Radio Lab: Tit for Tat

In the early 60s, Robert Axelrod was a math major messing around with refrigerator-sized computers. Then a dramatic global crisis made him wonder about the space between a rock and a hard place, and whether being good may be a good strategy. With help from Andrew Zolli and Steve Strogatz, we tackle the prisoner’s dilemma, a classic thought experiment, and learn about a simple strategy to navigate the waters of cooperation and betrayal. Then Axelrod, along with Stanley Weintraub, takes us back to the trenches of World War I, to the winter of 1914, and an unlikely Christmas party along the Western Front.

Scott Adams: Why Would Putin Meddle in Our Election?

Have you noticed how Michael Cohen stuff has pushed down the Helsinki news conference?

Why would Trump say: I don’t know why he wouldn’t?

Trump was putting his own ego lower than Putins.

Now we know that Trump doesn’t have any confidence problems.

Think of Trump’s statement as a hypnotist.

When he says “I don’t know why he would“, he’s getting to motivation.  It wasn’t intended to be factual, but persuasive.

Everyone who has evaluated it as a statement of fact, but it’s talking about Putin’s motivations, which he had just changed.

In the meeting, he had just made a big impact on Putin’s motivations.

There is a tit-for-tat-for-tit-for-tat forever.

If Trump removed his reasons and have him a virtual pardon.

Trump did the same thing with Kim Jong Il, he make a better offer.  He took the reason away.

CNN covered story of Putin offer to interview 12 indictments, but it was never plausible.

Trump’s Psychopathology Is Getting Worse

Most pundits interpret the US president’s outbursts as playing to his political base, or preening for the cameras, or blustering for the sake of striking future deals. In fact, Trump suffers from several psychological pathologies that render him a clear and present danger to the world.

.. Most pundits interpret Trump’s outbursts as playing to his political base, or preening for the cameras, or blustering for the sake of striking future deals. We take a different view. In line with many of America’s renowned mental-health experts, we believe that Trump suffers from several psychological pathologies that render him a clear and present danger to the world.
.. Trump shows signs of at least three dangerous traits: paranoia, lack of empathy, and sadism. Paranoia is a form of detachment from reality in which an individual perceives threats that do not exist.
  1. .. Paranoia is a form of detachment from reality in which an individual perceives threats that do not exist. The paranoid individual can create dangers for others in the course of fighting against imaginary threats.
  2. Lack of empathy can derive from an individual’s preoccupation with the self and a view of others as mere tools. Harming others causes no remorse when it serves one’s own purposes.
  3. Sadism means finding pleasure in inflicting pain or humiliating others, especially those who represent a perceived threat or a reminder of one’s weaknesses.

.. Psychological expertise tells us that such traits tend to worsen in individuals who gain power over others.

.. his lying seems to have escalated in recent weeks. Moreover, Trump’s confidants describe him as increasingly likely to ignore any moderating advice offered by those around him. There are no “grownups in the room” who can stop him as he surrounds himself with corrupt and bellicose cronies prepared to do his bidding – all of which is entirely predictable from his psychology.

.. Trump’s wild exaggerations in recent weeks reveal the increasing severity of his symptoms.

.. Consider, for example, his repeated claims that the vague outcome of his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un constitutes an end to the nuclear threat posed by Kim’s regime, or his blatant lie that Democrats, rather than his own policies, caused the forced separation of migrant children from their parents at the southern border with Mexico. The Post recently counted 29 false or misleading statements in a mere one-hour rally. Whether intentional or delusional, this level of persistent lying is pathological.

.. Since Trump actually lacks the ability to impose his will on others, his approach guarantees an endless cycle of threats, counter-threats, and escalation. He follows any tactical retreat with renewed aggression.

.. Such is the case with the spiraling tit-for-tat trade war

.. Traditional allies, not accustomed to dealing with US leaders with severe mental defects, are clearly shaken, while adversaries appear to be taking advantage.

.. Many of Trump’s supporters seem to interpret his shameless lying as bold truth-telling, and pundits and foreign leaders tend to believe that his bizarre lashing out reflects a political strategy.

Gaming out the North Korea crisis: How the conflict might escalate

The pathways that have been examined fall into four main categories:

  1. doing nothing,
  2. hitting Kim Jong Un’s regime with tougher sanctions,
  3. pushing for talks, and
  4. military confrontation.
  • In a launch from North Korea, a nuclear-tipped missile could reach San Francisco in half an hour.
  • A nuclear attack on Seoul, South Korea’s capital of 10 million people, could start and finish in three minutes.

.. Luring the North Koreans to the negotiating table is perhaps the most popular pathway among many experts, who advocate a “freeze-for-freeze” option, in which the United States might promise to restrict military exercises in the region or eschew new sanctions against Kim’s regime, in exchange for North Korea agreeing to halt expansion and testing of its nuclear capabilities.

Former defense secretary Robert M. Gates, for example, has suggested promising not to seek regime change in North Korea in exchange for Kim committing to a cap on his nuclear program.

the Trump administration rejects the idea of freeze-for-freeze, calling it a false moral equivalency.

.. A military confrontation could start with a U.S. effort to force regime change, either by taking out the Kim regime or by fomenting a rebellion among elites in the isolated dictatorship.

“But it’s hard to imagine that scenario ending with anything other than the North Koreans deciding to light up Seoul,”

.. In a conventional war, heavy casualties would likely result as North Korean troops poured into the South, using tunnels the North is reported to have built under the demilitarized zone between the countries. In addition, North Korea is believed to have a stockpile of several thousand tons of chemical weapons

.. In war games played out at Washington policy institutes, even minor confrontations have led to a nuclear exchange.

.. North Korea might attempt to spread fear through an act of terrorism, said Patrick Cronin, an Asia-Pacific security expert at the Center for a New American Security. “A few grenades in downtown Seoul will absolutely close down the city out of fear,” he said.

.. North Korea has “proven adept over the years at using force in pretty calibrated ways to achieve political objectives,” said Thomas Mahnken, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, which does war-game planning. He said the North takes advantage of the relative unwillingness of the United States and South Korea to risk war.

Trump Mocks Mika Brzezinski; Says She Was ‘Bleeding Badly From a Face-Lift’

The president described Ms. Brzezinski as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and claimed in a series of Twitter posts that she had been “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a social gathering at Mr. Trump’s resort in Florida around New Year’s Eve. The White House did not explain what had prompted the outburst, but a spokeswoman said Ms. Brzezinski deserved a rebuke because of her show’s harsh stance on Mr. Trump.

.. “My first reaction was that this just has to stop, and I was disheartened because I had hoped the personal, ad hominem attacks had been left behind, that we were past that,” Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine who is a crucial holdout on the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, said in an interview.

“I don’t think it directly affects the negotiation on the health care bill, but it is undignified — it’s beneath a president of the United States and just so contrary to the way we expect a president to act,” she said. “People may say things during a campaign, but it’s different when you become a public servant. I don’t see it as undermining his ability to negotiate legislation, necessarily, but I see it as embarrassing to our country.”

.. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, urged the news media to move on, arguing during the daily White House briefing that Mr. Trump was “fighting fire with fire” by attacking a longtime critic.

Ms. Brzezinski had called the president “a liar” and suggested he was “mentally ill,” added Ms. Sanders, who defended Mr. Trump’s tweets as appropriate for a president.

.. “As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder,” Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman wrote in a statement, referring to the first lady’s remarks during the campaign.

.. Mr. Trump’s oldest friends say it is difficult for him to distinguish between large and small slights — or to recognize that his office comes with the expectation that he moderate his behavior.

And his fiercest, most savage responses have almost always been to what he has seen on television.

.. After lashing out at Mr. Scarborough and Ms. Brzezinski at one point last summer, Mr. Trump told an adviser, “It felt good.”

.. reporters interrupted Ms. Sanders’s defense of the president to ask how she felt about them as a woman and a mother.

She responded that she had only “one perfect role model”: God.

“None of us are perfect,” she said.

Donald Trump’s Call With Taiwan Leader Raises Fresh Uncertainty Over U.S.-China Relations

President-elect’s telephone conversation with Tsai Ing-wen breaks diplomatic protocol, angers Beijing and puts North Korea sanctions at risk

Chinese representatives are sure to seek meetings with the Trump transition team to warn that the entire relationship would be at risk if Mr. Trump pursues closer relations with Taipei.

.. A range of global issues requiring cooperation between Beijing and Washington—from management of the global economy to climate change—stand to become more complicated if Friday’s call translates into a policy shift once Mr. Trump takes office. It could also worsen existing tensions, including recent Chinese activities in the South China Sea.

.. The phone call comes only days after China backed U.N. sanctions on North Korea, the result of a monthslong, U.S.-led diplomatic effort to get Beijing on board.

The U.S. has pressed China for years to use its clout as North Korea’s biggest investor, aid donor and trade partner to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear-weapons program.The Obama administration has conveyed its view to Mr. Trump’s team that North Korea should be the top security priority for the incoming administration, according to people familiar with the conversations.

 Passage of the recent sanctions, which effectively target North Korea’s coal exports to China, had indicated Beijing’s willingness to send a message of impatience to its neighbor. Their success depends in large part on how rigorously China enforces the curbs and how well China and the U.S. continue to work together.
.. Beijing had hoped he would follow through on indications during his presidential campaign that he would downgrade U.S. alliances in Asia.
.. In 1996, it fired missiles into waters nearby, prompting the U.S. to send two aircraft carrier groups to the area.
.. Mr. Xi, as is the case with Mr. Trump, is more of a populist than his predecessors and is keen to project an image as a strong leader who is unwilling to compromise, especially on national sovereignty.
.. “One of the things Xi Jinping has made emblematic of his work style is, ‘If you do something to me, I do something to you,’”
.. “So he’ll find some way to retaliate.”
.. There is also concern in policy-making circles in Beijing and Washington that the phone call reflects the advice of several people advising Mr. Trump who have hawkish views on China and would like to see a closer U.S. relationship with Taiwan.