The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
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    He Knows He's Losing: Trump as Mike Tyson

    The most obvious thing to me about last night's toxic sludge fire of a debate is that Trump knows he's losing. Bigly. And he has no idea what to do about it. Many pundits are confused on this point, because they treat Trump as a conventional politician or as a media figure rather than as a psychiatric patient. And if you don't view Trump through the lens of his maladies, you misunderstand him. Trump is not a serious politician. Comparing him to other Republican presidential candidates doesn't help you understand him. This is not Mitt Romney. Let me compare him instead to someone Trump does resemble, deeply: Mike Tyson.

    Back in 1997, just before Tyson's infamous rematch with Evander Holyfield, the Boston Globe's boxing columnist, a guy named Ron Borges, predicted that if Tyson couldn't beat Holyfield in the first three rounds, he'd try to disqualify himself. Tyson no longer had the stamina for a full-length championship bout, Borges explained, although he still had a furious opening attack that had won him some matches, and even a heavyweight belt, with early knockouts. But if he couldn't knock out Holyfield by the third, Tyson had no chance. He would only get weaker as the match stretched on. So he'd try to disrupt the match and get a DQ instead.

    Holyfield won the first three rounds. In the third, Tyson bit off part of Holyfield's ear.

    What people forget is that Tyson bit Holyfield's ear twice, because the referee didn't stop the fight after Tyson had actually chomped off part of his opponent's ear. (If you want to make a comparison to last night's debate moderation here, feel free.) So Tyson bit Holyfield again.

    This was crazy, but not spontaneous. It was Tyson's plan. He actually came out for the third round without his mouth guard, which is a crazy thing to do if a heavyweight contender is about to punch you in the mouth over and over again, but efficient tactical preparation if your plan for the upcoming round is to bite some dude. The ref made him put it back in. Tyson came out of his corner looking to get thrown out of the fight. When biting didn't work, he kept biting until he got thrown out. Then he threw a tantrum blaming the referee.

    What we witnessed last night was an attempt to bite off the opponent's ear, to look for a DQ rather than take a public beating. Trump destroyed the debate because he had no legitimate way to win, and he knew it. He can't stand on a stage with Joe Biden for ninety minutes in a conventional, legitimate debate. I mean, what would he talk about? His record? He can't afford to do that. Trump has no affirmative case to make for his presidency beyond childishly obvious lies. So his goal was to keep Biden from talking. His handlers talk about how he was trying to goad Biden into some gaffe, and maybe that's part of the truth, but I think Trump's handlers don't understand the real goal: keep Biden from talking so Biden couldn't score any points. Trump couldn't beat Biden, so he tried to derail the match so Biden wouldn't be seen beating him.

    This strategy only intermittently worked. Sometimes Biden was rattled, because it's hard to have a serious conversation while a floridly symptomatic mental patient shrieks at you. But when Biden got a chance to breathe and focus for 45 seconds, especially when he spoke directly to the camera, it became very clear why Trump couldn't afford to let Biden speak for any longer than that.

    Here's the thing: this is not a strategy for a candidate who's behind, and Trump is behind. Keeping Biden from gaining more ground on him isn't a win. Biden's ahead by 7 or eight points. Trump needed to use the debate to close some of that gap, and ruining the debate, getting the DQ, doesn't do that. (To switch sports metaphors briefly, it's the equivalent of trying to get the last innings of a baseball game canceled when the other team is ahead. If you're losing after six innings, you don't want the last three rained out, because then you lose.) So this was less strategy than pathology.

    Getting DQ'd out of the Holyfield match was not to Tyson's advantage. Getting disqualified is not better than losing. It's actually much worse. Not only did Tyson forfeit the match, he lost his boxing license and got fined millions of dollars. It would be much better to fight through the next twelve rounds, take his lumps, and lose honestly. But that would have meant Tyson letting people see him lose. Instead, no matter how high and insanely self-destructive the cost, he preferred to end the match and keep the option of pretending he might have won. Tyson was willing to throw his career in the toilet in order to shift blame for his defeat onto the ref.

    Trump, like Tyson, can not accept or admit defeat. He would rather hurt his campaign than have the experience of letting Joe Biden beat him on live TV. But doesn't that invite the even greater humiliation of having Joe Biden beat him on Election Night? Yes, but here's the thing: Trump knows he can't win the election either.

    Let me say that again: Trump knows he cannot win this election. He knows he cannot get more votes than Biden, that he will lose the popular votes by millions. Listen to him, if you can stomach it: this man who constantly boasts never boasts about the vote count he's going to rack up, because he's read the polls. He knows he's losing. No one associated with the Trump campaign talks about the popular vote. They have given up hope of winning it.

    They barely, if ever, even talk about the Electoral College. Trump doesn't brag about which states he's ahead in. Because he doesn't have a strong lead in any state with more than about 11 electoral votes. He's way behind, playing defense on most of his map. He's going to have to defend Georgia and Texas.

    Instead, Trump talks about voter fraud and Supreme Court rulings and voter intimidation. He's shouting that it's going to be stolen, because he knows he's losing.

    We should take this very seriously, because it represents a genuine threat to our election. He's shouting that the election is going to be stolen because he wants to steal it if he can.

    But even more important to Trump is ruining the election itself, disrupting it the way he disrupted the debate. Even if he can't hold onto power, he wants to avoid the humiliating spectacle of public defeat. Trump knows he can't win. He's looking for the DQ. You saw him last night. He's already taken out his mouthpiece.



    "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears."

    Joking aside, you are right. The idea of judging an argument by its merits cannot be allowed to happen.

    "Ear today, goon tomorrow"

    Trump has told us that he will not accept election results if he loses.

    He told the Proud Boys to stand back and stand by.

    FBI director Wray tells us that white supremacists are a real threat.

    Senator Tim Scott mumbles that Trump must have misspoken 

    Scott then says if Trump does not clarify his words, he (Trump) may not have misspoken.

    Trump knows that he cannot win.

    Once again, a very insightful analysis

    As right wing erupts against Chris Wallace, I find myself musing, could that ref have stopped Tyson from chewing his opponent's ear off?  And then I wonder whether Tyson should be up that dais instead of Trump. And then I think I should be sleeping, or maybe I am...

    Wallace did all he could, more than I'd have expected him to. His rep as a good and unbiased moderator should go up. Which is why his fox news colleagues are criticizing him

    A BTW, saw this the other day: whilst not up on the debate dais, Mikey his very self will be voting the first time in his life this year: 

    And there I thought "earmarks" were a congressional budget item thing. Not this year...

    Brilliant as always--the ear is totally on point. I'd never seen that episode analyzed so clearly for what it was: Tyson's crazy-but-methodically-prepared coup de theatre. Obviously the event needed a theater scholar to explain it right.
    Before and during the few minutes of the so-called debate I could stomach, I was wondering whether Wallace would have the guts (or had the authority) to say, "Mr President, follow the rules or leave the stage." I suspect that the loon was hoping that Wallace would end it, was baiting him into ending it, so that he could claim the biased mainstream media (FoxNews!) was conspiring to protect Biden from his awesome debating prowess.

    We are left with two related questions: How will the media, mainstream and other, respond on Election Night when he declares victory and screams fraud? And how will the GOP leadership respond? We might be able to sense an answer to the second one during the week or two before the election as the crazy train chugs full speed into the terminus and polls show just how badly the GOP will be savaged up and down the ballot. Do the Turtle and Lindsey jump off before the crash, or do they join Barr and Pompeo's zealous crusade to trigger the apocalypse? 



    Driftglass suggested "a shock-collar on President Stupid and a kill-switch on his microphone and an on-site team of fact-checkers" but admitted that "there are no "addition structures" which will civilize a contest when one of the participants is a lying, bomb-throwing sociopath."

    If you combine that old TV show "Trump Track down" which was based on his father with "Back to the Future Part 2," which was based on him, Donald Trump probably knew full well that his con job would end with dystopia and either the sheriff or Doc Brown setting things straight.

    When Trump began his con job I think he expected to lose the primary or at least the election but that he would get more famous and that would increase the number of opportunities to market his name and increase what he could charge for it. Also the ratings for his show would increase. That was the plan from the beginning. Trump underestimated how stupid the American voters are.





    1. estimate (something) to be smaller or less important than it actually is.

    He's quoting W.

    Remember when W seemed like our biggest problem?

    It may be true when we study the depth and breadth of history that, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." But when I look at my observations over the last 63 years, "It can always be worse" seems to be the more accurate description

    Yes, oceankat, I too read this quite a few times and confirmed recently. I think it's a very important point to keep in mind about how he approaches everything related to the job and in interpreting all the scandals, too.

    Speaking of ears, turns out the Trump campaign spent a lot of money on putting out social media disinfo. on Biden supposedly wearing an earpiece during the debate:

    Which would fit with other things I've read, along the lines that Trump was supposed to, or wanted to, go heavily after Biden's supposed senility, and the slowness thing. But he didn't end up doing that! Rarely does he do things thoughtfully, or follow plans, even bad stuff. It's all knee jerk ego narcissism.

    Trump found his ear - good call. Wonder if on purpose, like our generation's Adolf & Eva in the bunker?

    October Surprise indeed. Unless (or even if) he's faking. Might even be a way to cover for his worsening neural condition (see weird leg thing), justify his absence.

    Yep, he took out his retainer

    And a bit if punching below the belt

    In some ways Trump's quite predictable

    Wrestling is not Boxing 


    I remember multiple Time magazine covers back in 2016 that said "MELTDOWN" with Trump's image melting away, along with a whole lot of people confident about Hillary Clinton. It's not over until it's said and done.

    As long as he can change votes in voting machines or other parts of the count, he certainly has a chance. Voter discouragement and suppression in 2016 didn't give him the election - it made it close enough to go ahead and steal. A few majority Dem votes dropped from this heavily Dem precinct, a few majority Dem ballots from that majority Dem precinct, pretty soon you got that 10k-20k margin you needed. And you know it won't get seriously challenged because a) Repubs control the machines and the process in most places, 2) the media go s into "sore loser" condemnation mode for anyone who might challenge, being "unpatriotic" and all that.

    Of course a sane system would have automatic quality assurance post-vote no matter who won and by what margin, just to make sure it's not being games. But not us brainiacs.

    And not just Russian-backed. One if the big mistakes of 2016 was trying to pretend everything was normal so as not to soook people. Yet cheating and glowing irregularities *should* spook people.

    Mike Tyson is actually a pretty thoughtful dude.

    It seems just as reasonable to see Trump as the Joker, the man who just wants to see the world burn.

    Will he come back super wise, intellectual and self-reflective like Mike Tyson did?

    I'd bet more like Hugh Hefner than Mike Tyson = a pitiful artifact still admired by some, losing more admirers every day. Somewhere I saw it said well: Trumpism is not at all defeated, but Trump himself basically is. Look to Mary Trump, she splains how there's no there there, no potential for growth, it's just always the same shtick his whole life and furthermore he's at the end of it.

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