Friday, August 25, 2017

The "He followed me lie"

In her upcoming book, Hillary Clinton talks about her second debate with Donald Trump. She claims that he followed her around the stage and that he "literally breathing down [her] neck.".

I went back and watched the debate and took screen shots. Here's an example of Trump "looming over Clinton".

Except he wasn't . Here's a capture from a different angle.

This was not a single occurrence. She did it again and again. She would walk past Trump and address the audience while standing on his side of the stage.


​This went on for around the middle third of the debate. After the second time, Trump began standing behind his chair, eeding his space to Hillary.

The whole "looming over" thing was an artifact of camera angles and zoom lenses. The cameras were above the audience and they used zoom lenses for close-ups. You can see that in the pictures above. They were all taken from the same cameras. Zoom lenses distort distances and make things look closer than they are. Here's one of Hillary looking disapprovingly over Trump's shoulder.

She's not looming, partly because Trump is nearly a foot taller and partly because she was sitting. That brings up an interesting piece of body language. Trump never sat. He moved around constantly unless he was holding on to his chair or podium. He gave the impression of someone with a lot of energy. In contrast, Hillary sat whenever Trump was talking. Considering the issues about her health a month earlier, this may or may not be significant. Here's an example.

A few weeks ago I saw someone questioning Trump's fitness to serve on the basis of his health. He sits and ride golf carts a lot. This is a reminder that the choice was between two of the oldest individuals to run for the office and Clinton's health was an issue.

So, what to make of this? I can thing of three possible reasons why Clinton kept invading Trump's side of the stage. She may have just been moving closer to the person who asked the question. It was difficult to tell where the person was in the footage and the debate organizers may have clustered the people so that all of the questions during the middle came from Trump's side and all of them during the final third came from Clinton's side. Or she may have been addressing the camera directly since she was really playing to the TV audience.

The second possibility is that she was trying to rattle Trump. It was publicized before the second debate that Clinton had worked with psychologists for ways to anger Trump. Or she may have been trying to project dominance to the audience by invading Trump's space. She certainly got him to retreat. Rather than following her, he usually backed away.

The final possibility is that she was posing for the "disapproving man looming over a successful woman" meme. According to "Shattered" she rehearsed on a circular stage that President Obama lent to her. Was she practicing placing herself between the camera and Trump? Maybe. She managed to do it, even when she stayed on her own side of the stage.

Again, Trump was standing in front of his podium and Hillary left hers to stand in front of the camera.

Regardless of why Hillary moved around the stage the way that she did, it is clear that Trump was not following her and was never breathing down her neck. That's an outright lie.

If you want to be generous, you can attribute that to being a false memory. Possibly Hillary never went back and watched the debate so the photos that her campaign distributed of Trump "looming over her" replaced the actual memories of the event.

Or maybe she's just lying to sell her book.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What Happened to Russia?

For over a year we've had countless stories in the news about Candidate/President Trump's ties to Russia in general and Putin in particular. Keith Olberman declared that we had a bloodless coup and that Russia now controls the US. Colbert made some comments that I won't even describe. The Washington Post's Daily 202 news summary had a daily section entitled "There's a bear in the woods" that recounted the newest developments in the Russian investigation.

More important, a special council was appointed to investigate the President's ties to Russia and Congress passed new sanctions against Russia for interfering with the election.

But the daily news on Russia suddenly went silent. What happened?

Certainly a part of it was the uproar over Confederate statues. That's drowned out a lot of other news. The terrorist attack in Spain was barely mentioned in order to give more time to stories about the protests. But that can't be all of it. There have been other big events but they never silenced the Russian story so completely.

I think that three things happened to quash the story. The first is members of the Trump campaign complaining, "Collude with the Russians? We couldn't even collude with ourselves!" For anyone who remembers who chaotic the Trump campaign was, this is a strong argument against collusion.

Next was a story that got very little attention: a low-ranking member of the Trump campaign said that he repeatedly tried to arrange for a meeting between Trump and the Russians to describe what relations would be like under Trump but there was no interest on either side. It's hard to reconcile this with a bloodless coup.

Finally, there's a report that received almost no coverage at all that the Russian "hack" never happened. This says that the DNC emails were copied to a thumb drive from within the DNC network The experts saying this say that header information in the files shows a transfer rate consistent with that and impossible to achieve with an overseas connection. This would explain why the DNC refused to allow the FBI to examine their servers.

So, has the story fallen apart so completely that no one wants to report on it? It's possible that, after investing so many resources on the story that the various media is reluctant to admit that there was never any story to begin with.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Punching Nazis?

The meme of the moment is that "It's ok to punch a Nazi". This is often accompanied with the cover of Captain America #1 punching Hitler or something similar. But there's the thing.

It's not World War II and you are not a comic book hero.

When people talk about punching a Nazi, they mean that they want to assault someone for holding views that they don't agree with. Yes, I know what the Nazis did in the 1930s and 1940s and yes, it's shocking to see Americans carrying Nazi symbols and praising Hitler. But that does not justify taking the law into your own hands and taking it upon yourself to punish the Nazi.

And who counts as a Nazi? Yes, it's easy to point to the idiots carrying swastikas but they don't carry them every day. Are you planning on hunting them down? Then will you go after Nazi sympathizers? A friend of mine was recently named in a Facebook posting as a Nazi-enabler for making the same points I'm making. This post called for violence against several people. I know other people who insist that anyone who didn't vote for Hillary Clinton is an Nazi-enabler. Where does this end?

Last weekend an engineer was fired from Google after sharing a complaint about Google's diversity programs. He was not against diversity but he did suggest that, possibly, women are less likely to be attracted to engineering as a career. He even backed this up with solid figures (although the links were all removed when his document was made public). After his firing he complained that he has been labeled a Nazi and received death threats.

This also seems to expect that the Nazis won't hit back. They will. Violence leads to more violence.

Monday, August 07, 2017

It's Time to Normalize Trump

The Democrats flipped out when Donal Trump won the election. The weeks between election night and inauguration day were full of plots and schemes to prevent Trump from taking office. When he did, people embedded in federal agencies vowed to "resist", using official twitter channels and leaks to embarrass the President. At the same time, celebrities vowed that they would never "normalize" Trump by treating him as a normal president. President Trump is unwelcome on late night talk shows. Hosts who fawned on Barack Obama now compete to see who can be the most anti-Trump.

The MSM has been particularly harsh, often framing events in an unflattering light then referring back to their interpretation instead of what actually happened. An example of this was Trump's first meeting with his full cabinet. He had each member introduce himself. Several, around half, thanked the President for the chance to server the country in their new role. This was reported as Trump calling his cabinet together and ordering them to praise him and is still being referred to as "bizarre" even though it is typical of such introductions.

Last week things went even further. The Washington Post published transcripts of President Trump's first phone calls to the presidents of Mexico and Australia. Although a few bits have been published, there has been little discussion of the main text - probably because it reflects well on Trump. But the content of the phone calls is not the point.

By publishing these transcripts, the Post has shown that it will do anything it can to harm Trump, even if it will cause long-term damage to the United States going beyond the Trump administration.

Every leader in the world now knows that he cannot count on his conversation with the President of the United States being kept confidential. This will hurt Trump for the rest of his presidency but there is no reason to believe that it will stop there.

Civilization can be a fragile thing. It depends on mutual acceptance of a set of rules of conduct. The "resistance" and the attempts to "de-normalize" Trump assume that these rules can be unilaterally ignored without repercussion. The Democrats made the same assumption when they controlled Congress, particularly the Senate. They exercised the "nuclear option" and did away with the filibuster on presidential Non-Supreme Court appointments. When the Republicans regained control there was a short debate about reinstating the old rules but the general feeling was that the Republicans should not be expected to play by a different set of rules than the Democrats. And, when President Trump nominated a well-qualified candidate to the Supreme Court, the nuclear option was extended to include those nominees as well.

If a Democrat wins the 202 election, then you can count on the Republicans de-normalizing that president the same way that the Democrats have treated Trump. The new rules have been set and it is ridiculous to assume that the Republicans will abode by the old rules.

That's why it is imperative for the left to back off and normalize Trump. They are the only ones who can defuse the current situation. They need to admit that they have gone too far and start according Trump the respect that they will expect to be given the next Democratic president.

That goes for the Republicans, too. They might disagree with Trump but they need to accept him for the good of the nation.