Trump vs. Stormy Daniels: Who Do You Believe More?

Full disclosure, I think the evidence, for those who still care about such things, clearly points to Daniels (a.k.a. Stephanie Clifford) as more believable.  So, I was surprised to see the results of a study this morning that asked people the question in my title.   What surprises me is that Daniels only got a 4% advantage over Trump, 34% to 30%, while another 30% indicated they didn’t believe either one.

Add Trump’s 30% to the 30% that don’t believe either one, and you’ve got 60% who do not believe Daniels when, from my point of view, her story is far more compelling.  Think about her “colored” past anyway you want to, but there is no talk of her molesting anyone and bragging about it on Access Hollywood like there is with Trump.  Nor a string of 15 or so accusers of molestation coming forth.

But let’s just get to the heart of the issue:  Compare Trump, who has been proven to lie several times a day about all sorts of things, with Daniels who has stuck with the same story right along.  I have not seen proof she has lied about her relation with Trump.  The media calls it an “affair,” which I think over blows a one night stand.

Daniels has simply stated she slept with Trump once and it was consensual.  That was it.  She has been suing him because he has lied about it happening and her receiving a payoff to keep quiet.

I think she is a tough woman who doesn’t like being pushed around and wants vindication, which is not to say the money and attention she has garnered has not added fuel to her motivation.   I’m not arguing for her sainthood, just that her story is more believable than Trump’s, which to me is a low bar to hurdle.  The question isn’t motives but who has been more truthful.

To all those who don’t believe her, are you saying Daniels did not receive a payoff from Michael Cohen acting on behalf of Trump (do you think he forked out that 200 grand on his own?).  If you think so, I’d say just wait and see how the Cohen trial pans out.

My intention here is not to launch a full blown defense of Stormy Daniels, but to initiate possible conversations on the question of whose story is more truthful.  If we are ever going to bridge our political chasm, we have to find some topics that we can investigate together.  If we can’t come to terms on the truth of this situation, what can we agree upon?   To bridge both sides of the chasm requires something to talk about that it is simple enough to come up with a yes or no answer.

“Who do you believe” and why?    …….. is a place to start.


P. S. –  The study also shows that 72% of the Republicans questioned believed Trump. My theory is fewer than that believe him, but given our current tribalism, they answer as if they did.   I think there are plenty of Republicans who don’t like the man but like his policies enough to ignore their own feelings.  I imagine they think of the poll less as a matter of truth, but as a matter of whom they support.

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We Must Hammer Away at Trump’s Alternate Reality

Trump and his minions shoot blobs of B. S. (distortions of truth in various ways) up in the air like a string of clay ducks in never ending rapid fashion.  The main stream press does a good job of shooting many down, but does not handle well the problem of how they keep popping up like zombies.

Trump’s plan is based on continually lying until voters get totally bamboozled and don’t bother to listen to anyone, except for those fanatics who think of Trump as the lone purveyor of the truth.

How ironic, one of history’s great snake oil salesmen as the one guy to be trusted.

The press can’t keep shooting the same ducks down as more and more keep popping up and there is only so much time for them to report.   In short we are facing a unique problem:   A strategy  based on an overwhelming effusion of B. S. repeated until reified as an alternative reality can overpower the truth when a society ceases to believe there is such a thing in the realm of politics.

This is scary.

What I think is needed is a concentration on which of Trump’s multitude of falsehoods need to be smashed again and again, because they form the key pillars of Trump’s false reality. To allow them to stand is to allow him to keep building upon them.   A good example is the notion that despite his obsequiousness before Putin in that press conference at Helsinki, Trump’s policies have actually been tough on Putin’s Russia.

Few Republicans defend that mealy mouthed performance in Helsinki, but they often are quick to point out that his policies have been tough even if his words have not.

Most often cited are the sanctions on Russia…… as if they prove Trump’s toughness in terms of policies.   This is a great example of how something can seem on the surface to be true, but is not.  Many of these sanctions have been applied, not because of Trump but despite him.   He deserves no credit for them.

Here is a thumbnail sketch that links sources that can give you a more complete picture if you want one.

Back in June of 2017  the Chicago Tribune reported the Senate ” voted overwhelmingly on sanctions  including restricting Trump administrations from altering them”, in other words weaken them.  Obviously, almost the entire Senate did not trust Trump to be tough on Russia.  Then that August the entire Congress passed a bill mandating sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.

The Trump administration dragged their heels at enacting these sanctions until January of this year.  They finally enacted some of the sanctions, but not others as reported in Politico.

Finally in May the Washington Post reported:   “The top Senate Democrats on the Foreign Relations, Intelligence and Banking committees asked the inspectors general of three federal agencies Friday to launch formal probes into why President Trump has not fully implemented congressionally mandated sanctions against Russia.”  Yes, still the ones passed last August in Congress and some since then.

And Trump supporters want to give him credit for these sanctions?   Yes, these sanctions were enacted while he was president, but he deserves no credit for them.  Just the reverse.  They are more evidence of Trump’s tendency to go soft on Russia.  One Trump supporter, obviously grasping at straws in a TV interview, gave Trump credit because he did not veto the sanctions.

The interviewer should have pointed out to that nebbish that vetoing the measure would make Trump look silly as Congress was almost totally united on the issue.  It took Trump to unite them for once…. against him.

My hope here is to make the case that the political media must refuse to allow fabrications like Trump’s toughness with Russia to remain standing while they move on to other topics in their interviews.   And we can help by pointing out such things to the media we attend to.

Some key untruths must not be allowed to stand as we approach the fall elections and this is one of them.

The Essence of the Helsinki Summit: Trump Looked Small and Putin Won Big

Mr. Trump’s performance before the press after meeting Vladimir Putin privately for over two hours (only the two presidents and their interpreters) is being called “disgraceful,” “disastrous” and “shameful”, not only by Democrats but by many Republicans.  This seems likely to linger longer than most of Trump’s gaffs, so let’s take a look at it.

Much of the criticism of Trump stems from his answers to two questions by AP reporter Jonathan Lamire.   Below are the questions and Trump’s response.  On the world stage he looked the part of a buffoon.  Still defending his election win, unable to think beyond what impacts him, rambling, dodging, distracting, fabricating and in the end failing to answer the first question and ignoring the second, leaving the sense that he trusts Putin at least as much as our own intelligence services.   Let me add one more adjective:  Deranged.  You decide…

“Question ….. Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did.   … who do you believe?……My second question is, would you now, with the whole world watching…….warn him to never do it again?

TRUMP: So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months, and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server? And what is the server saying?

With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me — Dan Coats came to me and some others — they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.

I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server. But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone — just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.

So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer. Okay? Thank you.”


P. S.  –  Putin’s “incredible offer” was that that his intelligence services would work with ours to, it seems, get to the bottom of all these accusations.  As if the recent indictment of several Russians giving details of their culpability was just a puff piece in a local gossip column.

If you want to look at the entire transcript of that press conference you can find it here.

The Great Pretender and the Fall Elections

From my posts of the last couple of months or so you might have sensed that I am getting done in by the murkiness exuded hour by hour in Trumptopia.   I have a mind boggling chain of thoughts that get twisted up and fogged over so quickly they are beyond my capacity to deal with them.

I think of those boys trapped in a cave in Thailand.   Metaphorically like them I feel stuck amidst forces I can’t control. Unlike them I am not facing possible death as a result, but I do have the feeling of being swept away.   Like their fates, the mid-terms seem up for grabs.   As with their fates, I don’t have a handle on whether or not the American voters will endorse or reject the nature of Trumpism.

Trump has polluted the collective mind sphere so thoroughly with his alternative facts, distortions and just plain lies I can’t tell who will be persuaded by what.  Especially the “who” who are the tipping pointers, that significant bunch of late deciders that prompted Trump’s election victory.   If the economy remains good that might be all it takes to push the meter towards Trump.  The axiom holds true from the first Clinton presidential run.  “It’s the economy stupid.”

Here is where ultra liberals are myopically clueless.   They think that because they are ultra sensitive to issues like race or the separation of mothers from babies of those entering the U. S. illegally, that most of the country is.   Worse, they think everyone should be.   As a conservative political commentator (who doesn’t like Trump) put it recently, Trump is not conservative:  He is anti-liberal.  And a lot of Americans obviously respond to that.

I’m thinking about Trump’s daily splurge of lies, distortions and showman distractions – like which super conservative he will pick for the Supreme Court Monday night.  Should he pick tweedle dee or tweedle dum? Or maybe tweedle tweedle?  A political commentator whom I respect referred today to Monday night’s announcement as “must see TV.”

No it’s not.  He has fallen into the Trump vortex, the same swirl that drew commentators to talk about the Trump/Kim “historic meeting” in Singapore.  Have you noticed in recent days that the North Koreans now charge us with trying to deal with them mafia style, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refers to the same meetings in NOKO as making substantial progress?  (The last thing his boss wants is for his promises of our no longer having to fear NOKO to become a laughing stock.)

ENOUGH!

Basically we are all waiting to see what happens in the fall mid-terms, so until October I will try to spare you my jumbled thoughts.   If something really grabs me, something that might actually seem important regarding the fall elections or can illuminate this ongoing public psychic mess, I’ll write about it, but otherwise no.

That’s all I can do at this point.

 

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.

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.

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.