Friday Freakiness

This title is actually a misnomer in some respects, as the behavior is normative while the statements are not altogether true. In no particular order:

Representative Robert Pittenger from NC described the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau as dictatorial and bad for the economy. In his one sided argument, not once did he mention the CFPB has fined banks, credit card companies, pay day lenders, etc. over $12 Billion for fraud and aggressive marketing practices. Over 90% of these fines go back to consumers. Banks and their funded politicians don’t like the CFPB, but this is government oversight at its best.

In a sadly comical moved during a scary time with North Korea, the US ships that we were told were heading toward North Korean waters were headed in the opposite direction. To see Sean Spicer try to explain away chaos like this adds to the farcical nature of this White House.

The state of Arkansas has decided it wants to be known for executions rather than something more productive. It turns out their killing drug of choice is about to expire, so the Governor and Attorney General decided a dozen death row inmates had to go. With new DNA techniques and the Innocence project, we can not be certain that all twelve are guilty, with at least one still claiming innocence.

Finally, another shoe has dropped on the election influence with a detailed Russian plans being revealed from a think tank who advises Putin to abet Donald Trump’s efforts. What is also interesting is when this think tank thought Hillary Clinton was going to win in October, the strategy shifted to drumming up concerns over voter fraud. It is also interesting that  this is about the same time Trump ramped up the voter fraud issue and said he had to wait and see if he would support the results. To be frank, for anyone to say these efforts did not affect the election results is selling a story without proof. From where I sit, the survey percentile ranges shifted notably after James Comey’s announcement handing the election to Trump.

That is all the freakiness for one Friday. Have a great weekend.

Yet another set of mid-week musings

A week has passed since my last potpourri of musings. I don’t know about you, but I feel the world is a much less safer place since our President was inaugurated.

While I don’t feel the bombing of the Syrian airstrip was a bad move, I do feel it might have been in haste and comes on the heels of a variable strategy towards Syria and Bashar al-Assad. Without clear strategy and with the wheel in the hands of a loose cannon, I worry about next steps.

Then there is the petulant boy in a man’s body who is leading North Korea. His ego and penchant toward chaos rival our own leader. I just hope our cooler headed generals play a more active role, since they each have a keener sense of history and diplomacy, much moreso than our President or his Press Secretary.

With the world a tempestuous place, we should not have to worry about the verbal fumbles of the White House Press Agent. Trump is bad enough, but Sean Spicer cannot get out of his own way, which is not a good quality for a PR person. He is apologizing profusely for saying Hitler did not resort to chemical gassing like al-Assad does. This was more than a mild offense to those who died during the Holocaust.

While I have not checked, there must be oddsmakers taking bets on the next Trump advisor to fall. Will it be the aforementioned Mr. Spicer or will it be Steve Bannon? As an attorney who worked for Trump liked to say, if you are on his good side, you won’t be there for long. It is possible both may not see the summer in the White House.

I could ramble on, but let’s leave it at these few musings for today.

The more smug, the less convincing

Over the past several years, I have noticed the more smug* a politician, pundit or public official is when they push back on an issue, the less convincing they are with their argument. The tactic is used to overwhelm the interviewer in a condescending manner, making them look stupid for daring to differ or ask a question.

Our new administration and its supporters seem to be using smugness as a weapon of defense more than any other group I have witnessed. And, as I have noted before, I believe organizations take on the personality of their leader, so they are taking their cue from our President. When caught in a lie, it is never (or as close to never as possible) Trump’s fault or he will try to convince you it is not a lie.

Whether it is Spicer, Conway, Miller, Preibus, Bannon or other officials who have been interviewed, the smugness is brought out like a weapon. “How dare you ask that question or think that way?” is the manner intentionally used to belittle the interviewer.

Yet, the elephant that cannot be ignored in the room is their boss has a very hard time with the truth. During the campaign he is on record as lying about 70% of the time per fact checkers. Not ironically, the fact checkers have revealed he is lying about 70% of the time as President. And, even during his more presidential speech, he had eight or so major misstatements, not to mention the little embellishments. Sadly, this was a prepared speech which could have edited out these misstatements.

But, none of this is new. He has worked with six authors to write biographies and his most popular book, “The Art of the Deal.” In a group interview these authors have noted the man treats truth as a commodity. And, an attorney who worked with him said he lies all of the time, even about inconsequential things. This attorney was amazed at how routine the lying was, especially as he stiffed contractors – Trump would say it was due to bad service, but the frequency of stiffing folks was too common for that to be correct so many times.

So, the next time Trump or one of his spokespeople pulls out the “smug” weapon, listen even more carefully to what is being said and the opinions and questions of the interviewer. Smug does not make you right, it just means you are smug. With a 70% rate of untruthfulness, the odds are the boss is not right and should not be so smug.

 

*Smug is defined as:

having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements:
“he was feeling smug after his win”

synonyms: self-satisfied · self-congratulatory · complacent · superior ·

[more]

pleased with oneself · conceited

This is the dawning of the age of disinformation

For fans of the 5th Dimension, I recognize my use of the word “disinformation” has one more syllable than “Aquarius,” but it is better than “alternate facts.” This is the new term being spoonfed to us before being lied to by the new White House. Our new President, who has a history of treating the truth as a commodity, has hired two spokespeople that now lie to cover up their boss’ lies.

Kellyanne Conway said they were presenting “alternate facts,” which is an oxymoron that begs the input of George Carlin who was famous for oxymoron questions. As Carlin famously asked about jumbo shrimp, are they big shrimp or little jumbos? Are alternate facts untruthful facts or factual variations?

The sad part of this new era is how easily these alternate facts can be shown to be untrue. Yet, these spin doctors, which is a nice way of saying paid liars, are lying about inconsequential stuff. The size of the crowd and size of the TV audience are not worth losing goodwill over. Yet, if they will lie about something of no consequence, what will happen on bigger issues.

On inauguration day, there were two additional stories worth reporting that went unannounced. First, Sean Spicer made no mention that our new President signed an executive order in his first hours that reversed a planned mortgage premium rate reduction scheduled to go into effect at month end. This would have saved over one million middle class homeowners money. Weren’t these the people our President swore to look after?

Second, while speaking of build in America and buy American, his followers were wearing caps to “Make America Great Again” made in China, Vietnam and Bangladesh. Not only is this hypocrisy, but it shows what a poor planner the President is, as being a good manager has been a shortcoming. Why would you risk such discovery?

Finally, he has decided to continue his war on the media. Yet, what he fails to realize is the media is far-reaching and credible media is now presenting his office’s comments side by side with fact checks. When you are known for lying throughout your career, it is good journalism to show where statements made by our President or one if his surrogates is untrue. I wish they did this during the campaign, as he was the most prodigious liar since 2007 when such fact checking began.

Let me be candid. I did not vote for this man and advocated against his candidacy. This was a key reason. Yet, he is our President, so we must hope he does some good things and protest when he goes down a bad path. What will wear my patience quite thin is for blatant lying, especially on nonsense.

So, here is what I am going to do throughout his Presidency and I encourage others to do the same until shown otherwise. I am not going to believe a word Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway or Sean Spicer say. A betting person would say the same, based on their track record. They have to earn any trust I will give them. They have failed to do so and deserve this treatment. The ball is in their court.