Friday, August 12, 2016

But Trump is Precise

By Bob Ferris

I was interested to read a CNN piece today where Donald Trump was being criticized for his statements.  The catalyst for the article was Trump’s claim that Obama and Clinton were the co-founders of Isis (see here).  Now Trump has tried to pass off this outlandish statement as sarcasm, but if that was the case he must be terrible at sarcasm because his audience cheered the statement rather than laughed.
“Trump supporter Newt Gingrich on Friday said that the GOP nominee has failed to understand the importance of being precise.”  As quoted in CNN piece 
Newt Gingrich was quick to defend Trump implying that Trump had a "precision" problem brought on because Trump “uses three words when he needs 10.”  In this Gingrich makes a common error and confuses the concept of precision with that of accuracy.  Trump does not have a precision problem because he makes precisely the same mistake each and every time.  What Trump has is an accuracy problem because his statements do not reflect the truth or reality.  Precision and accuracy are related issues but not the same.

An example of this was Trump’s claim that Clinton was going to do away with the 2nd Amendment.  A President does not have the constitutional power to do away with amendments so what he was saying was inaccurate, but it was precisely what his audience wanted to hear and believe.  If you look at the target in the upper right of the above graphic that is a correct depiction of Donald Trump’s campaign.

If there is any accuracy at all in the Trump approach it is that tiny grouping smack in the center of what his base believes to be true, but is not.  It is not surprising that this pattern also reflects the news coverage on Fox and the rhetoric coming from folks like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.  It also matches closely what Gingrich (see above clip) describes when he tries equate feelings with facts just as he is now trying to get us to think that the precision of Trump’s campaign means that it is accurate too.  We should understand this important difference and not be followed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Why We Should be Russian to Judgement on Trump

By Bob Ferris

I have been having this strange vision lately of a giant Cheetos-colored slot machine with some flashy name like the “Trumpenator” or the “Drumpf Dollar Spitter.”  But instead of cherries, plums, lemons and jackpot symbols this one-armed bandit’s three reels have representations of Putin, Russian rubles, Boris Badenov, and a woman who looks suspiciously like a cross between Melania Trump and Natasha Fatale.  My sense is that this image appears to me because each time we shake this so Rocket J. Squirrel-ly Trump campaign something Russian or linked to the former Soviet Union drops out.  Could be coincidence, but the more it happens the less we should think so.
"Well, it's the sort of thing we might learn if we saw the candidate's tax returns," Will responded. "Perhaps one more reason why we're not seeing his tax returns — because he is deeply involved in dealing with Russian oligarchs and others. Whether that's good, bad or indifferent, it's probably the reasonable surmise." Conservative Columnist George Will quoted in The Hill 
As the infamous “they” say: Follow the money.  For this we don’t really need the above referenced tax returns, though they need to be released, we just have to look at comments made by Donald Trump Jr. about money coming into their operations from Russians or Russia (see below).  A lot of us get money from a lot of sources and that does not always mean that it comes with strings, but it does raise a red flag (sorry) which should trigger exaggerated actions on the part of the Trump campaign to demonstrate that the puppet strings are not in force.
“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” Donald Trump Jr. added, “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” As quoted in the Washington Post
Given that Mr. Trump also tends (i.e., two out of three wives) to marry models born in elements of the former Soviet Union one would think that prudency would demand that he would especially be careful about being associated with or giving preference to that portion of the world or what remains of that political body.  Confusingly, Trump’s approach has not been one of avoidance but rather a strategy of diving into the sticky miasma of association and swimming strongly in the muck.

What presidential hopeful in a similar boat floating in a veritable sea of Russian dressing would logically conclude that the best candidate for a campaign manager would be someone notoriously fresh from working in the Ukraine like Paul Manafort—who some have speculated is still working for Russian interests?  Or that initiating Russian-friendly changes to the Republican platform would go unnoticed?

And if you are even making a modicum of effort to distance yourself from Putin, wouldn’t you express surprise or outrage that your opponent’s party is being hacked right and left by the Russians rather than encouraging a foreign power to cut even deeper into our country’s electronic security?  Whether the open invitation of the Russian hackers was said in jest or not it makes little difference.  And what “genius” would use or allow a surrogate named Boris (see below video) who was born in Moscow and now pushes Russia as an investment opportunity—regardless of their human rights policies—in efforts to defend himself from accusations about Russia (1,2,3)?

It all seems pretty comical and painfully transparent.  It is a situation where even a three-year-old could look at the information and then connect the dots.  This story is now going mainstream (see below links) and it should.  Perhaps then this nightmare candidacy will end and we can see the damage done to our democracy by the tragedy of Citizens United, the loss of the Fairness Doctrine, the rise of Fox News and the heavy and careless thumbs of those who would destroy this nation so that they can become richer and richer still.

Washington Post
Vanity Fair
The Guardian
The Red State

As I was trying to sleep last night by counting the options of other countries that might make sense for my wife and I should Trump gain office, a sliver of a thought struck me.  What if Trump is not the incarnation of Joseph McCarthy but actually the person Tail-Gunner Joe warned us about all those years ago? (And maybe I wrote the above because I am tired of Russia being the main source of traffic to my blog site much like that unwanted person leaning into and trying to be a part of a conversation not meant for their ears.)