West Virginia's Chemical Industry, David Brooks Concepts, Trump's Silence on Article 5: The Deflections of Political Messaging

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DDDespite Trump’s vehement denials, what America does in the world counts for peace and prosperity—social stability is tied to economic opportunity! West Virrginia has a secret worth telling because it exposes the power of political messaging to conceal success, create victims, and hide solutions ripe at hand. West Virginia is home to over 140 chemical and polymer manufacturers, including five of the world’s largest, Dow, Dupont, Bayer, Kureha, SABIC; it ranks sixth among states in GDP derived from chemicals, 25% of its $4.8 billion in exports are chemical and polymers. 15,000 workers earn an average of $75,000 a year! Yet all of the talk about West Virginia is about coal!

The Washington Works DuPont plant in Parkersburg, WV on Wednesday, August 5, 2015.

The Washington Works DuPont plant in Parkersburg, WV on Wednesday, August 5, 2015.

West Virginia Success And Political Misdirection

West Virginia succeeded in developing a robust research and manufacturing chemical/polymer industry by following the established/proven template for development: infrastructure (it build a chemical alliance zone that supports research, engineering, and manufacturing), economies of scale (it persuaded firms to create a business cluster), knowledge support (university programs and research centers), transportation (easy market access to raw materials, specialized services, downstream customers/consumers), skilled workforce (trained, low turnover) and regulatory assistance (tax breaks targeted at research/development). These industries have attracted firms in aerospace, biometrics, plastic coatings and specialty metals!

Yet all the talk is about coal.

This tells us the importance of political messaging. The globe knows of West Virginia’s success, buys from its firms by the billions, but its hometown coal miners see no exit from their diminishing fate, due to messaging which is self-defeating but works for politicians who gain from their pain!

Concepts And Models Are Messages

David Brooks column in the New York Times today continued the tradition of misdirected messaging. His misdirection is conceptual, about our “national crisis.” He cites four completing American narratives to describe and explain how we arrived in the fear pit, but each one is rife with errors! Both empirical and conceptual. (Logic ties one to the other!)

Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, Exodus.

Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, Exodus.

Brooks first cites exodus. But not exodus, but pursuit (Marley’s “exodus,” not running from, but going to) was the first step on the crystal stair; the second pursued wealth; lead by rice, the colonial crop created New England’s rum trade, supported ship building, iron smelting in England, fed West Indian slaves and created vast Southern wealth.

That wealth lead to the first division, an asymmetrical structure still with us: the idea that equality is the enemy of freedom. It is a unique American libertarian twist (avoided by Thoreau!). It is seen in the Dred Scott Supreme Court ruling, in Articles of Secession, in today’s Republicans. As with the Obamacare repeal, its believers don’t support a society structured to enhance opportunity. Its a view that justifies oppression–transfers of wealth, not freedom, a contradiction its believers deny.

Brooks second cited narrative plays directly into this denial: it pretends disruption fails, that disruption causes concentrated power—no! Disruption works: India, Brazil, China—America–used disruption to increase freedom and opportunity through expanding social platforms; oligarchs push back with nefarious means to circumvent the democracy movement, evident today!

Brooks third is a bold lie: multiculturalism is the defense of freedom against embedded white privilege (also denied); the “into what” interrogative has not one but millions of individual answers, as freedom is exercised!

Women's March, January 2017.

Women’s March, January 2017.

The talented community is closest to the consensus reality-but many still seek the overlooked plantation model, power, wealth and total control.

Trumps favors the national plantation, with himself as supreme overlord.

The Balance Sheet Message

NATO represents not only America’s allies, but America’s markets. The economic returns from a stable Europe, its growth and forward thinking cannot be measured in defense payments of 2%! This, again, is the Republican reliance of balance sheet to avoid the true measures of social good—always numbers are used to limit rights and protections, the safety nets organic to prosperity.

But in Trump’s case, his silence on Article 5 reflects his vision; his vision is a darkness filled with enemies and slackers, no matter whether they were friends or foes before. The tipping point is wealth and power; he has a deeply rooted disdain and contempt for democracy and elections—they set limits on power. He prefers those who act as kings and dictators, or ruthless autocrats who arrest and kill domestic dissenters, he seeks entry into this cliché as the American emperor. He sees this as the measure of true power. He will never reject Putin, who is his inner ideal.

He sees Europe as too weak to stand alone. He scorns any peace attained without a fight. To him, Europe is unworthy and undeserving and beneath his favor. Putin is the pinnacle of his inner circle.

He is a sad man with limited understanding and vision, with no sense of history; a con man with no values of good will; an impulsive man who cannot think deeply or be disciplined; a needy man who pleases himself by his contentious victories built on lies; a blind man who is unable to learn new ways.

He will benefit from benign neglect and active resistance.

Trump Walks Past (Without Acknowledging) France's Macron and Germany's Merkel.

Trump Walks Past (Without Acknowledging) France’s Macron and Germany’s Merkel.

Intrigue: Putin Leads On Points

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DDDid you miss the subtext—the real messages of power and mind control, the genuine threats and blackmail playing out in public view inside the James Comey incident? Did your partisan interest take you away from the real story? Did you follow the intrigue?

The subtleties of statecraft are lost if you don’t look at the whole show and understand its systems and symbols. Statecraft is both rigid and fluid. It has process and purpose. The Spy functions—called intelligence—has diverted from discovering secrets, policy plans, military advances, to influence: influencing public and official opinion in real time over real events, to swing support for real outcomes.

Corporations and hedge funds are using this advanced model that goes further than the marketing plan, or if you are a government, the gathering of secrets. The new statecraft takes action. That action is in one of three forms: symbolic, psychological, and political—and all three engage and amplify each other.

The Three Forms In Action

Symbols

During the campaign, Trump addressing inner city issues from an all-white exurb transmitted an invalid action; he wasn’t speak to the inner city, he was speaking to suburban voters; his location telegraphed and marked conscience without commitment—his venue amounted to a safe distance from the place described by his litany of ferocity and strife.

The Oval Office is a global power symbol. A place where power and decisions come together. To enter its doors, by the symbolic passage, is to be deemed a good actor, a model global citizen, not actively busy in aggression and hostility—sharing a standard of non-interference. Russia passing through the doors, their photographs documenting their entrance into the executive suite of America’s center of power instantly redefined Russia’s image—from pariah to partner. All without a word!

The Psychology of Statecraft

The psychological features of statecraft are the ways it is used to influence others to take action or change perceptions. Symbols are strongly tied to psychology. Psychology, however, extends beyond symbols: it is a social analog. Trump’s campaign’s psychology concentrated on fear and hate—its symbols of separation the wall and the suburbs/exurbs; its message that America’s greatness depended on enforcing and maintaining a firm separation.

That’s why Trump’s favorite president is Andrew Jackson! He is the President who ordered the forced removal of all Native Americans east of the Mississippi to points west; he mandated what is known notoriously as the Trail of Tears, the path of the forced march along which thousands of Native Americans died of hunger, cold, and illness, never receiving the care they were promised.

In the new statecraft, psychology is the structure that endeavors to shape belief, perception and image, especially about a nation’s goals and priorities—it justifies who gets care. It is the arena that institutions engage in for their survival or destruction.

Trump thought the firing of Comey took the “pressure off” the investigation of Russian hacking and influence in the 2016 election. He missed the psychology. From his point of view, the firing made things worse. The firing intensified scrutiny, sensationalized new information about his dialogue with Russian officials, and resulted in the investigation into Russia disinformation and electoral influence becoming independent, removed from Trump’s authority, following a public pledge that it will continue. The Justice Department reacted to the firing by appointing a special counsel, above Trump’s authority.

Flag bearer, illustration from Harpers Weekly.

Flag bearer, illustration from Harpers Weekly.

Psychology offered an important challenge in 19th century warfare. The flag barrier who carried the company or regimental colors in combat was charged with never letting the colors drop. Held high, their visibility was an an inspiration to all and an expression of courage in the face of death on the battle flag. Because of the psychology of values assigned to this symbol, the battle within the battle targeted the enemy’s colors—the goal to bring them down. If they fell, another soldier was to pick them up, and so on, signaling their unfaltering commitment to bring the fight.

Trump has the commitment, the problem for him is he has no flag besides his own. As he picks fights, he comes face to face with a circular firing squad.

Psychological territory was the domain of Russia’s social media blitz of disinformation. Russia has a long history and practice of using propaganda; their experience has allowed them to fine tune and recognize the effects of specific techniques and how and when they should be applied, to what purpose.

Comparisons: America and Russia

In contrast, Trump relies on blame, lies, and denial. It’s somebody else’s fault; his lies are extreme, often with a fearful or malevolent edge; he doesn’t know much about the actions being discussed. Often, he contradicts his lies and denial: these contradictions have two purposes, to boast and to manufacture confusion. His instability often renders moot criticisms of him; he launches new positions so quickly, the criticisms are outmoded! But his invectives and insults gave him the appearance of a lack of decency or depth.

For now, the political side has not emerged as vitally important, except domestically, and even that is hindsight—the last election is settled. Its most important role internationally has been in popular protests, especially the march women organized globally the day after Trump’s inauguration. Millions and millions of women in a 160+ countries took part. Republican town halls have seen an uptick in numbers and voices that support Obamacare, which Republicans once thought was going to be a great scapegoat.

With deeper insight into the elements of subtext, and given the context and themes coupled to Comey’s firing, here’s the unreported story between the lines.

It begins with Trump, with his scrabble for absolute power; his aspiration for total dominion as President of the internal life and institutions of America, and his methods of pursuit. The other half is his failure to grasp the power and interests of government, especially agencies stacked with skilled in-fighters, including the FBI. He perilously underestimated the challenges of the government’s institutions that serve justice and security—the area where, by law and custom, his power was weakest and the motives for his moves would be most easily exposed.

Trump’s popular community contended the firing was his right–the investigation had yielded nothing. This argument depends upon missed facts and bad logic. Fact: his campaign was managed by a person with strong connections to Russia and who advanced Russia’s interests in America’s politics in the Congress. Fact: his chief foreign policy adviser accepted money for speeches given in Russia.

a-timeline-of-rex-tillersons-relationship-with-russian-president-vladimir-putin

Trump’s Secretary of State received the Order of Friendship from Russia, given to him by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself. Trump’s campaign officials fought and won the removal the plank in the Republican platform calling for sanctions against Russia for its aggression and invasion in Crimea. Also, his campaign and Trump himself adopted and used a social meme Russia created and put out in social media: America’s elections were rigged.

Not for their rightness or wrongness, or their criminality, but for their influence—for insights into how this pattern emerged and was there Russian benign control, the investigation should continue, especially after Trump’s told the Russian foreign minister in a Oval Office meeting, the day after Comey’s firing, the “pressure is off.”

Bad logic is revealed the immediate demands for evidence and proof. Government legal reviews of conversations, relationships, patterns, computer hacking, social media use–cases against corporations or organized crime, or major fraud take up two or three years to develop.

Putin Wins

What few are saying in print is that Trump was clearly out of his league. His skill set was too limited to deal with the issues of security he denies he put at risk; his ego needs too obvious not to be exploited, his strategy of responding in the moment made him both vulnerable and predictable.

His troubles are double-sided. Domestically, they rested with making enemies of America’s intelligence communities, the seventeen agencies that gather and interpret small and large sets of data that help forecast the moves of America’s adversaries. When you endorse and openly admire these leaders of dictatorial, non-democracies, calling them “strong,” you are positioning yourself to be unmasked.

Trump has never understood the greater strength is to work within the democratic system of checks and balances and power-sharing that occludes autocracy. The strength of flexibility builds consensus, something Trump has been unable to do.

Putin, on the other hand, is an autocrat who understands and easily facilitates the flexibility of statecraft. Putin has patience, Trump does not. Trump forgoes flexibility for the knock-out punch. But government is too unwieldy and the press too skeptical of his absurd counter-narratives and claims. His shtick is old, repetitive and wearing thin. It meets with deaf ears and isn’t rallying a base even smaller than the three million popular votes he lose by.

In Egypt, 2017.

In Egypt, 2017.

Putin relishes statecraft; Trump is lost in its depth. Putin’s subtle humor was flaunt with his offer to provide Congress with a transcript of Russia’s notes from the Oval Office meeting. The offer had one condition: he would only do so at Trump’s request! Here, in plain sight, was both a bluff and black mail, both a take down and put down of Donald Trump. It was slick and nasty. And classically double-sided.

Though it appeared to be directed at Congress, its real audience and focus was Trump and the White House. Putin’s offer to Congress directly pointed to Trump’s ineptness. For Putin, a former KGB director, ineptness is weakness of the worst kind. It means a mind unable to escape traps and unable to anticipate situations easily predicted.

Trump broke Reagan’s cardinal rule for dealing with the Russians: “Trust but verify.” His eagerness and craving to be one of the unstoppable big boys who makes his own rules, leaves him overreaching and exposed and puts America at risk.

If you are blaming the media, you are missing the real subtext.

Crimea, 2014,

Crimea, 2014,

Sunday Talks for 5/21/17

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Trump To Comey:

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