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Dilbert’s Scott Adams and Donald Trump

** FILE**Richard Hatch, winning castaway from the CBS reality show "Survivor," reacts as he holds his prize, a $1 million dollar check, in this Aug. 25, 2000, file photo made at the CBS Television studios in Los Angeles. When Hatch was selected by his fellow castaways as the big prize winner, 51.7 million viewers were watching. In 2004, two cable powerhouses are trying to establish a reality network. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

** FILE**Richard Hatch, winning castaway from the CBS reality show “Survivor,” reacts as he holds his prize, a $1 million dollar check, in this Aug. 25, 2000, file photo made at the CBS Television studios in Los Angeles. When Hatch was selected by his fellow castaways as the big prize winner, 51.7 million viewers were watching. In 2004, two cable powerhouses are trying to establish a reality network. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Yesterday, Slate published an Amanda Marcotte essay titled “Dilbert has gone fascist: The strange unrequited love Scott Adams seems to have for Donald Trump.”

For those who aren’t readers of Adams’ blog, he has written numerous posts over the past several months admiring Trump’s amazing persuasive abilities, while frequently disclaiming that he doesn’t personally like Trump or think he’d be a good president.  Marcotte is angry about it:

Adams really, really, really wants you to believe he’s not a Trump supporter, because he knows, on some level, that outing yourself as a Trump supporter is like admitting in public that your mom still pins your address inside your clothes in case you get lost. But, for all that Adams loves to wax on about how he is an expert on the art of persuasion — he even brags about his supposed ability to hypnotize “everyone” — he can’t even manage, despite intense repetition, to convince readers that he wouldn’t lick Trump’s shoes if given the opportunity to do so.

Some phrases that Adams has used to describe Trump:

In the real world, Trump has off-the-charts unfavorability ratings, but in the world of Scott Adams, Trump is  a svengali of politics, headed for a landslide in November, due to the enormous persuasive power of racist cracks and non sequitur ramblings. If you read enough of Adams’s blog, it becomes quickly apparent that the only reason Adams thinks this is because he himself is persuaded to vote for Trump. And, like his fellow narcissistic Donald Trump, Adams mistakes his views for the majority.

Despite claiming not to support anyone, Adams has largely handed his blog over to defending Trump from his critics.

Trump makes a blatantly racist remark about Judge Gonzalo Curiel being “Mexican” and therefore, in Trump’s opinion, unable to render an impartial verdict in the Trump U case? Adams says that Trump critics must therefore be saying Curiel is a “robot” because “100% of humans are biased about just about everything.” (Except, of course, Adams, who is most definitely not biased towards Trump because he is infatuated with him.)

You get the idea.

I can’t do justice to Adams’ long-running analysis of Trump here. Adams, who frequently writes about hypnosis and the emotional aspect of human psychology, is fascinated by Trump. But take, for example, the “Trump has the best persuasion skills I have ever seen” claim from above.  An excerpt:

I’ll start with Trump’s slogan first, then look at Clinton’s new offering.

Make America Great Again

Trump’s slogan uses the following persuasion techniques:

1. Provides no targets for disagreement.

2. Everyone has their own sense of what ”great” means and how to do it. That vagueness is hardcore hypnosis technique.

3. It speaks to identity (the strongest form of persuasion) as Americans.

4. It suggests we lost something. Humans have more emotional connection to loss than potential gain.

5. It has ”America” in it. That word is persuasion catnip for Americans. We have been brainwashed to have a twitch response to it.

6. It appeals to both genders.

7. It is aspirational. We all want to be better, or to make the country better.

Now let’s look at Clinton’s new slogan.

We’re Stronger Together

Clinton’s slogan uses all of the persuasion techniques listed below.

1. None

Maybe I should tell you what is wrong with Clinton’s slogan from a persuasion perspective. Otherwise, we’re done early.

Adams’ “defense” of Trump’s racist attacks on an American judge with a Mexican heritage is of a similar piece.  In part:

But right-and-wrong aside, is it a good legal strategy for Trump to sow doubts about the objectivity of the robot judge? It seems to me that the trial can go one of two ways.

1. Trump wins in court, in which case, Trump wins.

2. Trump loses in court, in which case, Trump says Democrats rigged the system to give him an unfair trial. We’re already primed to believe it.

From a legal perspective, race is not a reason to remove a judge. I haven’t heard anyone argue otherwise. But from a persuasion perspective, Trump is setting the stage for whatever is to come. So yes, it is smart, albeit offensive.

Some have asked why Trump’s legal team hasn’t asked for the judge to be replaced. My guess is that they want to keep him because they expect to lose the case and they plan to pin it on the judge. That’s how I would play it.

The one small problem with Trump’s strategy of questioning the robot’s objectivity is that it creates one more point of confirmation bias that Trump is a racist. Here’s what we have so far:

1. Trump wants to protect the melting pot that is America from the non-Americans who want to get into the country illegally. That’s the job of the President, and yet…it sounds a bit racist. That’s point-one of confirmation bias.

2. Trump said immigrants from Mexico are rapists. Under normal circumstances, a listener would understand him to mean that the socioeconomic circumstances of being an immigrant are correlated with higher-than-average crime rates of all types. But because you think Trump is a racist, your cognitive dissonance turned it into an accusation that all Mexican men, women, children, and unborn babies are rapists.

To make things worse, Trump is pro-life. The implication is that Trump believes one-month-old fetuses from Mexico somehow escape the womb at night to do their raping. It sounds implausible, but once you know Trump is a racist who thinks every single Mexican is a rapist, you have to assume he was talking about the fetuses too. That’s a tell for confirmation bias.

3. During one CNN interview Trump did not disavow the KKK in a clear and quick fashion that viewers expected. He did disavow the KKK and David Duke before the interview, and plenty of times afterwards. But that one time on live television he didn’t hear the question (he says) and he responded inadequately. It seems implausible that a candidate for president would intentionally avoid disavowing the KKK on live TV, but once you assume Trump is a racist, confirmation bias kicks in, and you assume he did just that.

4. Trump suggested a temporary ban on Muslim immigration until we can figure out what’s going on. That sounds totally racist…unless you know that Islam is open to all ethnicities…and as practiced in many places is incompatible with the Constitution of the United States. And ISIS is trying to get terrorists into the country by posing as immigrants. Viewed in isolation, the ban on Muslim immigration is offensive and problematic. But viewed in context with all of the other confirmation bias about Trump, it turns into evidence of racism.

5. And now Trump believes a judge might be biased because his parents grew up in Mexico. On one hand, every person in the world thinks that is a legitimate risk. On the other hand, when viewed in context of all of Trump’s other confirmation bias, it looks racist as hell.

I’m probably leaving out a few points of confirmation bias. But you get the point. Once you see Trump as a probable racist, you see ”evidence” everywhere, even if there is none. That’s confirmation bias.

Now, I happen to think Trump is either racist or strongly appealing to those with a racist and/or nativist bent, a distinction without much difference. But Adams’ analysis is perfectly reasonable. And, indeed, while doubtless distasteful, Trump is probably right that his history of making inflammatory claims about Mexicans might tend to make a person of Mexican heritage, even one who’s a judge with an excellent reputation, unfavorably disposed to him.

Regardless, Adams is simply applying his study of persuasion to the current campaign and explaining why he thinks Trump is a master salesman. The fact that a tremendously unlikable man with no qualification to be president has secured the nomination of one of the two major political parties of the most powerful country on the planet might be one indicator of that. So, too, would a successful decades-long career as a huckster.

While I suspect Adams’ fascination with Trump’s persuasive skills is real, there’s also a tongue-in-cheek quality to his writing on the subject. See, for example, his 5 June posting titled “My Endorsement for President of the United States.”

I’ll start by reminding readers that my politics don’t align with any of the candidates. My interest in the race has been limited to Trump’s extraordinary persuasion skills. But lately Hillary Clinton has moved into the persuasion game – and away from boring facts and policies – with great success. Let’s talk about that.

This past week we saw Clinton pair the idea of President Trump with nuclear disaster, racism, Hitler, the Holocaust, and whatever else makes you tremble in fear.

That is good persuasion if you can pull it off because fear is a strong motivator. It is also a sharp pivot from Clinton’s prior approach of talking about her mastery of policy details, her experience, and her gender. Trump took her so-called “woman card” and turned it into a liability. So Clinton wisely pivoted. Her new scare tactics are solid-gold persuasion. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see Clinton’s numbers versus Trump improve in June, at least temporarily, until Trump finds a counter-move.

With the hook set, Adams continues:

The only downside I can see to the new approach is that it is likely to trigger a race war in the United States. And I would be a top-ten assassination target in that scenario because once you define Trump as Hitler, you also give citizens moral permission to kill him. And obviously it would be okay to kill anyone who actively supports a genocidal dictator, including anyone who wrote about his persuasion skills in positive terms. (I’m called an ”apologist” on Twitter, or sometimes just Joseph Goebbels).

If Clinton successfully pairs Trump with Hitler in your mind – as she is doing – and loses anyway, about a quarter of the country will think it is morally justified to assassinate their own leader. I too would feel that way if an actual Hitler came to power in this country. I would join the resistance and try to take out the Hitler-like leader. You should do the same. No one wants an actual President Hitler.

So I’ve decided to endorse Hillary Clinton for President, for my personal safety. Trump supporters don’t have any bad feelings about patriotic Americans such as myself, so I’ll be safe from that crowd. But Clinton supporters have convinced me – and here I am being 100% serious – that my safety is at risk if I am seen as supportive of Trump. So I’m taking the safe way out and endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.

It’s all interesting reading even if I’m not entirely, no pun intended, persuaded by it.  Adams has certainly been more on-target than I have in assessing Trump’s appeal, which I presumed would fade as the craziness of his rantings became more obvious.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. alkali says:

    Is there any evidence that Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, genuinely thinks that highly-paid business executives get where they are through a combination of bullshit buzzwords and psychological manipulation? I mean, other than his entire life’s work?

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  2. legion says:

    It’s not so much an endorsement of how persuasive Trump is; it’s an indictment of how desperate and gullible Adams (and the average GOP voter) is.

    “The Master Persuader will warp reality until he gets what he wants….”

    THAT’S NOT A GOOD THING. That’s no different from – to put it in terms Adams would grasp – wearing a VR headset and walking off a cliff. No matter how awesome the graphics are, you’re still gonna die when you hit the rocks.

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  3. Jen says:

    My issue with Adam’s assessment (and I have a number of friends who have been pushing his blog posts as evidence that Trump can and will win) is that he seems to skip over the existence of those whom Trump is insulting as part of the voting public. In other words, he seems to suggest that, like hypnosis, most people are primed to receive Trump’s messaging.

    I think this overlooks the deep distaste that women, Hispanics, Muslims, and whomever else is the insult of the day target has for Trump. Trump might be a master salesman among a significant portion of a part of the electorate–but the same language that persuades some is alienating others–who also seem to be the same folks who are growing voting blocs in the electorate.

    I don’t think it’s a winning strategy, but I guess we’ll see.

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  4. @Jen: I think you’re hitting it on the head. A great salesman only needs to convert a remarkably small percentage of his potential audience and a slightly larger percentage of his leads into sales to make a damn good living.

    Elections are a bit different than that, to say the least

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  5. Facebones says:

    @Richard Mayhew: Absolutely. For a brief time in the early ’90s I sold encyclopedias door to door. It was absolutely horrible. You knocked on doors for eight hours a day. If you were lucky, you got to make 2 pitches. And if you closed one sale a night, you were doing good.

    So an excellent salesman would get 2 or 3 sales a night after knocking on 300 doors. That’s less than 1% of all the people you come in contact with. A politician has to get 50%+1 to win.

    So dirty jokes and racist comments may work with a small portion of the population (say, the pool of Republican primary voters in an overwhelmingly white state like New Hampshire) but they aren’t going to fly when the voting is open to everyone.

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  6. Modulo Myself says:

    Adams’ schtick is what the wealthier types who end up voting Trump will tell themselves. It is no different than being taken in by a new age kale cleanse lifestyle. You have to desire to be fooled, but since you are you, and you are master of your desires, you have to elevate the one who you are letting fool you into someone worthy of seducing you.

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  7. Facebones says:

    Now, I happen to think Trump is either racist or strongly appealing to those with a racist and/or nativist bent, a distinction without much difference.

    Regardless, Adams is simply applying his study of persuasion to the current campaign and explaining why he thinks Trump is a master salesman. The fact that a tremendously unlikable man with no qualification to be president has secured the nomination of one of the two major political parties of the most powerful country on the planet might be one indicator of that.

    Or, and I know this is some crazy talk, you could conclude that 50 years of the Southern Strategy and dog whistle racism has primed the Republican base for an openly racist candidate.

    I know you really don’t want to admit that the party you’ve spent your life with is hella racist, but what is the difference between what Trump is proposing and what the rest of the field was proposing? Trump only shouted it out loud. Every Republican wanted tax breaks for the rich, no abortion, and a crackdown on illegal immigration. Trump just played to the masses and not other pundits.

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  8. michael reynolds says:

    As others have said up-thread, Trump isn’t engaging in persuasion, he’s just tapping a keg that Fox News, Limbaugh and the GOP have filled. What Adams is admiring is nothing like persuasion. He’s a classic psychopath and of course that resonates with people who have no moral core, which apparently includes Adams.

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  9. cian says:

    I’m confused. If Trump is a master persuader, how come he can’t persuade us he’s not a racist? Wait a second…he’s not a racist but is trying to persuade us he is! Which means… No, I’m still confused.

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  10. barbintheboonies says:

    It is just as he says I believe he is using the same tactics as Hitler did. Fear and intimidation. This could have been stopped a long time ago by the press, but we know they need the crazy drama to keep the ratings up. They built him up and they are drilling the minds on right wing radio talk show listeners to keep this train stoked. I’m afraid they went too far this time, it will take some ingenuity to change the minds of the Trump supporters. I myself thought he was doing this as a joke to poke fun of the Republican party. We need to make some changes in our political system, I feel we should drop the R and D and have candidates with great ideas and let the American people decide what is best for our country.

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  11. cian says:

    So let me get this straight, when Trump said Mexico was sending drugs, criminals and rapists, Dilbert took this to mean that the socioeconomic circumstances of being an immigrant are correlated with higher-than-average crime rates of all types.

    This could become an interesting competition:

    So, when Trump discriminated against African Americans seeking to rent in his buildings, Dilbert took this to mean….

    When Trump said he saw thousands of Muslims celebrating the attack on the twin towers in New Jersey, Dilbert took this to mean…

    Let’s be honest, Dilbert’s a dick.

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  12. Pch101 says:

    Marcotte needs to chill a bit. (Then again, being dogmatic has been good for her career, so she probably shouldn’t heed my advice.)

    Adams has a point, but he confuses strong niche appeal with broad mainstream appeal. The same persona that makes Trump highly popular to some is the very same persona that make him an enormous turnoff to others and not particularly appealing to many.

    That’s fine for TV, because a show can thrive if it is supported by only a small minority of the population. For presidential elections, not so much. The fact that he’s attached to a major party brand is indicative of the fact that he will need party loyalty to get most of his votes; his brand alone is not enough.

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  13. Andre Kenji says:

    I remember as a teenager seeing articles about Donald Trump on Brazilian print magazines and asking myself why there was so many articles about him. I knew why I´d see a random rich dude on a print magazine – he´d probably created some product that I used. I knew why Bill Gates would be there. I knew why a random industrialist would be there. But I never understood what Trump had done to appear there.

    Trump created this image of the very successful rich guy. That´s not a small feat.

    Trump´s speeches uses a very a simple and common words. He is a very efficient demagogue. His demagoguery don´t work with us. But it worked with them on the GOP primary.

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  14. Hal_10000 says:

    @Jen:

    THANK YOU.

    Everyone has been pushing Adams’ analysis on me claiming that he’s some kind of seer because he predicted Trump would win. And my response has been, “So if he predicted Trump would win based on reading sheep entrails, would you think he’s right?” Correctly predicted that the, uh, famous guy leading the polls all year would win does not mean your method was right. Adams’ analysis, while amusing, boils down to pop psychology and post facto narrative. He occasionally says something insightful — such as the comparison of slogans. But it’s surrounded in pseudo-sociological nonsense.

    (And, for once, I’m going to agree with the “white male!” crowd. Adams sees it from that perspective, clearly. I think minorities and women see Trump very differently. I know a lot of women who are driven away by his whole alpha male schtick. Hell, my 9 y/o daughter has been telling me she doesn’t like Trump because of how he treats women.)

    Adams has predicted that Trump will win in a landslide. I’m curious to see what he and his followers say if that doesn’t happen.

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  15. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jen: I’m not clear on one element of this issue; perhaps you or another of our gifted colleagues can help. My understanding of the concept “master salesman (or sales person for PC gender inclusion) is that they tend NOT to have multiple bankruptcies and business failures. Indeed, the common idea is that “masters” at sales “can sell snow to Eskimos” (or Aleuts or Inuits for that matter) where as Trump seems uniquely unable to even sell steaks to indulgent people with brand fixation, water to the thirsty, or even gambling to people with low impulse control. Exactly HOW does he represent some sort of avatar of persuasion?

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  16. bookdragon says:

    5. And now Trump believes a judge might be biased because his parents grew up in Mexico. On one hand, every person in the world thinks that is a legitimate risk. On the other hand, when viewed in context of all of Trump’s other confirmation bias, it looks racist as hell.

    1. I don’t think it’s a legitimate risk in terms of judicial ruling, so right there we have a case of Adams own confirmation bias. He believes the judge can be considered biased therefore everyone else in the world must think that too.

    2. It appears Adams can’t or won’t acknowledge that an honest judge is perfectly capable of disliking a defendant and still adjudicating fairly. Either that, he knows that any judge might take a dislike to any defendant simply out of plain human nature – the guy looks like someone who bullied him in high school or has an annoying voice or any of a hundred others things – but believes that having a Mexican ancestry makes Curiel someone less honest and trustworthy than any other jurist who might dislike Trump for any of a thousand perfectly human reasons. (Seriously, is “defendant is such a vile smarmy weasel that who no one can judge him impartially” a reasonable motion for dismissing a case?)

    3. Based on “when viewed in context of all of Trump’s other confirmation bias, it looks racist as hell”, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

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  17. DrDaveT says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    I’m not clear on one element of this issue; perhaps you or another of our gifted colleagues can help.

    I’ll take a crack at it.

    Trump has not tried to sell steaks, or water, or gambling. What he has sold is concepts, to investors. He has been successful at this, despite the fact that the concepts have not turned into profits for those investors. That does suggest some narrow but real ability to sell concepts to investors, even in the face of a mediocre (at best) track record.

    I see no reason to believe that this narrow ability should translate into a broader ability to sell the concept “President Trump” to a plurality of US voters.

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  18. al-Alameda says:

    I saw Scott Adams on Bill Maher’s show a couple of weeks ago and he expressing his idea that Trump really is a master communicator/pitchman, and that Trump can and will win. Does Adams support Trump? I don’t know and I think that’s beside the points that Adams is making.

    Republicans were very susceptible to Trump’s sales pitch because about half of them consider their congressional representatives to be sell-out establishment politicians. They’re ready for their version of Jimmy Stewart to ride into Washington in a stretch limousine to clean up the mess.

    To me it comes down to whether or not Americans are as collectively stupid and dumbed down as I often think we have become. Adams apparently thinks so, I’m not sure.

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  19. Jen says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    I’m not clear on one element of this issue; perhaps you or another of our gifted colleagues can help

    From my perspective, it falls to a degree under the ex post facto analysis that Hal_10000 mentioned above. Trump was not expected to win the primary, but he did win the primary–even while doing/saying things that have felled others, therefore he is a Master Persuader. Trump sells things, Trump is a billionaire, therefore he is a Master at Selling.

    This type of pseudo-analysis relies on cherry-picking circumstances, so Trump’s business failures aren’t factored into the overall picture, because my hunch is that Adams feels failures here and there are part and parcel to being a successful entrepreneur–they are pretty much expected. (We see this often in business lore: Businessman X is a success because he takes the risk to fail! blare the headlines, etc.)

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  20. Jc says:

    What if Adams is just trying to persuade those struggling to rationalize supporting Trump by providing them this “analysis” that helps them rationalize voting for Trump? It obvious he is okay with voting for Trump. I am calling BS on the BS’er. Some things do not need to be analyzed. His whole analysis and discussion is trying to persuade people to “look at him a different way” – As Michael Reynolds and others have said “As others have said up-thread, Trump isn’t engaging in persuasion, he’s just tapping a keg that Fox News, Limbaugh and the GOP have filled” – There is no persuasion or sales needed when you are just a product that a segment of people have been waiting to hit the shelves.

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  21. Gustopher says:

    Scott Adams is a creepy, creepy man, if you read anything about his views on women. He’s basically a Men’s Rights Activist, saying things like “women control access to sex”.

    Also his “analysis” here is weak:

    Make America Great Again
    Trump’s slogan uses the following persuasion techniques:
    1. Provides no targets for disagreement.

    What? You don’t think America is great? We’re the freest country on Earth. We’re the greatest country on Earth.

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  22. Jen says:

    @Jc:

    There is no persuasion or sales needed when you are just a product that a segment of people have been waiting to hit the shelves.

    Exactly–Trump is the next-gen iPhone for a portion of the Republican base.

    The only area where I can see persuasion entering into this is that Trump actually has been able to get away with saying things that are outside normal boundaries. Prior to this campaign, who would have thought that the eventual Republican nominee was able to disparage a war hero who had been held in captivity and tortured and still win? Not me, since that would run counter to what is generally considered appropriate by the Republican base. His “my taxes don’t matter” also seems to be taking hold–aside from Romney, you just don’t hear or see anyone on the Republican side pushing for disclosure and transparency. So there is something “there” but I think it has more to do with a willingness to look the other way as someone is winning rather than any real powers of persuasion or salesmanship.

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  23. wr says:

    For someone who’s made a career of puncturing he sure indulges in a lot of it here.

    Trump’s Muslim ban isn’t racist — because Islam is not a race. Wow, he’s really shown up Trump’s critics. They said racist when they should have said bigoted — which I guess is so much better.

    And then he approvingly quotes the most nonsensical part of the proposal: “Until we can figure out what’s going on.” What the hell does that mean? What is it we can’t figure out? That there is a small segment of the Muslim community that has radicalized and wants to do harm? Okay, check, got that. Until we know the names of every one of them? Until we understand string theory? It’s the worst kind of weaselspeak — and Adams just skips right past it.

    And then he graciously announces that “every person in the world” agrees there’s a risk that a judge of Mexican heritage may not be able to see past his own personal prejudices to issue a fair ruling, so only those who already believe Trump is a racist will see this as racism.

    Except that the core of any judge’s job is to put his own personal feelings aside and rule based strictly on the facts and the law. And Trump is saying that this judge, by virtue of his ethnic heritage, is singularly incapable of performing the job for which he’s been hired. Which is pretty much the dictionary definition of racism.

    But I’m glad this was posted. I’ve been reading Baby Jenos hyperventilating over what a genius Adams is for seeing Trump’s genius, and now it’s pretty clear they’re all simpletons who are completely unaware that Trump’s brilliant strategy ends up alienating more people than it attracts.

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  24. wr says:

    @Pch101: “Marcotte needs to chill a bit.”

    Not if she wants to get published in Slate.

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  25. Davebo says:

    @Jc:

    What if Adams is just trying to persuade those struggling to rationalize supporting Trump by providing them this “analysis” that helps them rationalize voting for Trump?

    I really can’t see someone that needs to rationalize their support for Trump deciding that “he’s made a sucker out of me with a slick sales pitch based on pop psychology” would be acceptable.

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  26. jewelbomb says:

    Scott Adams is a crazy person.

    Two recent chestnuts from the self-aggrandizing creator of a once-popular comic strip:

    “This past week we saw Clinton pair the idea of President Trump with nuclear disaster, racism, Hitler, the Holocaust, and whatever else makes you tremble in fear . . . The only downside I can see to the new approach is that it is likely to trigger a race war in the United States and I would be a top-ten assassination target in that scenario (my emphasis).

    “I’ve decided to endorse Hillary Clinton for President, for my personal safety . . . I am being 100% serious, that my safety is at risk if I am seen as supportive of Trump, so I’m taking the safe way out and endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.”

    Yes, the creator of Dilbert thinks that his endorsement is so sought-after that Clinton (or her surrogates or supporters or whatever) would threaten his safety in the absence of his support.

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  27. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Hal_10000: Everyone has been pushing Adams’ analysis on me claiming that he’s some kind of seer because he predicted Trump would win. And my response has been, “So if he predicted Trump would win based on reading sheep entrails, would you think he’s right?” Correctly predicted that the, uh, famous guy leading the polls all year would win does not mean your method was right.

    One element you’re not taking into account is that Adams made that prediction when nearly all the so-called “experts” were saying that Trump would flame out in very short order.

    If someone were to tell me that it would snow in New York on July 5th, based on their reading of sheep entrails, I would laugh at them. But if on July 5th people in New York were breaking out their snow shovels, I’d give the sheep entrails guy a closer look.

    Results matter.

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  28. Facebones says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Adams has predicted that Trump will win in a landslide. I’m curious to see what he and his followers say if that doesn’t happen.

    The same thing the BernieBros said: RIGGED! CONSPIRACY!!!!!

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  29. MarkedMan says:

    James Joyner:

    But Adams’ analysis is perfectly reasonable.

    I hear this a lot from Republicans. If something can be interpreted in a non-racist way, standing alone by itself, we are obligated to give the benefit of the doubt to the speaker.

    I am reminded of the time I was living in New Orleans and happened to be in the Quarter during either the Krewe of Momus or the Krewe of Comus’ parade. It ended where I had a good view of the reviewing stand, where the mayor sat. Now, traditionally, it ends with the Grand Master of the Parade standing up in their limo and shaking the hand of that mayor. In many of the Krewes the Grand Master is some kind of celebrity but in this case it appeared to be simply the head of the Krewe. The limo stopped in front of the mayor and the Grand Master stood up to shake his hand. But wait! The Grand Master is really drunk! He topples back into his seat without shaking the hand! Everyone laughs! And the limo drives off without hiim having shaken the Mayors hand.

    Perhaps this had nothing to do with the fact that the Mayor was black. And that Momus and Comus are known as the most old-line, hard-line white Krewes. And that it was exclusively white and Christian. Not a single non-European descended member. The members were big supporters of David Duke, who was running for Governor at the time. (Against Edwin Edwards, who later went to prison. There really was a bumper sticker that read “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important”) That there was a current lawsuit directed at those two Krewes that said that if a Krewe prohibited membership based on race or religion the New Orleans PD wouldn’t provide security and they had to get their own. (Historical note: Momus and Comus moved their parades from NO to Metarie, David Duke’s home parish, when they lost the suit the following year). Or that many of the historical business and political leaders of New Orleans came from those Krewes and that NO has a long and deep history of the most violent and oppresive racism imaginable (When you read in historical novels that slaves were terrified of “being sold down river” New Orleans was one of those down-river places”.)

    But under the reasoning outlined above, we have to say that it was reasonable to assume that the Grand Master was really just drunk. And that the driver wasn’t paying close enough attention and just drove off before the Grand Master stood back up and extended that warm and welcoming handshake. After all, it would be ungenerous of us to assume bad intent.

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  30. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MarkedMan: If the mayor at the time was Ray Nagin, there’s another possible explanation…

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  31. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “One element you’re not taking into account is that Adams made that prediction when nearly all the so-called “experts” were saying that Trump would flame out in very short order.”

    And as many of these pundits have conceded, they predicted Trump would lose while ignoring a constant stream of polls putting him in the lead. They chose to believe their own instincts while ignoring the actual metrics by which they usually judge, and which proved to be accurate.

    So your brilliant weather analogy is actually some guy saying it will snow in July when all the meteorological data says it will snow, but TV weatherman refuse to believe it will actually happen.

    Credit Adams for actually paying attention to external reality — but that hardly makes him a genius. It doesn’t say much for the pundit class, but what does?

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  32. Jc says:

    @Davebo: I see it more as him saying “ignore all this racist, misogynistic, hate” as he is ignoring that and lets focus on his “brilliance as a persuader, leader salesman who can get things done” – It’s total BS. He is trying to use this analysis as a justification to admire someone who deserves no admiration at all.

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  33. Lit3Bolt says:

    If Trump is such a master persuader, then why isn’t he persuading me?

    Let’s be clear…Scott Adams is fascinated by Scott Adams, not Donald Trump. He thinks that puncturing the goofy social structure of the workplace makes him a genius who is privileged with original insights. Instead it’s a pastiche of 50 years of New Yorker cartoons, updated for modern times.

    Now he wants to ride Trump’s coattails. Adams is the ultimate beta, always willing to bow and scrape and drop names but will always passive-aggressively hide his true intentions and meaning.

    Because being a passive-aggressive white male privileged asshole who thinks everyone else on the internet is an idiot compared to his sarcastic and witty genius is SO CLEVER AND ORIGINAL.

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  34. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    As you may recall, I did not say that Trump would flame out in short order. I was saying many months ago that it would be Trump or Cruz and that it represented a very real threat. No less than Dr. Taylor told me I was wrong.

    Incidentally, I’ve also been saying since I first started coming here that the GOP relied heavily on race-baiting, that while the GOP was not a racist party per se, it was a party that could not win without pandering to racists. And took years of abuse for what is now, suddenly, conventional wisdom.

    I’ve also beaten the drum for many years now on the point that politics is not about policy, but emotion, that it is driven my fear, tribalism, grudges, etc… Now commonly acknowledged.

    And I’ve been telling people that the Campus Left (the Bernie Sanders wing) was doing as much harm as good, that their obsessions with irrelevancies like ‘micro-aggressions,’ and ‘cultural appropriation,’ and their general smug intolerance were trivializing an actual, ongoing fight against actual racists and misogynists and handing weapons to their enemies. Something that at least part of the Left is slowly coming to realize.

    I’m not going to say that ‘creatives’ are always right – far from it – but people who deal extensively in imagination and character and plot, not to mention the nuances of language, see things that STEM folk do not. Rational people look for rational motives and explanations. People who love system look for system. Policy people look for policy explanations. But people are not rational, they are not a system conforming to predictable rules, and they usually don’t even know what a policy is. Engineer types – including Adams – are probably the last people you want analyzing homo sapiens.

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  35. Pch101 says:

    @wr:

    And as many of these pundits have conceded, they predicted Trump would lose while ignoring a constant stream of polls putting him in the lead. They chose to believe their own instincts while ignoring the actual metrics by which they usually judge, and which proved to be accurate.

    But Trump won a modest plurality of the popular vote, not a majority.

    Trump was able to get as far as he did because the rest of the Republican vote was divided among several opponents, and the types of populists who are more inclined to support that sort of candidate are more excitable than the average voter (most of who don’t vote in primaries at all.)

    Trump wasn’t enormously popular, he was just more popular than the rest of the field. That’s indicative of a divided party, not of one candidate standing out among the pack.

    It also illustrates the downside of the GOP’s dependency on winner-take-all primaries. Typically, that would help to constrain the fringe vote, i.e. Ron Paul. But it backfired in this particular instance because in several early primaries, Trump was able to win 100% of the delegates with less than 40% of the vote, which overstated his momentum. All of that “deep bench” talk proved to be BS – it was broad and shallow, not deep.

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  36. Jenos Idanian says:

    @michael reynolds: As you may recall, I did not say that Trump would flame out in short order. I was saying many months ago that it would be Trump or Cruz and that it represented a very real threat. No less than Dr. Taylor told me I was wrong.

    I don’t recall that, but I will take your word for it. It sounds like you.

    And I’ve been telling people that the Campus Left (the Bernie Sanders wing) was doing as much harm as good, that their obsessions with irrelevancies like ‘micro-aggressions,’ and ‘cultural appropriation,’ and their general smug intolerance were trivializing an actual, ongoing fight against actual racists and misogynists and handing weapons to their enemies. Something that at least part of the Left is slowly coming to realize.

    Let me offer you an opposing perspective that reinforces your point. The Campus Left (I prefer the terms “Social Justice Warriors” or “Screaming Campus Garbage Babies”) have been told that their Fierce Moral Rightness exempts them from the rules of civil behavior, and they have been indulged in getting away with all kinds of shit because They Are Morally Superior. At Dartmouth College, the Black Lives Matter group stormed through the library during finals week, screaming insults and threats at white students. A conservative group put up a school-sanctioned display supporting police, and the BLM students tore it down and replaced it with their own posters. And the administration did nothing.

    At a Bernie Sanders event, a BLM activist stormed the stage, took the microphone, and harangued the crowd. And nobody did nothing.

    At DePaul, Milo Yiaannopolous was invited by a conservative group to give a speech. The school insisted that they pay for additional security. They did so, and when the all-too-predictable SJWs stormed the stage, assaulted the speakers, and took over the event, the mandated security officers did nothing.

    At Trump events, they tried that crap, and Trump said no. He told his attendees that if the SJWs try to disrupt things, go ahead and stop them, and he’d back them up if necessary.

    So now the SJWs are going after Trump supporters, assaulting them, sending them to the hospital. And they’re doing it while waving Mexican flags and burning American ones.

    Recently, two groups of Bernie supporters attacked each other, because each mistakenly thought the other group were Trump supporters. And Bernie supporters are now going after reporters who report things they don’t like.

    As noted, these are folks who are nominally on your side. And your side had numerous chances to rein them in, and chose not to.

    You were one of those who thought they should be checked, and I respect that. But it didn’t happen. And now we’re seeing the results.

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  37. jewelbomb says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Dude. Someone needs to explain what an anecdote is and why one shouldn’t base policy positions on a few isolated events that get picked up and circulated endlessly on RW websites. On numerous occasions, I’ve watched you repeat whatever the conservative outrage de jure is (e.g., a few students at Dartmouth did something dumb once in the name of social justice) and then act as if it actually means something within the broader scope of the national conversation. Like, seriously, as if anyone actually believes that the flag burning protesters in San Jose were just garden-variety Clinton supporters.

    Long story short: it’s completely unsurprising to find a handful of overzealous college students who have said or done stupid things. But to use these isolated cases to concoct some hare-brained narrative about an outbreak of violence on the left is frankly laughable. Get some frickin’ perspective.

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  38. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    Click.

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  39. CSK says:

    If Trump is so persuasive, so good at winning over people, why do his favorability ratings remain in the toilet?

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  40. bookdragon says:

    @wr: You know, you’d think someone like Adams would recognize Trump as the ultimate incarnation of the Pointy Haired Manager – loud, clueless, spouts whatever rhetoric or buzz words seem to play with the audience he cares about and denigrates or ignores the people he considers below him.

    Instead it looks like Adams has always had some odd desire to have a PHM in charge…

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  41. MBunge says:

    @CSK: If Trump is so persuasive, so good at winning over people, why do his favorability ratings remain in the toilet?

    You mean just slightly below Hillary Clinton’s?

    I disagree with Adams because Trump isn’t that interesting, but people’s reactions to him are.

    For example, it makes little sense for our political/media culture to react so much more strongly to Trump’s attack on the judge than it did to his Birther nonsense, which didn’t have even the patina of reason or logic to it. I mean, I’m not sure the commentary was quite as heated and universally in agreement when the Republicans in the House were threatening to default on America’s debt and start a global financial meltdown.

    Mike

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  42. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    One element you’re not taking into account is that Adams made that prediction when nearly all the so-called “experts” were saying that Trump would flame out in very short order.

    I made that same prediction — how? Because no matter what the so-called experts were saying, Trump was always leading in the polls. It doesn’t exactly take a genius-level psychological manipulator to figure out that the guy leading in the polls is likely to win.

    If someone were to tell me that it would snow in New York on July 5th, based on their reading of sheep entrails, I would laugh at them. But if on July 5th people in New York were breaking out their snow shovels, I’d give the sheep entrails guy a closer look.

    Actually, it’s more like the public weather forecast based on an analysis of satellite data is for snow in New York on July 5th, and then someone tells you that it will snow in New York on July 5th, based on his reading of sheep entrails. I’m sure that this poster, based on his long track record as a stupid person, would give the sheep entrails guy a closer look, but the rest of us would just figure out that the sheep entrails guy was watching the same weather forecast as the rest of us and was trying to con everyone.

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  43. legion says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    Exactly HOW does he represent some sort of avatar of persuasion?

    Precisely because people keep giving him money and credence _despite_ his failures. To summarize:
    Trump is fantastic salesman.
    Trump is a shitty businessman.

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  44. MarkedMan says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    If the mayor at the time was Ray Nagin, there’s another possible explanation…

    Thank you Jenos. You couldn’t have reinforced my point better. BTW, it was long before Nagin.

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  45. Blue Galangal says:

    @Facebones: Or the same thing they all say when asked why Obama hasn’t come to get their guns yet (he’s had 7 1/2 years, after all)… *crickets*

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  46. wr says:

    @MBunge: “For example, it makes little sense for our political/media culture to react so much more strongly to Trump’s attack on the judge than it did to his Birther nonsense, which didn’t have even the patina of reason or logic to it. ”

    Seriously? On the one hand you have a private citizen making silly accusations against the most powerful man in the free world. On the other you have the presumptive nominee for president claiming that a member of the judiciary — who would essentially be subordinate to him — is corrupt. You can’t tell the difference?

    Maybe this is a definition of a Republican — someone who can’t tell the difference between kicking up and kicking down.

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  47. Dazedandconfused says:

    Adam’s last comments may have been intended to be taken as humor. Wouldn’t be the first guy who forgot to use sarcastic font.

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  48. Jenos Idanian says:

    @jewelbomb: Long story short: it’s completely unsurprising to find a handful of overzealous college students who have said or done stupid things.

    Yes, at Dartmouth they did stupid things. Those things, in addition to being stupid, were violations of both college rules and state law. And they suffered no consequences. Further, the victims of their violence were dismissed.

    You call them “anecdotes,” I call them a pattern. A pattern of people sharing a common ideology running totally amok, flagrantly flouting any sorts of rules and laws, and getting away with it.

    Why the hell should they stop? They’re ignoring the rules, and they get what they want, without paying a price.

    You’ve empowered them, you’ve enabled them, you’ve encouraged them with your dog-whistles and code words of support. They’re your creation, your children.

    Sooner or later they’re going to run into people who don’t just cave in the face of their “overwhelming moral superiority,” and stand up to them and defend themselves. After all, in the words of a person who shall remain anonymous,“If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard.” “Argue with ’em, get in their faces” “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”

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  49. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MarkedMan: Thank you Jenos. You couldn’t have reinforced my point better. BTW, it was long before Nagin.

    OK, then, I obviously withdraw my comment. When was it?

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  50. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Rafer Janders: Just which polls were those? I, personally, tend to ignore them, but I’d think that those pollsters who had projected Trump’s victory would be doing a lot of bragging now.

    Personally, I had a hunch that Trump would do better than expected, but I wasn’t sure he’d actually get the nomination. And he got it without my vote.

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  51. MBunge says:

    @wr: Seriously? On the one hand you have a private citizen making silly accusations against the most powerful man in the free world. On the other you have the presumptive nominee for president claiming that a member of the judiciary — who would essentially be subordinate to him — is corrupt. You can’t tell the difference?

    1. What Trump is saying about the judge is “I’ve said I’m going to build a wall and deport all illegal Mexican immigrants. This judge is of Mexican descent. He’s going to be biased against me.” Is it racist? Sure, but it also possesses an obvious crude logic. The Birther business, on the other hand, was just flat out, irrational, racial paranoia.

    2. Federal judges have lifetime appointments and can only be removed by Congress. In no way would the judge be “subordinate” to President Trump.

    3. Not even the reaction to Trump’s “rapists” comment elicited this strong of a pushback and that was the ultimate example of “kicking down.”

    4. The media was more than happy to help Trump repeat his Birther nonsense all over the place, while they won’t give his complaints about this judge the time of day.

    Mike

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  52. Davebo says:

    @wr:

    Federal Judges are in no way subordinate to any President or politician. That’s sort of the whole point.

    Now if it were a prosecutor that would be different.

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  53. wr says:

    @MBunge: “4. The media was more than happy to help Trump repeat his Birther nonsense all over the place, while they won’t give his complaints about this judge the time of day.”

    Yes. Because this is a candidate for president expressing a complete lack of faith in the basis of our entire system of justice. That’s actually kind of terrifying. Especially from a candidate who has already suggested he’d want to rewrite the first amendment to make it illegal for people to write mean things about him.

    Yes, I understand we have a system that would fight against turning our country into something like Pinchet’s Chile — but that doesn’t mean we’re not horrified that the Republicans have nominated a man who seems to want to do just that.

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  54. wr says:

    @Davebo: And yet… have you noticed that, for example, President Obama never rails against some of the insane decisions of the current (or recent, anyway) Supreme Court? Have you noticed that even though there is a right wing crank sitting on the bench in Texas who is trying to hold the entire justice department in contempt or something Obama has never publically said that this judge is an immigration fanatic who hates Mexicans?

    You know why that is?

    Because if the president starts undermining faith in our judicial system like this, then the whole thing crumbles.

    Trump doesn’t care, because Trump doesn’t believe in systems, he believes in Trump. But the damage he could do as president is immeasurable.

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  55. JKB says:

    We’re Stronger Together
    Clinton’s slogan uses all of the persuasion techniques listed below.
    1. None

    I came across an interesting item yesterday that amusingly shows how poor Hillary’s slogan is

    Mussolini …, which he named fascism after the symbol of ancient Roman authority, the fasci – a bundle of rods tied together so that they couldn’t be broken.

    Atbashian, Oleg (2011-02-02). Shakedown Socialism: Unions, Pitchforks, Collective Greed, The Fallacy of Economic Equality, and other Optical Illusions of “Redistributive Justice” (pp. 42-43). Oleg Atbashian. Kindle Edition.

    With everyone throwing around fascism in this campaign, I think it is amusing that Hillary chose the slogan of Fascism.

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  56. Jen says:

    @wr:
    @Davebo:

    I wish HarvardLaw92 was around, because I’m pretty sure that there’s a legal code of conduct that prevents lawyers from making statements about defying court decisions. Pretty sure that in some cases it’s grounds for disbarment–a friend of mine (also a HL grad) pointed this out when Sen. Cruz was making statements about the Court’s decision on Obergefell.

    So neither Sec. Clinton nor Pres. Obama would make those sorts of statements–they are lawyers. Trump isn’t bound by any code of conduct, including that of a toddler, apparently.

    Even if Clinton and Obama weren’t bound by a code of conduct, they still wouldn’t undermine the judiciary because they have respect for our system of government and our Constitution.

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  57. MarkedMan says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Somewhere between ’91 and ’94. The memory fades and the dates go with it…

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  58. An Interested Party says:

    With everyone throwing around fascism in this campaign, I think it is amusing that Hillary chose the slogan of Fascism.

    “We’re Stronger Together” is hardly a fascist slogan…you really are a desperate idiot…

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  59. Andre Kenji says:

    I´m the grandson of Japanese Immigrants, and as a minority myself I know that this is racist, because I hate when people do that to me. You are risking physical violence if you call me “Japanese”.

    I´m as Brazilian as anyone that I know, and implying that I less Brazilian as anyone else is offensive.

    That´s why many Blacks don´t like to be called “African-American”.

    What Trump implied about this judge is racist as hell. And Hispanics know how offensive that can be. Hillary people is going to flood the airwaves with that.

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  60. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    With everyone throwing around fascism in this campaign, I think it is amusing that Hillary chose the slogan of Fascism.

    E pluribus unum, you moron.

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  61. Todd says:

    I think it’s worth separating our disdain for Trump from the potential validity of some of Adam’s observations about persuasion in general. For instance, even though his personality is likely to limit how far he can actually go, it’s not terribly implausible that Trump’s marketing/showmanship skills are primarily what has gotten him as far in this race as he is today.

    Also, up until their recent hit with the “thin skinned Donald” line of attack, the Clinton campaign has been pretty inept in the art of effective messaging.

    Ultimately Adams is likely to suffer from his association with Trump … even if we take him at his word that his observations are not “endorsement”. But I don’t think that invalidates everything he has to say.

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  62. grumpy realist says:

    @wr: It’s interesting how “yes but the judge MIGHT be biased!” supporters never turn that around to say “yes, but the upper-class white male judge MIGHT be biased against a woman/black/Hispanic” and thus should recuse himself from cases. Why were the male, Catholic Supreme Court Justices allowed to make a decision in the Hobby Lobby case, since they obviously couldn’t understand the situation?

    Goose, gander.

    …unless people like Adams don’t want to admit that the mentality of an upper-class white male is not automatically Teh Normal?

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  63. grumpy realist says:

    @JKB: Um, wasn’t there one of the Founding Fathers who said something about “together we succeed, divided we fall”?

    And I’m sure if I poke around in the military slogans (“band of brothers”, anyone?) I’ll find something equivalent as well.

    So I guess the US Army is fascist? And so is the US?

    That’s getting into the-landing-on-the-Moon-was-faked level of silliness, y’know.

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  64. Pch101 says:

    “United We Stand” became the slogan of 9/11.

    Abraham Lincoln spoke against slavery when he argued that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

    In light of that history, we must conclude that the remarkably similar “Together We’re Stronger” is some sort of fascist anthem. Or something like that.

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  65. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    …unless people like Adams don’t want to admit that the mentality of an upper-class white male is not automatically Teh Normal?

    Many people don’t think of vanilla as a flavor.

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