Friday, December 30, 2016

A Note on Kellyanne Conway and Bill Maher


Roberta, raising Bill Maher on my Facebook page, notes:
“She (Kellyanne)disturbs me greatly. I know she is doing her job well but not a job worth doing. It is frightening to me that Bill Maher congratulated her on her rise to a top position in the White House. Is integrity a thing of the past?”
I understand Maher here. It’s the same way that he responds to Coulter. He sees them partly through the lens of comediennes/performance artists working up their act, and remembers them from their days when they were nowhere. He knows how hard it was for him to scrape one’s way up to recognition, and sees that in them. Many may not know that Conway has been around for a long time–first as an almost robotically rapid propagandist in the 80s and 90s, obviously and with an entirely inward looking desperation crawling her way to significance, latching onto Fred Thompson and others in her utterly clear attempt at ascendancy.
There is some pity for this workmanlike, desperate scraping. For Kelly, there’s much of the inward perception of someone who’s “just doing her job”–taking the same pride in the election as a fierce middle manager would in winning a weekend in Palm Beach in a sales competition. She is also smart enough to know what she is doing, and morally flexible enough to quickly sweep it away with an “everyone does it” approach more suitable to a pharmaceutical copywriter than a Senior Adviser to the President.
I feel it too. I know she works hard, although I believe the display of her long-sufferingness is a practiced manipulation that she uses to evoke pity, allowances and advancement.
It’s not so easy to sweep away now.
I admire Maher’s work. Like Stewart, he rose from the world of stand up to bring a genuinely intellect that bridges the worlds of the most necessary and important ideas and the general public–and is one of the few who can bring them effectively, and have an authentic impact.
With people like Kellyanne, it is difficult. There is an affection, and a past. Now, her position is different. Here he has a nuanced but significant opportunity. With Coulter, he largely puts to the side the damage she might do for a type of “we all know this is an act” tenderness and pity born of relationship and understanding. They rose together, so to speak. For Coulter, who besides her adoring, otherwise unreading fans, is generally recognized as a type of invalid performance act, this does not amplify her harm.
For Conway, who now is in a position to cause actual harm, this will be a slightly nuanced shift here, but one that he can make–treating her both as the colleague and known (she has a number of these) but also acknowledging and then questioning her from the position of Senior Propagandist, Diffuser and Deflector that she now occupies. It is an opportunity for Maher for subtle but significant influence–and for the nation.

Do Not Allow Yourself To Fear Your Government

This is a time when you may have noticed yourself having certain momentary thoughts that you would never have had before the election.
“Maybe I shouldn’t type this.”
“Maybe I could get in trouble.”
Just a millisecond.
These moments represent the first cracks in a free system.
They represent the inner immigration of freedom and empowerment–to express one’s voice, one’s beliefs, one’s passion, creativity, wish for the free expression of self and others–under the perception of a previously non-existant fear.
A fear of government response.
To the free expression of your beliefs in a democracy.
This is how a democracy gradually becomes an autocracy.
Through the gradual impress and perception of fear.
Fear of expressing your own ideas–freely given, empowered to expression on this Earth.
Listen now:
-You must notice when this happens.
-You must determine now that you will not allow yourself to become one silenced voice in the empowered, creative, free humanity that together makes up our democracy.
-Say what you believe. Take joy in the expression. Bring yourself, your energy, creativity, empowerment to the world.
This is a chaotic group of people who did not expect to win, know little, and therefore hope to cover the massive gaps in their knowledge through an imposed fear.
As they know so little, they do not want truth to be heard.
This approach is very vulnerable to the strong, empowered voice, speaking truth and freedom.
You–your ideas, creativity, energy, empowerment, action, voice–are strong.
Together, let’s ensure that they remain so, each day of our lives, even if some accidental narcissists may stumble into buildings for awhile.

The United States as Leverage for Trump Business in China: Or What Happens When you Mix Narcissism With Conflict of Interest and the Presidency

Trump has declared China the international enemy of the United States.
Meanwhile, Trump has become the friend and compatriot of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Foreign policy analysts have been puzzled by this–why cozy up to an enemy of the United States, that has invaded Ukraine and Crimea, has a collapsing economic infrastructure, and has global ambitions regarding expansion, as opposed to a power that has accepted the international status quo and is opening to the United States?
Now we know the answer, which is purely Trumpian: China has turned away the Trump Organization’s attempts over the past 8 years to do business with Trump. Russia however, has been more than welcoming, to the point that his son, Don Jr., stated that most of the current income of the organization comes from Russia and Russian sources.
Yesterday, the Washington Post published an extraordinary article:
BEIJING — Donald Trump calls China an “enemy” of the United States, a threat and an international pariah whose modus operandi is to lie, cheat and steal — but for at least eight years his hotel chain has been trying to do business here.
Although negotiations have yet to bear fruit, Trump Hotels had made confident predictions this year about opening 20 or 30 luxury hotels in China. None havve occured

What we are seeing here is a classic demonstration of Trump self-involvement–he is using the United States Presidency as a levering chip in an attempt to bring the Trump Organization into a nation that for 8 years years has refused–China.
As a man who is unable to accept any disagreeement, who has clearly been seeking liquidity to reduce his debt, the refusal of China to accept Trump Hotels has directly led to his foreign policy–which, as always, is based on the utterly simplistic: “If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you; if you’re not nice, I’ll be not so nice.”
Here, however, he is not simply involving the future of Trump’s debt negotiations, but the future of the citizens of the United States and the world as leverage.
This is the greatest conflict of interest to date–and the clearest administration that for Trump, the presidency is truly all about himself.

Trump and Russia: A Very, Very Unusual Relationship

Donald Trump has not taken a single intelligence briefing since his election, unlike every other modern President-Elect.
The members of the Senate have been given intelligence briefings on Russia’s actions in hacking US computers. 99 of 100 Senators, on the basis of this intelligence, believe, like the CIA, FBI, DIA, and NSA, that Russia hacked into United States computer systems in order to attempt to influence the election.
Donald Trump, who has blocked all attempts to inform him of intelligence that Russia invaded US computer systems, has stated that he does not believe that Russia hacked into the United States and that we “all should move on.”
His son, Donald Jr., earlier this year stated that most of their current profits are made from Russia. Trump’s attempts to profit from Russia began with visits to oligarchs beginning in 1997.
We do not know what debts Trump may owe to Russia, or to Russian oligarchs who are controlled by Putin, as Trump has refused to answer this question.
Despite his many changes on countless positions, Trump has consistently supported Putin and Russia, has denied that Russia entered Ukraine or Crimea, and has continued to support this hostile nation even after 17 US Intelligence Agencies found that Russia had hacked into our computer systems in an attempt to influence the election.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Random Acts of Distraction

One principle that Trump has learned--as a tactic--is the principle of randomness.
His effort is to be random in his actions--sending tweets that to or about Graydon Carter, Taiwan, the Trump Grill, China--as a blizzard of unpredictability.
This produces two effects:
1) The media is drawn to the novelty of the tweets, and provides him with what he most has needed each day of his adult life--coverage
2) It provides a cover in a different sense--a veil over intent, planning, and lack of knowledge Instead of focusing upon the agreement of the FBI and CIA on Russia's hacking to his benefit, to his misadventures regarding China, or his victory tour apologetics, he instead provides a shiny indirection, which has little effect but to draw the attention of the media, and to make his later behavior more unpredictable.
Unpredictability has some advantage in negotiations, in that one's opponent cannot pick a strategy based upon dependable action.
However, leadership is also grounded in a responsibility of values--Washington, Lincoln, FDR and Kennedy were effective leaders because they made it clear what their intentions were for the nation, how this would benefit the nation, and worked toward those goals with the intelligent, strong, persistent effort, rather than the deceptive weakness of an indirection designed to hide uncertainty, lack of understanding, avoidance and fear.
Trump's strategy will be to move with such uncertainty that he hopes that the truth will never pinned down.
This approach always leads to the outcome that what is attempted to be hidden is highlighted--and eventually--the truths are discovered.

Narcissism vs. Intelligence: Why Donald Trump Should Take Daily Intelligence Briefings

Donald Trump has not taken the Intelligence Briefings that each President-Elect receives and has taken in the past.
He has said that he does not need these--this man who believes that Turkey is in the Middle East, who does not know what the Nuclear Triad is--because he says that he is "really smart."
He says this becuase the idea that he would need this information challenges his grandiosity--that he would not already know, because he is "really smart."
This is very, very dangerous.
The following is from an interview this week that the Head of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, did with David Ignatius of the Washington Post, at a summit on the Future of Homeland Security.
It is well worth reading--including by Donald Trump:
The Future of Homeland Security: David Ignatius, Jed Johnson:
IGNATIUS: During the election campaign Donald Trump has been generally dismissive of the suggestion that Russian hacking is playing a role. Last Sunday, he was interviewed by Chris Wallace, talking about the latest analysis by the CIA analysts. He said he thought it was “ridiculous,” and he is also said recently that he doesn't need a daily intelligence briefing..
You have had hundreds if not thousands of intelligence briefings and know the CIA extremely well. So, I want to ask you what is your judgment about the agency, and did the comments that the president-elect made have a negative effect?
JOHNSON: Let me answer this as a daily consumer of intelligence, particularly in this job.
In this job the most important part of my day is 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. when i'm going through the intelligence. I would say the order in which I consume information every morning. I first get up, 5:00 a.m, I get to work.
My Intel is book sitting on my desk and that is the first thing that I look at.
It's important to note that intelligence assessments, things generated by intelligence agencies, are a synopsis of what's going on in the world.
And so from reading intelligence products every morning that's where you find out what is happening in Syria, what's happening in Iraq and what's happening in places in the Middle East, what's happening all around the world.
From there, frankly if I have time, I get to the newspapers, i get to the print newspapers to see how you all are covering what's happening in the world, whether you had it right, you have it wrong.
The most important part of the day is that when i am consuming the intelligence assessments to know what's happening in the world.
It's critical to know threats to the homeland, emerging threats to the homeland.
Then, after I am done, at 8:30, we literally walk through the intelligence that i have read. It's my opportunity to ask questions on specific items. That is incredibly important so I am hoping and assuming the incoming administration will treat this equally.
IGNATIUS: I want to press you on this, Mr. Secretary. Do you think it is appropriate for the president-elect to make that kind of critical comment about the intelligence agencies– who are responsible for assessing foreign, including Russian threats to the country?
JOHNSON: In my experience our analysts at CIA, DIA, NCTC, State, all these agencies are very careful, they are very deliberate.
The foreign intelligence products that reach somebody at my level and certainly the president's level, will have been highly coordinated, vetted by numerous different agencies. Occasionally, it's good to ask follow-up questions. it's good to scrutinize. it's good to challenge an assessment once in a while.
But in my experience our men and women in the intelligence community who gather and assess intelligence are very careful and very deliberate and if they weren't they wouldn't be in the positions that they occupy.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Gore Meeting

The Gore meeting is a dodge and a diversion.
A cynical device to take the eyes of the "Liberal" media off of the China debacle by use of an unexpected meeting with one of what they regard as a Liberal totem, on what they see as an issue of prime Liberal focus.
Ivanka is being used to give it the credence of a faux modernistic "reality." Nothing will come of it.
They may meet again, Potemkin roundtables may be established--but the regulations will fall, as will these theatrics, to other necessary performances.