Dilbert Predicts Trump will Win Election in a Landslide

Not Dilbert actually.  He’s a comic strip character as you probably know.  It is his creator, Scott Adams, who is predicting a Trump landslide and he has been making this prediction for months on his:  blog.dilbert.com.  I just learned of his political punditry watching one of the Fox programs this Sunday morning.   His blog seems well worth following through the election as you are likely to judge from the March 4 post below.

Let’s just say he has made a strong argument for the possibility of us waking up in November  to see Donald J. Trump as our president.

“The FOX News debate moderators annihilated Donald Trump last night. They highlighted huge problems with his budget plan, showed inconsistencies in his policies, and hammered him for his Trump University “scam” as some would call it. It was Trump’s first bad debate night.

And when I say FOX annihilated Trump, I mean they guaranteed a Trump landslide. People don’t like the establishment, in case you haven’t heard.

We’re past the question of whether our politicians are lying to us. That’s a given. The system forces them to lie to get elected. I’m not sure the voters care at this point.

A good way to judge the persuasiveness of these debates is to sleep on them and see what sticks in your mind in the morning. The few moments that you remember are the things that matter. The rest of your memories got flushed while you slept. So Here’s what I recall from last night.

1. Trump’s penis is more than adequate, he says.

2. Trump’s immigration plans are his first offer, subject to negotiation, as I have been telling you for months. (Because all things are subject to negotiation.)

3. Trump has no good defense for the Trump University “scam” accusation. But voters probably don’t care. They heard it was a contested legal situation – a boring one – and that was probably enough for people to ignore it.

4. Trump’s budget plans are ridiculous, just like the other candidates’ plans. But voters probably know that already. No one believes a budget plan from a candidate.

5. Trump looked sweaty and flustered at one point. That’s the first we have seen it. But he still came off as powerful in general.

6. Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich were also on stage. I can’t remember if they talked.

7. FOX seemed to be piling on Trump, but that could be the front-runner effect. You expect them to go after the leader and frame questions around the leader’s positions.

Overall, I doubt this debate moved the needle much on the polls. People who watch debates at this point in the election cycle probably made up their minds before they turned on the TV.

If you are wondering how to make a decision in light of the fact that all the candidates appear to be either deeply flawed or toothless, I’m here to help. I suggest you use this simple trick: Assume all the accusations about everyone are 100% true. Then vote.

For example, assume Donald Trump has changed positions on some things and plans to negotiate on other things. Assume he has a ridiculous budget plan. Assume he has insufficient policy details. Assume his taxes have some ugly surprises and that Trump University seemed a scam to its students. Assume he has several notable business failures. Assume he has offensive thoughts about women and minorities and he will say more offensive things in the future. Assume he is a narcissist too. Assume all of it to be true.

But also remember that Trump has never offered himself to be the country’s role model. And I don’t believe anyone is questioning his patriotism or love of country. As far as I can tell, Trump is treating this more like an extended job interview. He’s offering to put his talent for persuasion (which you might call his flaw of being full of shit) in the service of the country.

A Trump presidency would be messy. It would certainly introduce a new type of risk that we have not seen before.

Do you want more risk?

Generally speaking, you want to avoid risk when things are going well and accept risk when things are totally broken. If you think the country is doing well, and will continue to do so, Hillary Clinton is an excellent choice on the left, as is Marco Rubio on the right. They will keep things mostly the same.

But if you think government is rigged against your interests, and unlikely to improve on its own, you want a bloodless revolution. And the candidate you hire for the revolution is likely to have rough edges.

Here I remind you that I’m not endorsing Trump or anyone else. In fact, I disavowed Trump exactly because of the rough edges. I don’t want to be in the splatter zone with any of the accusations I mentioned.”

The Inevitable Destruction of the Republican Party

Maybe it’s not inevitable, but is sure looks like it from here.

In case you’re just coming out of a coma, Donald Trump thrashed his opponents for the Republican presidential nomination in last night’s primary, winning seven states while Ted Cruz won three and Marco Rubio won one.   Of course, there are a lot more primaries to take place, but the trend seems clear.  The losing camps like to point out that Trump really is getting only about 35% of the votes, indicating that leaves about 65% of Republicans against him.

The problem with that is none of his opponents plan on dropping out soon and it is unclear if any of them does, where their votes would go.   For example, the camps of Cruz and Rubio are far from close, so if Cruz would drop out a lot of his votes would go to Trump.   At the moment the path to the nomination now looks like a red carpet for the Donald.

Except that prominent figures in that vague collection called the “Republican establishment” seem willing to try anything to sabotage a man who at times seems more liberal than conservative, has no real plans for anything and is outrageously crass whenever he feels like it.  In short they cannot stomach the thought of Trump being the current personification of “the party of Lincoln and Reagan.”

The specter of a Trump nomination has driven Senator Lindsey Graham to admit with clinched teeth that he would even prefer Ted Cruz to Donald Trump.  That’s quite a statement from a guy who has joked that if Cruz was murdered on the senate floor, no one would be found guilty.   If you don’t get the joke, he was suggesting how disliked Cruz is by his fellow Senators, probably so since he does not have even one endorsement from them.

Things are so bad that I see various noteworthy Republicans state they won’t vote for Trump if he’s nominated, and hear much talk of plans to prevent his getting the necessary 1237 votes to win the nomination outright.  While none of the others appears capable of beating him, together they may well get enough votes to leave the matter unsettled until the convention in Cleveland in July.

Hence, a floor fight or perhaps more accurately, a gang cage match.

What might happen there boggles the mind.  Except it cannot be good for the Republican party.  It is hard to imagine a majority of delegates rallying around either Cruz or Rubio, which might leave Ohio governor Kasich as the default choice.   Being a popular governor of the state and having a positive campaign not really attacking the others he wouldn’t be a bad candidate – actually a good one in normal times – but the Trump fans are close to a religion at this point, zealots for change no matter what, and if Trump is “robbed” of the nomination, no way they’ll vote same ‘ol, same ‘ol Republican if they vote at all.

The image of Humpty Dumpty comes to mind.

The Wizzard of Trump: Peering Behind the Curtain

Two friends of mine were lambasting me last night for appearing to become a fan of Donald Trump.  I tried to defend myself by saying I’m not a fan of the man, but just fascinated by his political success.  But they would have none of that.

“He’s racist. He’s sexist.  That’s what you should be pointing out,” said one.   As if that were news to anybody.  What’s interesting to me is how in  acting like a crass, prejudiced jerk he only gets more popular.

Truth is, I don’t know who Donald Trump is.  He’s praised for speaking his mind, or from his heart, portrayed as being authentic like Bernie Sanders.  I think only some of that is true and it is hard to sort it out because fundamentally Trump is a showman, so what we see is mostly what he wants us to see to keep the show fresh and entertaining.

Do you think he’s not consciously being unpredictable?   That’s not authenticity, that’s an act.

Or some of it is and some isn’t, hard to know.  But this morning I decided to see if I could find some insight as to the man as opposed to the showman and I hit a goldmine in an interview in the Daily Beast with a woman named Barbara Res, who seems likely to know Trump about as well as anyone.

Trump hired her as the top engineer in the construction of Trump Tower in the 80s and she still worked with him in the 90s when “he only escaped financial ruin because the banks decided to leave the super self-promoter with enough to maintain the illusion of an empire.”

Trump asked her to take on the Trump Tower job when she was only 31, a position that probably no other woman in the world had.  And, though she had seen Trump be abusive to others who worked for him, he had always treated her with respect .

He “was the least sexist boss I ever had as far as trusting me and viewing me equally with all the men we encountered in our mutual dealings,” she reports. “He wanted me to be him on the job. He said I would be like a ‘Donna Trump.”

That’s the good part, though not surprisingly she won the respect by standing up to the many men she worked with.   “He told me I was a killer,” she recalls. “That’s important to him. Apparently, he thought that was a compliment.”

While Trump values the killer instinct, Res reveals when it came to firing people, he had trouble doing it himself.  “When somebody had to be fired, Donald laid the job off to an underling,” ironic given his “Your fired.” line being his tough guy trademark phrase in his show The Apprentice.

Res sheds light on a number of Trump traits, such as the anger shown is real, while the charm is a put on, and of course he seldom blames himself for any work that fails or falls short.  And he has no shame.  He showed that in the way he handled a scandal with a mistress and in his outrageous comments about anyone or group he feels anger towards.  “The more he gets away with, the more he does,” she says.

Not surprisingly, she says his biggest skill is self-promotion and that were it not for the image he promoted of having “the Midas touch,” prompting a number of banks to keep him afloat while he was hundreds of million in debt his financial empire would have collapsed years ago.

But the empire did not collapse and he became very rich and even more famous, but something changed him in the process.   “The humanity unfortunately faded as Donald’s star brightened,” Res says.   And while clearly a progressive before Obama’s second term, he trademarked  Make America Great Again a few days after the inauguration and became a conservative demagogue.

According to the interviewer:  “For all her experience with the old Trump, she had trouble discerning what was actual in the new one.” 

A Hillary supporter, Res follows the new Donald’s campaign from afar.  She saw the coverage of him saying that he wanted to punch a protester in the face.

“I would be laughing, but I’m crying,” she says. “He’s just such a bully. A typical bully.”

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P. S. – Res published a book in 2013 about her life in the construction industry available on Amazon, while the Daily Beast article can be reached by cutting and pasting:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/25/donald-trump-s-tower-boss.html

In the article Res provides a much fuller portrait of Trump than I have alluded to here.

 

Donald Trump Might be Even More Popular than Polls Show

Recent findings by a research group called Morning Consult suggest that as well as Trump does in the polls, he might actually be even more popular than that.  This “group” has found that a number of people who back him, usually college educated, are embarrassed to admit it, so they mislead pollsters.

My favorite columnist, Kathleen Parker, reflected on these findings and, as usual, has written a column that is both witty and insightful, shedding light on the Trump phenonmenon in her own unique way.

“Morning Consult’s revelations got me thinking and, by Jove, I think I’ve got it: Donald Trump is White Man’s last stand.”

This link to that editorial is my Christmas gift to you.

Donald Trump and the Difference between Insanity and Folly

One of my pet peeves is the pseudo wisdom often expressed as:  “The definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results.” When I initially heard it a decade or two or three ago, it was attributed to Einstein, which immediately made me suspicious.

Einstein was too smart to think it, let a lone say that.  So, I looked into the matter.  While its exact origin seems debatable, one thing clear is Einstein never said it. (1)

It came to mind this morning when a political commentator used it as part of the explanation for Donald Trump’s popularity.  Politicians make the same old promises and nothing much changes.   So, you want different results, choose a non-politician who has been a very successful businessman.   Then the results may be different.

The Donald, if nothing else, is completely different.  Sometimes by the day.  Who knows what he will say or do next?  Making everyone tune in for the latest.  The other candidates look like somnambulists compared with Trump.

But back to the quote above about repeating the same mistakes. It is hard to pin down a common definition of insanity, but if there is one common denominator it’s dwelling in a world that is unreal to the rest of us (2).    It’s like pornography.  We can’t quite define it, but we know a nut case when we see someone acting incoherently (not including drug or alcohol induced).

Expecting different results while repeating the same mistakes is not insanity but folly, arguably our greatest human common denominator.

One small example.  I have a friend who has gambled on horses for decades and his worse days at the track are usually tied to an undisciplined approach to betting.  He’s careless in handicapping the races (also spelled lazy) and allows his emotions and hopes of getting lucky to prompt unwise decisions, often lathered in beer foam.  He has known this for years, but still often repeats those mistakes and  kicks himself afterwards.  Not for being crazy but for being a fool once again.

A much bigger example.   Our two biggest foreign policy mistakes in my lifetime were going into Vietnam and Iraq.  Both were prompted by arrogance and ignorance, the arrogance of power and an ignorance of who we were dealing with in those nations, both so-called friends and enemies.   The lesson that should have been learned from Vietnam is that our shear military might can not solve problems that are fundamentally political in nature.

But we didn’t learn because we still remained arrogant in our might and largely ignorant of what a quagmire we might be getting into.   One of the most distressing things I’ve ever read about American foreign policy came from Richard Holbrooke, a respected albeit controversial diplomat for decades.  He said something like this:   Those responsible for forging American foreign policy know surprisingly little about the nations for whom they are forging that policy.   Not exactly his words, but the gist.

In other words, the elephant of our military is guided through the china shop of international relations by handlers half-blind at best, but still arrogant.

Our inherent human tendency to repeat mistakes is not because of insanity but because of human foibles like greed, delusions, false hopes, arrogance and what have you.   Shakespeare summed it up:  “What fools these mortals be.”  He never said what loonies these mortals be.

By the way, a mistake people have repeated throughout history is to place faith in a demagogue who persuades us he alone can save the day by playing on our emotions and prejudices rather than our rationale side.   Demagogues don’t have a great track record historically, but that doesn’t keep people from following the next persuasive  demagogue who comes down the pike.

Does anyone come to mind?

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(1)  When I researched the topic years ago, it seemed Ruby Mae Brown got “the credit” for those words from a novel of her’s published around 1983. Googling the matter recently, both Wikipedia and Cara Santa Maria in HuffPo asserted that Narcotics Anonymous (NA) gets the credit.  However, blogger Tyson Moore argues that NA may have gotten the idea from Brown before she published her book and a respondent to her piece says NA actually got it from AA, so more research seems necessary for those who really care to pin it down.

For me, I’ve had enough as the statement sounds good but is just plain wrong.

(2)  The increased political polarization over the past few decades has added a caveat to our common sense idea of reality.   Politically, we have lost a common sense of reality.   Political spin has created separate realities, one viewed from the right and one from the left.  That’s why those on the left and those on the right cannot have a meaningful conversation about politics.  A dialogue is impossible without shared common assumptions about reality.