If Donald Trump had any kind of presidential strategy and propensity to take command, he would have had all the intercepts of Russian chatter gathered up weeks ago. He would then have had them declassified and made public, even as he launched a criminal prosecution against Obama’s hit squad-John Brennan,
Susan Rice and Valerie Jarrett for illegally unmasking and leaking classified information.
Such a course of action would have crushed the Russian interference hysteria in the bud.
.. At bottom, the latter was a rearguard invention of the Deep State and Democratic partisans. They became literally shocked and desperate for a scapegoat early last fall by the prospect that the unthinkable was happening.
Namely, the election by the unwashed masses of an outsider and insurrectionist who could not be counted upon to serve as a “trusty” for the status quo; and whose naïve but correct instinct to seek a rapprochement with Russia was a mortal threat to the very modus operandi of the Imperial City.
.. After all, it didn’t take a Kremlinologist from the old Soviet days to figure out that Putin did not favor Clinton, who had likened him to Hitler. And that he welcomed Trump, who had correctly said NATO was obsolete, that he didn’t want to give lethal aid to the Ukrainians, and had expressed a desire to make a deal with Putin on Syria and numerous other areas of unnecessary confrontation.
.. Given that he is up against a Deep State/Dem/Neocon/ mainstream media prosecution, the Donald has no chance of survival short of an aggressive offensive of the type described above.
But that’s not happening because the man is clueless about what he is doing in the White House and is being advised by a cacophonous coterie of amateurs and nincompoops. So he has no action plan except to impulsively reach for his Twitter account.
.. “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt”
So alone with his Twitter account, clueless advisors and pulsating rage, the Donald is instead laying the groundwork for his own demise. Were this not the White House, it would normally be the point at which they send in the men in white coats with a straight jacket.
.. Mueller is a card-carrying apparatchik of the Deep State, who was there at the founding of today’s surveillance monster as Director of the FBI in the aftermath of 9/11. Since the whole $75 billion apparatus that eventually emerged was based on a vastly exaggerated threat of global Islamic terrorism that doesn’t exist, Russia had to be demonized into order to keep the game going-a transition that Mueller fully subscribed to.
.. To wit, Mueller’s #1 hire was the despicable Andrew Weissmann. The latter had led the fraud section of the department’s Criminal Division, served as general counsel to the F.B.I. when Mueller was its director, and, more importantly, was the driving force behind the Enron task force the most egregious exercise in prosecutorial abuse and thuggery since the Palmer raids of 1919.
.. Exactly four years ago in June 2013, no one was seriously demonizing Putin or Russia. In fact, the slicksters of CNN were still snickering about Mitt Romney’s silly claim during the 2012 election campaign that Russia was the greatest security threat facing America.
.. But then came the Syrian jihadist false flag chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus in August 2013 and the US intelligence community’s flagrant lie that it had proof the villain was Bashar Assad.
.. To the contrary, it subsequently became evident that the primitive rockets that had carried the deadly sarin gas, which killed upwards of 1500 innocent civilians, could not have been fired from regime-held territory; the rockets examined by UN investigators had a range of only a few kilometers, not the 15-20 kilometers from the nearest Syrian base.
.. in the eyes of the neocon War Party, this constructive act of international statesmanship by Putin was the unforgivable sin. It thwarted the next target on their regime change agenda-removal of the Assad government in Syria as a step toward an ultimate attack on its ally, the Shiite regime of Iran.
.. the entire apparatus of Imperial Washington–the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy, the State Department and a long string of Washington funded NGOs-was on the ground in Kiev midwifing the putsch that overthrew Ukraine’s constitutionally elected President and Russian ally.
.. the Ukrainian civil war and partition of Crimea inexorably followed, as did the escalating campaign against Russia and its leader.
.. Indeed, given the Stalin-era animosity between the Russian-speaking Donbas and Crimean regions of the confected state of Ukraine and the virulent anti-Russian populations elsewhere – including descendants of the Nazi collaborators with Hitler during WWII – there could have been no other outcome. And that was especially the case after Washington designated “Yats”, a neo-Nazi sympathizer named Arseniy Yatseniuk, as the guy to takeover the Ukrainian government at the time of the Kiev uprising.
.. Russia moved to protect its legitimate interests in its own backyard resulting from the Washington-instigated civil war in Ukraine, including protecting its 200-year old Naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea. The War Party simply characterized these actions falsely as acts of aggression by a potential sacker of the peace and territorial integrity of its European neighbors.
How Trump used “Weasel Words” to Trick Us into Thinking He Agreed to Testify Under Oath.
There is so much media attention to President Trump that it amazes me that I haven’t heard anyone else debunk the conventional wisdom that President Trump agreed to testify under oath — “100%.” This would be true if he had stopped speaking at that point, but in the 9 quick sentences that followed, Trump used a tricky distraction technique to take back his word.
What Trump actually agreed to was the following:
- Trump may, or may not have asked James Comey for his loyalty, but if he did, Trump didn’t ask Comey to put his hand on the Bible when Comey’s allegiance was requested.
Trump’s tricky answer is either a strange accident, or an example of a “master manipulator”1 practicing his craft. The creator of the Dilbert comic strip, Scott Adams, has been arguing for a long time that Trump’s “persuasion skills” are the best he’s seen.
In the rest of this post, I’ll compare Trump’s skill at the “trick answer” to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s attempts to trick the public, showing you how Trump takes deception to a whole new level.
What is a “Non-Denial Denial”?
The non-denial denial is a statement that is designed to appear to the uninitiated like a legitimate denial of an allegation. It is used to deceive the public, often by answering a different question than what was asked or implied.
Let’s compare how Bill, Hillary, and Trump execute assertions and denials using various tricks:
1) Bill Clinton: Use a Word with a Private Definition
Sometimes a non-denial denial hinges upon the definition of the word, which the politician has carefully selected to mislead the public.
Watch Bill Clinton slyly slip in the term “sexual relations” into this press event so as to give hope to supporters looking for an excuse to still believe in him. (The term “sexual relations” was chosen because it was defined to not include oral sex).
This word trick gave those who wanted to believe in Clinton a reason to withhold judgement for a while. If I were to score this trick on execution, I would give it a 9 out of 10, but note, Bill still got impeached.
2) Hillary Clinton: “Wipe Like with a Cloth”
Bill Clinton had the “gift”. He was a “natural” as they say. Hillary is said to be great in a one-on-one or small-group setting, but she couldn’t spin the media like her husband. Watch as Hillary tries to redefine the term “wipe” in reference to her private email server:
3) Donald Trump: “100%. I Didn’t Say Under Oath.”
Donald Trump was recently facing questions about his earlier vague denial of James Comey’s testimony.
After Trump appeared2 to deny the earlier Comey claim, Trump was asked a followup question about whether he would be willing to testify under oath that he had not asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty. Notice how Trump twists the question from whether he would be willing to testify under oath into a misdirection about whether he asked Comey to pledge his loyalty under oath.
Here’s an excerpt from the full transcript:
(Note: The clip begins by Trump trash-talking ABC New’s Jonathan Karl, the journalist asking the question, and interrupting him, causing Karl to trip-up in posing the question. The question should be: “did you ask Comey for a pledge of loyalty?)
KARL: And did he ask for a pledge of loyalty from you? That’s another thing he said.
TRUMP: No he did not.3
KARL: So, he said those things under oath. Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of events?
TRUMP: 100%. 4 I didn’t say under oath — I hardly know the man, I’m not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance. Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance, under oath? I mean, think of it. I hardly know the man. It doesn’t make sense. No, I didn’t say that, and I didn’t say the other.
KARL: So, if Robert Mueller wanted to speak with you about that you’d be willing to talk to him?
TRUMP: I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you, Jon.5
Trump’s Misdirection was a Success, Judging from the Media Coverage
We don’t know what the outcome of this long-term legal and public relations “war” will be, but Trump seems to have succeeded in this minor battle, which involved a very difficult feat — a real-time non-denial denial, which Trump turned into a persuasive “positive” — 100%. Many people now actually have the impression that Trump wants to testify. Trump’s answer seems a little bizarre, but the newspaper stories portray Trump’s answers as a full-throated denial, which is the goal.
Deception for Sport
Dilbert creator, Scott Adams, thinks Trump will never actually testify under oath. Perhaps Trump will say that he wants to testify but his lawyers advise against it, or, like in the case of his taxes, he will give cascading series of other excuses. With this performance, Trump also leaves open the option to claim that he misheard the question, while further giving him a feeling of dominance — that he can manipulate the media with impunity and win. It’s almost as if Donald does “deception” for sport.
“Cheating, Fair and Square”
I’m giving Trump a 9.5 out of 10 for degree of difficulty, but in some ways it is riskier to use deceptive tricks rather than an outright lie, because if the trick is uncovered, its existence is tantamount to an admission that you are lying. I don’t have any special insight into Trump’s psyche, but if I had to guess why he acts in this way, I think it’s because deception has become a game to him. Donald games the public for the same reason he games his taxes, stiffs his business partners6 and dupes Trump University students7 — the thrill of feeling like you got away with “cheating, fair and square.”
If Trump succeeds in this deception, a Republican-controlled House and Senate make his prospects better than Bill’s. Trump just needs to make sure he doesn’t lose the House in the mid-term elections.
The Alternative Option: Take the 5th
There is another option which Trump described in 1998 when Chris Matthews asked him about what Bill Clinton should have done. Trump said Bill should have taken the 5th and attacked the Special Prosecutor for being out to get him. This is a strategy he later seems to have adopted in the Trump University case with Judge Curiel, which he later settled.
Note: You are free to use the contents of this post, including direct quotation of indefinite length without paraphrasing. I expressly waive copyright to this post, so as to encourage its circulation.
Dilbert creator Scott Adams says that “persuasion” is not good or bad in itself. Persuasion is a tool that can be used for either good or evil. When persuasion becomes “manipulation”, I no longer see that as neutral.↩
I say appeared because I think it more likely that Trump was asserting that the reporter’s wording wasn’t an exact match.↩
Technically Trump is correct because, by rattling him, Trump was able to trip Karl up into misstating the question.↩
All the soundbites end here with “100%,” but watch the next 9 sentences that negate the affirmation. If Trump really meant “YES”, he could have said “YES. ABSOLUTELY” and left it at that. I can see no other purpose for these next 9 sentences other than as weasel words.↩
Trump is only committing himself to affirm to Mueller the nonsensical response that Trump did not ask Comey to swear loyalty to him under oath. Furthermore, technically speaking, Trump did not commit to making the statement to Mueller while under oath.↩
Even though Trump could have paid his suppliers, he had some of his corporations declare “strategic bankruptcy.” He is extremely wealthy now, but he takes pride in stiffing those who worked for him.↩
Trump was deeply involved in the marketing of Trump University, but had no role in the actual teaching. Some of the seminars were taught by timeshare salesmen just looking for a quick buck.↩
we’ve obsessed about Obama-Trump voters but completely ignored their inverse: the Romney-Clinton voters.
.. Romney-Clinton voters are, generally speaking, college-educated suburban professionals: lawyers, doctors and businesspeople. They voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, but switched to Hillary Clinton in 2016. They abhor xenophobia, the alt-right and racists, but they also mostly socialize within their own race and they’re mostly white. They’re socially liberal but not obsessed with a political agenda. They value fiscal responsibility but also believe in investing in the future, especially education. They remain deeply worried about Trump’s qualifications, scared about his temperament and alienated by his misogyny and ties to extremists. For the first time in a long time, they’re willing to hear about and vote for Democrats.
.. Throughout the country, Clinton won key communities that have historically been written off by Democrats as too conservative—places like California’s Orange County, Utah’s Salt Lake County, Texas’ Fort Bend County and Georgia’s Gwinnett and Cobb Counties. Opportunities are blossoming in all these places and many more like them throughout the country, and Romney-Clinton voters can be the deciding factor.
.. Perhaps you remember Clinton’s TV ads, many of which simply showed people—children, especially—watching clips of Trump’s speeches, wide-eyed at the bombast they were witnessing. Our internal testing showed that those spots were particularly effective among Romney voters who were leaning to Clinton. There was a deliberate strategy behind the “show don’t tell” approach of letting Trump speak for himself: Highly educated Americans were often skeptical of advertising with overstated or undocumented claims, but were very open to evaluating Trump on his own words and deeds.
.. As elected Republicans stand by their man, inhabiting roles that vary between rubber stamps and accomplices, they risk permanently turning off this major segment of the electorate that has voted Republican in the past, but cannot stomach Trump and those who enable him.
.. Obama-Trump voters may see the infrastructure plan in terms of its ability to create jobs, while Romney-Clinton voters see infrastructure’s appeal in boosted productivity and reduced amounts of time wasted each week stuck in rush-hour traffic.
She lost because the Democratic National Committee didn’t help her. “I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. I mean it was bankrupt. . . . Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it.”.. She lost because she was “swimming against a historic tide. It’s very difficult historically to succeed a two-term president of your own party.” She lost because she was “the victim of a very broad assumption that I was going to win.” She lost because the news media ignored her policy positions... It tells you something about our own power to hypnotize ourselves, to invent reasons that avoid the real reasons. It is a tribute to the power of human denial... The truth is Bernie Sanders destroyed Mrs. Clinton’s chance of winning by almost knocking her off, and in the process revealing her party’s base had changed. Her plodding, charmless, insincere style of campaigning defeated her. Bad decisions in her campaign approach to the battleground states did it; a long history of personal scandals did it; fat Wall Street speeches did it; the Clinton Foundation’s bloat and chicanery did it—and most of all the sense that she ultimately stands for nothing but Hillary did it... “when Clintonworld sources started telling us in 2015 that Hillary was still struggling to articulate her motivation for seeking the presidency.” Her campaign was “an unholy mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority . . . distorted priorities, and no sense of greater purpose.” “Hillary didn’t have a vision to articulate. And no one else could give one to her.” “Hillary had been running for president for almost a decade and still didn’t really have a rationale.”.. Mrs. Clinton has shown herself to be largely incapable of honest self-reflection.. People are always doing bad things to her, she never does bad things to them. They operate in bad faith, she only in good... It is one thing to say, “I take responsibility,” and follow that up with a list of things you believe you got wrong. It’s another thing to say, “I take responsibility,” and then immediately pivot to arguments as to why other people are to blame. “I take responsibility for everything I got wrong, but that’s not why I lost,” is literally what she said Wednesday.