Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trump, in his own words

Excerpt of an interview Bob Woodward did with Trump in March of 2016. Look at his comments about Nixon being a criminal. Look at his speech patterns, and how frequently he feels the need to paint himself as a victim, and also to portray himself as an important, successful man. Look at how he talks about winning. And look at how frequently this reads like a conversation with a 5th grader trying to BS an essay test.

BW: Any . . .  . Before coming over, Bob and I have had lots of chats. And we were thinking about this, that you are running for the nomination in the Republican Party.
DT: Right.
BW: Which is the party of Lincoln and the party of Nixon. . . . And so we have this party that you are running to be the nominee in, and it’s got two heritages. Lincoln and Nixon.
DT: That’s true. That’s true.
BW: And why did Lincoln succeed? Thought about that at all?
DT: Well, I think Lincoln succeeded for numerous reasons. He was a man who was of great intelligence, which most presidents would be. But he was a man of great intelligence, but he was also a man that did something that was a very vital thing to do at that time. Ten years before or 20 years before, what he was doing would never have even been thought possible. So he did something that was a very important thing to do, and especially at that time. And Nixon failed, I think to a certain extent, because of his personality. You know? It was just that personality. Very severe, very exclusive. In other words, people couldn’t come in. And people didn’t like him. I mean, people didn’t like him.
BW: And he broke the law.
DT: And he broke the law, yeah. Yeah. He broke the law. Whether that’s insecurity . . .  .
BW: I mean, you listen to those tapes, and he’s a criminal.
DT: Yeah. Whether that’s — right. And he broke the law.
BW: And time and time again, break in, get the FBI on this, get the IRS on.
DT: Sure. Sure.
BW: I mean, it is an appalling legacy of criminality.
DT: Right.
BW: And at the end, the day he resigned, an amazing day, he gives that speech which is kind of free association about mom and dad.
DT:    Right.
BW: He’s sweating. And then he said, “Always remember: Others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.” The piston was hate.
DT: Well, and he was actually talking very much about himself, because ultimately, ultimately, that is what destroyed him. Hate is what destroyed him. And such an interesting figure. I mean, you would know that better than anybody. But such an interesting figure. And such a man of great talent. I mean, Nixon had great potential, great talent. Unfortunately it was a very sad legacy in the end. It turned out to be a very sad legacy. Such an interesting figure to study. I think. . . .
BW: Do you take any lessons from that? Because what did is he converted the presidency to an instrument of personal revenge.
DT:    Yeah.
BW: You’re my enemy, I’m going to get you. I’m going to get so-and-so on you.
DT:  Yeah. No, I don’t. I don’t see that. What I do see is — what I am amazed at is, I’m somebody that gets along with people. And sometimes I’ll notice, I’ll be, I have the biggest crowds. Actually we’ve purposefully kept the crowds down this past week. You know, we’ve gone into small venues and we’re turning away thousands and thousands of people, which I hate, but we didn’t want to have the protest. You know, when you have a room of 2,000 people, you can pretty much keep it without the protesters. When you have 21 or 25,000 people coming in, people can start standing up and screaming. What has been amazing to me — I’m a very inclusive person. I actually am somebody that gets along with people. And yet from a political standpoint, although I certainly have a lot of fans — you just said hello to Senator Sessions. Cruz and everybody wanted Senator Sessions as much as they’ve wanted anybody, and he’s a highly respected guy, great guy. And we have some— and he endorsed me. We have some amazing endorsements, some amazing people, but I’m amazed at the level of animosity toward me by some people. I’m amazed.
RC: But you’re going to have to overcome that, Mr. Trump, if you’re going to be the nominee and the president.
DT:  I think you may be right. I think you may be right.
RC:  I think this is such a pivot moment for you.
DT: Okay.
RC: You’re nearing the nomination. The presidency is possible. How do you – you say you get along with all these people. How do you . . .  .
DT: No, I say in my life I’ve gotten along with people.
RC: Understood.
DT: This is the first time where I’ve had this.
RC: How do you expand your reach right now? How are you going to do this at this moment in the country, where there’s all this anger that you’re talking about? You think there’s a lot of animus toward yourself. How do you expand your reach, your appeal, right now?
DT: Well, let me tell you the biggest problem that I have. And I talk about it a lot. I get a very unfair press. I’m somebody that’s a person that understands when I say — when I say, I say what I say. But I really do get a very, very unfair press. And a lot of times I’ll be making a speech, as an example, in front of a — in Orlando, where you have 20, 25,000 people show up in the sun at 3  in the afternoon in an open venue. And I will be saying things, and Bob, it won’t be reported what I say. It will be reported so differently.
RC:  So how do you — so regardless of your view of the press, how do you navigate the . . .  .
DT:   Well, the problem with my view of the . . .  .
RC:  The candidate has to get beyond all these different obstacles.
DT:  No, you’re right, but if the press would report what I say, I think I would go a long way to doing that. Now, there is a natural bias against me because I’m a businessperson, I’m not in the club. Okay? You understand that. I’m not in the club. I’m not a senator, I’m not a politician. I’m not somebody that’s been in Congress for 25 years, and I know everybody, I’m somebody — I’m very much an outsider. I am also somebody that’s self-funding my campaign, other than small contributions.
BW: But the press likes outsiders. I mean . . .  .
DT:  But the press doesn’t like me. For the most part.
BW: And would you blame the problem on the press, on the media coverage?
DT:  No, I, but I think . . . I do say this: My media coverage is not honest. It really isn’t. And I’m not saying that as a person with some kind of a complex. I’m just saying, I will be saying words that are written totally differently from what I’ve said. And I see it all — in all fairness, the editorial board of The Washington Post. I was killed on that. I left the room, I thought it was fine.
RC:  But what are some concrete steps you could take right now to project a bigger presence, a more unifying presence? Regardless of your view of the press, which is noted. How do you take steps now to really become a nominee?
DT:  Well, I think — it’s a great question, and it’s a question I’ve thought about a lot. I mean, I think the first thing I have to do is win. Winning solves a lot of problems. And I have two people left. We started off with 17 people. I have two people left. And one of the problems I have is that when I hit people, I hit them harder maybe than is necessary. And it’s almost impossible to reel them back. . . .  So [a famous athlete] calls me up about a month ago, right after I beat Rubio. And I beat him by 20 points. That was a big beating. Don’t forget, he was the face of the Republican Party. He was the future of the Republican Party. So [he] called me up. And he said, “Hey Donald, could you do us all a favor? We love you. Don’t kill everybody. Because you may need them on the way back.” You know, you may need them when you go to phase 3, or whatever phase you’re looking . . .  .

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Logic Puzzle

Remember logic puzzles from elementary school? I loved those things. Here's a fun one that is, sadly, a work of non-fiction. Answer all 4 questions with well-reasoned, fact based arguments, and I will mail you a bottle of the Bourbon of your choice, up to $100 value. Seriously.

In 2012, Donnie said "He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election, We should have a revolution in this country!," regarding early results from the Romney/Obama contest. He further called the electoral college a "disaster for Democracy."

Donnie ran for President himself in 2016. Just before the election, he said that, if he loses, the election is somehow rigged. He offers no evidence for why this is the case, or in what way he believes it's rigged, but promises NOT to accept the result if he suspects fraud. If he wins the election, Donnie says there is no fraud.

1) Explain how it is possible for an election to be fraudulent if one person wins, and totally legit if the other person wins, when a dozen national polls show nearly a dead heat for months leading up to the election.

In November 2016, Donnie won the electoral college but lost the popular vote (by 2,000,000 and counting). His opponent conceded the election. Several US states are considering a recount of votes; none of these has been requested by his opponent. Donnie now says that A) millions of votes were fraudulently cast and B) all of those fraudulent votes were cast for his opponent. Again, he has offered no evidence for either A or B. He has called his opponent a crybaby for agreeing to monitor the recounts. Also, Donnie now claims that "the electoral collage is actually genius."

2) Explain how it's possible for Donnie to preemptively whine about the outcome and promise to contest the result if he loses and then call his opponent a crybaby for merely participating in a recount (requested by a 3rd party) without being obscenely hypocritical?

3) If Donnie truly believes there are millions of fraudulent votes in Hillary's favor, why is he not supporting the recount efforts himself, as this is the exact scenario he threatened to contest if it lost him the election?

4) What has changed about the electoral college from 2012 to 2016 that has changed it from a "disaster for democracy" to "actually genius?"

Basically, I'm looking for some explanation other than "Donnie is a petulant ass." Thank you.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Time for Reflection

Trump won. I was definitely surprised by this, but the time has come to reflect, and to seek to understand. As I posted before the election, I don't think this is the end of the world, or the end of America. Unlike the anti-Obama crowd who said "he's going to ruin our country" and were counting down the days until he was out of office, I will hope that Mr. Trump is successful and can deliver on some of his promises. Certainly I disagree with many of his policy positions, but there are others I think are good ideas - simplifying our tax code, term limits for congress, a ban on congressmen becoming lobbyists, foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections to name a few.

I also want to understand America better. I've been living in a bit of a bubble, apparently. Lexington is a well educated city. Most of my friends are good people who are open minded - not bigots, if you will. There is simply no denying that hate was a key part of Trump's platform. He was open about it, and he was consistent about it (at least during the campaign): build a wall, ban the Muslims, and monitor the black polling places for fraud were all FREQUENTLY part of his stump speeches, and his crowds went wild for it. If you don't see how those are bigoted statements, you need to look yourself in the mirror and admit that you're ignorant. There are a lot of Trump's fans who heard those things, completely agreed with him and, for example, urged him to start the deportations immediately. This is sad, but not surprising. America has a race problem. Some people here don't like foreigners, don't trust non-Christians, and in some cases still openly hate blacks. Hell, Kennedy had trouble getting elected as a Catholic.

There is another category of Trump supporter which is even more interesting to me: the group who heard those things, knows full well that they are hateful, and voted for the guy anyway. To me, that means that a president who's kinda racist and xenophobic is alright with them, even if they don't harbor those sentiments themselves. Is that because Hillary was so unappealing? Definitely a possibility. But if you're smart enough to have some highly nuanced position on Trump, you're also smart enough to know that Hillary is far more qualified and far more stable. We're talking about control of the world's largest nuclear arsenal here. Our standing in the world matters. The role we play or don't play in the international community matters. If you're going to make compromises, and we all agree both candidates sucked, but they sucked in very different ways. So I'm curious to understand more about the educated Trump voter, because only a small portion of those who voted for him are truly hateful, ignorant people. Right? 

Sunday, November 06, 2016

What will happen?!

A couple friends have asked me this week what will happen if Trump wins. The fact that we're even considering this possibility is still a shock to me, but Nate Silver has upped Trump's chances to 33%, so I suppose we'd better prepare ourselves for it.

My short answer is "not much." As I've said before, and anyone who paid attention in US Government class will tell you, the presidency is an intentionally impotent position. We were trying to NOT create a king, remember? This is why the people who were scared Obama was going to turn us into a socialist state and take away everyone's guns were being ridiculous. "Well he did make us socialist - what about Obamacare?!" is all I need to hear from someone to confirm it's not worth my time to try and explain socialism to them.

Our standing in the world is already lowered, thanks to picking the two least like-able people in the US and putting them on a Presidential ballot. Yes, I've made fun of Trump a lot. And the comedians have had a field day with him, but that's because it's soooooo easy! The truth is, I can't say that I'm really supportive of Hillary. She lacks the charisma that her husband has. She's definitely one of the most qualified people to run for the office, but that's never mattered. Harry Truman was a tailor and he ended up being the guy who had to "push the button" to nuke Japan and end the war.

We know Trump is a bigot because he has told us this. It's not hidden, it's not veiled, it's not open to interpretation. Ban Muslims, build a wall, and of course his great relationship with "the blacks," whose interests concern him so much, he's encouraged his supporters to be extra vigilant by going to black neighborhoods to look for fraud at the polling places. What a nice guy. Trump is a con man who is highlighting the worst of America - xenophobia, bigotry, misogyny - and showing just how much of that stuff exists. It should be a lesson to us all to take a second look at our family, friends, and neighbors and ask which ones are truly in 2016 versus longing for 1956. Trump's numbers are real, and while a lot of people are supporting him because they hate Hillary, most of his supporters are also well aware of what Trump stands for, AND IT DOESN'T BOTHER THEM.

I don't think the stock market will crash, I don't think he'll start WWIII (though his temper suggests the risk there is greater than zero). I do think there is a >50% chance he won't last 4 years due to impeachment. He has 75 lawsuits pending against him, so that would be a new record for a President entering office. Most of those are civil suits, but at least two of them are criminal matters. And while the GOP head of the FBI has been a regular chatty Kathy about investigations that may or may not involve Mrs. Clinton, he's been oddly silent on the two open investigations we know about involving Trump (Trump University and his ties to Russia).

Sadly, I'm also not sure Mrs. Clinton will change much here in the US if she wins. Obamacare is a mess, largely due to half-assed implementation by some states and others not participating at all. I suspect many states will still be out to protect their county clerks and bakers from those crazy gay couples that most bakers just call "customers." The banks will still be corrupt, workers will have near zero rights, the wealth gap will continue to accelerate and I doubt she'll tackle any serious issues like entitlements, reeling in spending, or closing Guantanamo. I'm sure if she does try to tackle any of that stuff, the GOP will do its best to continue its obstructionist tradition. That's worked so well for them, it will have lost them 3 presidencies if she wins. At least we can count on one point of stability: Mitch McConnell will still be a fat cat DC power broker who screws KY coal miners to help out the mine owners.  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Adam Savage

I loved Mythbusters. It was one of the best shows on TV, ever. In one of the original intro sequences, Adam had a sound byte where he'd say "I reject your reality and substitute my own." That's what blows me away about my Trump friends. Of my friends who support Trump, I would not characterize any of them as dumb. I tend to not hang out with dumb people. And yet, so many of them actively reject any fact that would require them to re-evaluate their support for Donald Trump. This is far beyond confirmation bias; it's the active, conscious embrace of manufactured data points that these people know are inaccurate, along with the rejection of any fact that paints Trump in a negative light. Some examples of Trump-fan logic:

  1. All 12 of the women claiming he sexually assaulted them are lying. Even though he's on tape saying he likes to sexually assault women in the exact manner these women are claiming he did it to them. 
  2. Hillary Clinton has rigged the FBI. She was never charged with a crime, but [blah blah emails blah blah] so she should be in jail even though she's never been charged with, let alone convicted of, an actual crime.
  3. We don't know the results yet and we have no evidence to prove it, but this election is totally rigged. Unless Trump wins. If he wins, it's completely legit. If she wins, totally rigged.
  4. Nothing says family values like a 3rd wife.
  5. He's a bigot who has made derogatory comments about black people, Hispanics, the disabled, fat women, flat chested women, POWs, veterans with PTSD, but what's important are the issues, and please don't list tolerance and character among those issues.  
  6. I know nothing about business, but his name is on a building, therefore he is a good business man. Please stop pointing out to me that he has all these bankruptcies and debts to foreign governments and that he somehow lost money running FOUR DIFFERENT Atlantic City casinos, I told you, I don't understand business but he's a total genius at it. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

keeping up with Donnie

Today, more women came forward and accused Donald Trump of sexual assault. His record of degrading comments about women, and objectifying women, is a mile long, and a video recently surfaced where he bragged about assaulting them, including details of how he does it. But Donnie responded in his typical way: deny everything, attack the accusers, then paint himself as the victim.

In this case, he's gone a step further, threatening to sue the New York Times for libel. Donnie threatens newspapers a lot when they write unflattering stories, but he rarely follows through. He hasn't actually sued a publication since 1984. Even the threat though, should be alarming from a presidential candidate.

  • Freedom of the press is at the core of who we are as a nation. This is not the first time he has threatened the media and tried to manipulate it in his favor 
  • Law school 101: the truth is the ultimate defense. It's not libel if it's true.
  • Libel also requires that it defame his character. Trump has already defamed his own character on this issue, in his own words and actions, countless times
Also, people who hate the media and don't trust it (as if it's one organization) don't create reality shows about themselves. They don't seek out television and radio appearances like a heroin addict looking for his next hit. They don't negotiate deals with NBC to sell the TV rights for a beauty pageant for $50,000,000. Donnie loves the media as long as he can control it. 

Friday, October 07, 2016

Trump Card

As painful as it is to watch all of the non-substantive coverage in this election cycle, I'm still doing it. I figure someone has to, because I know so many friends and family and colleagues who have, understandably, tuned out at this point. I get it. But I want you to know, I am making the sacrifice to see this debacle through to the finish.

Image result for ugly trump image

For the record, I gave up on talking sense to the Trump fans long ago. The people who are still supporting him at this point fall into one of two categories. They are either truly ignorant lemmings who are following a pied piper because they don't know any better, or they are smart enough to know that he is a racist, sexist, bigoted ego maniac and that doesn't bother them. Either way, they're a lost cause.

What does concern me is election day logistics. This November, half the states have new voting laws on the books. Many require new or different forms of ID. Many of these laws blatantly target black voters (not because they're black, your racist friends will tell you, but really just because black people happen to vote for Democrats), as the North Carolina legislature thoughtfully documented for us in its e-mails before writing such laws. "Can we get a breakdown, by race, of which voters don't have drivers licenses?" Yep, totally trying to target voter fraud with that one.

We also have Donald Trump saying repeatedly that the election is rigged if he loses, but totally legit if he wins. Even his own supporters can't explain this one. He's also called for his supporters to go to the polls as "observers." This is easily the most dangerous part of his campaign, well, next to the part where he might win and get access to our nuclear weapons. Statistically, we have no voter fraud in this country. George W. Bush had his Justice Department investigate it for years, desperately hoping to find evidence that blacks and Hispanics are cheating at the ballot box. There is none. Even Faux News agrees. So there is no need for amateur "observers" to be at polling places. These people will be there to intimidate, make no mistake about it. That's illegal, but they'll do it anyway.

All this talk of rigged elections, the new voter ID laws, the ludicrous notion that Trump's "observers" can somehow validate the election result by watching people vote, is scary stuff. Combine that with ass hat's like Kentucky's governor who are calling for revolution and saying that conservatives may need to shed some blood to survive a Clinton Presidency. Yes, he actually said that. If you don't think ultra conservative wackos are mad enough to take up arms, you're wrong.

These people are angry enough to come out of their prepper bunkers and rally together sufficiently to make Donald Trump an actual nominee for the Republican party. That's no small feat, because most reasonable Republicans know Trump is an ass and a snake oil salesman. And we know the die hard Trumpies are well armed, these are the people who like to wear machine guns to their rallies. These are the idiots who believed the NRA when it told them that Obama had a secret plan to take their guns in 2008. Then when that didn't happen they believed the NRA when it said he had a double super secret plan to do it in 2012. And they will absolutely believe the NRA this time when it says that Obama's triple super secret plan was to stall for time until Hillary could get elected and take their guns. These people are not rational, they are paranoid. They don't understand why America is different today than it was on the Andy Griffith show.