Fake News: Sanctions on North Korea

Yesterday President Trump invited the Senate to the White House for a briefing on North Korea.  Trump is going to subject North Korea to stronger sanctions.  Bold move. Wow. Oh wait.

When I look at the numbers the US Census Bureau publishes regarding US foreign Trade with North Korea,  it looks like the US has exported a total of $1.1B worth of goods to North Korea since 2000.  Divided by 16 years, the US average annual export to North Korea is $6.9M/year.   Putting that into units of Trump tower security running about $500K/day, the average annual exports to North Korea are approximately a 2-week security detail at the Trump Tower in New York …

So from my seat out in the bleachers, here is the Trump playbook:

  1. Create a “crisis”. (For this example, Tweet about North Korea behaving badly.  As President, he may have oh, I don’t know, a cabinet member, a whole department devoted to international relations? That would take too long and require a stated strategy, maybe some policy … but a Tweet!  A Tweet shortcuts all that and gets Spicer involved.)
  2. Announce loudly and boldly what you are going to do to address the crisis.  Make it sound creative and new and sort of like ‘I don’t know why no one else hasn’t thought of this before’.  (For this example, the Senate was summoned to the White House; Trump announced imposing stronger sanctions North Korea.  Let me pause to point out that the 2016 exports/net trade with North Korea was $100,000.  $100,000 for the.entire.year.for.an.entire.country.  Putting that in units of Trump tower security detail, we are going to impose stricter sanctions with North Korea adding up to 5  hours of Trump Tower security.)
  3. Take credit.  For what?  Senators at White House for national security briefing?  Swift, decisive action that doesn’t include war?
  4. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I’m going to pay more attention to how crisis are created and diverted.  Today, other news outlets note that having the Senate over for a non-announcement-event was really just a photo op.

But then, this is now really all yesterday’s news.  Today has moved on:  Government shutdown? Taxes? ACA repeal?

Buckle up.

Prince (1958.06.07 — 2016.04.21)

We’re approaching the one year anniversary of Prince’s death. If I were to put words to the deep-seated, visceral missing of Prince I feel, it would be knowing he isn’t around to contribute new music, find the next edge, push limits, find the next symbol of life, love, music, stand down the corporate music bullies, offer up musical reflections of ourselves as seen through his lens, etc.

From my bleacher seat watching Prince’s life and career, I will indulge in some reflection and celebration:

A housemate in college took the black-and-white photo – the Viva picture – with film* that when developed resolved into black-and-white only. No gray. So in this black-and-white period of my life, she invited me to join her for a concert at First Avenue in Minneapolis for a performance by Prince. I declined. I had a big exam the next day. And I can tell you 35 years later that I don’t remember what was on the test, the subject matter, the class, or even how well I did or didn’t do on either the test or in the class; what I can tell you is I missed out on the opportunity of seeing Prince in his early Purple Rain days. I thought there would be better, more appropriate nights to go to First Avenue and a real live Prince dance party. Regrets? I’ve had a few.

Sundays on the drive to church, 88Nine radio holds a Prince dance party at around 8:15 AM. This last week they played “Hot Thing” and I smiled and I might have sped up a little.

A former co-worker reported that his son was roped in with a group to attend a private concert given by Prince at Paisley Park in the fall of 2015. After playing for hours, Prince cooked and fed them all. Whoa! If there is a heaven, I would like to be a sous chef for Prince.  I would even let him know that I could sing a wicked backup that is if “wicked” means “not very good.” Oh do sing, Viva, sing!  Hot Thing indeed  <smile>.

My favorite cover of a Prince tune is “Raspberry Beret” by the Hindu Love Gods.  It also makes me smile. Warren Z. growling out a smooth tune.   And Hindu Love Gods = REM + Warren Zevon — Michael Stipe

Finally, “ … from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks … “, Prince, lyrics from the song Love, album 3121, or! you can read the Bible, Luke 6:45. Pick your cite. I can sing along to the first.

Love — this lyric in particular is a reminder that what comes out of your mouth is a direct reflection of what is in your heart.
And I can choose from the abundance in my heart to speak from my heart.
Or I can shut up.  It is a choice.  Reflect what you will.

*Film.  Film is  a throwback to pre-digital camera technology. It is a type of tape passed by a camera and lens to capture light. Film required processing in “dark rooms” well-outfitted with trays of chemicals, special lights, oh, it was magical and complicated. Film is a throwback which will likely have a resurgence not unlike vinyl record albums. (See also Kodachrome.)

SCRABBLE and Economic Inequality

SCRABBLE can be a harsh word game. You can end up with a rack of all vowels, no consonants; a rack of all consonants, no vowels; a rack with what I call dead-end letters — ‘C’ and ‘V’ — they don’t pair with other letters to make any 2-letter words which are crucial on a tight board.  Without the right companion letters, C & V are the boat-anchors, the sinkers, the stinkers in a SCRABBLE game.

And SCRABBLE economics. Most of us scrabble along from payday to payday trying to score enough points to give a respectable showing on the board. It helps to have some multiple point consonants and some vowels. It really helps to have the Q & the Z – big 10 point letters, or the J, X & K followed by the W, H, & Y.

And being born to a triple word score and covering a double letter with a big point letter plus a bonus for using all your letters and clearing your rack? You get 50 bonus points and a big start over — all new letters. Maybe your parents had lots of extra points for you to start with. That and English is your primary language. It is the language of business world-wide.

And I think of the ways SCRABBLE is a mirror of economic or income inequality. The luck of the draw. The letters you’re born with.

Then again, it is just a game.

1984: Doublespeak & News peak

The first time I read 1984 by George Orwell for an English class, Ronald Reagan was POTUS. And the class discussed the book in context of Mr. Orwell and his experience and history. I did not think I would have a compelling reason to ever reread this book. But no. 1984 may be a survival guide to communications during the Trump Administration. So I’ll jump on the library cart, help sustain Mr. Orwell’s thriving posthumous career, and I will reread 1984.
In addition to “alternative facts” (Kellyanne Conway) and a new interpretation of “complicit” (Ivanka Trump), I would like to suggest the following be added to the doublespeak lexicon:

Pretend news

Fake news is negative. But pretending! Remember pretending as a a child? Pretending is fun, pretending is creative.  Pretend news sounds so much better than fake news, and what’s the difference really? We were just pretending …

News manufacturer

An organization that specializes in the synthesis of events, facts, opinions, decisions into a format acceptable to their audience.

I suggest that News manufacturer replace news media.   The word media emphasizes the delivery method, whether it be print, web, image, video, over the process that morphs and forms an event into an item of news.  Manufacturer also highlights the business aspect of news and as such, there are many manufacturing models. Manufacturing removes gravitas and the assumed independence that we had come to expect from the news media as the 4th estate. As manufacturers, we can expect less from our news media, more or less.

High ethics

High ethics are the rules of conduct recognized as applying to a particular class of humans who play by their own rules and operate above, below, and outside the laws applicable to common people.


Donald Trump uses high ethics to define the separation between the Trump Organization and his position as POTUS.

And finally, instead of parsing newspeak as new speak, I suggest ‘news peak.’

News peak

News peak is an unprecedented and overwhelming number of headline events occurring during a single news cycle. In my opinion, a news peak event happened yesterday, Thursday, April 13, 2017.   Just as I was reading that we dropped a MOAB on ISIS, I read that the US accidentally hit 18 allies in the Syrian bombing, Planned Parenthood is being defunded, Anderson Cooper‘s uncharacteristic reaction during a discussion of foreign policy, and on and on.

And an example of news peaks (pl.) used in a paragraph:

It’s so incredible, it’s brilliant, we are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting number of news peaks during this administration. You won’t believe all the earth-changing news being made all over, all over and all the time during this administration. You’ve never read as much news. Just wait. Believe me.  We’ll make news.

Brush off your dictionaries.  Buckle up.

Some Vox Validation, (2017.04.05).

The investigation of the Trump campaign ties to Russia is distracting. I’ll say it again, it takes away from the now. We are sitting at the circus but are looking at the popcorn vendor three sections over. We are missing out on the action right in front of us.  Pick a ring, any ring, and there are more than three to choose from — Supreme Court nominee, healthcare, budget, immigration, and on and on.  And just in, perched on the high-wire, that swinging international bomb, Syria.  Focus.  We need focus.

I’ve been wondering how the investigation into links between the Trump campaign and the Russian hack of the DNC would conclude. The investigations don’t seem to be going anywhere what with all the other distractions.  Although there are millionaires, billionaires, career military and career politicians involved, I cannot think of a punishment or consequence that would result in justice.  These people operate in the shadows.   My curiosity was piqued when I read about Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s erstwhile campaign manager.  His name won’t appear on a ballot, and although the Wiki states he is a lobbyist and political consultant, I would add a shady operative.  Low friends in high places.

But the election was last year.  The campaign was last year.  A businessman is visiting the White House and calls himself President.  Or is a President living in the White House and visiting his businesses?

Trump won the electoral college, he was inaugurated.  He needs to prove he belongs there because he sure doesn’t act like it. And we need to move on.

So I felt a bit of validation Wednesday when Vox summarized the case against the Trump campaign and administration.

tl;dr?  The biggest issue would be political fallout, and it’s entirely possible that “neither Trump nor anybody in his White House will end up facing any charges at all.”

So I ask, what are we looking for?  How much of our energy, time, money, distraction do we want to spend pursuing a shard of justice?

And I will cop to being incredibly naive, but if Trump releases his income tax statements, even if it is only reviewed by a select bi-partisan group of Senators who can summarize their findings, we might get a hint of the extent of The Donald’s indebtedness not just to Russia, but to other foreign interests.  How much is it costing the U.S. to have a President with business ties all over the world?  How much of the budget is profit to the Trump empire?


  • Trump release his income tax statements; or resign.
  • Trump divest of his businesses while in office; or resign.

The current relationship between the President, his family, and his businesses is only ethical if “ethical” means “we’re above, below, and outside the law and we play by our own rules“.

What a difference a vowel makes …

Whilst a-skimming and a-scrolling through the Huffington Post headlines on Monday, I read “Trump defends World Maternal Health Organization.”  What!?  Whoa.  And so I scrolled back up and the headline resolved itself into “Trump defunds World Maternal Health Organization.”  Ah.   I really need to get my eyes checked.

Defund.  Not defend.  Definitely defund.

Situation normal …

Word mash: Proseur

Proseur: A pretend writer of prose.

Proseur is a word mash-up between the word prose: “written or spoken language in its ordinary form without metrical structure.” (Many thanks to the Googles.)

And poseur: “A person who acts in a affected manner in order to impress others.” (Thank you Misters Merriam & Webster.)

And thus, a proseur is a person who affects a writerly manner in order to impress others with non-existent prose.

And this week my prose meandered off to another venue.  Whoa, a contest!  For me, that work, that wandering prose is now doing it’s own limbo.  Meanwhile, I’m a proseur, baby!  <grin>

And Happy April Fools Day!  May all your fools be happy. <\grin>

(Hat Tip: Mr. Viva. Thank you.)