THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2023
That said, dumbness spreads: "He's just so dumb," the frustrated analyst said. "Either that, or he plays dumb."
The analyst to whom we refer is Morning Joe's Joe Scarborough. He made those remarks on this morning's show, at roughly 7:10 Eastern.
Scarborough was speaking, with frustration, about former president Donald J. Trump. He's just so dumb, the morning man said. Either that, or he just plays dumb.
For ourselves, we'd drop the either / or formulation. At times, we'll guess that Donald J. Trump actually does play dumb. But it's also true that, by normal standards and in various ways, Donald J. Trump, almost surely, simply is remarkably dumb—especially so, given his station in life.
Quite often, we'd judge that he isn't playing dumb. In a wide array of situations, we'd say that he simply is.
Last night, on CNN, was Donald J. Trump just playing dumb? In particular instances, it's hard to be sure—but the dumbness, it mightily burns!
How dumb did Donald Trump's statements get during last evening's town hall? When it comes to the deeply spectacular / world-class dumb, we'd cite these three presentations:
Handling the war in Ukraine:
How would a future President Trump handle the war in Ukraine? When Kaitlan Collins asked, she received an amazingly stupid reply:
COLLINS: But the question here is, Would you give Ukraine weapons and funding if you were elected?
TRUMP: I would sit down—let me put it a nicer way. If I'm president, I will have that war settled in one day, 24 hours.
COLLINS: How would you settle that war in one day?
TRUMP: I'll meet with Putin, I'll meet with Zelenskyy. They both have weaknesses and they both have strengths. And within 24 hours, that war with be set settled. It'll be over. It'll be absolutely over.
He's going to settle the war in one day! On its face, that statement belongs to the spectacular dumb. The audience applauded.
(For the full transcript, click here.)
The need to avoid default:
At one point, Collins mentioned the current fight about the need to raise the debt ceiling, thereby avoiding default.
In his most significant statements of the night, Trump seemed to say that we should go ahead and default now, because we'll just have to do so later.
It seems to us that his statement smay have made it much more likely that we will default in the coming weeks. But when its comes to world-class dumb, consider Trump's smirking statements as Collins tried to pin him down:
COLLINS: So just to be clear, Mr. President, you think the U.S. should default if the White House does not agree to the spending cuts Republicans are demanding?
TRUMP: Well, you might as well do it now because you'll do it later, because we have to save this country. Our country is dying. Our country is being destroyed by stupid people—by very stupid people.
COLLINS: You once said that using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge just could not happen. You said that when you were in the Oval Office.
TRUMP: Sure, that's when I was president.
COLLINS: So, why is it different now when you're out of office?
TRUMP: Because now, I'm not president.
He said one thing when he was president, but another thing now. Smirkingly, but with spectacular dumbness, he was playing the world-class wise guy in that exchange.
The audience laughed and applauded.
His stance on abortion rights:
Now that Roe v. Wade is gone, how would a President Trump handle abortion rights? Collins tried and tried and tried—but she was met with some very dumb statements:
COLLINS: Just to be clear, Mr. President, you would sign a federal abortion ban into law?
TRUMP: I said this. I said this, I want to do what's right and we're looking. And we want to do what's right for everybody.
COLLINS: But what's right?
A future President Trump will do what's right for everybody!
As the candidate rambled on from there, Collins repeatedly tried to elicit a clearer statement. The candidate kept making statements like these:
COLLINS: Some of your allies on Capitol Hill said they want to introduce legislation when it comes to banning abortion. If they send it to your desk, would you sign it?
TRUMP: Some people are at six weeks, some people are at three weeks, two weeks.
COLLINS: Where is President Trump?
TRUMP: President Trump is going to make a determination what he thinks is great for the country and what's fair for the country,
As president, Trump will do what's right for the country and he'll do what's fair for the country. Along the way, as the transcript notes, the audience laughed and applauded.
He's going to stop the war in one day. He's going to do what's right for everybody.
He's willing to recommend defaulting now, because now he isn't president! Almost surely, this is as dumb as it ever has gotten in presidential campaigning.
Sometimes the dumbness is being feigned—but sometimes, the dumbness is real. In many ways, this former president simply is (something resembling) dumb, a fact which is especially striking because of his high station.
Tomorrow, we hope to flesh this out in a bit more detail. We hope to do that as we return to our discussion of the way a certain creative paraphrase spread in the wake of last week's release of Trump's deposition.
For now, we want to restate a basic point—in human affairs, (something like) dumbness is quite widespread. Indeed, (something like) dumbness has long prevailed, even at the highest levels of academic thought.
Even at those highest levels, (something like) dumbness has always prevailed! Or at least, so taught the later Wittgenstein, as described in the first half of this essay by Professor Horwich for the New York Times—and Wittgenstein was chosen, in several polls of major academics, as the most significant philosopher of the twentieth century.
Donald J. Trump often makes statements which are extremely dumb. We'll guess that sometimes he's just playing dumb, but in many settings and circumstances, with respect to many types of concern, he's simply remarkably unsophisticated, uninformed, inarticulate.
Given his station in life, he's often remarkably dumb.
That said, (something like) dumbness dogs human affairs, all the way up to the top. We mention this because of a recent wave of Creative Paraphrase Drift.
As best we can tell, the paraphrase in question got its start at Vanity Fair. Edited headline included, the mag's Bess Levin quickly blogged what you see below after last Thursday's session in the E. Jean Carroll rape / defamation trial:
Trump Doubled Down on the Right to Sexually Assault People...in Insane Deposition
As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Donald Trump is currently on trial for rape, and so far the civil case has not appeared to be going in his favor. Of course, no one knows which way jurors may be leaning—but presumably, taped testimony they heard today did not paint him in a great light, as it featured the ex-president doubling down on his claim that if you’re “a star,” it’s fine to sexually assault people—and then insulting E. Jean Carroll’s attorney’s looks.
According to Levin, Trump had "doubled down" on an earlier claim. According to Levin, Trump had said, in his deposition, that if you’re a star, it’s fine to sexually assault people.
Offering readers a paraphrase, that's what Levin said. We leave you with a question:
Had Donald Trump really said that? On balance, we'd have to say no. We'd also have to say this:
Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, never asked Trump if that was what he actually meant by what he actually said. Also, Kaplan never asked Trump if that's something he believes.
We'll guess we know why those questions weren't asked. But in the absence of some such explicit Q-and-A, Levin authored a paraphrase of what Trump had said and meant.
In our view, it was a creative paraphrase. The next day, it started to spread.
Among experts, this process is known as Creative Paraphrase Drift. By the way, who the heck is Bess Levin?
According to Vanity Fair, your answer would be this:
Bess Levin is a politics correspondent at Vanity Fair. An essential voice of our current tragicomedy, she is an incisive, hilarious daily narrator of the horrors that never seem to stop.
In short, Levin is part of the entertainment press. News orgs make money playing this game—and the unhelpful dumbness spreads.
Levin had written a song sung blue. Finally, but not till this past Monday night, Anderson Cooper was singing the song, and after that the deluge!
Tomorrow: We try to complete our report
Re: Trump and using the debt ceiling s a negotiating wedgeReplyDelete
It's not something Republican voters care about, (i.e. not bigotry and white supremacy), so being on both sides of an issue isn't a problem for Trump/ them.
Shame, humor, mathematics, and history are among the many things the Right has no sense of.ReplyDelete
Once again, Bob makes what Trump is really thinking the key. As he will let him off the hook on any criminal behavior if he thought whst he was doing was OK than he is innocent of any illegality. Dumb is of course a very kind word for ir.ReplyDelete
This comment implies Bob is arguing that if Trump thought his behavior was acceptable, then he is innocent of any criminal behavior. How did you arrive at this conclusion?Delete
From readin Bob every day.Delete
Bob's right. Trump never said that rich stars could sexually assault people. Nowhere near.Delete
He said that when rich stars do it it's not sexual assault simply because they have let you do it, which makes it consensual. They in fact have agreed to let you do it.
It's a simple distinction that has apparently flown by most people. Trump also never says that he has a predilection for such behavior either -- If you even take him seriously at all in that video, which is pretty dumb to do. "Wise guy" is right about Donald Trump.
Btw, I'm not a Trump lover. Hardly. And I don't grab women by the pussies.
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"This comment implies Bob is arguing that if Trump thought his behavior was acceptable, then he is innocent of any criminal behavior. How did you arrive at this conclusion?"Delete
Trump thought his behavior was acceptable because it wasn't assault. That makes sense if the women have let him do it, because it wouldn't be.
They might have even often responded to it, which throws a big wrinkle into the mass outrage and hate.
"It's not being very objective or accurate, to say the least."Delete
Which is the premise of the entire blog - our tribalism leads to overstate and misstate evidence against out political opponents - we abandon objectivity in doing so.
Letting someone do something sexual is explicitly NOT consent. If Trump thinks it is, he will still be prosecuted. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.Delete
Why is letting someone not consent? Because some women freeze when assaulted and do not actively resist. They are stunned by what is happening. Affirmative consent is needed, not simply being let to do something sexual. It doesn't have to be verbal, but it must be affirmative.
Guys who don't know this may get themselves in big trouble with women.
Which is the premise of the entire blog - our tribalism leads to overstate and misstate evidence against out political opponents - we abandon objectivity in doing so.” How does this apply to the jury in this case, which found Trump liable?
"He says they *let* you do it, and even then he never says that he engages in this behavior..."Delete
He implies it when he uses the words "they" and "you". They refers to women and you includes Trump. If you put the conversation into the larger context with Billy Bush. He was previously talking about what HE himself did with a married woman, then he talks about what they let you do, then he talks about his own behavior (I just can't stopping kissing, I see them and I have to kiss them). That isn't about anyone else. It is reasonable to assume that the stuff in the middle is about himself too, especially given that Trump is a narcissist who spend almost no time talking about other people, that there is no sign he is speculating or philosophizing, and that he is bragging about what he can do, given that he is a star. In his deposition he is asked if he is a star and he says yes.
Trying to construe this any other way is sophistry and mangles languages more than any cable hosts' paraphrases.
"Nowhere does Trump say that assault is ok or that he does it. He says they *let* you do it, and even then he never says that he engages in this behavior -- if you even take him seriously on that tape to begin with."Delete
This is why it is important to evaluate someone's statements in the context of their behavior. The problem for Trump is that there are so many women who have complained about exactly this kind of behavior by him. Two of them were witnesses at the trial. I have posted the articles listings them here before, but apparently you guys defending Trump don't want to be confused by the facts.
If Trump didn't mean what he said, why does he behave that way toward women, over and over, across decades?
What Trump thinks is irrelevant for legal purposes. Lack of consent includes (among other things):Delete
Any circumstance involving the touching of sexual or other intimate parts, directly or through clothing, in which the victim did not expressly or impliedly agree to the sexual contact.
Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate Consent.
This comes from New York State Penal Law.
Trump's state of mind or belief has no more bearing on consent than whether he might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs (which do not provide an excuse for the violation of consent).
I have very mixed feelings about the numerous trolls who have come here to insist that when women "let you" do something that is consent. On the one hand, I wouldn't want their ignorance to get them thrown in jail, but on the other hand, that seems to be the only way to get through to them about their preferred delusional beliefs, much like Trump.
Does anyone think Trump will stop grabbing women and kissing them on the mouths without permission? I worry that he is just going to continue doing bad things until he has a heart attack and is put in a home.
The sad cases defending Trump here are lying, just like him. But in something like the documents case, where Bob proposed there is not really a case because Trump thought it was OK to take the documents he wanted because he thought it was his right. It looks like this sort of foolishness will be tested in Court, it’s pretty important that it is.Delete
People make the mistake of taking Trump literally, instead of seriously.
That's how you have people taking him on his word that not all Republican voters are bigots. Can you imagine?
You can't fact check Trump in real time. All you need to knw is that when his lips are moving, he's lying.ReplyDelete
"Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, never asked Trump if that was what he actually meant by what he actually said. "ReplyDelete
This is untrue. Kaplan repeatedly asked Trump questions about what he meant by various statements throughout the deposition, such as when he referred to "swooning". She also asked whether others had told him to say things, where he got the photo of Carroll with Johnson, whether anyone looked at his Truth Social statements before he posted them and so on. Trump found that photo and attached it to a Truth Social post. He also volunteered that Carroll said she loved being raped by him (on Anderson Cooper's show). That didn't come from the lawyers.
Trump had every chance to clarify. When he was asked about they let you do it, the lawyer asked "they let you grab them by the p***sy? And he said "anything". The lawyer asked "are you a star?" and trump said yes.
This is NOT a matter of putting words into Trump's mouth. Somerby and others need to watch the depositions.
Somerby did not claim that Kaplan never asked Trump questions about what he meant by his statements. He claimed Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, never asked Trump what he actually meant by what he actually said in the statement that was eventually paraphrased.Delete
Why would you read that as a claim by Somerby that Kaplan never asked Trump any questions about what he meant by his statements?
Here is what Somerby said:Delete
""Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, never asked Trump if that was what he actually meant by what he actually said. "
Why would anyone think that Kaplan or anyone else is supposed to present various paraphrases to Trump (drawn from the media, esp Vanity Faire) and ask him did you mean this? How about this one? Is this what you meant? For everything that Trump said during his deposition.
That is ludicrous, unfair to those being deposed who are not stupid like Trump, or famous like Trump, or rich and politically powerful like Trump. Somerby is demanding special rules for Trump and that isn't going to happen in court -- even though he has clearly gotten special treatment throughout his life in other contexts.
Kaplan did ask Trump clarifying questions throughout the deposition. She didn't rescue Trump from his doubling down on his Access Hollywood stupidities. And yes, it is clear that Trump is referring to himself when he talks about what stars get to do. Go watch the deposition.
The truth remains Somerby's quote is accurate. Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, never asked Trump if that was what he actually meant by the later paraphrased quote. And your argument thatKaplan did ask Trump what he actually meant by other questions is irrelevant.Delete
12:13: check my comment at 12:18, dipshit.Delete
The comment at 12:18 doesn't say anything about Kaplan asking Trump what he meant by what he said. She never did. This is really hard for you!Delete
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Somerby made two statements. One of them was “Kaplan never asked Trump if that's something he believes.” She did ask him that.Delete
Somerby didn’t talk about Kaplan asking Trump what he meant?Delete
I would just encourage you to continue working on your reading comprehension and reasoning skills. Both need work.
Good to see you deleted your comment after taking to time to actually read what you are discussing.Delete
Somerby was simply wrong. You can admit that. Kaplan did ask if Trump meant it. He repeated that it was locker room talk. I would argue that that indicates that what he meant was that it was just talk, which answers Somerby’s first statement “what did Trump mean?”Delete
If that is true, that would mean you agree with Somerby the VG writer made a slippery paraphrase.Delete
But Kaplan didn't ask Trump what he meant by his comment. Not according to any evidence you have provided.
"Why would you read that as a claim by Somerby that Kaplan never asked Trump any questions about what he meant by his statements?Delete
I've noticed that a lot of the Bob haters here read a LOT into what he's saying!
It's pretty perverse, too. The idea that Bob is a Trump defender or apologist -- which is what they all say now here too -- is really crazy as hell.
What does it mean to you when someone says “it was just talk?” No, Kaplan didn’t specifically ask him what he meant, but his meaning was clear…he didn’t “mean” it. The question is whether you or the jury believed his characterization.Delete
It makes you wonder if they are a lying troll or really as stupid as the things they claim.Delete
The Twitter files is showing there are a lot of DNC trolls and bots out there and there have been for a long time. That may explain the insane and foolish anti-Bob trolls here.
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The jury apparently also disagreed with “Bob.” It’s doubtful they even read this blog, much less comment here. That’s the reality you and Bob have to deal with now. I know it hurts.Delete
Nobody with a brain reads this blog. Which is sad, because long ago it was indispensable.Delete
Me: Carroll's lawyer never asked Trump if that was what he actually meant by the later paraphrased quote.Delete
Mh: Check my comment, dipshit.
Me: Your comment doesn't say anything about Kaplan asking Trump what he meant by what he said.
Mh: Kaplan did ask if Trump meant it.
Me: Kaplan didn't ask Trump what he meant by it.
Mh: No, Kaplan didn’t specifically ask him what he meant, but ...
YOU HAVE TO LAUGH!!!
This idiot can't even read.Delete
5:28: you’re right. 5:26 can’t read.Delete
The deposition is available online. It was linked here days ago. Go check it. If you are expecting some very specific question wording, you are playing gotcha. If you read the deposition you will see that Kaplan asks Trump what he meant at many points.Delete
You're fucking total retard.Delete
At least I can read.Delete
First Somerby says this:ReplyDelete
"In many ways, this former president simply is (something resembling) dumb, a fact which is especially striking because of his high station."
Then shortly below, Somerby says this:
" Indeed, (something like) dumbness has long prevailed, even at the highest levels of academic thought.
Even at those highest levels, (something like) dumbness has always prevailed! Or at least, so taught the later Wittgenstein, as described in the first half of this essay by Professor Horwich for the New York Times—and Wittgenstein was chosen, in several polls of major academics, as the most significant philosopher of the twentieth century."
If we grant Somerby his point about academics being dumb, why doesn't that imply that electing Wittgenstein in
polls is an example of academic dumbness? You cannot discredit academics as dumb and then rely on their judgment about Wittgenstein, who may have been the dumbest of the dumb, following Somerby's logic.
A discredited authority figure cannot be restored to credibility just because they have voted favorably for Wittgenstein. If they are dumb, so is this decision. And that tends to undermines Somerby's entire rejection of modern thought, his rationale for calling academics dumb in the first place. Yes, that's circular, but Somerby's conclusions are in dire trouble if Somerby wishes to declare academics dumb but also use their admiration of Wittgenstein to justify doing so.
"Also, Kaplan never asked Trump if that's something he believes. "ReplyDelete
Trump said it under oath in a sworn deposition, then repeated it when Kaplan did ask. Because of the nature of a deposition, which is supposed to be in the person's own words (not the lawyer's), lawyers do not ask "are you sure you really really mean that?" When someone makes a statement, it is presumed to be what they believe (because they took an oath before being asked questions). Lying during a deposition is perjury, a crime that someone can go to jail for.
How many chances does Somerby think Trump should be given to correct himself, when he says something stupid? People were shocked and horrified that he would repeat those statements under oath in his deposition. It is part of why he was convicted. He revealed that he has the mind of a rapist, the self-justifying beliefs and lack of concern for women. Kaplan is not going to protect Trump from himself.
"How many chances does Somerby think Trump should be given to correct himself, when he says something stupid? People were shocked and horrified that he would repeat those statements under oath in his deposition."Delete
I wasn't. What he said is actually pretty true: many women respond differently to the big guy, the guy in demand. The guy in charge. And it's always been that way.
Usually the Big Guy doesn't have to do anything to get a positive response either. I wish Trump had gone into that more. He should have explained better what he meant.
You don't have to like Trump to know this, either. I don't. But who would deny it? And no, this doesn't mean assault is ok. The question revolves around responsiveness and agreement.
No one is saying Trump wasn't approached by women (there is no accounting for taste). This is about consent. A woman who has approached Trump herself would presumably give consent. The who "let him" are the ones he approaches and just starts kissing or groping. "Letting him" has nothing to do with consent in that situation. A woman who is startled or afraid and just waits for him to stop (he is much bigger than most women) is not giving consent.Delete
Go back and read what Trump did to the 25+ other women who are accusing him of assault. It is exactly what he describes to Billy Bush. And that's why Trump lost his case.
The second amendment is evil.ReplyDelete
“Kaplan never asked Trump if that's something he believes.”ReplyDelete
Two points here. That would be the job of Trump’s attorney, not Carroll’s. Except Trump didn’t testify in court. Oops.
Also, from the deposition, (“lawyer” here is Kaplan)…
And now you said before a couple of minutes ago that this was just locker room talk.
Donald Trump (40:42):
It’s locker room talk.
And so does that mean that you didn’t really mean it?
Donald Trump (40:46):
No, it’s locker room talk. I don’t know. It’s just the way people talk.”
This is proof that Trump is dumb. He could have done a good job of explaining that it is in fact locker room talk and what is meant by it. He could have easily softened what he said on that video by showing that it was a joke, a riff, a wise guy thing.Delete
But he's dumb, yes.
Calling something locker room talk says nothing about its truth value, guy thing or not.Delete
Trump is not only dumb but also a narcissist. He didn't want to soften or backtrack what he said because he is proud of being so "desirable" that he can force himself on any woman without her objecting. And that's the scary part. Read what Stephanie Grisham said about protecting her staff from Trump. This is the PRESIDENT. No women should have to fear going into his office like that.Delete
It is inconceivable to me that this man is still a candidate.
The most influential philosopher of the twentieth century was Iosif Dzhugashvili.ReplyDelete
Putin would not have initiated the invasion if Trump were president. Putin smelled incompetence, corruption, and cowardice in Biden and now thousands more will die before Russia wins.ReplyDelete
Putin has offered Trump asylum in Russia. Maybe you can make the same deal with him?Delete
Putin flourished when Trump was president, now with Biden as president, he’s getting his ass handed to him.Delete
Who knew Putin was a "feelings over facts" kind of guy?Delete
You don't win court cases by nitpicking the meanings of words. Trump lost because he disrespects women.ReplyDelete
And he doesn't know how to fake it as a normal person. But that doesn't give him the right to rape and assault women.Delete
Trump is saying they “let you” do it in the context of describing what he himself does: “I just start kissing them”, “I moved on her like a bitch” (the woman he “moved on” was a specific person, not a theoretical woman).ReplyDelete
You can believe it’s locker room talk and completely meaningless, or you can believe that he is describing things Trump himself did that he believed or imagined he had “consent” for.
In fact, if you look at the entire deposition, Kaplan, as in fact all attorneys do, is creating a narrative to call Trump’s assertions into question. She asks him about his use of the word “hoax”, for example, which he applied to election 2020 as well as Carroll’s accusations. She is showing that Trump is untrustworthy.
Republicans should support statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.ReplyDelete
"Collins tried and tried ...."ReplyDelete
Isn't it more like she just let him do and say whatever he wanted? Did she consent to his behavior by being unable to stop him? Isn't this a kind of cable news rape?Delete
Defund the Supreme Court.ReplyDelete
We live in a giant spiral galaxy.ReplyDelete