Trump’s Calculus

I know, I know, I should be writing about the vulnerability of the Golden State Warriors, or competitive parenting nonsense, but I just can’t quit the politics.

Trump’s calculus is that you are quite dumb and he can control what you think if he continually repeats simple and clear messages long enough. The most obvious example being “WITCH HUNT”. If we had a national drinking game based upon those two words, all of us would be continually sloshed.

Today, on Twitter, where else, he displayed his talent for simple messaging by using the phrases “Open Border Democrats” and “Border Deniers”. One problem, it turns out there are some “Open Border Republicans” who then of course are also “Border Deniers”. I wonder, what happens when some of your team stops drinking the kool-aide?

If you’re saner than me, meaning you don’t pay any attention to Trump on Twitter, you may not be aware of his most insidious phrasing of late. It’s not concise, but way more outlandish than WITCH HUNT and everything else that has preceded it.

….a man who is considered by many to be the President with the most successful first two years in history

Now that you’re conscious of this worst Trumpism of all, you will hear it repeatedly.

If you count yourself among the “many”, you won’t mind at all. If you are not, you will understandably curse me. In which case, please consider that I can’t help it if I’m a man who is considered by many to be the blogger with the most successful record in history of calling the President on his bullshit.

It’s a public service I will continue to provide from time to time.

Weekend Assorted Links

1. Trump flip-flops fly off the shelf. To the creative go the spoils. (thanks DDTM)

2. Best iPhone photos from around the world.

3. Try doing nothing for awhile.

4. The Seattle Mariners lead the league in this every year.

5. I turned 57 a few weeks ago. This reflection on “the spiritual black hole of upper middle age” couldn’t hit much closer to home. (thanks SMW)

6. How to adapt this to upper middle agers?

7. At what level of wealth do you lose your soul?

Who To Believe?

Could a Republican please explain why we should believe the Tweeter-in-Chief instead of The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray, and Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel.

From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

“U.S. intelligence officials warned Tuesday of increased threats to national security from tighter cooperation between China and Russia, while also differing with President Trump in their analysis of North Korea’s nuclear intentions and the current danger posed by Islamic State.

The warnings were contained in an annual threat assessment that accompanied testimony by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray, Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel and other leaders of the U.S. intelligence community, who appeared Tuesday before a Senate panel. The annual exercise affords the public a look at imminent challenges facing the country, such as cyberattacks, nuclear proliferation and terrorism.

The assessment cautioned that Beijing and Moscow are pouring resources into a “race for technological and military superiority” that will define the 21st century. It said the two countries are more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s.”

The report didn’t make any mention of a new and improved border wall, but did say:

“China . . . could disable U.S. critical infrastructure ‘such as disruption of a natural gas pipeline for days to weeks.'”

And the intelligence leaders’ assessment also differed with President Trump in its analysis of North Korea, Syria, Iraq and other hot spots:

“On North Korea, the assessment raised questions about President Trump’s predictions that he will be able to persuade Pyongyang to give up all of its nuclear weapons. While North Korea ‘has reversibly dismantled portions of its [weapons of mass destruction] infrastructure,’ the report said, U.S. intelligence ‘continues to assess that it is unlikely to give up all of its WMD stockpiles, delivery systems, and production capabilities. North Korean leaders view nuclear arms as critical to regime survival.’. . .

On Iran, Mr. Coats said U.S. intelligence officials didn’t believe the nation was developing a nuclear weapon, challenging assertions from Mr. Trump that the nuclear pact he withdrew the U.S. from last year was ineffective.’

Mr. Trump has also justified plans to withdraw troops from Syria by arguing that Islamic State was defeated. But the intelligence assessment said the terror group would ‘very likely continue to pursue external attacks from Iraq and Syria against regional and western adversaries, including the United States.'”

In response, we got this “intelligence”. Read from bottom to top:

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Granted, at times, US intelligence has proven seriously flawed, but when asked to decide between our top intelligence officials who lead thousands of people who work tirelessly at home and abroad to provide the best possible intelligence and a man who watches cable news and does not read, is there any reason to side with the Tweeter-in-Chief? I wish at least one of the 60-63k people who “liked” the T-i-C’s tweets could explain the flaw in my thinking.

In response to those tweets, Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said in an interview that Mr. Trump’s disparagement of the intelligence agencies risks demoralizing the spy agencies’ work forces, tarnishes their credibility with allied security services, and rattles foreigners who spy for the U.S.

Again from the Wall Street Journal:

“’This is a big deal,’” said Mr. Morell, who served both Republican and Democratic presidents and now hosts the ‘Intelligence Matters’ podcast.

‘Presidents have the right to disagree with the analysis that’s put in front of them. Presidents have the right to take their policies in a different direction than suggested by the intelligence they receive. Never should a president critique his intelligence community publicly. It’s dangerous.’

Republican Rep. Michael Gallagher of Wisconsin said the Trump administration shouldn’t see the spy agencies’ assessments as an attempt to undermine the president.

‘Obviously, the intelligence community is not omniscient,’ Mr. Gallagher said. ‘But they are doing a very difficult job, and they are actually trying to advance the president’s priorities.’

Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted: ‘It is a credit to our intelligence agencies that they continue to provide rigorous and realistic analyses of the threats we face. It’s deeply dangerous that the White House isn’t listening.'”

Add the Tweeter-in-Chief’s ego to the things I fear.

Weekend Assorted Links

1. Nothing Says Midwest Like a Well-Dressed Porch Goose. Long live regional differences.

2. The people behind ESPN W, the “women’s version” of ESPN, got it going on. This story, “Scout Bassett’s incredible journey from an orphanage in China to the Paralympic Stage“, is typical of their inspiring reporting. At minimum, check the vid near the bottom of the story. Go Bruins.

3. “I’m a Developer. I Won’t Teach My Kids to Code, and Neither Should You.”

“Coding is not the new literacy.”

Thesis, learning coding syntax, by itself, is woefully insufficient. Excellent argument with serious pedagogical implications for Ms. Zema, other middle school math teachers, parents, everyone really.

4. World Geography quiz. The ten fastest growing cities are all projected to be in. . . ?

5. A silver lining to the market sell-off? Trump advisers fear 2020 nightmare: a recession. Granted, poor form to even suggest that a recession would be a positive development, but what if that is what it takes to exile him to his golf courses?

6. This is important “sports” journalism.

 

More Evidence Emotions Trump Facts?

Pun intended. Great piece by Daniel Dale, the Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star. Glad Dale was allowed in the country.

What is the arc of Trump’s lying?

“. . . Trump is getting worse and worse. In 2017, he averaged three false claims per day. In 2018, it is about nine per day. In the month leading up to the midterms: a staggering 26 per day. By my count, he’s now at 3,749 false claims since his inauguration. The Post, which tracks both false and misleading claims, has tallied up to 6,420.

Meanwhile, the press continues to blast out the lies unnoted. Two weeks ago, Axios and the AP uncritically tweeted his nonsense about the United States being the only nation to grant birthright citizenship. (They updated after they were criticized.) It happened again Monday, when Trump earned credulous tweets and headlines from ABC, NBC and others for his groundless assertion about “massively infected” ballots in Florida.

There’s nothing especially strategic about much of Trump’s lying; he does it because that is what he has always done. But the president also knows the lies will be broadcast unfiltered to tens of millions of people — by some of the very outlets he disparages as ‘fake news.'”

How does Dale fact-check Trump?

“Many of Trump’s false claims are so transparently wrong that I can fact-check them with a Google search. It’s the comically trivial ones that stand out. I’ll never forget when the Boy Scouts of America got back to me to say that the president of the United States had made up a nonexistent phone call in which the Scouts’ chief executive supposedly told him he had given “the greatest speech that was ever made” to a Scout Jamboree.”

No wonder he gets along so well with North Korea’s Supreme Leader. I’m glad Dale, who earnestly believes facts still mater, is not nearly as jaded as me.

He’s Not a Politician

That’s one of the things Trumpeters like about him most. They don’t seem to mind that he’s not a decent human being either.

The Narcissist-in-Chief just held an impromptu presser outside the White House. Someone asked about this week’s mass shooting. Which prompted the non-politician to riff on the killer’s mental illness, speculate on his PTSD more specifically, and repeatedly brag about how much money he’s committed to help treat people with mental illness. Not a SINGLE WORD to the surviving families. Unbelievably, he made the killing of thirteen people about him. Not that any words could dent their grief, but still, any decent human being would at least acknowledge their suffering.

He also said the White House is a sacred place and you have to respect the Presidency. But then he picked up where he left off after Wednesday’s press conference.

Someone asked about April Ryan, a well respected journalist who received death threats after Sarah Sanders referred to one of her questions as “absolutely ridiculous”. “I mean,” Trump said, “you talk about somebody that’s a loser. She doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing.” When another female African American reporter asked a perfectly legitimate question about whether he wants Matt Whitaker to rein in Mueller, Trump glared at her and and shook his finger. Losing it, he said, “What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot, you ask a lot of stupid questions.”

So to clarify, you have to respect the President whether he treats others respectfully or not.

I took a swig of orange juice every time the President said, “I did not know Whitaker,” so now I have to REALLY go to the bathroom. Kinda just picked his name out of a hat. I believe him. He’s been so truthful, he’s earned my trust.

Update.