Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Week Whataboutism Wore Out

You're a criminal for not reporting it.

— Donald Trump 

Historians will describe this as the week the American press rediscovered its cajones.

It refused, at long last, to dignify another piece of Kremlin-backed propaganda, in the process causing Trump to go ballistic.

The reason for refusing?

The story stinks. So much so, Facebook and Twitter both blocked it. Even Fox won't cover it.

It stinks because: (1) the story's principal character is a computer repairman and QAnon follower with a history of lying to the public; (2) the story's source is the Kremlin's own Rudy Giuliani; and (3) the one reporter in America vile enough to touch the story is a Trumpster and former Hannity producer, now working at the New York Post (fish-wrap for morons).

The story is so obviously Kremlin-backed, the FBI is birddogging it.

Today, an IT guy reports on Facebook that, on a hunch, he traced the serial numbers of Hunter Biden's laptops—if they are his laptops—and learned the machines were manufactured four days after the date on the "receipt" produced by the computer repairman (the repairman's alleged "proof" they belonged to Biden).

The story's pure poppycock, from Russia with love. Over 50 former senior intelligence officers have signed a joint letter warning it's so.

Historians will also pronounce this the week whataboutism wore out.

A Russian invention, whataboutism lets propagandists divert our attention from an inconvenient truth by equating it—falsely—with something else. The Soviets perfected the tactic during the Cold War.

Whataboutism is Trump's go-to ruse when faced with criticism:

Yes, 400,000 Americans will likely die from Covid-19 before year's end, but what about Hunter Biden's laptop?

The press is done with Trump's whataboutism. 

And so is the American public.

Monday, October 19, 2020

October Surprise

Get ready for Trump's October Surprise.

Yale historian Timothy Snyder claims it's hardly beneath the president to burn the Reichstag—or at least its American equivalent.

To cement his political power, Hitler did that in February 1933.

Germany’s Weimar Constitution, written in 1919, after the nation's surrender in World War I, included Article 48, a clause that gave its president dictatorial powers in cases of national emergency.

By the early 1930s, the civil unrest triggered by the Depression had thrust Hitler's new "law and order" Nazi Party from obscurity to the second-most rank among Germany's 40 political parties. 

While unable to reach the uppermost rank among the 40 parties—earning a full majority—by January 1933 the Nazis' strength was such that they could demand Hitler be installed as Germany's chancellor. He was.

As chancellor, Hitler immediately set out to make his the majority party. He announced that his largest rival, the Communist Party, was planning to attack public buildings.

On the night of February 27, a suspicious fire broke out in the Reichstag.

"This is a God-given signal,” Hitler told the president. “If this fire, as I believe, is the work of the Communists, then we must crush out this murderous pest with an iron fist.”

The president believed him, and the following morning invoked Article 48, abolishing free speech, assembly, privacy and the press; legalizing wire tapping and censoring mail; suspending the autonomy of Germany's 22 states; and assigning all legislative power to the chancellor, Adolph Hitler. 

That night, Hitler arrested and tortured 4,000 German citizens, mostly Communists.

Later that year, the German government tried, convicted and guillotined a jobless bricklayer and Communist Party member for setting the Reichstag Fire. But suppressed evidence indicates Hitler in fact arranged the blaze (Germany exonerated the wrongly convicted bricklayer 75 years after his execution).

Okay, I know what you're thinking: Trump is incapable of setting fires. But he's not incapable of blaming his enemies for doing so, as he did last month.

Beware the October Surprise.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Party's Over


That's the great part of capitalism, gales of creative destruction.

— Larry Kudlow

Instead of wringing their hands over the walloping face-to-face has taken, eventpeeps should be celebrating Covid-19 with Larry Kudlow: "creative destruction" has decimated their industry.

And now, after three successive quarters of negative growth, it's time for a sober assessment of where the events industry is heading in 2021 and beyond.

It's heading to oblivion.

Yes, the industry plummeted off a cliff in February, once the organizers of Mobile World Congress called it quits. That event was the first of the big dominoes to topple; the rest of the western world's large confabs quickly followed suit—or wished they had.

But Covid-19 was only a catalyst, accelerating an already-irreversible downward trend. 

As a viable marketing channel, events had peaked before the virus ever left Wuhan, and were inching toward decline. That's for two reasons:
  • Exhibitors are done with them. Events are all the things a CMO shuns when choosing a marketing channel. They're expensive, unproductive, unpredictable, unaccountable, unrepeatable, unmeasurable, unsustainable, wasteful and—sad, but true—too much about the salespeople having fun.

  • Attendees, too. Events are all things an attendee shuns when choosing a means to educate and improve herself. They're all of the above—and noisy, to boot.

But the hard truth is: it won't. It can't. Covid-19 has clobbered it.


Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.

― Robert Frost

A high-school history teacher outside Paris was beheaded yesterday by an angry Islamist.

The teacher's sin? 

He showed his class Charlie Hebdo's cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

French president Emmanuel Macron responded by declaring that Islamists are at war with "the Republic and its values."

"This battle is ours and it is existential. They will not pass. Obscurantism and the violence that goes with it will not win."

Imagine an American teacher beheaded by a Proud Boy for showing his class the cover of Mad, and you'd have the picture. 

Obscurantism has an obscure history.

The term derives from Letters of Obscure Men, a 16th century book lampooning the argument between a humanist and a monk over whether every copy of the Talmud—being heretical—should be burned (the pope favored burning the books).

Two centuries later, philosophers called all enemies of the Enlightenment obscurantists.

Obscurantism, as Macron means the word, assumes the hoi polloi are morons and seeks to restrict knowledge—especially knowledge about the workings of government—to rulers.

Obscurantism is alive today, not only in the Paris suburbs, but in the White House.

Trump's effort to cover up Covid-19, disclosed last month by Bob Woodward, is a costly example. Over 225,000 Americans have already died from the virus. Another 175,000 are soon to follow.

“I wanted to always play it down," Trump boasted. "I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Plato called that sort of nonsense a "noble lie." 

I call it obscurantism—and eagerly await our revolution on November 3.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Breathing Together

Everyone loves a conspiracy.
― Dan Brown

While not every Trumpster insists Barack Obama is a Muslim or Hilary Clinton a cannibal, every Trumpster demands we acknowledge the "deep state."

You cannot find one that doesn't.

Conspiracy-thinking is the Trumpster's oxygen.

But after spending 40 years in Washington, and watching close up a succession of nine administrations—Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, George W., Obama and Trump—I can assure you there is no deep state.

There are only deep pockets—the ones rattled by fat-cat donors of every stripe. Their goal is not world dominion, but control over the various industries that produce their massive wealth.

But Trumpsters must have their deep-state conspiracy, that octopean treachery they long to "unmask."

Conspiracy (meaning "plot") entered English in the 14th century from the Latin conspiratio, noun-form of the verb conspirare, meaning—literally—"to breathe together."

So you could say Trumpsters' romance with conspiracies is a deep fondness for breathing together.

They demonstrate that love at every maskless rally the president holds.

If there's a conspiracy afoot, it's theirs: the confederacy of dunces.
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