A Bathroom Puzzler

You are out at neighborhood restaurant. It’s the trivia tournament playoffs. he bathroom is a single, only one person at a time. Security is tight, there’s only a few minutes for everyone to go. There is a line of five men waiting to use it.

Which is worse?
A) Wash your hands appropriately, using precious seconds they need to do their business before the second half begins.
B) Leave without washing.

Laying out Donald Trumps Strategy

Steve Schmidt was a GOP operative for many years, who recently ‘defected’, believing Trump to be a threat to liberal democracy and the American Experiment. In a wonderful episode of “Stay Tuned with Preet” this especially stood out.

For audio, start at around 38:00. I’ve attempted to transcribe this because I think it is so accurate and so chilling (with slight edits to clean up grammar for the written page).

(Coming out of a discussion about the role of fear in politics and policy)
Question (Preet): What circumstances have to be present for the message of fear to win out over the message of hope? Is it about the messenger, or is it about something else?

Answer (Steve Schmidt):

Let’s look at what Trump is doing right now. There are five specific things, behaviors, that I think are deliberate and are not accidental.

First thing is that Donald Trump incites fervor and creates a cult of personality, through mass rallies and constant lying.

Second thing is he scapegoats vulnerable minority populations and assigns blame to them for every complex problem the country and the world is facing. Guatemalean children for instance.

Third thing is he alleges conspiracies — that there is an active conspiracy hidden and unseen, the deep state, that is harming.

Fourth thing, the victims, his base. He creates a sense of mass victimization. You turn on Fox News, there is no higher virtue in Trumpistan than being a victim. What Trump understood distinct from Sarah Palin, who always cast herself as a victim, is that victims will never pick another victim to lead them. They need a leader to validate their victimization, and that’s what Trump does.

Last thing is he asserts the necessity of exercising powers that heretofore, no one ever imagined an American President claiming he could exercise, for the purposes of protecting the victims against the conspiracy and the scapegoated minority populations. He requires in exchange only one thing: The subversion of personal sovereignty, your intellect, and objective truth itself to submit to this idea. That truth is what the leader says is true. Truth is what the leader believes is true, no matter what evidence is plainly before your eyes.

And that is happening in the country for 40% of the population right now.

Manafort, Cohen, Trump: A Few Thoughts

What does it all mean?

The case against: It doesn’t mean very much.

Paul Manafort: His crimes are bad, but so far have little to do with Trump or Russia. Just another white-collar criminal. The important phase is the next trial, which directly relates to his relationship with Russia. He used his position as campaign manager to (try to) clear his debts with Russia. He’s a traitor to the country, and that will come out.

Michael Cohen and campaign law: Yes, he unquestionably broke the law. Also, so what. Does it really matter? The actual harm is… let’s see… what was it again… that America didn’t know he had an affair with Stormy Daniels during the campaign. But is there anyone who didn’t already believe Trump wasn’t faithful? That he had affairs with multiple women already? That he wasn’t a piece of disgusting trash with women and his marriage(s). We knew all that going in.

The affair isn’t germane. Politicians and rich people having affairs, mercy me! Kennedy had affairs while in office. Clinton had an affair while in office. Trump had affairs before he was in office. Most of the country resisted Clintons impeachment because the blowjob had nothing to do with his professional role as President and the rest was legal ‘gotcha’. In the same way, most of the country will see that Trumps affairs have nothing do with his professional role as President, and the rest is legal ‘gotcha.

Let’s remember the end goal here.

First, Trump is manifestly unfit for office, and should be removed for any number of reasons. But most of those reasons are within the normal prerogatives of the duly elected President. If he is removed, it must be done for reasons that don’t set such awful precedents for successors that it ends up harming more than helping.

Second, America and the Western World was and is under attack by Russia. Understanding, publicizing, and resisting that is vital. To whatever degree Trump allowed a foreign power to influence our country, he is a traitor, and should be removed from office and hung in the middle of Time Square. But neither of these convictions come close to that level.

The case for: It’s a big deal.

It will convince some that Trump really is a liar. Some might think, if he bald-faced lied about this and changed his story continually as new evidence was revealed, I wonder if his continually changing story on Russia might indicate lying there?

It makes it harder to shut down Muellers investigation, the Witch Hunt excuse got much thinner.

New York will not indict a sitting President, but Trump is also unable to pardon himself from New York sentences. Given his personality and history, Trump is likely act in more outrageous ways to defend himself and punish/reward his confederates, and these will add to the impeachment fire.

It gives Republicans more cover and reason to speak their mind. This is the truly key dynamic. Trump is enabled by a partisan Congress. To effect real change in this presidency, Congress needs to change.

It will convince some that Trump truly is corrupt. He has surrounded himself with criminals, and has done criminal acts.

It gives Democrats a potent campaign issue. They can reasonably paint a portrait of Trump as lethally corrupt, and that anyone who enabled that corruption is corrupt themselves.

What’s the conclusion? Your humble blogger author thinks that in the end it doesn’t mean much. The next trial of Paul Manafort will mean something. Whatever else Cohen spills might mean something. Allen Weisselberg (Trump Organization CFO, granted immunity and talking) probably means something. Whatever Mueller knows that hasn’t been made public means something.

Keep your eye on the ball. It will take something very big to get Congress to resist and/or impeach Trump, and these aren’t enough.