DILBERT KNOWS BEST: We're all poor friendless Raymond Shaw now!

FRIDAY, JUNE 3, 2016

Part 4—The Manchurian cable news stars:
Last Friday night, Dilbert's creator, Scott Adams, spoke with our old pal William Maher on the HBO program, Real Time.

Adams discussed the skills of Candidate Trump, who he views as "a master persuader." He began by noting a fact about himself:
ADAMS (5/27/16): First of all, I'm a trained hypnotist.

MAHER: A trained hypnotist!

ADAMS: Yes. I learned hypnosis in my 20s. Actually went to school for it. And I'm a—

MAHER: May we have a volunteer from the audience?


MAHER: Look at these people—

ADAMS: I've studied persuasion for decades. And when I saw Trump last summer using the tools of persuasion, I thought, "Oh my god, he's not a crazy clown. Everything he's doing, including his complete ignoring of the facts, is persuasion perfection."
To watch that discussion, click this.

We'll disagree with Adams on one point. In one fairly obvious sense, Candidate Trump plainly is a crazy clown.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean he can't be a master persuader too. Increasingly, our political/journalistic culture is in thrall to such performers.

Let's return to hypnosis, a fascinating and powerful tool.

We will guess that our brother Maher has seen comedian hypnotists in action. If he has, we'll guess that he noticed the power of this particular tool.

Good lord! People who are hypnotized can do things on a public stage they never could have done in their normal, pre-hypnotized state. Suddenly, they possess performance skills they couldn't have approached a half hour earlier.

Standard inhibitions are gone. They can act out characters and scenes in ways they could never have done.

Hypnosis is a mysterious tool. It helps us see that our human minds function in puzzling ways.

Adams never explained the connection of hypnosis to what he called "persuasion." That said, is Donald J. Trump a type of hypnotist?

Let's consider a famous movie we've been watching since last weekend. We refer to The Manchurian Candidate (1962), the widely-praised political thriller directed by John Frankenheimer.

In the film, "poor friendless, friendless Raymond" Shaw is captured during the Korean War and taken to Manchuria, where he and his whole platoon are "brainwashed" by Communist forces.

As a result of his brainwashing, Raymond becomes the hopeless tool of his Communist handlers, who include his crazy American mother. The Communists send poor Raymond back to her to serve as a ruthless, robotic killer.

Under the plan, Raymond will commit a political murder which elevates his mother's second husband to the White House. (In that sense, Raymond's stepfather is "the Manchurian candidate" of the film's title.) In the film, Raymond's brainwashing—in effect, his state of hypnosis—is so powerful that, when successfully triggered, he'll obey any command.

The film is masterfully done. In a brilliant scene which comes amazingly early, we see Raymond and his fellow soldiers in Manchuria, at a meeting designed to demonstrate the power of their brainwashing for their Communist masters.

We also see what Raymond and the other soldiers think is occurring. They've have been programmed to believe that they're at a ladies garden society meeting in New Jersey, where they've been trapped by a storm.

Masterfully, that early scene establishes a motif which appears throughout the film. Again and again, a type of question is suggested:

What do we humans think is occurring in various circumstances, as opposed to what's actually happening? To what extent do our perceptions conform to objective reality?

This motif arises again and again in the film, especially in the surreal events of two romances, one of which involves poor friendless Raymond. Again and again, the film asks a set of questions as it presents, or seems to present, sets of surreal events:

To what extent do we function "rationally?" To what extent are we the victims of forces beyond our conscious understanding?

To what extent do we see the world clearly? To what extent are we walking through a series of virtual dreamscapes?

Right from that garden society scene, the film just rips along. Watching it again last weekend, it made us think of our society's current state in a way it had never done before.

The film suggests that we humans move through our lives in varied "hypnotic" states. Last Friday, Adams said that Candidate Trump possesses the tools of a master persuader—of a hypnotist, a brainwasher, a person who can manipulate our most basic understandings of the world.

We think that idea has great merit. That said, acts of hypnosis and self-hypnosis have been on the rise in recent decades, driven by the "master persuaders" who now populate our degraded media landscape.

In our view, these players were thrown at conservatives first. Rush Limbaugh went national in 1988. He was followed by a wave of imitators.

In our view, the results have not been good. If we might borrow the words of Adams, "Everything Rush has done, including his complete ignoring of the facts, has been persuasion perfection." We'd even suggest that Rush's listeners have almost been hypnotized, or perhaps even "brainwashed" in the manner of poor Raymond Shaw.

On talk radio, then on cable, this type of brainwashing became big business during the Limbaugh years. We liberals loved to complain about this, although we've shown a total lack of skill and resolve in our attempts to address this unhealthy phenomenon.

As for today, it must be said that we liberals increasingly have our own master persuaders. Corporate interests are now building media worlds designed to brainwash us too.

They worked their skills on conservatives first, but now they're clowning us too. We have our own "Manchurian cable stars!" They feed us porridge and propaganda every night of the week.

They mug and clown and dumb us down, just as Rush and Sean have long done. Because they're skillful at their work and because we're self-hypnotized, we liberals can't even begin to see that this occurring.

We're at that garden club too!

"Poor, friendless, friendless Raymond" Shaw thought he was at a garden club meeting somewhere in New Jersey. If you watch The Manchurian Candidate, you'll be able to see where he actually was.

Every night, a million liberals think we're watching a "cable news" program at 9 PM Eastern. We'll suggest that's not what they're doing, and that their programming during that hour is very bad for the country.

To what extent are we the liberals now self-hypnotized too? Consider something that happened last night, along with something that didn't.

Last night, cable channels broadcast the latest scenes in which fiery progressives and liberals assaulted Trump supporters in the streets of a major city.

Last night, the city was San Jose. In the last few weeks, similar scenes have been broadcast from other major cities.

A few months ago, scenes of violence sometimes occurred inside Trump campaign events. Instantly, we liberals knew what to do and how to react. We engaged in sweeping generalizations. We attributed the behavior of a small number of people to Trump supporters in general.

Last night, our reactions were different. On CNN, Jeffrey Toobin insisted that the people staging the San Jose assaults didn't represent the mass of liberals.

Toobin's statement was perfectly accurate. It was also quite new.

As of last week, a certain major cable news star began complaining about the assaults progressives have been conducting against Trump supporters. She, of course, has been building the dimwitted tribal culture which helps make such assaults occur.

She feeds us our pabulum every night, then complains when we overreact. She gets very rich playing this game. We viewers get stupid and ugly.

Are we all poor Raymond Shaw now? As corporate interests continue to train more Manchurian cable news stars, we'll suggest that the answer will keep moving toward yes.

Concerning those comedy hypnotists: If you've ever seen a skillful comedy hypnotist, you've had a chance to see mysterious powers of persuasion at work.

On the other hand:

No comedian does a worse show than the comedy hypnotist who can't get anyone hypnotized. We learned this fact—mercifully, through second-hand accounts—in the summer of 87 or 88.

No, we didn't rebook the performer, but he was a very good guy who went on to a lot of success. Years later, we saw him at the Washington Improv, where he had people doing things they never could have done in their normal state.

Hypnosis is a mysterious tool. If you want to be hypnotized too, just keep "watching that space!"


  1. "CNN Jake Tapper Rips Into State Dept's Lies and Deceit on Video Editing"


    1. OT? He's cicero!

      Clearly hypnotized, he probably imagines he's /on/ topic!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I am not sure about some of Bob's claims about hypnotism, which appear to be wrong. Maybe he as run across it when he was a stand-up comedian, and has some personal experience with it. For a reliable source of info about hypnotism, please see the following url: http://skepdic.com/hypnosis.html

    The same with Bob's claims about brainwashing, which also appear to be false (I am not sure if Bob really believes these claims). Again, see this url: http://skepdic.com/mindcont.html

    Having said that, this movie might interest Bob and other readers of his blog. I do not agree with the choice of the film's title or with all of its claims, but I think it contains much truth, having seen similar things happen to family members and friends...



    Movie review:


    1. Oh man, skepdic. Now there's a site I haven't seen in a long time.

    2. Skepdic is still around, and being updated periodically by its founder Robert Todd Carroll. Unfortunately, Carroll has stage IV cancer. He recently discontinued his monthly newsletter due to his ill health. I am not sure what will happen to Skepdic when he eventually passes away.

  4. Frank Sinatra was too "hepcat" to play a Cold War era general. One of the worst casting decisions that I can think of. Kind of ruined the movie for me.

    1. Frank Sinatra portrayed not a general, but rather Captain then Major Ben Marco.

    2. Point taken. A swingin' Major Daddy-o

    3. But Sinatra wasn't too "hepcat" to play a Cold War era assassin (with his sights on POTUS Ike) who was booted out of the U.S. Army during WWII on a section 8 in the 1954 film "Suddenly"?

      Where did you get the idea that U.S. military was and is comprised of squares? Did you miss Sinatra's performance as Maggio in "From Here To Eternity"? He was actually playing a "hipcat" in the U.S. Army.

    4. I'm sure military brass circa 1960 sat around the Pentagon listening to hard bop and playing bongos.

      How about Paulie Shore as Ghandi? No doubt the Mahatma had his share of wacky hijinks.

    5. Just as unlikely during that period would be Jimi Hendrix being an elite U.S. Army paratrooper.

      Oops! On May 31, 1961 Hendrix was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, where he was stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

      BTW: Maj. Bennett Marco wasn't assigned to the Pentagon. He wasn't even working for Army Intelligence. He pursued Raymond Shaw without official Army sanction.

  5. Actually, if I'd read that article, I would have come away with the impression that Flowers had had an affair with Clinton. It *should* have read "regaled a tabloid with an alleged affair with Clinton". One word makes a large difference.

    1. That's the point. These media people could write, '...which led to the German's victory after their bombing of Pearl Harbor' and it would be in the NY Times and Fox News and polls would show people HYPNOTIZED by those "facts". Just read ANY POLL ... TODAY!

  6. My life became devastated when my husband sent me packing, after 8 years that we have been together. I was lost and helpless after trying so many ways to make my husband take me back. One day at work, i was absent minded not knowing that my boss was calling me, so he sat and asked me what its was all about i told him and he smiled and said that it was not a problem. I never understand what he meant by it wasn't a problem getting my husband back, he said he used a spell to get his wife back when she left him for another man and now they are together till date and at first i was shocked hearing such thing from my boss. He gave me an email address of the great spell caster who helped him get his wife back, i never believed this would work but i had no choice that to get in contact with the spell caster which i did, and he requested for my information and that of my husband to enable him cast the spell and i sent him the details, but after two days, my mom called me that my husband came pleading that he wants me back, i never believed it because it was just like a dream and i had to rush down to my mothers place and to my greatest surprise, my husband was kneeling before me pleading for forgiveness that he wants me and the kid back home, then i gave Happy a call regarding sudden change of my husband and he made it clear to me that my husband will love me till the end of the world, that he will never leave my sight. Now me and my husband is back together again and has started doing pleasant things he hasn't done before, he makes me happy and do what he is suppose to do as a man without nagging. Please if you need help of any kind, kindly contact Happy for help and you can reach him via email: happylovespell2@gmail.com

  7. "We think he possibly could, largely because Candidate Clinton is so badly damaged....."

    Trump must turn blue state to red.

    Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia have voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in every election between 1992 and 2012. 242 electoral votes.

    By contrast, 13 states have voted for the Republican presidential nominee in each of the past six elections. 102 electoral votes.

    If Clinton wins the 19 states that every Democratic nominee dating to her husband has won and she wins Florida (29 electoral votes), she wins the White House.

    Or if she wins the 19 reliable Democratic states and Virginia (13 electoral votes) and Ohio (18). Or the 19 states plus Nevada (6), Colorado (9) and North Carolina (15).

    There many ways for Clinton to get to 270 electoral votes. There are very few ways for Trump to get there.

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