Cohen the Clown Prince

Once more, Rep. Steve Cohen has donned the clown suit, screwed in a big red nose and grabbed a gimmick from his Congressional clown bag. This time he has decided to present articles of impeachment against President Trump because of his Charlottesville response.

What a moron!

His buffoonery was discussed this morning on Stuart Varney’s Fox Business Channel.
Varney said he didn’t get why that was a cause for impeachment.

Attorney Greg Jarrett shared his opinions.

“That’s just an ignorant statement by the Congressman. In my pocket constitution which I have here in particular I’ve flagged Article 2 Section 4. Impeachment is for treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors. So this Congressman Cohen says ‘Oh, gee, I didn’t like the President’s statement on Saturday or last Tuesday’ even though the President was legally and factually correct according to the videotape and the chief of police that there was assault and battery on both sides. And besides he expressed his opinion which is protected speech. And so this is just pure silliness and rank bias on the part of Congressman Steve Cohen.

“Surprising because he’s actually a lawyer but he must have slept through three years of law school… A statement in which the president condemned racism and hatred and bigotry and this guy wants to impeach him for it? What the heck is he smoking over there in Tennessee?”

He’s on to something with the smoking, since Cohen has long been an advocate for legalization of marijuana.

But, unfortunately, Cohen is not the only Tennessean to suit up and paint on the clown makeup.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker has joined the jester. He slammed President Trump:

He said the President “has not demonstrated he understands the character of this nation.” He added to this yesterday in Chattanooga that he wants “radical changes” within the White House. “The President has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,” Corker said, adding “He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today, and he’s got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that.”
Funny because Corker hasn’t demonstrated what it means to represent his constituents. Or how to be competent either. He hasn’t exactly done anything for us, has he?

Our other Senator, Lamar Alexander, he’s been a bozo, too. After promising to repeal Obamacare, he didn’t do much toward that and now is planning a way to subsidize more money to the insurance companies.

What a circus! Only I don’t want a ringside seat to this mess.

Hysteria Gripping US

Dilbert creator Scott Adams asks a very good question at his blog: How do you know you’re in mass hysteria?

It’s insightful and worth a read:

History is full of examples of Mass Hysterias. They happen fairly often. The cool thing about mass hysterias is that you don’t know when you are in one. But sometimes the people who are not experiencing the mass hysteria can recognize when others are experiencing one, if they know what to look for.

I’ll teach you what to look for.
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A mass hysteria happens when the public gets a wrong idea about something that has strong emotional content and it triggers cognitive dissonance that is often supported by confirmation bias. In other words, people spontaneously hallucinate a whole new (and usually crazy-sounding) reality and believe they see plenty of evidence for it. The Salem Witch Trials are the best-known example of mass hysteria. The McMartin Pre-School case and the Tulip Bulb hysteria are others. The dotcom bubble probably qualifies. We might soon learn that the Russian Collusion story was mass hysteria in hindsight. The curious lack of solid evidence for Russian collusion is a red flag. But we’ll see how that plays out.

The most visible Mass Hysteria of the moment involves the idea that the United States intentionally elected a racist President. If that statement just triggered you, it might mean you are in the Mass Hysteria bubble. The cool part is that you can’t fact-check my claim you are hallucinating if you are actually hallucinating. But you can read my description of the signs of mass hysteria and see if you check off the boxes.

If you’re in the mass hysteria, recognizing you have all the symptoms of hysteria won’t help you be aware you are in it. That’s not how hallucinations work. Instead, your hallucination will automatically rewrite itself to expel any new data that conflicts with its illusions.

But if you are not experiencing mass hysteria, you might be totally confused by the actions of the people who are. They appear to be irrational, but in ways that are hard to define. You can’t tell if they are stupid, unscrupulous, ignorant, mentally ill, emotionally unstable or what. It just looks frickin’ crazy.

The reason you can’t easily identify what-the-hell is going on in the country right now is that a powerful mass hysteria is in play. If you see the signs after I point them out, you’re probably not in the hysteria bubble. If you read this and do NOT see the signs, it probably means you’re trapped inside the mass hysteria bubble.

Here are some signs of mass hysteria. This is my own take on it, but I welcome you to fact-check it with experts on mass hysteria.

1. The trigger event for cognitive dissonance

On November 8th of 2016, half the country learned that everything they believed to be both true and obvious turned out to be wrong. The people who thought Trump had no chance of winning were under the impression they were smart people who understood their country, and politics, and how things work in general. When Trump won, they learned they were wrong. They were so very wrong that they reflexively (because this is how all brains work) rewrote the scripts they were seeing in their minds until it all made sense again. The wrong-about-everything crowd decided that the only way their world made sense, with their egos intact, is that either the Russians helped Trump win or there are far more racists in the country than they imagined, and he is their king. Those were the seeds of the two mass hysterias we witness today.

Trump supporters experienced no trigger event for cognitive dissonance when Trump won. Their worldview was confirmed by observed events.

2. The Ridiculousness of it

One sign of a good mass hysteria is that it sounds bonkers to anyone who is not experiencing it. Imagine your neighbor telling you he thinks the other neighbor is a witch. Or imagine someone saying the local daycare provider is a satanic temple in disguise. Or imagine someone telling you tulip bulbs are more valuable than gold. Crazy stuff.

Compare that to the idea that our president is a Russian puppet. Or that the country accidentally elected a racist who thinks the KKK and Nazis and “fine people.” Crazy stuff.

If you think those examples don’t sound crazy – regardless of the reality – you are probably inside the mass hysteria bubble.

3. The Confirmation Bias

If you are inside the mass hysteria bubble, you probably interpreted President Trump’s initial statement on Charlottesville – which was politically imperfect to say the least – as proof-positive he is a damned racist.

If you are outside the mass hysteria bubble you might have noticed that President Trump never campaigned to be our moral leader. He presented himself as – in his own words “no angel” – with a set of skills he offered to use in the public’s interest. He was big on law and order, and equal justice under the law. But he never offered moral leadership. Voters elected him with that knowledge. Evidently, Republicans don’t depend on politicians for moral leadership. That’s probably a good call.

When the horror in Charlottesville shocked the country, citizens instinctively looked to their president for moral leadership. The president instead provided a generic law and order statement. Under pressure, he later named specific groups and disavowed the racists. He was clearly uncomfortable being our moral lighthouse. That’s probably why he never described his moral leadership as an asset when running for office. We observe that he has never been shy about any other skill he brings to the job, so it probably isn’t an accident when he avoids mentioning any ambitions for moral leadership. If he wanted us to know he would provide that service, I think he would have mentioned it by now.

If you already believed President Trump is a racist, his weak statement about Charlottesville seems like confirmation. But if you believe he never offered moral leadership, only equal treatment under the law, that’s what you saw instead. And you made up your own mind about the morality.

The tricky part here is that any interpretation of what happened could be confirmation bias. But ask yourself which one of these versions sounds less crazy:

1. A sitting president, who is a branding expert, thought it would be a good idea to go easy on murderous Nazis as a way to improve his popularity.

or…

2. The country elected a racist leader who is winking to the KKK and White Supremacists that they have a free pass to start a race war now.

or…

3. A mentally unstable racist clown with conman skills (mostly just lying) eviscerated the Republican primary field and won the presidency. He keeps doing crazy, impulsive racist stuff. But for some reason, the economy is going well, jobs are looking good, North Korea blinked, ISIS is on the ropes, and the Supreme Court got a qualified judge. It was mostly luck.

or…

4. The guy who didn’t offer to be your moral leader didn’t offer any moral leadership, just law and order, applied equally. His critics cleverly and predictably framed it as being soft on Nazis.

One of those narratives is less crazy-sounding than the other. That doesn’t mean the less-crazy one has to be true. But normal stuff happens far more often than crazy stuff. And critics will frame normal stuff as crazy whenever they get a chance.

4. The Oversized Reaction

It would be hard to overreact to a Nazi murder, or to racists marching in the streets with torches. That stuff demands a strong reaction. But if a Republican agrees with you that Nazis are the worst, and you threaten to punch that Republican for not agreeing with you exactly the right way, that might be an oversized reaction.

5. The Insult without supporting argument

When people have actual reasons for disagreeing with you, they offer those reasons without hesitation. Strangers on social media will cheerfully check your facts, your logic, and your assumptions. But when you start seeing ad hominem attacks that offer no reasons at all, that might be a sign that people in the mass hysteria bubble don’t understand what is wrong with your point of view except that it sounds more sensible than their own.

For the past two days I have been disavowing Nazis on Twitter. The most common response from the people who agree with me is that my comic strip sucks and I am ugly.

The mass hysteria signals I described here are not settled science, or anything like it. This is only my take on the topic, based on personal observation and years of experience with hypnosis and other forms of persuasion. I present this filter on the situation as the first step in dissolving the mass hysteria. It isn’t enough, but more persuasion is coming. If you are outside the mass hysteria bubble, you might see what I am doing in this blog as a valuable public service. If you are inside the mass hysteria bubble, I look like a Nazi collaborator.

How do I look to you?

Sane.

A Foote-hold on History

When you consider that the people who say “Love Trumps Hate” want a day of rage on November 4th, it’s really quite astounding.

Some of the videos of young people involved in the take down of historic statues frighten me. There is so much anger, fury and hate there and for what reason? And where is reason? It’s all emotion. None of these people were involved in the Civil War or slavery. No one believes in it now. No one wants it. No one wants prejudice either, but it will always exist in the world because there is no utopia outside of heaven.

I don’t think violence has ever successfully rid people of prejudice.

I looked back to see what historian Shelby Foote thought and would think about today’s rage at statues. This is from an interview via The Atlantic:

INTERVIEWER
Had you been alive during the Civil War, would you have fought for the Confederates?

FOOTE
No doubt about it. What’s more, I would fight for the Confederacy today if the circumstances were similar. There’s a great deal of misunderstanding about the Confederacy, the Confederate flag, slavery, the whole thing. The political correctness of today is no way to look at the middle of the nineteenth century. The Confederates fought for some substantially good things. States rights is not just a theoretical excuse for oppressing people. You have to understand that the raggedy Confederate soldier who owned no slaves and probably couldn’t even read the Constitution, let alone understand it, when he was captured by Union soldiers and asked, What are you fighting for? replied, I’m fighting because you’re down here. So I certainly would have fought to keep people from invading my native state. There’s another good reason for fighting for the Confederacy. Life would have been intolerable if you hadn’t. The women of the South just would not allow somebody to stay home and sulk while the war was going on. It didn’t take conscription to grab him. The women made him go.

INTERVIEWER
What about fighting to end the institution of slavery?

FOOTE
The institution of slavery is a stain on this nation’s soul that will never be cleansed. It is just as wrong as wrong can be, a huge sin, and it is on our soul. There’s a second sin that’s almost as great and that’s emancipation. They told four million five hundred thousand people, You are free, hit the road. And we’re still suffering from that. Three quarters of them couldn’t read or write, not one tenth of them had a profession except for farming, and yet they were turned loose and told, Go your way. In 1877 the last Union troops were withdrawn after a dozen years of being in the South to assure compliance with the law. Once they were withdrawn all the Jim Crow laws and everything else came down on the blacks. Their schools were inferior in every sense. They had the Freedmen’s Bureau, which did, perhaps, some good work, but it was mostly a joke, corrupt in all kinds of ways. So they had no help. Just turned loose on the world, and they were waifs. It’s a very sad thing. There should have been a huge program for schools. There should have been all kinds of employment provided for them. Not modern welfare, you can’t expect that in the middle of the nineteenth century, but there should have been some earnest effort to prepare these people for citizenship. They were not prepared, and operated under horrible disadvantages once the army was withdrawn, and some of the consequences are very much with us today.

INTERVIEWER
Bedford Forrest’s picture hangs on your wall. He was an ex-slave trader, responsible for the Fort Pillow massacre of captured black soldiers, and after the war deeply involved in the Ku Klux Klan.

FOOTE
You could add that in hand-to-hand combat he killed thirty-one men, mostly in saber duels or pistol shootings, and he had thirty horses shot from under him. Forrest is one of the most attractive men who ever walked through the pages of history; he surmounted all kinds of things and you better read back again on the Fort Pillow massacre instead of some piece of propaganda about it. Fort Pillow was a beautiful operation, tactically speaking. Forrest did everything he could to stop the killing of those people who were in the act of surrendering and did stop it.

Forrest himself was never a bloodthirsty sort of man who enjoyed slaughter. He also took better care of his soldiers and his black teamsters than any other general I know of. He was a man who at the age of sixteen had to raise six younger brothers and sisters after the death of his blacksmith father. He became a slave trader because that was a way of making enough money to support all those people and to get wealthy. Forrest was worth about a million dollars when the war started, an alderman for the city of Memphis. He was by no means some cracker who came out of nowhere. All writers will have great sympathy with Forrest for something he said. He did not like to write and there are very few Forrest letters. He said, I never see a pen but I think of a snake.

He’s an enormously attractive, outgoing man once you get to know him and once you get to know more facts. For instance, he was probably Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, but he dissolved that Klan in 1869; said that it’s getting ugly, it’s getting rough, and he did away with it. The Klan you’re talking about rose again in this century and was particularly powerful during the 1920s. Forrest would have had no sympathy with that later Klan. Last thing in the world was he anti-Catholic or anti-Semitic, which is what that Klan was mainly in the twenties. I have a hard time defending the Klan and I don’t really intend to defend it; I would never have joined it myself, even back in its early days.

But I don’t know what you expected men, having gone through four years of utterly savage war, to do–if you expected them to come home and put up quietly with the kind of occupation that happened in France after World War II. The French Maquis did far worse things than the Ku Klux Klan ever did–who never blew up trains or burnt bridges or anything else; they didn’t even have lynchings. The Klan is as nefarious as you want it to be, but you have to understand better what they did do and they did not do. And the “massacre” at Fort Pillow, so-called, truly had better be investigated more closely.

When word of the massacre at Fort Pillow got up to Washington, Lincoln wrote to Grant and said, This is intolerable, I want whoever was responsible for it punished. Grant passed the word along to Sherman. If you know anything about Sherman, you know he would have jumped on Forrest like a tiger if he’d been guilty. Sherman never recommended anything along those lines. They sent a committee of Congress down to investigate Fort Pillow and they took testimony from people who were obviously lying their heads off, talking about people being buried alive, women and children shot while pleading for their lives. If you read a biography of Bedford Forrest, you’ll get some notion of what a fine man he was.

O’Keefe Readies More Exposes

James O’Keefe tweeted: “We’re going to expose them. The whole rotten, contaminated media machine. This autumn is the fall of fake news. We’re quiet bc we’re working”

The Project Veritas exposer of truth has already intimated that he has some interesting things coming on The New York Times.

O’Keefe recently exposed CNN and their admission that there was nothing to the Russian topic. Should be an interesting autumn.

Rice Stands With History

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stopped by “Fox & Friends” Monday morning to talk about her latest book, “Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom.” Part of that road, of course, involved slavery and the Civil War.

Co-host Brian Kilmeade came out of the gate strong:

“I want to talk about where your book starts, and that’s our constitution […] As an African-American woman, do you see yourself in this constitution?

Do you think that, when we look at nine of our first twelve presidents as slave owners, should we start taking their statues down and say, we’re embarrassed by you?”

In a word, “no,” said Rice.

“I am a firm believer in ‘keep your history before you.’ So I don’t actually want to rename things that were named for slave owners. I want us to have to look at those names, and realize what they did, and be able to tell our kids what they did and for them to have a sense of their own history.”

Rice, currently a Senior Fellow at the Stanford School of Business, said, “When you start wiping out your history; sanitizing your history to make you feel better? It’s a bad thing.”