Deny, Discredit, Disinform, Diffuse and Defray – a reprise from 2014

The following post was written almost seven years ago, before the former president walked down the escalator to announce his candidacy. He showed how to manipulate these five D’s, but his albatross was he could not control the one guy at the toggle. So, he often gets in his own way and the way of his helpers.

The five D’s. As a now 55-year-old man, I have witnessed over time the aggressively managed handling of criticism whether it is in politics or in big business. In my view, the defense could be summed up in the following order – Deny, Discredit, Disinform, Diffuse and Defray – where you keep drawing lines in the sand as you retreat. With each D and line drawn, you want to see if that will stave off the criticism.

The fossil fuel and petro-chemical industries have been deploying these tactics for decades, as what they do for a living is not easy and has a history of impacting the health and welfare of humans and the environment. When you add money on top of these approaches, it takes an Erin Brockovich to make any headway against them. Yet, what people fail to realize is these five D’s are an aggressive risk management strategy.

But, the approach is definitely not limited to big business. Vladimir Putin is probably the best games player around. He knows your weaknesses and hot buttons, so he has and continues to use these approaches. In the US, politicians value and pay dearly for spin doctors like Karl Rove, who in essence are paid liars. Their job is perfume any pig that comes their client’s way. However, most politicians who have won more than one election become increasingly artful in these defense tactics – Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Obama and the Bushes – all could be considered good at these approaches. With Nixon, the lies caught up with him as he taped himself. He only resigned once the courts ordered him to release the tapes that showed he was not only paranoid, but ran a burglary and disinformation ring out of the White House.

First, when criticism is made against what you do or have done, you deny it aggressively. That is absolutely not true will be words usually spoken. Note, with false claims, denial does not mean the accuser is correct as that is part of the defense strategy under discredit. Putin claims that Ukraine is fascist, but you really cannot call Ukraine fascist if they are trying to have democratic elections. The toxic fracking slickwater is not getting into people’s water supply, is a good example of denial. The NSA is not spying on Americans is another one.

Second, when the denial ceases to work, the discredit strategy begins. Sometimes, the discrediting comes with the denial. The Putin example is a good one. The global warming is a hoax is a prime example, where the fossil fuel industry through its public relations engine wanted to paint Al Gore and all of his imperfections as the reason why global warming was not happening. He lives in large mansion and is using this as a publicity stunt. Name calling or branding people comes part and parcel. Using terms like Hitler, Apartheid or Stalin to paint something you dislike is a common tactic. I have often been called an Environmentalist, which I am, but the term is used to smear me because it is meant to construe that I do not care about jobs. The fact that there are tens of thousands of jobs in solar energy in my own state and they are growing in number, seems to get overlooked as unimportant.

Third, if denials and discrediting don’t work, disinform. This probably frustrates me most, as it is a very common tactic on partisan news shows, to spin the truth, overlook the issues or just lie. I tell people often and write on this blog and emails for people to stop watching Fox news and its counterpart, MSNBC. Your are better off watching no news as the spins can be so severe that you are not informed –  you have been propagandized. The real truths include: Global warming is not a hoax. Fracking is not perfectly safe. Creationism is not science. Voter fraud is virtually non-existent. Business is not inherently bad, but needs governance. Protecting our environment costs us less in the long run. While there are a few abusers, people on food stamps are not gaming the system.

Fourth, if we are still in trouble, the next line in the sand is to diffuse. This is a measured  mea culpa which allows some concessions, but does so on your terms. You have already thought through beforehand what would be an acceptable position to come to, when the avalanche of truth gets too big. You have done some internal investigations and found there is some truth in what we are being accused of, so we will fix it. You are right, climate change is real, so we are going to focus on natural gas, as it burns cleaner than coal. The data breach is bigger than we first imagined, so we are doing the following. We are only getting Metadata and not listening to your phone calls and reading your emails.

Fifth, if this fails, then we need to defray. We need to settle claims as quickly and expeditiously as possible. We must avoid class action suits. We need to divide and conquer. Pay people a pretty penny, but limit the number of pennies and limit the number of hands. No one goes to jail. We just pay out of expenses what we have already accrued when the problem first reared its head. Or, let’s recall every car that has any minor defect now. This will be far cheaper than the potential lawsuit.

The five D’s. Next time criticism is flying toward someone or some entity, watch how the issue is handled. Usually, the higher the revenue stream potential, the more aggressive the defense. The truth is usually further away from the speaker with the most to gain financially. Not always, but often enough.

Friday fan-fiction?

Fan-fiction is a common term used to define people who have written variations or new stories off their favorite movie series – Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. The fans who write and read these stories are often a self-governing group who offers passionate feedback, good or bad. Sometimes, with so many directors of a movie series, the loyalty to the mission of the characters is better served by these fans, than a director. Even an author can fail to fully understand the history, as well as these passionate fans.

I am reminded of the Stephen King book and movie called “Misery.” The plot is about an author who is tired of writing a successful series about a female character whose name is “Misery,” so he dramatically kills her off. Sadly, for him he has been “kept” by a woman who is a huge fan of the series, after the author is injured in a car crash. She nurses him back to health, until she gets the final book. When she learns he has killed Misery off, she goes berserk and hobbles him, so he cannot leave. She forces him to write a new book that brings Misery back to life.

The fan-fiction concept reminds me of the cult-like following of the former president and his sycophants. The niece of the former president noted her uncle lies so much he starts to believe his own BS. I have witnessed this over the last five years, as well. What happens is the lies are heavily flavored and reiterated by a conspiracy minded group of people and pseudo-news sycophants. So, the lies get wind beneath their wings from the vast fan-fiction and soar ever longer.

Yesterday, one of those conspiracy parrots was formally removed from the House education committee, Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. Eleven Republicans joined the Democrats in the censure vote, after Republican leaders failed to address her ongoing fan-fiction which included threats of the Speaker. She has espoused many fan-fictions, but let me highlight two.

Ms. Greene believes a wealthy Jewish cadre is causing the wildfires using lasers from space. The creativity of this fiction is only exceeded by disbelief that a grown woman would actually buy into this. The other is a repeat of old fiction that Alex Jones got in trouble for. Sandy Hook’s school shooting which killed twenty children and seven staff was all a hoax. Jones lost a lawsuit and an appeal for mental anguish he caused with his fiction on the families of the survivors and was ordered to pay restitution.

But, let me take the source of this fan fiction one step further. Jones is a salesperson and he is not only selling conspiracy theories, he is pushing product. His “Infowars” show spends a lot of time selling products, more so than the fiction, but the two are often related. After telling us how there was a Democrat scheme to infect the water system with a sexual neutering chemical, the next day, Jones began pushing his own product to protect you from such chemicals. This is fear tactics at their worst – scare you and sell you a product to protect you. The old term is “snake oil salesman.”:

Fan-fiction is entertaining to the passionate fans. But, please remember the key second word – fiction. The former president claims fake news, when the real news paints him in the appropriate light. Yet, what his fans do not realize, the biggest purveyor of fiction is the person they follow.

Shepard Smith Blasts Former Fox News Colleagues Who ‘Propagated the Lies’

Shepard Smith was one of the better journalists at Fox News, but was forced out when he told inconvenient truths about the outgoing US president. In so doing, he was at odds with the primetime hosts who offered their opinions, often to mask those inconvenient truths. In a an article by Rudy Takala of Media called “Shepard Smith Blasts Former Fox News Colleagues Who ‘Propagated the Lies’: I Don’t Know How They ‘Sleep at Night,’” Smith holds no punches in speaking about those primetime opinion folks.

Here are a few paragraphs, with a link below to the article:

“Former Fox News host Shepard Smith excoriated his old colleagues for spreading what he called “disinformation,” and said he stuck with the network in order to combat their efforts.

‘If you feel like the Fox viewers were getting mis- or dis-information, I was there to make sure that they got it straight,’ Smith said in the interview with PBS News’ Christiane Amanpour. ‘There were a lot of others in there who I thought were trying to do the same thing. But I thought that to just abandon it, and to deprive those viewers of … to deny them that, with the thought that they might replace it with opinion instead, seemed a little selfish. So I stuck with it as long as I could.’

Smith, who joined the network at its founding in 1996, left in 2018 amid tension with primetime host Tucker Carlson. He joined CNBC with an hour-long weekday program in September. The show quickly made headlines for struggling to draw viewers.

‘My goal was to just keep the blinders on and just do my job to the best of my ability,’ Smith added, before taking aim at his old network’s opinion hosts. ‘Opine all you like, but if you’re going to opine, begin with the truth and opine from there. And it’s that deviation from that that has caused me the greatest concern. I believe that when people begin with a false premise and lead people to astray, that’s injurious to society, and it’s the antithesis of what we should be doing.

‘I don’t know how some people sleep at night, because I know that there are a lot of people who have propagated the lies, and have pushed them forward over and over again who are smart enough and educated enough to know better,’ he added.”

Many people who have told inconvenient truths about the outgoing president were fired, reassigned or lost their jobs. Just the latest two, Attorney General William Barr and Election Cybersecurity leader Chris Krebs, both openly pushed back on the fraudulent and unproven election fraud claims of the outgoing president. Krebs noted this was the most secure election ever and Barr called the outgoing president’s claims ‘bulls**t.” So, they had to go.

Truth is not used often or valued by the outgoing president. Just looking at the very many people who have been pardoned, which include a parade of corruption and fraud criminals, it shows what he values. Lies and loyalty over truth. And, that is not the kind of leadership we need, from public officials or folks who tell us what they think for a living.

Shepard Smith Blasts Former Fox News Colleagues Who ‘Propagated the Lies’: I Don’t Know How They ‘Sleep at Night’ (msn.com)

When people do not push back on a tyrant

When people do not push back on a tyrant, they should not be surprised when he does tyrannical things. Five people died Wednesday, but that was the culmination of four years of corrupt and deceitful behavior….and a fragile ego. The most ardent of fans of the tyrant were endangered by the tyrant’s instigation of violence. The legislators who supported the tyrant’s efforts were found quivering in the Capitol Building worried about their lives. If they stood up and said, “but, I am on your side,” they could have been killed or hurt.

It is easy for Republican legislators and leaders to be courageous now, but when it was needed was when honorable diplomats and inspectors general raised concerns at great risk, knowing they would be fired for so doing. Yet, they did it anyway. I watched honorable duty bound people like Dr. Fiona Hill and Ambassador William Taylor testify under oath, only to be grilled by the tyrant’s toadies, who should also have taken an oath to tell the truth.

Former Intelligence director John Bolton condemns Trump now, but he left diplomats hanging with their testimony as he remained silent about the Ukraine extortion issue. Bolden was quoted as being very critical of the Ukraine extortion issue, but screwed these diplomats with his silence. Other former cabinet members are emboldened to criticize the tyrant now, but did they do enough to protect America from his whims and deceitful behavior when at the time needed?

And, for those who still support this tyrant, they need to answer a lot of questions. Trump’s actions led to five deaths, but he endangered the lives of his fans and the legislators who supported him. There is a term for that – it is called sociopathic behavior. It may not be well-known, but narcissism is a subset of sociopathic behavior. It has not been a large leap for the tyrant to do sociopathic things as he did last February when he purposefully endangered his fans at pep rallies being silent on the COVID-19 risk.

Will the tyrant be removed from office before his term ends? I do not know. But, no one deserves to be removed more than this ego-maniacal, corrupt and deceitful person. With too many Republican leaders not speaking up, especially during his staged voter fraud claims, more than his ardent base believe his BS. Note to followers, he lost the election because he got fewer votes. And, in spite of the claims of conspiracy theorists, the tyrant has lost 59 out of 60 court cases and every recount. He cannot lose more than he has already.

Sadly, more Americans will get hurt with the emboldened shadow people. If you doubt this, some of the more extreme groups that support Trump are already speaking online of worse things to come. Make no mistake, the tyrant and his toadies have blood on their hands, I just pray it is not more.

Even Rupert Murdoch has turned sour on the outgoing president

In an article by Keith Griffith of the Dailymail.com called “New York Post turns on Trump in scathing front-page editorial,” even Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper has soured on the outgoing president. Here are the first four paragraphs from the article:

“The New York Post’s editorial board, which has long supported President Donald Trump, has blasted his longshot attempts to overturn the election in a scathing editorial.

The Post, which endorsed Trump in 2016 and 2020, issued the blistering rebuke in a front-page editorial for Monday’s edition, calling his continued election fraud claims a ‘dark charade’.

The blaring front-page ‘wood,’ as it is known in tabloid parlance, pleaded for Trump to ‘stop the insanity’ and told him bluntly: ‘You lost the election.’ 

The editorial said Trump was ‘cheering for an undemocratic coup’ with his call for Republicans in Congress to prevent the certification of the Electoral College vote on January 6.

It should be noted this is the outgoing president’s favorite newspaper, of course, until now. A link to the article in the Daily Mail is below. It should be noted that huge Trump fan Fox celebrity Geraldo Rivera said yesterday that Trump was acting like “an entitled frat boy.”

The outgoing president has lost 59 out of 60 court cases, many presided over by Republican judges. And, now his campaign is facing a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting systems, along with his attorneys and several media personalities who have been doing an on air backstroke to avoid litigation.

Maybe the funds Trump is collecting will be needed not to sue, but to defend Trump and his campaign in lawsuits. As he has learned, the other side can sue as well.

New York Post turns on Trump in scathing front-page editorial (msn.com)

What if they caught the bus?

One of the thoughts I have been having lately around the fraudulent claims of the outgoing president and his sycophants about voter fraud, is the following, “what if they caught the bus?” This is an old line about a dog chasing a vehicle, like a bus, begging the question, what would the dog do if he or she caught it?

Ken Paxton, the Attorney General in the state of Texas has been joined by seventeen other Attorney Generals on a case without much merit and standing. It is expected the US Supreme Court will kick it out and not hear it, but stranger things have happened. Here is what was said in n article this morning:

“Texas’s own senior GOP senator, John Cornyn, said, ‘I frankly struggle to understand the legal theory‘ behind it. Jeb Bush responded by saying there was no theory and predicted that the court would reject it out of hand. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) even went so far Thursday as to suggest it was a ‘PR stunt rather than a lawsuit‘ and that (the Texas Attorney General) Ken Paxton (R) might be merely seeking a Trump pardon for his personal legal problems.”*

But what if this last ditch effort worked and for some reason, the current president remained in office. In essence, what if they caught the bus? Then, democracy in America would be over. We would be an autocracy. The will of the people in votes would be overturned. Using the president’s niece, Mary’s comments, her uncle will “burn it all down” to avoid losing. His ego is that shallow. He must burn it down to keep his little precious ego in tact.

I wish I did not have to write this. Truly. But, only 60% of Americans view Biden’s win as legitimate. That floored me. That is the power of a person known for lying who has told his base that everyone else is lying. The silent Senators coupled with the some who have been outspoken have left a vacuum that has been filled with conspiracy theory fans and a president who simply cannot admit he lost the election. Make no mistake – this is weakness.

What the outgoing president is doing is predicted and predictable. He has staged this fraud for about six months. I wrote a post in September after reading about the 1,000 attorneys the Trump campaign hired called, “Take it to the bank, the president will sue to avoid losing the election.” Or, just watch Senator Bernie Sanders on the Jimmy Kimmel Show in October who, with eerie accuracy, summarized what Trump would do come election.

What is lost on this conspiracy spreaders – Trump, Giuliani, Hannity, Limbaugh, Ingraham, etc. – is the Trump campaign and supporters have lost 49 court cases, by my count, winning only one. And, to add insult to injury, many of the judges are Republican and some are Trump appointees. SCOTUS refused to hear a Pennsylvania court case from some Republican legislators – simply saying “no” with no known dissents.

So, my question to these sycophants – what happens if they catch this bus? People who support the president said he has a right to sue and ask for recounts. He has done that and he still lost. What he wants to do is do a recount until the count turns his way. What I would add is 60% of Americans think their vote is important. So, if this bus is caught, it will end up very ugly for America.

Let me close with a final comment I often use – it is a fool’s errand to take Donald Trump at his word. Are you listening Trump sycophants?

*Note: From a Newsweek article by Jason Lemon called “GOP Senator Ben Sasse Suggests Texas AG Looking for Trump Pardon With SCOTUS Lawsuit” A link to the article is below:

GOP Senator Ben Sasse Suggests Texas AG Looking for Trump Pardon With SCOTUS Lawsuit (msn.com)

Context and perspective

I learned yesterday, a former colleague passed away. She was an interesting person whose history was a lesson in and of itself. Her mother escaped Nazi occupied Poland with her on her mother’s back as a toddler, running across a field with machine gun fire over their heads.

I think of this story when I hear of people who dismiss the evil perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II as a hoax or fake news. Over 6 million Jews died horribly and ignobly at the hands of the Nazis.

Context is important. Perspective is important. Dismissing or downplaying things as a hoax or not real does a disservice to those impacted. When I watch “Finding your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates, invariably, when he looks at the history of people with Eastern European descent, the guests’ forebears got out of Europe just ahead of the pending genocide. The relatives of their forebears who remained were not so prescient and suffered greatly.

I have heard more than a few folks say COVID-19 is a hoax or not that big a deal. The outgoing US president has been one who has done both. Yesterday, my local newspaper indicated, by zip code, the rate of COVID-19 cases. In the richer zip codes, the case rate per 100,000 is about 50% to 60% of the rate in the less wealthy zip codes. Why?

The less wealthy zip codes have a greater preponderance of families with two jobs or more. They also include a greater preponderance of people who do not have the luxury of working from home and work more retail, restaurant and service jobs. The exposure is much higher, as a result.

My niece teaches in a private school that is up and running with needed mask, social distancing and hygiene precautions. She noted they have no known cases. Yet, when I made the observation above, she agreed there is that bias toward more healthier families. So, public schools have a greater risk given the cross pollination of exposure from more zip codes.

I mention these two examples as we must try to walk in people’s shoes. We cannot imprint our own experiences without recognizing that perspective bias. As for those who deny the Holocaust, that involves another degree of subterfuge beyond just not knowing. There is an effort in some countries, including the US, to white wash history.

If we don’t know our history, then we are destined to fall into the same mistakes. I am not a fan of drawing parallels to Nazi Germany, but the rise of authoritarianism is built on leaders denouncing the truth tellers and spreading misinformation. White washing history is not a new thing.

Fraudulent voter fraud claims suffer more setbacks

Well, it is has been two weeks since the election in the United States. A week ago Saturday, Joe Biden was declared the winner and is now president-elect. At the end of last week, Arizona and Georgia were called for Biden, while the president won North Carolina. So, that brings the electoral college tally to 306 to 232.

Note, this is the same margin as Trump had over Clinton in 2016, which he defined as a landslide, even with 3 million fewer votes nationally. In 2020, this victory is more significant as it is with the winner getting over 5 million votes more than the president. But, the president has continued with his orchestrated voter fraud claims case which he has been staging for many months. Yet, his fraudulent claims of voter fraud is not going very well.

Per a Bloomberg piece by Erik Larson called “Trump and Allies Dial Back Voter Fraud Claims After Defeats,” the fraudulent fraud claims continue to suffer defeats.

“President Donald Trump’s legal campaign to overturn his 2020 election defeat shrank further with the narrowing of a key Pennsylvania lawsuit and the retreat of supporters who had sued in four battleground states.

The Trump campaign on Sunday revised its highly touted suit to block certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s projected Pennsylvania victory, abandoning its most extravagant claims of widespread voter fraud. On Monday, four suits associated with a conservative group that also sought to block election certifications based on broad voter-fraud claims were dropped in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia.

The broad pullback follows several major courtroom defeats last week and highlights the difficulty lawyers are having in backing up Trump’s claims of a ‘rigged’ election.”

Americans need GOP Senators and other Trump sycophants to start recognizing what is going on and stop this fraud being perpetrated by the president. Trump lost because he got fewer votes than Biden in key swing states. Of course, where he got more, there was no fraud claims. It is amazing how that works.

Americans and global watchers this is what a conspiracy looks like. This is what fraud looks like. Yet, the person leading this charge is not some group that must include duly appointed Republican election officials who have vehemently supported their processes against the president’s claims. It is being led by the president of the United States whose ego cannot stand losing. This is not leadership, it is petulance.

Yet, be forewarned by the president’s niece who said her uncle will “burn it all down to avoid losing.” He has already harmed America which prides itself on a peaceful transfer of power. Is this corrupt and deceitful president going to be the first to buck this extremely important trend?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-and-allies-dial-back-voter-fraud-claims-after-defeats/ar-BB1b3STY?ocid=msedgdhp

Tell me why I ask some more?

I am puzzled with inconsistencies. Using The Beatles’ song “Tell me why?” once again, allow me to ask a few more questions.

Why should we believe someone who said two months ago he did not know who QAnon is, tweeted more QAnon based inane conspiracies. applauded a Georgia Republican Congressional candidate who touts such inanity and then repeats on national TV he still did not know who QAnon is?

Why should we believe the same person whose modus operandi is to create fear, say he did not want to tell Americans the truth about the coronavirus as he did not want to create a panic? Panic is his currency. It seemed OK for him to relay the inane QAnon tweet about Osama Bin Laden.

Why should we believe someone who repeatedly says and does racist things and endorses groups that want to diminish the rights of non-whites, then claims he is the least racist person in the world?

Why would voters not embrace the lesson of decisive victory in New Zealand by incumbent Jacinda Ardern? Ardern’s election victory is seen as an endorsement of an inclusive brand of leadership that is built on empathy and crisis management, two traits missing in several leaders such as the US president.

Why would a Senate candidate who has a good chance of unseating the Republican incumbent think it is a good idea to have an affair with a married woman? Yes, he may have been separated, but that shows poor judgment.

Of course, I am still trying to understand the actions of a sexting congressman, a groping and assaulting president, and former presidents who could not keep their paints on.

Five minutes of your time – listen to candid wisdom on COVID-19 mishandling

If people want to get a sense of the failure of the president to lead us during the COVID-19 pandemic, following his admission and confirmation he lied to the American people (and continued to do so) about the risk of COVID-19, please click on Scottie’s post which has a five minute commentary by a very smart man who goes by the name Beau of the Fifth Column. Even a few minutes of the commentary will give you the gist.

The fact the president misled Americans on the dangers of COVID-19 is not news. The fact he admitted he knew and lied is. What the president fails to realize then, during his misleading press conferences and tweets, and even today, is too many people believe his BS. And, too many sycophants furthered his lies and downplayed the danger.

Too many Americans have died and more will. Too many Americans have gotten sick and more will. And, putting this in terms the president might understand, dying and sickness is not good for the economy. When people get sick when we reopen stores, schools, rallies, etc. without seriousness of purpose, it is predicted and predictable people will get infected.

I will say this bluntly. This calls for the resignation of the president.

Let’s talk about Trump, Woodward, and bad days….