Trump Still Living and Dying on his Biggest Lie, and the Other Version of March Madness

By biggest lie, I mean the most disgusting with the biggest ramifications as to our already shaky beliefs in our political institutions.  Not to mention to our standing around the world.  Trump has asserted our former president is a criminal while providing no substantial evidence.  And, as it always works with him.  That’s his story and he’s sticking to it.

Almost a week ago Trump accused predecessor Barack Obama of wire tapping Trump Tower, a felony.  And he continues to hold that position despite members of his own party on key intelligence committees asking:  Where’s the proof?

While many of Trump’s outrageous statements can be viewed as cagey maneuvers to change topics he no longer wants focused upon, this bait and switch seems to have gone awry because he has pushed some of his fellow Republicans in key committee positions, like Senators John Mc Cain and Lindsay Graham and Representative Devin Nunez, to call him on this charade.   Call it the faded shades of Republican integrity arisen.

Over the next two weeks there will be hearings and FBI Director Comey is scheduled to appear at one Monday.   It seems best to see how this sorts itself out, but for those wanting an update here is spokesperson Sean Spicer echoing his boss’s adamant refusal to give up his claim (though look for much upcoming spinning of terms and blaming of others by the Trump team to avoid being nailed.)

I am rushing this post because I want to escape my obsession with Trumpenstein by replacing it with another:  MARCH MADNESS.   It is much more fun with little likelihood of it endangering our democracy and/or the entire world.

Gotta go.  Games and brews and laughs await me.

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Trump and Our Intelligence Services: Two Separate Realities

We have a president elect who has been able throughout the campaign to by and large getaway with creating a reality in a shape that was useful to him at the moment.  And now we have an intelligence community that doesn’t do that.  It creates a reality based on their best understanding of the facts at the moment.    And those two mind sets are now clashing right in front of us as we run up to the inauguration.

General Michael Hayden, former CIA Director, on Smerconish show January 7

Those two mind sets clashed yesterday, not with all sorts of fireworks but with a clear display of separate realities as to the main points of the report those intel chiefs delivered to Trump.   I made some predictions in a post yesterday as to what might transpire.  While I think I was in the ballpark, I missed the chance to hit a  home run, not foreseeing the big fat possibility that Trump would cherry pick a bit here and there from the report while misrepresenting its main substance.  In other words he would publicly interpret the report in a way that fit his separate reality.

The reality of the report was that Russian hacking is a big problem and that it interfered with our election in various ways with a few aims in mind, one of them to reduce the chances of Hillary Clinton winning.   That is an unwelcome reality for Trump because he will not accept any news that might de-legitimize his victory to any degree nor any information that detracts from his desire to develop a closer relationship with Russia.

I should have realized that Trump might just ignore, or misrepresent the findings of the report as he has done so many times in the past with information that doesn’t suit him.  In other words, work it into his separate reality.  I thought he would back off a bit as long as the report did not conclude that the Russians actions helped him win, as he knew it did not, because the intelligence chiefs don’t believe that’s their call.

But in simply discussing Russian efforts to make an impact it raises the possibility that some of those attempts did influence a number of voters who didn’t care for either candidate much, but felt the duty to vote anyway.   Though impossible to know how much of an impact, it seems unlikely to have had no impact at all, which is what Trump insists on claiming.  Even worse, he acts as if the report backs him up.

Here is the beginning of the official response of Trump to the findings of the intel services:   “While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.”

That is a textbook case of disinformation as defined in Wikipedia:   “Disinformation is intentionally false or misleading information that is spread in a calculated way to deceive target audiences.”  For one, as Michael Hayden pointed out, the initial part focusses on a cyber problem we have with several nations, which is true, but it wasn’t the focus of the report.   The problem with Russia was the focus of the report and that is obscured here.

After beginning with that misleading statement, the Trump team jumps to “there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election”……as if that has anything to do with the initial comments on the general cyber problem or that the intel report concluded that.   Neither is true.   The intel report concluded nothing as to the impact.  Instead it leaves it to us to form our own opinion from their information.

The “no impact” comment is just made up, a fact hidden by connecting the words to the statement about no tampering with the voting machines, which is actually in the report.

Perhaps this break down is tedious to you, but the Trump team is so good at spreading disinformation that a light needs to be continually cast on instances of them doing just that.   Especially on a topic as important as our relationship to Putin’s Russia.

Over these next two or three weeks this war between separate  realities could heat up, as there are several Republican senators who I believe will resist Trump’s continuous attempts to trivialize Russian actions of interference in our political process.

Second Thoughts on Trump’s Birther Announcement Friday

The responses of most commentators to Donald Trump’s “important announcement” Friday were similar to my own.  He “punked” or “played” the TV media exquisitely.  As Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post summed it up.  “His great gift is the ability to draw attention — and then use that attention for his own, usually commercial, purposes.  Trump may have outdone himself on Friday morning.”

When it comes to the manipulation of people and reality, he deserves the grand prize.   I hate it, but I think his supporters like it because it implies to them he can beat others at what ever game he plays.  Even very big, complicated games which American presidents must play.

Hooked by the prospect of an important announcement on birtherism, viewers like me soon realized we had been tricked into watching a half hour promo both for his newly opened hotel and for his candidacy, the latter in the form of a group of high level former military that he gathered purportedly to honor, but were obviously there to honor him.

Finally, he abruptly ended this little charade with a one sentence admission that “President Obama was born in the United States, period,”  implying that now the issue is closed because he, Donald Trump, has just closed it.

Oh, and the piece de resistance,  he managed to sneak in the notion that this birther thing was actually initiated by Clinton in her primary with Obama, talking points that his surrogates are now using when questioned about Trump’s waiting this long to admit he was wrong.  Hey, Clinton started it, so don’t blame Trump as if the fact that some of her supporters did spread that rumor which she never embraced is equivalent to Trump’s pounding on the point over several years and still not admitting he was wrong until last Friday.

The last is a perfect example of false equivalency, but, hey, a large part of what Trump and his surrogates say is based on falsehoods, distortions and fantasy.  Yes, common with politicians but he has taken this to a new level.  He has overcome the lesser liars by being the greatest liar of them all able to weave together a separate reality that makes him look great and everyone else look small.

But Trump’s birther admission is a kernel of truth that might be cultivated to challenge Trump’s purported “authenticity,” his claim that he tells it like it is.

If you read my previous post you know I suggested the TV press just move on, that they lost their chance to dismiss the birther issue months ago.   But I was wrong.

Instead of moving on the press should cling to questioning Trump on that statement like a Gila monster grabbing his hand.  This is the first time Trump has ever admitted to being wrong about anything substantial and the TV press should not do what they normally do which is move on to the next ridiculous thing or things Trump throws out to bait them, so they never really dig into much of anything.

That moving on is what is now happening because Trump, as usual, has thrown out a typically outrageous statement suggesting Hillary’s security should not carry guns because she doesn’t want the rest of us to have the right to do so…..crap, crap and more crap.  And the particular hook is that he’d like to see what happens to her if her security do go gun-less, which has both the Hillary camp and the TV media up in arms about Trump inciting violence once again.

How could he say something so terrible?   AS A RUSE, that’s how, to turn media attention to another issue  THAT’S WHY while maintaining control of the news cycle AS ALWAYS.   The same thing he has done successfully for months.  THAT’S HOW.

I was irritated that the first response of the TV press corps was to question whether Trump should apologize to President Obama and his family for not admitting this sooner, a question he could easily ignore as he never apologizes for anything.  What they should have asked and should keep asking is when he changed his mind on the issue and why.  And why even a few days ago he refused to admit it.

The obvious reason is birtherism was the calling card that attracted the sizeable portion of his base who believe Obama was born in Kenya.  Trump won’t admit that, of course.  He will be the artful dodger as usual, but somewhere in that admission of a change of mind on the issue is something solid for the press to glom onto and keep gnawing at.

Just keep holding on to this question:  Mr. Trump, when did you change your mind on President Obama’s birth and why?   Even if the TV press lets go, hopefully the moderators at the upcoming debates will bite hard.


P. S. – It should be clear by now that Donald Trump has successfully  created his own version of reality that many Americans are buying into, to varying degrees but overall they like what he is selling.  One of his backers captured this curious attraction by saying:  “I don’t care what he says.  I believe he’ll do it.”    That “it” is pregnant with possible interpretations that I’ll leave up to you.

Karen Tamulty  of the Washington Post tries to come to terms with this attraction in a an article titled:  Trump: Never wrong, never sorry, never responsible.  I liked it enough to read again.