zenpundit.com » Blog Archive » Metaphors, more iv, featuring Oliver Roeder & Chris Cillizza

Metaphors, more iv, featuring Oliver Roeder & Chris Cillizza

[ by Charles Cameron — others besides david ronfeldt who find game & sports metaphors valuable — or should that be invaluable? ]

I’m making this post a “special” because Ron Hale-Evans pointed me to a trove of articles variously about or touching on game metaphors for politics, geo or otherwise.


This was the start:

What game is President Trump playing? By that I mean what actual game is he playing?

Trump’s political performance, in seriousness and in jest, has often been likened to chess. Even to three-, four-, eight-, 10- and 12-dimensional chess. His proponents argue he’s a grandmaster,1 and his detractors argue he’s a patzer. CNN’s Chris Cillizza has written two different articles accusing Trump of playing “zero-dimensional chess,” whatever that means. Even Garry Kasparov, probably the greatest actual chess player of all time, has weighed in, inveighing against the use of this gaming cliche via Politico.

In my job here at FiveThirtyEight, I spend a lot of time thinking about games — board games, video games, chess tournaments, math puzzles, the game theory of international affairs. So I understand that “playing chess” is easy shorthand for “doing strategy” or “being smart” or whatever. But I think we can do better. I humbly propose to you that Trump is not playing chess (of any dimension), but rather something called “ultimate tic-tac-toe.” It’s time to update your tropes.

It’s a good day when I find an entire article dedicated to game or sports metaphors for politics, but this one had some great links..



The second thing this Corker episode makes clear is that, strategically speaking, Trump is playing zero-dimensional chess. As in, the only strategy is that there is no strategy.

In the wake of Trump’s absolutely stunning 2016 victory, the conventional wisdom — in political circles — was that Trump was a strategic genius, always seeing five moves ahead. He was playing three-dimensional chess while the media was still trying to figure out which way pawns could move. The reason no one thought Trump could win was because “we” didn’t see the whole board the way he did. No one else saw it that way. Trump was a genius. An unconventional genius but a genius nonetheless.

There, incidentally, is the definition of zero-dimensional chess:

Trump is playing zero-dimensional chess. As in, the only strategy is that there is no strategy.



The key part is when he concludes Flake will be a “no” on the tax reform package in the Senate because, well, his political career is “toast” — or something.

I submit this as yet another piece of evidence that Trump is playing zero-dimensional chess.

What do I mean? Simply this: When Trump won the White House — against all odds — the working assumption was that he had executed a plan so brilliant and so complex that only he (and the few advisers he let in on the plan) could see it. He was playing three-dimensional chess while the media, the Clinton campaign and virtually everyone else was still playing checkers.

But as his first year in the White House has progressed, there’s mounting evidence that Trump may not be playing three-dimensional chess. In fact, he might just be playing zero-dimensional chess. As in, the only strategy Trump is pursuing is no strategy at all.

From a game-policy metaphor angle, this doesn’t take us much further, although you can read the whole post for details of the Trump-Flake business..



Chess? That’s not what Garry Kasparov sees Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin playing—three-dimensional or any other kind. But if they did sit down for a game, the former grandmaster believes the Russian president would obviously win.

“Both of them despise playing by the rules, so it’s who will cheat first,” Kasparov told me in an interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast. “But in any game of wits, I would bet on Putin, unfortunately.”

Kasparov gets into some interesting details, not entirely uncritical of Obama, and even GW Bush, but flicking Trump off the board with a flick of his cultivated fingernail..

I think I’vetheis referenced the Kasparov article once before, but hey, this is a rich harvest..



Shall we play a game?

Imagine that a crisp $100 bill lies on a table between us. We both want it, of course, but there’s no chance of splitting it — our wallets are empty. So we vie for it according to a few simple rules. We’ll each write down a secret number — between 0 and 100 — and stick that number in an envelope. When we’re both done, we’ll open the envelopes. Whichever of us wrote down the higher number pockets the $100. But here’s the catch: There’s a percentage chance that we’ll each have to burn $10,000 of our own money, and that chance is equal to the lower of the two numbers.

So, for example, if you wrote down 10 and I wrote down 20, I’d win the $100 … but then we’d both run a 10 percent risk of losing $10,000. This is a competition in which, no matter what, we both end up paying a price — the risk of disaster.

What number would you write down?

In the 538 post, the game’s available for interactive play.. And later in the same piece, too..

Now imagine that you’re playing the same game, but for much more than $100. You’re a head of state facing off against another, and the risk you run is a small chance of nuclear war

That was instructive, I think, though my mind is artificially dimmed at present..

And finally:


This one revolved around a tweet in which Trump had said

:When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!

How easy? was this post’s response:

But how easy? And how exactly do you win them? (Also, what’s a trade war?)

Let’s find out. You (Yes, you!) have just been elected president of your very own country. Congratulations! Now it’s time to get to work. There is another country out there that has goods you can buy, and you have goods it may want to buy. Your job is to choose your foreign economic policy — which you’ll do in the little game we’ve prepared for you below.

The rules go like this: You can cooperate with the other country, allowing the free flow of its goods into your country. Or you can defect, imposing tariffs on the foreign goods. And because you will trade with the same country over and over again, you have to decide whether to stick with a single strategy no matter what or whether to change course in response to your opponent. The other country faces the same choice, but you can’t know in advance what plan they’ve chosen. Free trade helps both countries, generating big windfalls for both sides. But it’s possible for a single country to improve its own situation at the other’s expense — you both have a selfish incentive to defect, taxing the imports from the other country and helping only yourself. However, if you both defect, you both wind up isolated, cutting yourselves off from the market and reducing earnings on both sides.

Again, the game is available for interactive play.

We’ve simplified trade dramatically: You’re engaging in 100 rounds of trade with a randomly chosen FiveThirtyEight reader. In each round, you and your trade partner can either cooperate (allow free trade) or defect (impose a tariff). Your goal is to pick a strategy that earns you as much as possible.

The game mechanics here were interesting (and “gave the game away” where the game is game theory a la Prisoners Dilemma):


Was there a trade war? Was it good? Did you win it?

Tariffs are the weapons of a trade war

The game you just played took a little game theory — the formal, mathematical study of strategy — and retrofitted it to the world of international relations. (Of course, our simulation is extremely simplified, and it runs in a very controlled little world that ignores alliances, trade deals, political histories, other countries, and hundreds of other factors.)


Memory slippage — lest we forget, there was one last game ref today:

It’s the NYorker‘s film criticism of the latest impossible Mission, and the game sentence in the piece itself reads:

Despite the deft coherence of the plot’s mirror games of alliance and betrayal, which provide the illusion of a developed drama, the movie almost totally deprives its characters of inner life or complex motives.

Mirroring’s one of the patterns I love to collect, and game thinking here might note the Kierkegaardian note:

In his 1846 essay “The Present Age,” Søren Kierkegaard decried the widespread tendency of the time -— which he summed up as an age “without passion” —- to “transform daring and enthusiasm into a feat of skill.”

The continuum from “daring and enthusiasm to “feat of skill” is an interesting one for game designers to place their games on — before and after design, and when player feedback is in.

A rich day indeed.



  • FiveThirtyEight, Trump Isn’t Playing 3D Chess
  • CNN Politics, Donald Trump is playing zero-dimensional chess
  • CNN POlitics, Donald Trump is playing zero-dimensional chess (again)
  • Politico, Garry Kasparov Would Like You to Stop Saying ‘Trump Is Playing 4-D Chess’
  • FiveThirtyEight, How To Win A Nuclear Standoff
  • FiveThirtyEight, How To Win A Trade War
  • Trump on Twitter, trade wars are good, and easy to win
  • New Yorker, Mission: Impossible -— Fallout
  • **

    Some other posts in this series

    And I emphasize Some, previous posts in the game & sports metaphor series, as somewhat randomly collected, and Likelky not in sequential order:

  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=57435
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=59988
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=59082
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=58644
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=57908
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=59678
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=57493
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=59496
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=60193
  • With any luck, some of these will have links to yet others in the series..


    And dammit, pwned by another one before my head hit the pillow..

    Pawn, yes. Pwn?

    26 Responses to “Metaphors, more iv, featuring Oliver Roeder & Chris Cillizza”

    1. Charles Cameron Says:

      Ooh ah, a game to play tomorrow:

      And that “free space” in the middle? From WaPo’s Inside the Tesla Factory:

      Officials said Musk was visiting Tesla’s Gigafactory battery plant in Nevada after several weeks at the Fremont factory and did not make him available for an interview, though they pointed to a small alcove at the center of the factory where they said he often retreats at night to sleep.

      Since Musk is away, you might like to take a nap there yourself..

    2. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Obviously, Trump is playing calvinball. I’m kind of amazed nobody seems to have said that yet.

    3. Charles Cameron Says:

      If I haven’t said it yet, I probably should!

    4. Charles Cameron Says:

      Lotsa punchin goin down:

      What It’s Like to Have an ADHD Brain:

      The world is full of endless possibilities to contemplate, and my brain has no idea where to put them all. They just tumble around in there like balls in a lottery machine.

      They wanted me to go up like this [couple of quick jabs] thsey wanted me to gomupand have a boxing match — trump..
      they want someone who is going to go toe-to-toe with him
      U.S., North Korean diplomats trade handshakes and jabs at ASEAN conference
      is liberated another word for unhinged?}
      he keeos stepping on his own messge
      i think both sides now believe that the rules only apply to the other side
      “If they don’t like you, America has had a history of erasing you from history.”
      checkmate — you want to play again? prevagen ad
      tues 7/31/2018 transcript the beat ari melber

      “I’m gonna say one thing: fuck Trump,” De Niro told the crowd, to gasps that quickly became cheers that then turned into a standing ovation. He raised both fists like a boxer, then added, “It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump,’ it’s ‘Fuck Trump.’ ” Both lines were bleeped on CBS, but survived in the Australian broadcast. The applause lasted for 40 solid seconds.

      Line of Fire (Eastwood) review:

      Fast forward 30 years and he gets sucked back into a Presidential protection detail when a rouge assassin (John Malkovich) goes insane and threatens the current president. It’s all a game to Malkovich, who just wants to see if he’s good enough. And he lures Eastwood into the game because he wants to go against the best.

      they used to hate the ucla — the aclu. this is hardball, i keep thinking sports.
      i love picking winners .. wish we had a national .. book .. chris matthews
      is this like six degrees of kevin bacon .. mimi rocah
      classic russia kgb playbook ..
      this round .. its going to be a 10 or 15 round fight ..
      mimi.. it’s important because it’s the first round ..
      i was going to tell sebastian gorka should fall back ..
      hardball: split screen effect ..
      le mire: it’s the president vs the presidencey — ourob?
      i think we need to have qanon fall back ..
      change the talking points, move the goal posts if you will ..

    5. Charles Cameron Says:

      The Decline of the Humanities and What To Do About It:

      Through Christian Smith’s meta-investigation of the ‘sociology of sociology,’ the troubling dynamics of the modern sociology academy are revealed.

      This is like shooting fish in one’s evaporative (and quickly shrinking) soul.
      David Auerbach, Make America Austria Again: How Robert Musil Predicted the Rise of Donald Trump

      Yet Trump offers no concrete plan of action, nor does he secretly possess one: he offers only the spectacle of himself.


      Daniel Harding (conductor; my nephew) at 3.55: Recording is always a bit stressful. You have a lot of music to do. We had a good concert, which made a very good basis for the recording. Because once you start working in the studio afterwards, every time you do something that improves the level, then you want to do everything else and improve the level there — you’re chasing your tail a little bit, because you just constantly want to make it better and better.
      this enemy of the people is a grenade with the pin pulled.. Nicolle Wallace ..
      MTP Katy Tur:
      he cannot help himself ..
      if that comes down to a subpoena fight, that comes down to a subpoena fight ..
      trump jr: it was a bait-and-switch ..
      MTP 2/8:
      our strength is our weakness ..
      unfortunately, everyone has gone to their mutual [?] corners ..
      some are happy to be umpires ..
      where a main character, a protagonist ..
      All In:
      Mueller is looking at the mirror image on the American side..

      8/6/2018 Ari Melber, Rob Reiner (above):
      it’s gonna be the biggest plot twist you’ll ever see
      where a main character, a protagonist admits he lied ..
      Hardball Kornacki:
      he is putting some of his own skin in the game here ..
      like a High noon showdown ..

    6. Charles Cameron Says:

      too often people retreat to their partisan quarters..
      it’s a long shot..
      this race immediately transitions into a lot of people look at the playbook, trying to figure out how they can change it
      wittes: whether this was an elaborate game of ..
      not covering all their bases, could there be a perception problem?
      this isn’t a chess game, this is a 3 card monte ..
      if you push back against the umpire enough..
      Question: is the Republican playbook to protect the President from Mueller working? .. MSNBC chyron
      is now pinballing though .. repeated and exaggerated like a t..
      much wide playing field .. he opened the playing field .. game of telephone gone terribly awry ..
      devin nunez has a different take on that
      the party has dropped the ball ..
      look, i like judge ellis, he’s a very smart judge, but at times she should just call balls and strikes, and not try to play all nine positions on the field .. [worth getting transcript for accuracy]
      Mark Safranski:

      Some folks will give away their entire game plan if you simply let them talk without interruption

      with comment from Tim Furnish:

      Learned that in Interrogation School at Ft. Huachuca.

      Reminds me of Ali Soufan’s interrogation in Black Banners, when he listened intently to is AQ subject, then quietly completed a hadith the subject, forgotten his name and my book is in storage, had started — surprised him, and more or less was the moment of opening. I guess this was the Cole investigation.
      And, also via Tim Furnish, a fine visual DoubleQuote:

    7. Charles Cameron Says:

      Kobach says he’ll recuse himself as vote count discrepancies found in Kansas GOP primary:

      Kobach — Kansas’ chief elections officer who is known nationally for his claims of widespread voter fraud and advocacy for restrictive voting laws — said on Thursday night that he planned to recuse himself from his role overseeing the undecided gubernatorial primary race. Colyer called for Kobach to step aside from earlier Thursday.

      Why the Left Is So Afraid of Jordan Peterson

      when the poet himself publishes a statement of his own—a missive falling somewhere between an apology, a Hail Mary pass, and a suicide note

      se are my favorite baseball umpires, too ..
      if we got the ticker on witnesses for trial chuck, it would be nuns and librarians, but it’s not ..
      the notion of running the table in a case like thit is terribly small ..
      in my experience, the very best judges all call balls and strikes .. those are my favorite baseball umpires too, the ones who just do this [gesture] rather than [gesture] ..
      so handicap this for us a little bit ..
      hardball .. this is a president who continues to defy gravity ..
      mueller is playing the legal game while Giuliani is playing the political game ..
      but nancy pelosi is a punchbag?
      this is a hail mary pass
      one name of the trump administartion is grifters grifting grifters ..



    8. Charles Cameron Says:

      O Joy!

      h/t Grurray
      testing the waters and shifting the goalposts .. [rather lovely phrasing]la
      if michael avenatti wants to throw his hat in the ring, great ..

    9. Charles Cameron Says:

      The Unintended consequences page has closed, so I’ll drop this here:


      Likewise, for the ouroboros collection, this:

    10. Charles Cameron Says:

      that seems to be now their fallback position ..
      he’s modeling a certain behavior ..
      All IN, Velshi:
      there’s a feeling in the orbit
      the legal quicksand for his son and also for himself ..
      it’s become so easy, it’s not even a sporting event any more [joyce vance]..
      all sorts of swirling mystery ..
      our political seismographs don’t work any more ..
      he’s going to the mat and beyond ..
      in the ongoing careening bus crash ..
      turned into a political punching bag and removed from office [x3] m 6/7
      There’s a big tell in Trump’s latest defense of Donald Jr.

      “He’s trying to put as much of a cloak of ignorance around himself as he possibly can,” Bauer told me. “What this does is abandon Trump’s year-and-a-half explanation that there was absolutely ‘no collusion.’ After that meeting, there could have been ongoing coordination. And now he’s not denying that could have happened. He’s saying he doesn’t know.”

    11. Charles Cameron Says:

      15.57 onwards:

      This is like a football game. The first week was the first half, the government ghit beat up. The second week, last week, with Gates on the stand, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I think that Judge Ellis had an epiphany, Ibreally do. I think he realized whaat I said before, this is an incredibly powerful tax casee ..that is how Judge Ellis rolls..

      she’s trumpier than trump ..
      moving the gates and the negotiation goalposts ..
      she will match him transgression to transgression in a fight like that ..


      What would Jesus do? Clean house in the Catholic Church.

      the church had, as the report says, “a playbook for concealing the truth.”

    12. Charles Cameron Says:

      does something on tv and then someone counters it and then she drops a recording of it. so this is an interesting game of cat and mouse .. tv MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi MSNBC August 14, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
      in the other corner, Amarosa .. Nicole Wallace, opening
      manafort’s defense rolled the dice on silence ..
      this is the very final roll of the dice for the defense ..
      you think this is a semantic game at this point? .. [Nicolle, towards the end]
      sent a warning shot to a number of his critics .. katy turn MTP Daily
      is crossing a different line, a different rubicon ..
      as john brennan said, this is banana republic stuff or banana republican stuff since so many republicans are acting like they’re living.. https://archive.org/details/MSNBCW_20180815_210000_MTP_Daily ..
      the beat, ari melber:
      he always talks about playing three dimensional chess, most of the time it’s like third graders playing bingo ..
      when you’re up against the ropes ..
      desperately seeking an escape from amarosa, who’s proving (providing?) more than his match .. media savvy ..

      Wendy Wasserman Schultz replying to @kylegriffin1 @MSNBC: We’ll reset the pins in November ..
      Hardball, Chris M:
      It’s a new era in American politics, an old-fashioned duel that hearkens back to the days of Hamilton and Burr, but with a made-for-reality-TV update. The key to successful reality television is conflict, competition, people duking it out mano-a-mano, a role Omarosa embraced even from her earliest days on The Apprentice.
      learned everything she knows about playing the game from Trump is now out to fire him ..
      As the star of an old-time TV show once put it, what a revolting development this is. Donald Trump, the reality TV star President, has finally met his match in his former Apprentice star Omarosa Manigault Newman. And now Mr. Reality Show finds himself in her reality show.
      if you see me in a fight with a bear, pray for the bear ..
      she may be the most trumpian ..
      and trained on his game [?]
      puglilistic warfare with the guy who taught her ..
      hit me again, mr president ..
      let me talk about her as a pugiiist .. m=8
      to loosen the grip she has on him ..
      one of those idiots behind ..

      Hardball, Aug 15
      m45 baseball card ..
      when he picked a fight with lebron james ..
      I think he likes the look of the fight. i think he likes that picture in the boxing ring. >> yeah, he loves the fight, he loves ..
      you have to talk about the theatrics as well as the law .. ? 8/17?
      John Brennan: President Trump’s Claims of No Collusion Are Hogwash

      Having worked closely with the F.B.I. over many years on counterintelligence investigations, I was well aware of Russia’s ability to work surreptitiously within the United States, cultivating relationships with individuals who wield actual or potential power. Like Mr. Bortnikov, these Russian operatives and agents are well trained in the art of deception. They troll political, business and cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters. Too often, those puppets are found.
      In my many conversations with James Comey, the F.B.I. director, in the summer of 2016, we talked about the potential for American citizens, involved in partisan politics or not, to be pawns in Russian hands. We knew that Russian intelligence services would do all they could to achieve their objectives, which the United States intelligence community publicly assessed a few short months later were to undermine public faith in the American democratic process, harm the electability of the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, and show preference for Mr. Trump. We also publicly assessed that Mr. Putin’s intelligence services were following his orders. Director Comey and I, along with the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, pledged that our agencies would share, as appropriate, whatever information was collected, especially considering the proven ability of Russian intelligence services to suborn United States citizens.
      The already challenging work of the American intelligence and law enforcement communities was made more difficult in late July 2016, however, when Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, publicly called upon Russia to find the missing emails of Mrs. Clinton. By issuing such a statement, Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent..

      puppet, pawn..

    13. Charles Cameron Says:

      There’s a lot here, including..
      she seems to have found a news hole in which to go to pugilistic warfare with the guywho taught her ..
      i think she’s been very strategic from the beginning ..
      you and i watch the inability of his natural political opponents to duke it out on him ..
      she delights in it — hit me again, come at me again mr president, i got some tapes for you — keep at it, she wants this fight every day ..
      omarosa, she clearly knows his game, she studied under him ..
      let me talk about her as a pugilist ..
      it just seems he’s trying everything to loosen the grip she has on him ..
      she very much is donald’s match ..
      one fox news host suggested the president has been outplayed ..
      melania said to em,i shouldn’t play her game ..
      he’s playing this wrong ..

      i think trump is back on his heels for the first time in his presidency
      Omarosa has a lot more ammo than he’s ever thought of ..
      she’s got a hell of an arsenal ..
      the sharman tank coming at the resident, her name’s omarosa..
      a lot of fronts in this war ..
      i’m not going to be bullied, i’m not intimidated, and i’m going to go toe to toe with him —
      i don’t think general kell y has any idea what order of battle she has ..
      some of these weapons are so heavy they even lave tracks in tar ..
      she is playing trumps tactics against him ..
      .a smart punch — cuomo ..
      if he wants a fight, trump wants a fight ..
      uniquely wiley, bobbing and wweaving ..
      Officials worry Trump may back Erik Prince plan to privatize war in Afghanistan,

      A year after Trump’s strategy announcement, his advisers are worried his impatience with the Afghanistan conflict will cause him to seriously consider proposals like Prince’s or abruptly order a complete U.S. withdrawal.

    14. Charles Cameron Says:

      Oh, excellent:
      On metaphor and art — Teju Cole, On Photographing the Unphotographable:

      There was one of the pictures, a photograph of an orange, that seemed to tell the whole story of the war.

      The photographer was Tim Hetherington, of Restrepo fame.
      New stuff:
      i think the final score will be 10 touchdowns, 10 counts ..
      and this:
      when she says, everyone in trump-world lies, we have to ask, is omarosa lying too? —
      which leads to:
      Doug Hofstadter:Epimenides was a Cretan who made one immortal statement: “All Cretans are liars.”
      St Paul: One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
      and, o joy — Star Trek, Liar’s Paradox — start this at 1 minute 2 secs:

    15. Charles Cameron Says:

      Marianne Moore, Baseball and Writing

      It’s a pitcher’s battle all the way — a duel —
      a catcher’s ..


      The prime minister claims that forcing civil servants to do yoga will improve the nation’s health. But is there more to it?


      Last week Thailand’s prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, cancelled the compulsory weekly workout for civil servants in Bangkok, blaming dangerously high temperatures. Earlier this year a district official had dropped dead while exercising. Once the tropical heat subsides, the sessions will resume. They take place from 3pm to 4.30pm every Wednesday afternoon on the lawn outside Mr Chan-ocha’s office, led by the man himself. .

      Key. multi-game menu:

      The menu is varied: yoga, aerobics, football, ping pong and even Thai boxing

    16. Charles Cameron Says:

      i think he’s done being the good cop, bad cop .. cnn ..
      his [brennan} credibility broken, more broken than the 10 commandments .. sen kennedy cnn ..
      he said, she said ..

      know when to hold
      know when to fold
      know when to walk away
      now when to run .. ralph peters? ..

      MSNBC LIVE: The 11th Hour With Brian Williams 8/21/2018:

      is that ballgame for you right there? // it’s not ballgame ..
      talk about robert mueller .. talk about what quarter we may be in // chuck rosenberg: we’re not in the first quarter, i know that, and i don’t think we’re in the fourth quarter either.. i guess that only leaves two other quarters .. but my sense is, that there’s a lot more work to be done ..

      emily jane fox, we hava been led to believe that this balanchine-like dance has been going on between cohen and the southern district of new york .. and then we kind of learned today that it was a very fast dance of 24 to 40 hours, this thing just came together ..

      All the President’s Crooks
      One of them, Mr. Trump’s own lawyer, has now implicated him in a crime.
      By The Editorial Board

      For a witch hunt, Mr. Mueller’s investigation has already bagged a remarkable number of witches. Only the best witches, you might say.

    17. David Ronfeldt Says:

      Friend of mine quipped today, on learning it’s former Caliif. Gov. Pete Wilson’s birthday, that “He looked at politics as a game of billiards rather than a profession requiring ideals & ideas.” I thought you might like to add that to your collection….

    18. Charles Cameron Says:

      Indeed — thanks, David!

    19. Charles Cameron Says:


      What we’re hearing: With a corruption indictment of Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) capping Republicans’ hell day, a top GOP guru told Axios: “The Republican Party looks like a criminal enterprise.”

      George Will: It’s a one-wing party now ..
      The Projection President
      Months into his tenure, Trump still responds to controversies by lobbing the same charges at his opponents.

      During the primaries, Ted Cruz actually tried to diagnose this Trump habit. “This man is a pathological liar,” Cruz insisted. “He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth.” And in “a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.”

      Margaret Carlson (The Beast):

      These senators fold like chap umbrellas.

      Daily Intelligencer, Wishful Dems Call for Delay in Kavanaugh Hearings After Cohen’s Guilty Plea

      Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and a handful of his Democratic colleagues called for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing to be delayed on Wednesday, a day after Michael Cohen’s guilty plea implicated President Trump in a federal crime.

      “It’s a game changer. It should be,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor. “A president identified as a co-conspirator of a federal crime, an accusation not made by a political enemy, but by the closest of his own confidants, is on the verge of making a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.”

      he likes to surround himself with people like himself ..
      blumenthal: people don’t get to pick the judges who sit on their own cases..
      Chris Matthews:

      President Trump is treading water in a sea of criminality

      it’s the only excuse they’ll need ..
      Robert Costa: the playing field remains to be seen ..
      Chris Matthews, Hardball:

      You can spend campaign money on just about anything but yourself. It’s the garden of Eden, you can’t eat the ap;le — that’s he only thing you can’t do.

      All In:

      What happened yesterday probably compels him to show some cards

    20. Charles Cameron Says:

      Breitbart, Cummings: Trump ‘Has Told Us that Lies Are the Truth and That Truth Are Lies’ [MSNBC video:

      I’m telling you, i just find it phenomenal that we could have someone like Mr. Cohen, the personal lawyer for Donald Trump, no matter what the president says, who will come in and testify under oath in federal court that the president directed him to commit crimes, and then the Republicans sit around and act like nothing big happened. This is major stuff. And so, you know, at some point I wonder, as the voters go out, they’re going to make their decisions—at some point, if you’re not going to do your job, you forfeit your right to do the job. So I’m just hoping that Ryan and McCarthy and McConnell will step up to the plate and say something to bring—and help us bring all of this together so that we can begin to effectively and efficiently address this question.”

      step up to the plate ..
      ‘How ya like me now?!’: Stormy Daniels relishes Cohen plea

      Daniels and Avenatti, two characters in the national drama over Trump’s alleged affairs and efforts to keep them quiet, celebrated the unequivocally bad day for Trump and Cohen.

      Forrest Gander’s Grief Sounds

      the beloved has been ripped from the world. Reciprocity is suddenly broken, as though one player in a game had walked off the court mid-volley.

      Man, is that ever a power-packed fragment of a sentence, from a New Yorker piece about one poet’s grief at losing another..
      Trump and Sessions feud over the direction of the Justice Department

      His frequent punching bag over the Russia investigation, Jeff Sessions, pushed back firmly. “While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

      Jordan Can’t Keep Up Its Double Game

      By urging self-reliance at home while demanding aid from abroad, Amman has painted itself into a corner.

      Hardball, Chris Matthews:


      The New York Times reports that yesterday brought a one-two punch to the President ..
      your party, is it rigor mortis?
      he repeats himself over and over and over and over and the he uses the term “but”, and then he says the same thing and then he jumps back, you know, it’s a verbal gymnastics and it’s very jumbled .. he can say two different things in four sentences ..

      Rob Reiner: on top of that, you’ll have Mueller’s report that comes out — dollars to donuts, whatever expression you want to use, it’s going to be the truckload ..
      they’re beyond the smoking gun bomb that drops on the Capitol ..
      that’s a little bit of evidence, so they can wishy-wash around it as much as they want..
      I used to like to compare Mueller’s investigation to the iceberg, 90% of it is under water, it’s dangerous as g=hell, and I’d compare Trump to the Titanic, the unsinkable ship, four stacks, only three work .. how long can this guy stay afloat..
      [superb extended metaphor]
      it’s my metaphor, do what you want with it ..
      everything is described by tribal politics .. [at 35.15~ David Ronfeldt, wink wink]

      The Donald J. Trump Foundation, Explained

      On Thursday, the New York State attorney general sued the Donald J. Trump Foundation, charging it with “improper and extensive political activity, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions, and failure to follow basic fiduciary obligations or to implement even elementary corporate formalities required by law.”

      self-dealing transactions — ouroboros?

    21. Charles Cameron Says:

      Stephen Walt, When in doubt, Washington’s foreign-policy strategy should be to rope-a-dope.

      As boxing fans all know, Ali devised a clever strategy: the “rope-a-dope.” Instead of fighting Foreman head-to-head or trying to dance around him in the 80 degree heat, Ali lay against the ropes and covered up, letting Foreman gradually punch himself out trying to find some vulnerable body part he could hit. Foreman wilted after a few rounds, and Ali came off the ropes to knock him out in the eighth.

      Nicolle Wallace:

      Andrea, are we being played? Is he using us to send his Art of the Deal like salvos to Kim?

      this is another, kind of, earthquake moment in our nation’s history ..

      He sounds like a mobster, calling people a Rat and calling people flippers — this is the President of the United States.

      Jess McIntosh:

      Before we get to impeachment, we have to talk about stopping Brett Kavanaugh. The fact that the President quite likely committed a crime to get the White House means that he should not be saddling us with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

      Blitzer, Sit Room:The president needs to tread very carefully should he choose to play that game ..
      in the end they all fold, i shouldn’t be surprised if they fold again ..
      for whom “fight” is basically part of his name ..
      John McCain:

      I’ve had the good fortune to spend sixty years in service to this wondrous land. It’s not been perfect service, to be sure, and there were probably times when the country might have benefited from a little less of my help.
      But I’ve tried to deserve the privilege as best I can, and I’ve been repaid a thousand times over with adventures, with good company, and with the satisfaction of serving something more important than myself, of being a bit player in the extraordinary story of America.

      Sit Rm cnt’d:

      We often talk about a one-two punch in politics .. this week we saw a one-two-three punch ..

    22. Charles Cameron Says:


      think of all the beautiful tabloidy possibilities:

      surf’s up, democrats! ..
      democrats are hoping for an endless summer ..
      the blue wave ..
      The Beat, MSNBC Ayman Mohyeldin:
      a non-starter ..
      but first: rats, loyalty, flipping — kind of mob boss language coming from the white house ..
      [there’s a whole section towards the middle of MTP Daily for the 24th]
      people worry about the dominoes — if jeff sessions goes, who’s next? ..
      by using his office to target [m `29] ..
      Leah Rigeur:
      game recognizes game ..
      his tendency is ti double down ..
      kim wehle:

      so the prosecutors are being smart, moving in, outflanking him, and he’s going to be at some point left standing alone

      the bad luck is catching up with the good luck this week ..
      we’re a little bit closer with check-mate mode with this president ..
      using the attorney general like a cudgel ..
      trump is essentially owned by the russian mob .. [craignger, author, house of trump, house of putin]

      Trump’s fantasy legal system

      NYT, As Bad News Piles Up, Senate Republicans Hardly Flinch:

      Twenty-four hours after President Trump was hit with a double-barreled barrage of felony convictions against two former close advisers, leading Senate Republicans did not appear particularly agitated.

      With a Vocabulary From ‘Goodfellas,’ Trump Evokes His Native New York
      All IN:
      this is the week when the Marine Corps band stopped playing Hail to the Chief and began playing The Rains of Castamere ..
      disloyalty I think is contagious ..
      Lisa Green: this isn’t their firt rodeo ..
      Velshi for TRMS:
      it’s been a roller-coasster week for the president ..
      Michael Cohen Guilty Plea Reveals Link to Qatari Royal Family ..
      Trump’s Business of Corruption | The New Yorker
      Manafort juror Paula Duncan: Manafort is guilty, but Mueller probe is a witch hunt

      Duncan, a homemaker who lives in Leesburg, Virginia, said she believes Manafort was a “pawn,” in Mueller’s Russia probe, an investigation about which she has serious doubts.

      Brett Kavanaugh: Bush’s intellectual body man

      It was the apogee of Brett Kavanaugh’s rise through the ranks of the conservative movement, a job that put him in daily proximity to President George W. Bush and made him an intellectual “umpire” for a welter of political and policy aides who were aiming to shape the Republican agenda.

    23. Charles Cameron Says:

      Have all those things moved the ball forward.. [heard out of the corner of my ear — Joy on Sunday am, on MSNBC?]
      Pope Francis Long Knew of Cardinal’s Abuse and Must Resign, Archbishop Says

      “These homosexual networks,” he wrote, “which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc., act under the concealment of secrecy and lies with the power of octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire church.

      OMG, an octopus in the Church!
      Nicolle, Dateline WH, 8/27/2018: he hates it with the .. of a million suns .. m 54/5?
      MTP Katy Tur, 8/27/2018: It’s a heads I win tails I lose engagement .. m 40/1?
      Vanity Fair:

      With his closest allies defecting, the president increasingly trusts only his instincts. He “got joy” from stripping former C.I.A. director John Brennan’s security clearance. And after betrayals by Allen Weisselberg and David Pecker, a former White House official says, Trump “spent the weekend calling people and screaming.”


      The president is running his re-election campaign precisely the way he governs—playing three opposing power centers off each other, and listening mainly to his own instincts. It’s going to get ugly, and soon. “We’re going to call them out,” says Steve Bannon. “Kirsten Gillibrand, show us what you got. Elizabeth Warren? Kamala Harris? Howard Schultz? He’s going to cut through these guys like a scythe through grass.

      it does look as though there’s a little chink in the armor, so to speak ..
      at the same time, hedge his bets ..
      it mirrors ..
      rug-lice .. ?? 13/14
      these players are staying too long in the game ..
      avenatti: he overplayed his hand ..
      whoever can engage in a brutal ( ..?) cage match ..
      The Full-Spectrum Corruption of Donald Trump

      One of my concerns was that if Mr. Trump were to succeed, he would redefine the Republican Party in his image.

      Hardball, 8/27/2018:
      Kasich m 07/8: it’s a compelling life ..
      he is also a faithful man .. a man of faith ..
      he could get in the ring and battle with the best of them, but at the end he shook hands and held his head high ..
      Geo Will: he’s after all a weak person’s idea of a strong person ..
      Geo Will:

      What Goldwater and McCain had in common was honest passion. Lord knows, we’re awash in the synthetic kind that bubbles up all the time. Someone has said that someone has said that the difference between professional wrestling — of course an arena from which Mr Trump also comes — the similarity between professional wrestling and American politics is the absence of honest passion ..

      all bets are off ..

    24. David Ronfeldt Says:

      hey charles — in comment 19 above you refer anew to “projection” by trump, a topic you’ve covered before, and a topic long of concern to me. the term isn’t strong enough to cover trump’s obsessive-compulsive use of it, nor to cover his base’s falling for it, no the media’s inability to cope with it. there’s repeated coverage today of his remark to evangelicals about democrats that “that they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they will do it quickly and violently” if gain in the elections. yet that’s trump talking about what he’s doing and will keep doing too.
      so, maybe start a new blog series around projection theme? or at least a new major post about it? onward.

    25. Charles Cameron Says:

      David — I’m very grateful for your continuing interest in mu metaphor posts, and for issue of projection in particular. I wonder whether RD Laing has on, of his “knots” devoted to tho the topic — I first ran across it in Jung, I think, though I wouldn’t be surprised if its roots were much older.

    26. David Ronfeldt Says:

      I’mm not familiar with Laing and knots. But I see Wikipedia has good article, titled Psychological projection. First sentence, attributed to Freud, states that “Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.” It’s often associated with shifting blame, denying responsibility, and of course, narcissism.
      Thing is, above definition doesn’t quite fit Trump, for I sense Trump knows he has traits he’s projecting, and that’s partly why he’s projecting. He’s also quite tactical and repetitive about it. I mentioned example from yesterday. Now there’s new one today: Mexicans who are citizens born here are having their passports challenged, with U.S. authorities claiming their acts stem from an Obama law — just like did with monstrously separating children from migrant mothers a while back. This might not seem like projection at first glance, but it strikes me as a kind of redirection-projection.
      My own past write-ups about Trump’s psyche have been about the hubris-nemesis complex (a kind of narcissism), the scoundrel’s script (deny, diminish, displace), and the tribalist who aims to tribalize others. This projection syndrome fits with all three, but I’m now thinking it merits separate treatment, esp if I could find better term for it. Maybe calling it redirection-projection helps? Whatever, a new meme-like term is needed if this this corrupt corrosive behavior is to be captured and defended against.

    Switch to our mobile site