Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Trump's Imprecise Language, More Reasons to Shun Him (a Tom Friedman Column), Whither Retail, a Baseball Analogy and a Plea for Newspapers

                                 


More Reasons for Americans of All Parties to Shun Trump

Last week “Dangerous Donald” Trump accused Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton of being the founders of the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL).  He has somewhat clarified this by implying that their actions in the Middle East, specifically removing American troops, was tantamount to their being the founders of ISIS. (He ignores the fact that the Shia-dominated Iraqi government would not provide an acceptable “status of forces” agreement for any troops we maintained there, meaning that American troops accused of committing crimes would be tried in Iraqi courts, not American military courts.  Bottom line: The Iranian-backed Iraqi government did not want our troops there.) 

Of course, “Dangerous Donald” is just posturing, hoping this type of phony accusation will get him a few more votes.  He appeals to a constituency which is ready to believe anything negative he might say, truthful or not, about the President and Hillary Clinton. Even something as ridiculous as their being the founders of ISIS! 

And when "Dangerous Donald" recognized (or was finally told, probably by a family member) how transparently phony his accusation was, he ends up claiming that his critics just aren't capable of comprehending his "sarcasm." Late news:  Sarcasm is a quality we should be looking for in choosing a President.  Not in my country!

The danger of such phony accusations (if Obama and Clinton “founded” ISIS, it follows that they would have committed treasonous acts ... that's the conclusion which "Dangerous Donald" wants his supporters to reach.) is that there are enough wackos out there who might believe them.  This kind of accusation, along with his Second Amendment comment, can result in violence.

Image result for donald trump

With that in mind, I offer you Thomas Friedman's August 9 New York Times column where he points out how such subtle or not so subtle inflammatory oratory can have fatal results when it inspires ardent believers to commit violent acts.  That is the scenario that led to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by an individual opposed to Rabin’s willingness to seriously negotiate with the Palestinians.  And that is the road that “Dangerous Donald,” master of imprecise and ambiguous language, is taking!  If you read no further in this blog, you must read Friedman’s column!  To do so, just click right here ! 
Jack Lippman  
                                 

The Intentional Imprecision of Donald Trump

“Dangerous Donald” Trump’s language is often very imprecise, leaving the listener to decide what he is saying, and leaving him an “exit ramp” if he is criticized for what he is saying.  It is akin to a slick salesman’s vaguely smoothing over a contentious point in his pitch by planting an incomplete idea in the customer’s mind, and allowing that customer to make an incorrect assumption.  He might declare that the air conditioner you are buying is guaranteed for five years, but when it breaks down a year later, and you read the fine print, you find that the five year guarantee is filled with exceptions and isn’t what you thought it was.

Look at these examples, and note my comments in red.

          Image result for second amendment
  1. We’ll start with Trump’s recent Second Amendment verbatim comments which are in in blue.
 "Hillary wants to abolish -- essentially abolish the Second Amendment.”  
 Trump knows Hillary doesn’t want to abolish the Second Amendment, and to avoid being called a liar, he modifies his accusation with the non-specific word “essentially,” which his listeners don’t hear.” 
“By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people,”
He just mentions the “Second Amendment people,” saying nothing about them, leaving the listener to possibly supply a verb. 
"maybe there is, I don't know,"   
Trump’s words “maybe there is” just hanging there certainly apply to the “Second Amendment people” but he goes no further with this line of thought.” Some listeners might go further with them though and in their heads complete the thought to read “maybe there is action they might take.”  But then, the final “I don’t know” disclaimer removes him from responsibility for those who take it that way and dream of violent action.  And he did mumble “maybe” too, taking him still further off of any hook.
"But I tell you what, that will be a horrible day, (pause) if Hillary gets to put her judges in, right now we’re tied."
Does he mean it will be a horrible day if the Second Amendment people take some violent action when Hillary appoints liberal judges, or does he simply mean it will be a horrible day if Hillary gets to appoint judges.  An intentional ambiguity, leaving it to the listener to interpret his words.

           
  1. Now let’s go back a year to a CNN interview in which Trump attacked Fox News’ Megyn Kelly who had moderated a G.O.P debate.  His words are in blue and my comments are in red.  
"You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever." 
Use of the words "you could see" left responsibility for the vulgar sexual connotation which almost all viewers attached to his comment to those viewers, getting him off of the hook.  And because “whatever” is a meaningless word, Trump left it to the viewer to provide a more precise meaning for it.  It could mean anything and in fact, in a subsequent "tweet," he suggested it might refer to her nose as well as elsewhere.  Use of an imprecise word like “whatever” allows Trump to have an “exit ramp.”

    Image result for mrs khan's response to trump       
  1. And in regard to Ghazala Khan, mother of the Muslim United States war hero, Trump was similarly ambiguous in his interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News.  Trump’s words, verbatim, are in blue.  My comments are in red.
“If you look at his wife, she was standing there, she had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say.”
Trump asks the viewer (you) to look at her and draw your own conclusions. When he comments that she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say, an attack on the role of women in some parts of the Islamic world, he includes the words “probably” and ‘maybe.”  This takes him off of the hook and leaves it to the viewer to come to the conclusion Trump has reached but will not himself unequivocally state.  He entirely passes the buck to the viewer with his final three words.
“You tell me.”

This “You tell me” and the “I don’t know” comment in regard to his Second Amendment gaffe are the ways this slick snake oil salesman puts his ideas into the minds of his gullible followers while maintaining his own innocence.  (Same thing goes for his use of “whatever” as cited above.) 

Image result for trump Who me?  I nevah said that!

That “Dangerous Donald” Trump was merely encouraging “Second Amendment people” to get out and vote rather than half-humorously suggesting that they might take some more violent action if Clinton is elected and appoints liberal justices is something only unbelievably na├»ve voters (and paid Trump staffers) would believe. 

His use of the expression “Second Amendment people” is strange too.  It is coded language actually meaning “gun owners” but saying that would put his remarks in a far more ominous light, less easy to slither away from.   

Image result for people with guns
A Second Amendment Person

But did "Dangerous Donald" actually mean to suggest some sort of violent action?  You’ll never know because of the intentionally imprecise language he uses. 

“Dangerous Donald” Trump believes we all are gullible and stupid, like some of the people in the real estate and casino businesses whom he has bilked over the years with his “deals.”  That is not the case.  Every day, thousands of Republicans are waking up to this and deciding to either stay away from the polls on Election Day or even planning on voting for Hillary Clinton.  They put country ahead of party, once they realize that "Dangerous Donald" puts himself ahead of both country and party.

The great mystery which future historians will address is determining what factors in the United States of America in 2015 and 2016, and more specifically, in the Republican Party, resulted in his getting the G.O.P. Presidential nomination.
JL
                         


On Its Way Out - Retail

I recall standing in a check-out line, about five years ago, in a discount department store, probably TJ Maxx or Marshalls.  In front of me was a man in his fifties and a younger woman, probably his adult daughter.  The line was moving slowly, what with some customers having coupons, some presenting merchandise without price tags and still others swiping credit cards that didn’t work.  I overheard the man speaking loudly to his daughter.   ““Look at this. Isn’t it awful. Now, can you see why I’ve always been glad we never were in ‘retail.’ What a mess!”

Image result for line at checkout counter retail
Waiting in line at Target

Obviously, the man’s business did not involve his dealing with the ultimate consumer of his stock in trade, whatever it was.  It was easier to be a distributor or wholesaler, where expenses and receipts were easily calculated from a limited number of clients, than a retailer dealing with the vagaries of thousands of different customers each day.  That’s true today too, and the availability of merchandise on the internet via Amazon and many other sites, has made retailing even more hazardous.

Just recently, Sports Authority has closed all of its stores.  Walmart is planning on closing 243 of theirs and Macy’s recently announced that 100 of its locations will disappear within a year.  Retailing as we have known it over the past half a century, is on its way out.  And many jobs will be lost.

It will be replaced, I suspect, by even more purchases being made on the internet or in discount wholesale operations such as Costco or BJ's.   Hopefully, they, and internet warehouses filling online orders, will be hiring laid off retail store employees.
 
Those stores and chains that survive will be those which deal in very high priced, exclusive and individualized merchandise (Jewelry and high couture designer apparel), extremely inexpensive merchandise of just temporary appeal (H&M, Charming Charlie) or clearance outlets for manufacturers overruns (Marshalls, Bealls, etc.).  Everything else will slowly shift to the internet.
JL
                                             

That's Baseball!

When there is a close call in a baseball game, challenged by the team the umpire’s call went against, the umpiring crew gathers and gets on the phone with an umpiring crew housed in New York City (they actually are at Chelsea Piers on the Hudson River at about 20th Street) which reviews all available videos and comes to a decision, either confirming the game umpire’s call, or overruling it … and that decision is final.  Usually, there is some consternation in the dugout of the team the decision goes against, but they accept it as having gone through an appeal process.  It’s final. That’s baseball.


But politics is different.  Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s involvement in the tragic attack on our Consulate in Behghazi has been reviewed by innumerable panels, including hours of her testimony before a hostile House Committee.  And they have not come up with anything with which to condemn her.  Similarly, the FBI has thoroughly examined her use of a private email server, and while extremely critical of her doing so, had decided that there is nothing there to prosecute her for.  Decisions have been made in both cases after extensive review of the evidence.  But unlike angry baseball players in the dugout after the umpires in New York have ruled against them, who know how to take a decision like men … Republicans do not.  Their anger persists.  They should watch a few baseball games and learn something.  
JL

                                                 

Newspapers Must Survive 

In a recent Washington Post column, Kathleen Parker bemoaned the continuing attrition in the newspaper industry.  She leaned heavily on a recent TV blast by HBO's John Oliver. Without paying subscribers, newspapers will die, despite their efforts to carry on alongside of their internet versions, which soon may be their only access to the public.
   
    
John Oliver and Kathleen Parker

Then, Parker and Oliver ask, where will the supposed news sources on television and on the internet, get their news?  Both news and investigative reporting by newspaper journalists are what TV and internet “news” programs lean heavily upon.  See how often what they are talking about is credited to a “print” newspaper.  What will they do when there are no print newspapers around from which they can absorb information?  The staffs of national networks and local outlets are very limited in size and cannot cover the wide spectrum of news events occurring daily in our country. Newspapers can.   But Parker, quoting Oliver, said it far better than I can so click here to read her column.
Image result for delivering papers

Subscribe to a newspaper!  Have it delivered to your door every day, even if you don’t read it.   Its existence will enable the news you see on TV or online to continue to exist as well.
JL
                                                                     
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