to a sense of investigation fatigue as captured by this guy who tweeted to a cable host this Saturday:  “….. the length of the probe is making most of us numb to the issues that are lead stories in liberal media.  Wrap it up and let Potus do his job.”  

Of course, his base buys the whole witch hunt argument already, but even for non fanatics, if you are numb to the issues and want Trump free to do his job you just might be swayed by the great salesman’s relentless credit taking for everything deemed good in 2018, while ignoring the positive trends already well established during the Obama years.

I’m worried about numbed voters and I get nervous when I hear someone talking about an expectant “blue wave” in the fall elections.  Although I’d like to see one, so much seems a matter of how events smile or frown on the Trump presidency in the intervening months and how well Trump can sell his “witch hunt” narrative to those who feel numb to the issues and wonder why so much media time was being spent on such things as a porn star and her lawyer over a hush money payment that may have broken campaign financing laws.

What does that have to do with our major problems?  Hate to say it, but it seems kind of witch hunty to me.  Not the actions per se, but the way the liberal media dwells on them.

 

 

The White House Press Corps Owes Sarah Sanders an Apology

Ed Henry of Fox News , a former association president, spoke of Sarah Sanders’ mistreatment at the WHPA dinner:  We “invited her to be the president’s representative. We invited her to dinner, to our event, and we treated her like dirt. It was disgusting; I’m actually getting more angry just thinking about it.”  I don’t feel that angry, but I don’t like the way comedienne Michelle Wolf treated her.

Just because the president often acts like a complete ass, that’s not an excuse to emulate him.

Understand I don’t like Sanders’ dodging or stonewalling every uncomfortable question in White House briefings.  I was happy to hear of one reporter who got so tired of empty answers he stormed out calling her a liar.  But this was a different place and time and this time she was supposed to be a special “guest” of the press core, not a pinata, which is why she was seated on that stage, which made her particularly vulnerable to be batted around mercilessly in Wolf’s performance.

Except for the mean spirited it is not funny to call someone a liar and compare her to a loathsome character in a TV show, while she has to just sit there and take it.  This was a series of insults plain and simple.   Someone once said there is a fine line between the  prick of wit and the sting of insult.  The best roasts tend to be heavy on wit and light on insult.  When it goes the other way, it ruins the show.

Without Trump present, Sanders got to be the special target for vitriol.   Still,  you could tell by the majority of the audience reaction that Michelle had become all sting and little shared wit when it came to treating Sanders.

Watching Sanders squirm in her chair I thought she should get up and go, yelling on the way:   “I don’t need to listen to this crap.”  I could applaud that.

Now that I think of it, though, a number of reporters might have reflexively shouted back:  “Now you know how we feel.”

So, I’m ambivalent.  But bottom line Sarah was treated like dirt and deserves an apology from the White House Press Corps.

Nuclear Deals and Michael Cohen in Trumptopia

I have become stymied trying to write about the upside down weirdness in Trumptopia.  It feels like trying to wash your car in the midst of a mud slide.  Fearing I could freeze up altogether, I’ll say something about the Iran Nuclear Deal, North Korea’s Nukes, and the investigation of Michael Cohen.

Iran Nuclear Deal:   By May 12 Trump must either renew the Iran Nuclear deal or drop out of it.  If he doesn’t renew everything seems up for grabs as Iran as well as Russia and the European nations who signed the agreement say they have no interest in renegotiating it.   Perhaps the foremost reason Macron of France and Merkel of Germany  visited Washington this week was to push Trump not to pull out of the agreement.

One point made:  Dropping out of a previous agreement would not be a good way to preface a meeting with Kim Jong Un  to talk about a future agreement with him.   A couple of wild cards in this game are the recent appointments of long standing hawks, Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State, and John Bolton as National Security Adviser, both of whom have been been staunch critics of the deal.   Lots of room for speculation.

NO KO’s Nukes:   It feels like we have moved from a nightmare scenario of potentially unimaginable destruction to a dream of peace on the Korean peninsula.  It’s a relief.  I just want to point out that we haven’t won anything yet and North Korea has.   It can be argued that Trump’s constant threats, ramped up sanctions and increased pressure on China played a major role in opening up the possibility of negotiations.

But I would argue even more important Kim Jong Un has gotten what he wanted, a nuclear weapons program that works.  Despite Trump’s huffing and puffing,  Jong Un  kept testing and developing and finds it useful to now be friendly.

Now he can afford to be conciliatory on such things as destroying a missile test site.  He’s happy to just hold the cards he’s drawn.   Other presidents could have met with him or his forbears, but they thought such a meeting would raise the prestige of a tin pot dictator.  Well, it has, hasn’t it?

I see Jong Un being all sorts of nice, smiles and warm handshakes with the president of South Korea and seeming open to Trump’s demands, but later drawing the process out, pushing things down the road, a series of steps, but not giving away the nuclear weapons he has.  Those weapons are what have pushed us to treat him as an equal in these negotiations, and he’s not about to give them up.  It is his ticket to be a major player and a key to his  survival.

Trump acts like he has brought a reluctant Jong-Un to the negotiating table.  Actually, Kim has just been waiting for an invitation.

Investigation of Michael Cohen:    While the Mueller investigation may produce either indictable offenses or reasons for presidential impeachment, the separate investigation of Michael Cohen, Trump’s occasional lawyer and frequent “fixer” may prove a sooner threat.

Just the fact the FBI got a hard-to-get warrant to raid his home, office and hotel room to gather information suggests Cohen is indictable for more than one offense.   So, the question is how might Trump be implicated.  The president made things tougher for himself and Cohen by claiming on Fox and Friends yesterday morning, in what amounted to a half an hour wandering rant, that Cohen has done only a “tiny” amount of work for him as a lawyer per se.

The pile of crap Trump stepped in with those comments is that most dealings he has had with Cohen that are recorded can not be protected by lawyer client privilege because Trump himself has indicated most of the work Cohen has done for him was not lawyerly.

So the prosecution can look at and use most of it.   This seems an impossible situation for Cohen, who could face many years in jail unless he “flips”, i.e. rats on the president.  OR, Trump pardons him.  Cohen has a reputation for loyalty to Trump, but he also has a wife and family he might want to continue living with.   He must be pondering whether he can count on a pardon.

I fantasize sometime this summer president Trump may be in the middle of a chummy meeting with Kim Jong Un talking about denuclearization, while back home there is a lot more talk about impeachment and/or the possibility of an indictment or two.

Hard to believe, but in Trumptopia nothing should be surprising.