A Taxonomy of Trump Tweets – from On the Media.”

On the Media is “WNYC’s weekly investigation into how the media shapes our world view. Veteran journalists Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield give you the tools to survive the media maelstrom.”

A recent segment intriguingly addresses the PEOTUS’ twitter-storm, and how the media should appropriately respond.

As we all know, Donald Trump’s tweets have become a potent force in our new era. On the one hand, a single tweet can cripple opponents, activate supporters, move markets, and subsume the news cycle. On the other, they’re a window into Trump’s wee-hours, unfiltered id. But when his tweets are full of half-truths, distortions, and often bold-faced lies, should journalists treat them as normal presidential utterances, or something else? Cognitive linguist George Lakoff believes that the press must understand how Trump uses language if we’re to responsibly report on his tweets, not just magnify their misinformation. He talks with Brooke about the categories he’s come up with for thinking about Trump tweets.

A summary of the categories:

  1. Preemptive Re-framing – Trump’s tweet stated, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” This was rated “Pants on Fire” by Politifact, but it effectively re-frames the popular vote in the minds of those who see the tweet, thus distorting the facts in the public arena.
  2. The Diversion Tweet – This kind of tweet is akin to the magician’s misdirectional “nothing up my sleeve.” While you’re busy looking at his or her sleeve to be sure, jiggery-pokery is happening elsewhere. A good example is focusing on Hamilton, as Trump did when he tweeted “The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!” In this way, people focus on Hamilton rather than the $25 million settlement in the case of  fraud allegations against Trump University.
  3. The Trial Balloon – Send up something and see how the public reacts, so you’ll know what to do in the future. When Trump tweeted, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he watched to see how the public responded to this idea; in this case there was a brief discussion about nuclear policy which quickly faded from the public consciousness.
  4. Deflection – In which you attack the messenger. After being pointedly called out by Meryl Streep for mocking a disabled reporter, Trump attacked the messenger: “Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him “groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!The video is out there; no matter how much he denies it, Trump’s actions can not be interpreted as anything other than cruel mockery of a man’s afflictions – but attacking Ms. Streep, one of the most accomplished and versatile actresses of this generation, deflect’s the public’s view from the issue at hand. This was also evident as Trump attacked Buzzfeed, CNN, and the BBC around reports on the supposed Russian dossier.

Lastly, Lakoff presents an example of a Trump tweet that uses all four strategies at once:

“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

  • Pre-emptive framing: “This is fake news.”
  • Diversion – Getting the public to discuss whether or not this is fake news rather than addressing the issue itself.
  • Deflection – Attacking the messengers
  • Trial balloon – Will the intelligence agencies be stopped, and are they working like Nazi Germany?

And, of course, tucked away in the tweet is the invocation of a corollary to Godwin’s Law: In any online discussion, whoever first brings up a reference to Hitler has lost the argument, and the discussion is ended.

Lakoff’s suggestions for the press on how to handle the onslaught of 3 AM tweets, as well as the entire podcast (it’s only about 8 minutes long) are well worth the listen.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

An open letter to Trump: Stop the hatred.

Edit: Just after posting this, I saw that Mr. Trump had said something like this on “60 Minutes.” That’s good… but it’s not enough. A targeted  and specific message is needed.

Dear President-elect Trump:

trump1

I don’t know if you concern yourself with events on the ground among the “little people.”
In the week since your election, the news has been full of some terrifying and truly disturbing events. In a list compiled on Twitter by Insanul Ahmed:

  • Students as Southern Illinois University put on blackface and posed in front of a Confederate flag
  • A group of guys yelled, “Time to get out of this country, Apu!” at a Middle Eastern-looking man at a gas station
  • A woman wearing a scarf was told, “Your time’s almost up, girlie.”
  • A Trumpkin pulled a knife on a Muslim woman near the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • A white person called a black man a “nigger” and said he should be picking cotton
  • Students at Lehigh Valley High School were chanting, “Cotton-picker, you’re a nigger”
  • A white man approached a woman who appeared Mexican and said, “I can’t wait until Trump asks us to rape your people and send you over the biggest damn wall we’re going to build. Go back to hell, wet back,” and threw his cup of water in her face while flipping her the bird
  • A group of white men followed a woman wearing a dress onto the subway, yelled, “Grab her by the pussy!” and then proceeded to do so
  • Students at Wake Forest University were running around shouting, “NIGGER!” inside the residence halls
  • A group of white men confronted a black woman at a gas station and said, “How scared are you, you black bitch? I should just kill you right now…you’re a waste of air!” and another said, “You’re lucky there’s witnesses or else I’d shoot you right here.”
  • A black woman in Queens, NY was asked to go to the back of the bus
  • An LGBT couple found a note on their car saying, “Can’t wait till your ‘marriage’ is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell. Trump 2016”
  • High school teens yelled at a black woman to go back to Africa
  • A white man told an Asian woman at a gas station, “We won. Now get the fuck out of my country.”

Whether it was your intention or not, whether you want to admit it or not, you started this firestorm of hate with an implicit message that immigrants, Muslims, or anyone who is “other” or “less than” are not welcome in this country.

☞ And only you can put it out. ☜

I’m probably not wrong to suggest that most of your supporters are as appalled by this kind of behavior as I am. That these are the acts of the lowest common denominator of ignorance, hatred, and willful stupidity.

But these acts of horror are being committed in your name. And as President of our nation, the buck stops in the same office occupied by Harry Truman. With you.

There is only one way to stem the tide of this horror, which will only increase as the bigoted and the ignorant become more and more emboldened by the message that they heard during your campaign.

You spent countless millions of dollars courting the discouraged, the forgotten, and the disenfranchised, demonizing your political opponents. It is time to get in front of those same people who voted for you and personally tell them that acts of racism and hatred are not part of your platform. That they need to stop. That if they don’t stop, they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for hate crimes.

You’ve got the money, and for you it would be chump change. Get that message out there.

Do this, and even though I didn’t vote for you, you will have taken an important step to becoming “my president.” Do it not, and there is no way you can be president for “all Americans.” Do it not, and you will reap the whirlwind in a political backlash that you and the GOP may not recover from during this century.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

A compendium of hopes and fears

The election of 2016 is over, and the result I would not have imagined in a thousand night terrors has materialized. I couldn’t sleep last night, and put a lot of my thoughts out on Facebook in the hopes that I could stop feeling miserable and get back to bed. For better or worse, here’s an extended summary.

To my friends across the world, I wrote:

heart

Dear World:

I am deeply sorry. Please forgive us.
Je suis profondement navré. Veuillez nous pardonner.
Mi dispiace tantissimo. Per favore, scusateci.
Tá an-bhrón orm. Led’ thoil, maith dhúinn.
Es tut mir furchtbar leid. Bitte verzeih uns.
Jeg beklager så mye. Tilgi oss.
.אני מאוד מצטער. סלח לנו
Jako mi je žao. Oprosti nama.
Lo siento mucho. Por favor perdónanos.
Λυπάμαι πολύ. Συγχωρείστε μας.
Imi pare foarte rau. Vă rog, scuzați-ne.

I thought on this more than once:

litany_against_fear_by_kubuzetto

Donald Trump strikes me as the antithesis of all the best qualities Christ exhorted his followers to embody. In his first epistle to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote,

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous.”

If these are the qualities of a good spiritual leader, what then has America put into the White House?

A collection of tweets appeared this morning which lightened my mood somewhat:

George Takei: “The unthinkable happened before, to my family in WWII. We got thru it. We held each other close. We kept our dignity and held to our ideals.”

Michael Moore: “However this ends, that’s where we begin.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda: “Go through all stages tonight. You are allowed to feel however you like. Take stock of your heart. See you tomorrow. We are all still here.”

Stephen Colbert: “In the face of something that might strike you as horrible, I think laughter is the best medicine. You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time, and the devil cannot stand mockery.”

JK Rowling: “Deep breaths. You’re not alone. There are many, many people on your side. The battle’s only over when you stop fighting. xoxox”

Kal Penn: “Stop it w: the moving to Canada shit. Double down on the country we love. If Trump becomes president, we have to get MORE involved not less”

Nina Las Vegas: “No matter who your president is, always fight for education, tolerance and quality. Votes can’t stop YOU from being good in your world.”

Jesse Tyler Ferguson: “I’m taking tonight to grieve for minorities, women, immigrants, muslims & the LGBTQ community but tomorrow I’m waking up ready to fight.”

Jessica Chastain: “The positive element from all this is that we can no longer pretend that we are free of racism & sexism. The question is, what do we do now?”

Barack Obama: “Remember, no matter what happens, the Sun will rise in the morning and America will still be the greatest nation on Earth.”

These thoughts echo what I designed immediately upon hearing the news:

trump

Lastly, I offer my own signature from the early days of email, one which I have always treasured and whose source is unknown:

Everything will come out OK in the end. If it's not OK, it's not the end.

May  God, nature, and humanity have mercy on us all.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Servers are people, not slaves

I’ve posted my thoughts about tipping before. I think it’s a bad system that allows restaurateurs to balance their budgets on the backs of their most important corporate assets, their employees. But as long as it’s the de facto standard, it’s important never to stiff a server.

But just as important as a good tip is the way you treat those who serve you, or wait on you, or help you in retail establishments, or answer the phone to help you with a transaction or a technical problem. And far too many people (witness the horror stories at places like Not Always Right) treat others in this category like something horrid that they would scrape off their shoe.

A few examples:

  1. A pastor writes on her server’s check, “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?” She later stated that this was an unfortunate lapse of judgment and felt embarrassed about it, but Applebee’s, where the incident occurred, fired another server for publishing the offending check on reddit, even though no PII was revealed.
  2. A couple leaves a “tip” for a server: here’s your tip,” they said and explained that a woman’s place is in the home, as it says in the Bible, and that she should go home, clean her house, and cook a good hot meal for her husband and children. They even said her husband “must see another woman on his way home from a long day at his work” because she isn’t home, and told her to stop looking for handouts to feed her family.
  3. Some “Christians” have taken to leaving these tracts disguised as money as “tips,” thinking they’re contributing more to their waitstaff than crass pecuniary remuneration.

assholes

People who do things like the above examples are neither Christian, nor do they understand the very religion they so publicly claim to represent – and I refer them happily to Acts 8:21: “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”

Then there are the people who are just douchebags for no reason.

  1. One sweet lady I work with told of spending almost 2 decades as a server. One “gentleman” she waited on told her that society had failed her because she was working as a waitress, and that she herself was a failure; he flipped a $5.00 bill at her and told her to put it into her infant daughter’s bank account, but that he doubted it would get there. Needless to say, he made her cry; this is what trolls do on the internet all the time, “for the lulz,” but it is beyond my capacity to comprehend how someone can do this in person. It’s a good thing I wasn’t at the next table, I would have been hard pressed not to stand up and smash his silly face.
  2. A man with “Esq.” after his name, proclaiming to all the world that he is an attorney, calls up customer service for assistance. When discovering his problem is a bit more complex than he wants (“Just fix it!”) he demands a manager. When he doesn’t get one immediately, he launches into this shouted tirade about “Now you’ve made me really angry! I’m documenting this call! I’m calling your CEO!” His douchebag wife even calls up to abuse some more agents about the same issue. And he actually does call the CEO, wasting countless people’s time and acting like a spoiled, entitled little brat until he gets heaven knows what. I’d love nothing better than to doxx this waste of human cytoplasm, but that’s not how I roll.
  3. For more examples, scan Not Always Right for the category “Bad Behavior.” (Link for the time-challenged.)

The solution to all these unhappy situations is pretty simple. It’s come to be known on the Internet as “Wheaton’s Law.”

wheatons-law

Seriously, just don’t.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Donald Trump, Brigham Young, and the meaning of a contract.

That Donald Trump is a “shrewd businessman” – I can put it no more charitably than that – is no secret. He himself has said that he takes pleasure in reneging on contracts if, according to him, work is poor, or not up to snuff, or late.

However, among the 1,450 lawsuits against Trump and Company are a significant percentage of people testifying that his modus operandi is to stiff people who work for him. In the past, he has generally gotten away with it because he was the 900-lb gorilla in the ring, and most people didn’t have the gumption or the legal resources to go up against him.

But recently, this practice came around and bit him on the honus, hard.

Trump’s company chose to pay small contractor Paint Spot $34,863 on a $200,000 contract. Paint Spot rustled up some high-powered lawyers willing to work on contingency and waive their fees if they lost, and sued Trump. During the trial,

Trump’s legal team looked positively stricken when the construction manager admitted during testimony that the company had decided not to pay The Paint Spot because it felt like it had “already paid enough.”

Trump’s loss was delicious. It illustrates plainly the standard operating procedure of a man who has made millions on the backs of others, without caring who gets hurt in the process – one of the classic hallmarks of a sociopath, of which Trump easily checks off at least five:

Antisocial Personality Disorder, as defined by DSM-5 – only three of these are sufficient to classify a sociopath.

1) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
2) deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
3) impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;
4) irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
5) reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
6) consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
7) lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

Now, in contrast, let’s take a bit of satirical history from the pages of Samuel Clemens.

In  Mark Twain’s “Roughing It,” Chapter 14, we read the story of Mr. Street, busy with stringing telegraph wires across the rugged desert.

Unto Mormons he had sub-let the hardest and heaviest half of his great undertaking, and all of a sudden they concluded that they were going to make little or nothing, and so they tranquilly threw their poles overboard in mountain or desert, just as it happened when they took the notion, and drove home and went about their customary business! They were under written contract to Mr. Street, but they did not care anything for that. They said they would “admire” to see a “Gentile” force a Mormon to fulfil a losing contract in Utah! [Emphasis mine]

Mr. Street was in dismay to find himself in a country where “contracts were worthless,” until another Gentile (Note: This is the term that was long used in Mormon country for people not of that faith) suggested he go see Brigham Young. While in doubt that someone with only religious authority could help, he paid the President a visit and

laid the whole case before him. He said very little, but he showed strong interest all the way through. He examined all the papers in detail, and whenever there seemed anything like a hitch, either in the papers or my statement, he would go back and take up the thread and follow it patiently out to an intelligent and satisfactory result. Then he made a list of the contractors’ names. Finally he said:

“Mr. Street, this is all perfectly plain. These contracts are strictly and legally drawn, and are duly signed and certified. These men manifestly entered into them with their eyes open. I see no fault or flaw anywhere.”

Then Mr. Young turned to a man waiting at the other end of the room and said: `Take this list of names to So-and-so, and tell him to have these men here at such-and-such an hour.

brigham

They were there, to the minute. So was I. Mr. Young asked them a number of questions, and their answers made my statement good. Then he said to them:

“You signed these contracts and assumed these obligations of your own free will and accord?”

“Yes.”

“Then carry them out to the letter, if it makes paupers of you! Go!”

And they did go, too! They are strung across the deserts now, working like bees. And I never hear a word out of them.

While there is no evidence proving that this specific incident occurred, Roughing It is a semi-autobiographical novel detailing Twain’s travels, and through the satire some truth gleams like gems. I am inclined to believe the story has basis in fact for a number of reasons, most importantly that Brigham Young valued honesty and decried duplicity.

My mother used to sing me a little song when I was very young:

Before you make a promise,
Consider first it’s importance.
Then, when made,
Engrave it upon your heart.

I suspect my mother learned this from her father, and Linda K. Burton, general Relief Society President for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, heard the same song from her own grandfather

Honesty is one of the traits of a compassionate leader, one who says what (s)he means and does what (s)he says. I cannot, I will not support as the leader of my country someone who takes perverse pleasure in lies and deception to profit at the expense of others.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

419 is just a game

I just received an interesting comment over at my post on trolling a Craigslist scammer. Here it is, in full, thanks to commenter “James Dawson”:

You people got the gut to complain when your devilish forefathers stole Africans from their lands brought them over to your country and used them to develop your nation leaving their fatherland underdeveloped with abject poverty,sufferings and confusion. This is Karma and it’s will keep catching up with you guys

This is a common attitude expressed by the 419 scammers – to them, it’s just a game, as expressed in this video, a shorter version of which I had referenced in a previous post:

In a delicious bit of irony, Nkem Owoh, the actor who starred in the above music video, was arrested in 2007 as part of an international takedown of scammers who were running the 419 fraud. Full details at The Register.

Somehow these drones feel that two wrongs make a right, and that they are somehow entitled to the money of any rich white man stupid enough to “fall mugu.” They don’t understand the concept of personal responsibility, that no one owes their sorry asses anything, and that they should stop blaming people who have been dead for 200 years for their troubles.

U no chop my dollar, onioburu. U no fit comot face, just skip along.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

End the Madness

Reuters recently reported that an Egyptian Judoka refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent after a match at the Olympics in Rio.

It’s all the more sad because there were so many supporters on El Shehaby who encouraged him not to participate, because it would “shame Islam;” this is the pinnacle of resistance, resentment, and revenge, the zenith (or nadir, looked at another way) of stupidity. The Olympics is about building bridges, not about being a pettish douche. And this goes for anyone who does such things – El Shahaby is only the teacher in the moment.

In 1969, Bobby Darin wrote:

Now no doubt some folks enjoy doin’ battle
Like presidents and ministers and kings
But let us build them shelves where they can fight among themselves
and leave the people be who like to sing! (Simple Song of Freedom)

I invite all who would perpetuate this psychopathic, internecine conflict of the ages to toddle off into the desert somewhere, far, far away, and blow each other up until there is no one left – a sort of Middle East Hunger Games, if you will – and leave decent people, Arab and Jew alike, to dwell together in the land in harmony as  they have at many points in history. Knock down the borders. Don’t call the land Israel. Don’t call it Falastina. Call it “Rainë,” the Quenya word for Peace.

I don’t care who your God is. I don’t care if it’s יְהֹוָה or الله. I’m neither Jewish nor Muslim, but I can tell you this – whoever God may be, he’s probably mighty pissed with both sides of this millennia-long conflict. Stop it. If you don’t, this will be the inevitable result:

This is my opinion, and my opinion only. If you think otherwise, I volunteer you as tribute.

TICKET

Comments are disabled for this post. If you have other thoughts, post them at your own blog.