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The Week I Became a Target

    This weekend I got “shadowbanned” on Twitter. It lasted until my followers noticed and protested. Shadowbanning prevents my followers from seeing my tweets and replies, but in a way that is not obvious until you do some digging.

    Why did I get shadowbanned?

    Beats me.

    But it was probably because I asked people to tweet me examples of Clinton supporters being violent against peaceful Trump supporters in public. I got a lot of them. It was chilling.

    Late last week my Twitter feed was invaded by an army of Clinton trolls (it’s a real thing) leaving sarcastic insults and not much else on my feed. There was an obvious similarity to them, meaning it was organized. 

    At around the same time, a bottom-feeder at Slate wrote a hit piece on me that had nothing to do with anything. Except obviously it was politically motivated. It was so lame that I retweeted it myself. The timing of the hit piece might be a coincidence, but I stopped believing in coincidences this year.

    All things considered, I had a great week. I didn’t realize I was having enough impact to get on the Clinton enemies list. I don’t think I’m supposed to be happy about any of this, but that’s not how I’m wired.

    Mmm, critics. Delicious 🙂

    P.S. The one and only speaking gig I had on my calendar for the coming year cancelled yesterday because they decided to “go in a different direction.” I estimate my opportunity cost from speaking events alone to be around $1 million. That’s based on how the rate of offers went from several per month (for decades) to zero this year. Blogging about Trump is expensive. 

    But it is also a system, not a goal. I wrote a book about that.

    Update: Then they started leaving fake book reviews on Amazon to go after my book sales.

Presidential Temperament

    Do you remember the time someone insulted Donald Trump and then Trump punched him in the nose?

    Neither do I. Because nothing like that has ever happened.

    Instead, people attack Donald Trump with words (often) and he attacks them back with words. See if the following pattern looks familiar:

    1. Person A insults Trump with words. Trump insults back with words.

    2. Person B mentions some sort of scandal about Trump. Trump mentions some sort of scandal about Person B.

    3. Person C endorses Trump (even if they publicly feuded before) and Trump immediately says something nice about Person C. The feud is instantly over.

    See the pattern? 

    Consider how many times you have seen the pattern repeat with Trump. It seems endless. And consistent. Trump replies to critics with proportional force. His reaction is as predictable as night following day.

    The exceptions are his jokey comments about roughing up protesters at his rallies. The rally-goers recognize it as entertainment. I won’t defend his jokes at rallies except to say that it isn’t a temperament problem when you say something as a joke and people recognize it as such. (We see his rally joke-comments out of context on news coverage so they look worse.)

    What we have in Trump is the world’s most consistent pattern of behavior. For starters, he only responds to the professional critics, such as the media and other politicians. When Trump responded to the Khan family and to Miss Universe’s attacks, they had entered the political arena. As far as I know, private citizens – even those critical of Trump – have never experienced a personal counter-attack. Trump limits his attacks to the folks in the cage fight with him. 

    And when Trump counter-attacks, he always responds with equal measure. Words are met with words and scandal mentions are met with scandal mentions. (And maybe a few words.) But always proportionate and immediate.

    Does any of that sound dangerous? 

    What if Trump acted this way to our allies and our adversaries? What then?

    Answer: Nothing

    Our allies won’t insult Trump, and they won’t publicly mention any his alleged scandals. They will respect the office of the President of the United States no matter what they think of Trump. If Trump’s past behavior predicts his future, he will get along great with allies. Our allies have been fine with every president so far, and they haven’t all been perfect humans. The worst case scenario is that Trump calls some prime minister goofy. We’ll all be used to it by then, including the prime minister in question.

    But what about our adversaries? It seems that Trump will get along fine with Putin. And Trump says North Korea is China’s problem. Compare that to Hillary Clinton trying to publicly emasculate Putin (with words) while talking tough about North Korea and forcing them to act tough in response. Clinton seems like the dangerous one here.

    Clinton and Trump both talk tough about Iran. That feels like a tie. Trump might talk tougher, but he has a pattern of doing just that to begin any negotiation. Iranians understand negotiating. Clinton has the extra risk of being influenced into military action by lobbyist for the defense industry. That risk is hard to measure, if it exists at all.

    China’s ruling party is a bunch of trained engineers who couldn’t be goaded into an over-reaction if you tried. China would expect Trump to be a tough negotiator, but that’s not a cause for war. 

    From the viewpoint of foreign leaders, Trump is 100% predictable. He responds with proportional force, every time, and right away. The safest situation for the world is when everyone can predict what the United States will do. You can criticize Trump for a lot of things, but he is completely predictable in this particular way.

    That’s why it was easy to goad Trump into counter-attacking the Khans. That’s why it was easy to goad him into counter-attacking Miss Universe. But you know what no foreign leader will ever do to Trump?

    That sort of bullshit. 

    That stuff only happens in campaigns and in our internal politics. 

    And if a foreign leader tried something so classless, Trump would respond proportionately. And every American would cheer when he did. It would be a headline for one day.

    The riskiest situation for the world is when our adversaries can’t predict our response. That encourages them to be adventurous. With a President Trump, foreign leaders will know that every action creates an equal and measured reaction. Every time, and right away. That’s his unbroken pattern.

    With a President Clinton, foreign leaders won’t always know what they will get. For one thing, they won’t know where her allegiances are. Is she serving the people, the Democratic Party, or lobbyists? Will she react with equal force or try to be diplomatic? Uncertainty is risky. Clinton offers more uncertainty. She is complicated. Trump is simple.

    I’ll wrap this up by summarizing the alleged risks of each candidate so you can see how they compare on the “scariness” dimension.

    Alleged Clinton Risks

    1. Dementia risk (because of age)
    2. Low energy (maybe can’t perform the job)
    3. Temperament (alleged to yell and throw things)
    4. Might allow more terrorists into country via immigration
    5. Influenced by lobbyists to start wars (Eisenhower warned of this)
    6. Drinks alcohol (We don’t know how much or how often)
    7. General brain health is questionable lately
    8. Adversaries won’t know who she serves or how she will react.

    Alleged Trump Risks

    1. Dementia risk (because of age)
    2. Trump is “literally Hitler” (This risk is cognitive dissonance, not real)
    3. Con man (Sure, but we’ll be watching him closely)
    4. Temperament (responds proportionately every time)
    5. Race riots (Clinton’s side created this risk by framing Trump as a racist)
    6. Inexperience (But Trump routinely succeeds where he has no experience)

    If you think Trump is risky because of his “temperament” or because he is “literally Hitler” you are experiencing cognitive dissonance caused by Clinton’s persuasion game. I mean that literally. And remember that I’m a trained hypnotist. That doesn’t mean I’m always right, but it does mean I’m trained to spot cognitive dissonance and you probably aren’t.

    I don’t think any of us is smart enough to evaluate the relative risk of either candidate. And that’s my point. If you think Trump is the dangerous one, that isn’t supported by his history, his patterns, or the facts. It is literally an illusion created by his opponents.

    One thing we can know for sure is dangerous is doing more of the same. Obama has been a successful president in part because the United States was strong enough to take on massive new debt. But that situation can’t last forever. Debt is a good idea until it reaches a point where it is deadly. At the current rate of debt growth, we’re doomed in the long run. That makes the candidate of change the lowest risk, even if you think he might call a few foreign leaders dopey.

    You might like my book because sometimes foreign leaders are dopey.

    I’ll be traveling to London and Zurich for ten days with my neighbor/girlfriend Kristina Basham. You can follow us on social media while we are there:

    Instagram: @Kristinabasham    @ScottAdams925

    Snapshot: @Kristinabasham     @ScottAdams925

    Twitter: @Kristina_Basham        @scottadamssays

    Periscope: @Kristina_Basham   @scottadamssays

    Website: KristinaBasham.com   Dilbert.com

When Reality Turned Inside Out

    Do you remember way—-way—-way—back in July, when the public thought Trump was the candidate they couldn’t trust with the nuclear arsenal? That was before we realized he could moderate his personality on command, as he is doing now. We’re about to enter our fifth consecutive week of Trump doing more outreach than outrage.

    It turns out that Trump’s base personality is “winning.” Everything else he does is designed to get that result. He needed to be loud and outrageous in the primaries, so he was. He needs to be presidential in this phase of the election cycle, so he is. 

    Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has revealed herself to be frail, medicated, and probably duplicitous about her health. We also hear reports that she’s a drinker with a bad temper. Suddenly, Clinton looks like the unstable personality in this race. Who do you want controlling the nuclear arsenal now?

    You probably thought Trump was the bigot in this contest, until Clinton called half of Trump’s supporters a “basket of deplorables.” That’s the point at which observers started to see a pattern. Trump has been consistently supportive of American citizens of all types – with the exception of the press and his political opponents. The main targets of Trump’s rhetoric are the nations that compete against us. In stark contrast, Clinton turned her hate on American citizens. That’s the real kind of hate. Trump is more about keeping America safe and competing effectively in the world. That is literally the job of president.

    Trump was once the candidate that the LGBTQ community found easy to hate. Then it turned out that Trump is the loudest voice for protecting America against the anti-gay ideology that Clinton would increase in this country via immigration. At the GOP convention, Republicans stood and applauded Trump’s full-throated support of the LGBTQ community. While Clinton was talking about a better society, Trump was transforming the Republican Party into one. (Yes, I know there is more to do.)

    You might remember a few months ago when Clinton had lots of policy details and Trump had few. Clinton still holds the lead in the number of bullet-points-per-policy, but while she rests, Trump has been rolling out policy details on one topic after another. Perception-wise, the optics of “who has policy details” has flipped. (Reality isn’t important in this context.)

    Do you remember over a year ago, when Trump first entered the race? Social media relentlessly insulted his physical appearance. They mocked his orange hair and his orange skin. They called him a clown. They called him a Cheeto. It was brutal.

    But over time, Trump’s haircut improved. He softened the color to something more blonde than orange And his fake tan and TV makeup improved too. Today, if you ask a voter to name the candidate for president who “looks bad,” the answer would probably be Clinton, primarily because of her recent health issues. In our minds, Clinton went from being a stylish and energetic personality to a hospice patient dressed like a North Korean dictator at a rave.

    Not long ago, you would have said Clinton was the strongest candidate for protecting citizens who need the help of social programs. Then Trump unveiled his plan for childcare and senior care. You can debate the details, and the cost, but nearly everyone recognized the idea as a critical need for working class people.

    In other words, the world is turning inside-out, right in front of our eyes. I summarized this surprising reversal in the most popular tweet I have ever created.

    That’s how a Master Persuader does it. A year ago, I told you that Trump was bringing a flamethrower to a stick fight. His talent for persuasion is so strong that he has effectively flipped the script and rewired the brains of the people watching this show.

    But I’ll bet you still think Trump is “thin-skinned,” primarily because Clinton’s team has done a great job of branding him that way. The label sticks because Trump has a pattern of going on offense whenever he is attacked. But let me give you another framework to see this same set of facts. Specifically, I’m going to tell you how Master Persuaders convert embarrassment into energy. It’s a learned skill.

    I often talk about the benefits I got from taking the Dale Carnegie course. One of the skills you learn in that class is how to convert your anxiousness about public speaking into excitement and positive energy. I personally observed the Dale Carnegie course turning a few dozen introverts into people who were enthusiastic about speaking in front of a crowd. It was astonishing.

    Part of the Dale Carnegie process involved each student doing something embarrassing in front of the class just to get used to the feeling, and to know you could survive it. It is one of the best skills you can learn because our egos tend to hold us back. We fear embarrassment so we don’t risk it. That limits our potential.

    Now think back to 2011, at the Correspondent’s Dinner, in which President Obama mocked Donald Trump in front of the world – while Trump sat in the audience, stone-faced. The popular reporting was that Trump was humiliated by the event. But Master Persuaders don’t process humiliation the same way as others. They convert it to energy, the same way Dale Carnegie students learn to convert anxiousness to excitement. It’s a learned skill. And it is literally the opposite of having a thin skin. It only looks the same because of confirmation bias.

    How do I know Trump has mastered the skill of converting humiliation into energy? The signs are all there. For example…

    Trump has entered one high-risk business after another, guaranteeing that he would experience a large number of setbacks, failures, and humiliations. People don’t run toward humiliation unless they know they can convert that negative energy to fuel. When you see someone succeed across multiple unrelated fields, that’s often a sign of a Master Persuader who feeds on both success and failure. You are watching Trump do exactly that, right in front of your eyes. He has converted every “gaffe” into news coverage. He eats bad news and converts it into fuel.

    Many of you have watched me do the same thing. You’ve watched as I jumped fields from corporate America to cartooning. Then I became an author of business-related books. I opened two restaurants that didn’t work out. I tried lots of stuff that failed miserably. Now I’m talking about the presidential election. What do all of those things have in common?

    I risked public humiliation in each case. 

    And in each case, lots of people told me “Keep your day job.” On a typical day, dozens of strangers insult my body, my personality, my brain, my integrity, and lots more. Like Trump, I consume it as fuel. And it is a learned skill.

    You might have noticed that both Trump and I are quick to attack anyone who attacks us. Observers tell me I shouldn’t do that, because it makes me appear thin-skinned. Observers tell Trump the same thing. But observers are missing one important thing: We use the critics to refuel

    If you were an alien from another planet, and you observed a lion killing a gazelle, you might think that lion was angry at its prey. You might think the lion was insulted that the gazelle was using its watering hole. What did the gazelle do to deserve that treatment? Is the lion being thin-skinned?

    Trust me when I tell you that sometimes the lion is just eating.

    You might like my book because of various reasons and whatnot.

The Mental Vote

    I have a hypothesis that many voters have already voted against Trump – in their minds – months before the first absentee votes are cast. The way that works is that a pollster calls someone who is considering voting for Trump – perhaps the week after the Khan controversy – and that voter decides to punish Trump for being offensive that week. So the wannabe-Trump-supporter “votes” against Trump. But only to the pollster. 

    Mentally, the voter has now punished Trump for his bad behavior. If lots of voters do the same thing, it forces Trump to either lose the race or change his offensive ways. So the first time people “voted” against Trump, it happened only in polls, and in their own minds. But it sure felt like a vote, emotionally. And it probably felt good. 

    The mental-voting in the polls worked. Trump saw his number fall and started to soften his position to be more inclusive and flexible. The public changed him via the polls.

    Obviously Trump is changing in order to win the election. But it should be comforting to know he can change whenever there is a good reason to do so. People were worried that he was too crazy to change anything, even if the situation or the data suggested he should. He has showed us that flexibility isn’t a problem. 

    We don’t need to know Trump’s inner thoughts. And we can’t. But we can observe patterns, and it has become clear that Trump is directly responding to public opinion.

    The idea that voters have been punishing Trump with their mental-votes is different from the Shy Trump Supporter hypothesis that says people don’t want to admit they support him. The punishers – should this hypothetical group actually exist – would be trying to make Trump change his ways so they can vote for him with a clear conscience. 

    Trump did change. If it’s enough change, the mental-voters will feel the invisible influence of reciprocity and vote for him as a reward. 

    You might like my book because.

When Art Directors Take Sides

    Check out the photos chosen for an article in Business Insider today. On the left, we have Clinton in full-scold mode. I’m sure a better Clinton photo exists. 

    On the right, we see the best photo of Trump in the past five years. His hair is evolving to something less wild, and less orange. (His campaign is managing his evolving look, I assume.) And even his tan looks better than usual. He has a fun grin too.

    What is the topic of the article? Doesn’t matter. The persuasion already happened. Visual always wins.

    image

    Speaking of visual, it turns out that this alleged Clinton ad below is a hoax. But it’s a great hoax because it depends on the public believing Clinton WOULD produce such an ad. This fits her pattern of producing ads that seem more pro-Trump than anti.

    image

    Watch how many times Clinton’s ads ask us to imagine President Trump in office. We remember the visual she asks us to imagine and we forget the criticism that follows. Clinton has no trained persuaders on her staff.

    When Obama said foreign leaders are “rattled” about a potential President Trump, Trump agreed and amplified the idea to say “rattling in a friendly way” is a good thing. It is a component of negotiating. That is persuasion done right, and you have seen Trump do it several times. For example, when accused of being a “whiner,” Trump agreed and amplified it to be the loudest voice for change.

    I wouldn’t worry about world leaders being confused about the intent of Trump’s negotiating tactics. They didn’t become world leaders by chance. They understand this stuff.

    I’ll be on Bill Maher’s Real Time (HBO) tonight. So will Bernie Sanders. Should I ask him to debate me?

    Last year I predicted that this summer you would hear the word “landslide” a lot. It is already starting to creep into online discussions.

    If you think this blog has a picture of an annoying bearded guy, you might love my book. It is totally clean-shaven.

The Mark Cuban Factor

    Mark Cuban has hilariously inserted himself into the presidential race. In one of the most canny moves of our age, he suggested he was open to being VP on either Trump’s or Clinton’s team, as long as they changed to agree with him.

    And that won’t happen. Can’t have the tail wagging the dog. So Cuban is out of the picture for anyone’s VP choice. But it sure makes good TV.

    (Sanders is not an option for VP for the same reason. Can’t have the tail shaking the dog.)

    Trump and Clinton have insane unfavorable ratings, and they both earned them. Cuban isn’t dumb enough to conflate his reputation with either one of them. But he’s being typically brilliant by acting as if it is an option. The media and the public are eating it up.

    Full disclosure: Last year I did opine that Cuban would be a great running mate for Trump. But that was about ten outrageous Trumpism ago. Trump is too toxic for Cuban’s brand at the moment, and Cuban says as much.

    The real play for Cuban, I assume, is to prep the public and the media for his future run at the top spot, once the idea of a brash billionaire as president seems like normal business. Maybe in four years. Maybe eight. He’s raising his name recognition now, to keep his options open. Smart.

    I often talk about systems being better than goals. Cuban is playing a system. He wins no matter what happens, simply by raising his profile. He could run for president next time, or simply enjoy the attention and all that it brings to him in the business realm. Fame is power. Power makes money. He’s making a smart play.

    And there’s even a chance Cuban can persuade one or both of the candidates to change their policies in some useful way. That’s always worth a try.

    As a citizen, I’d like to see both Trump and Clinton agree to let Cuban come up with an immigration plan that isn’t racist and isn’t stupid. So far, we’ve only seen those too options. Cuban could sort that out.

    Let’s see what he can do. I’ll help too. (I can be persuasive.)

    Is it just me, or does this election seem like a turning point in citizen involvement? I feel as if a Trump presidency would make me more likely to pitch in on some national problem or other. An entrepreneur as president (Trump or Cuban) would make me feel as if any good idea was in play, no matter where it originated. I have never had that sensation before.

    Does anyone else feel that?

    For more on systems being better than goals, see my book. And if seeing it isn’t enough, I hear good things about reading.