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Is President Trump’s Nuclear Button Tweet a Sign of Insanity?

On CNN yesterday, Jake Tapper described President Trump’s recent behavior — including the President’s tweet about having a bigger nuclear “button” than North Korea — as abnormal and unstable. In other words, crazy.

Is it?

One folksy definition of “crazy” is that it involves trying over and over again a solution that has never worked while hoping it works next time. President Trump is doing something closer to the opposite of that. He’s doing something new, both strategically and verbally. To be fair, new things can be crazy too. But usually only if they don’t work. When a new and unexpected thing works out well, we call it genius. And that begs the question: Is President Trump’s approach to North Korea working?

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How President Trump Changed Your Imagination

Do you remember when candidate Trump told us (in effect) that he would be the first non-politician to win the presidency? It seemed impossible to even imagine such a thing. Then he did the impossible.

Do you remember when it was common wisdom that if the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel it would be a huge problem? President Trump did it anyway. So far, it looks like a minor problem at most.

Do you remember when experts said President Trump shouldn’t mess with the Iran nuclear deal because it could cause a huge problem for the United States and its allies? He did it anyway, and it is likely a supporting variable for the Iranian protestors who don’t like how their government is creating problems that don’t need to be problems.

Do you remember when experts said China will never help squeeze the economy of North Korea because China fears a refugee crisis? President Trump encouraged China to squeeze anyway. Then he helpfully provided satellite photos of tankers cheating on the high seas. After South Korea grabbed and held a second cheating tanker, the economics of smuggling oil have turned negative, or will soon. And North Korea is sounding — at least to my ears — more flexible than ever.

That branch is stronger than you imagined.

Do you remember when it was common wisdom that we couldn’t put enough pressure on Pakistan to make them stop harboring terrorists because Pakistan is also an ally in many ways? President Trump just cut off their funding and put them on notice.

Do you remember when experts said withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord would be a catastrophe? President Trump did it anyway because he didn’t like the deal. I’ve seen no indication that exiting the deal made the climate worse. Here I’m only talking about the quality of the Accord and what little impact it would have had in the best case scenario.

The big wildcard in our many “impossibles” has to do with the tax bill and the deficit. Experts say it is impossible to get enough growth from the tax bill to pay for the deficit. But the experts are blind to the persuasion of it all. If President Trump persuades the economy higher, let’s say to 5-6% GDP, there’s a good chance he will accomplish the impossible once again and pay for those tax cuts. The tax cuts alone won’t get us to that GDP, but as part of a larger package of persuasion-by-optimism, it is strong sauce.

The meta-impact of President Trump routinely doing the “impossible” is that it changes how all of us view our world. If Trump can keep doing the impossible, time and time again, why can’t we?

Sometimes things are literally impossible. But much of the time we are only limited by our imaginations. Many of us simply couldn’t imagine that a number of the things President Trump has done would work out well. These were not simple surprises; these were failures of our imagination.

In 2015 I told you that candidate Trump would change far more than politics. I said he would change how we understand reality itself. And one of those biggest changes is in the scope of our imaginations. One year ago it was hard for me to imagine Saudi Arabia taking a sudden turn toward modernization. One year ago it was hard for me to imagine an uprising in Iran that could reshape its destiny. I assume it was hard for the Iranian public to imagine it as well. But they sure are imagining it now.

President Trump isn’t the only variable in the world. But he does create a pattern in our minds of making the impossible seem achievable. Don’t underestimate the impact that pattern has on the imaginations of everyone watching.

And don’t be surprised if 2018 is the year when people all over the world shed their mental prisons and take on the “impossibles” in ways we have never seen. Thanks to President Trump, people everywhere are beginning to recognize the difference between real impossibilities and simple failures of imagination.

Welcome to The Golden Age. It starts now.

If you want to be part of The Golden Age, consider signing up to be an expert (at anything) with my startup’s app called Interface, which is nearing completion. The first experts who sign up will get priority search rankings. We have several hundred experts already, on all kinds of topics, and more coming every day. Imagine a world where you can get advice on anything, directly from an expert, on a video call via your phone, in less than a minute, with no paperwork. We’re almost there.


The Demolition President

President Trump has delivered on a number of promises for his base. But there was an impressive amount of breakage along the way. You might say he President Trump did as much demolition as he did construction. The press is doing a good job of telling us what he accomplished in 2017. But they keep leaving out all the stuff he broke that probably needed to be broken. I’ll fix that for you here.

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How to Determine If You Should Talk About Politics in Public

When candidate Trump first set about the job of redefining politics (and reality) back in 2015, people had lots of predictions about how things would turn out. One year isn’t long enough to know everything we need to know about his presidency, but it’s long enough to to check some of our predictions. As a public service, I put together a list of predictions that various people made about Trump that you can use to evaluate your own predictive powers. Count the number of items on the list that you once predicted would be true. I’ll tell you how to evaluate your score at the end.

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Scott Adams’ Life Story Update

I thought I’d update my life story here. This was created in the WhenHub Studio at WhenHub.com. This is a nice gift idea for someone in your life. You can easily create a life story for someone you love. Share on social media or play to your TV on Christmas day with Apple TV or Google Chrome. Also good for New Year’s Eve parties — show the year in review.


Ideas for Improving Life in High Crime Areas

Crime is the base problem for a number of poor urban areas. Wherever you have high crime, you have trouble attracting employers. And without employment options, you end up with poverty, a low tax base to support schools, hopelessness, drug dealing, and the rest. So I thought I would share some ideas for reducing urban crime. The first idea comes from Black Lives Matters out of New York. I can’t judge this sort of idea from my suburban home in California, but I share it with you because it belongs in the conversation. There is a small experiment going on in part of Harlem that has drastically reduced violent gun crime. Police say the big difference is the number of illegal guns they took out of the neighborhoods in question, but they also credit a group called Street Corner Resources with “. . . a mix of adult education courses, connections to legal and housing help and free job placement programs that would result in positions that could pay $40 to $50 a day more than selling drugs.”

I think it’s always fair to be skeptical of success claims. But I like any plan that can be tested small and evaluated. This example fits that model perfectly. Ideally, we should have a dozen different programs running in different neighborhoods around the country to see which ones work best.

I’d also like to see a system in which senior citizens within a dangerous neighborhood can watch security camera videos of all public spaces in their general area and report suspicious activity to police. Perhaps they can be paid for this service. You’d need a system that piped the videos directly to residential TV sets or mobile devices and randomized the camera views so the criminals never know which residents are watching which blocks. That keeps the watchers safe.

I would also expect more police and security drones coming into use to get closer looks at crime in progress, and to follow perps back to their hiding places. Imagine a senior citizen viewing a crime on a security cam and alerting police who send up the closest drone from a secure rooftop nearby to get a better look. That should drive most crime indoors, at the very least.

I’m sure there are lots of other ideas for reducing crime. I’d like to see the government do a better job of shining a light on various local crime-fighting experiments so everyone knows the options and we can pick the winners as they are identified. Wouldn’t you like to see regular reports on the news about crime-fighting experiments that are working well?

Update: Baltimore is using aerial surveillance to fight crime. See article.



Why Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Republicans are Natural Allies (or should be)

One of the big changes in our national consciousness, thanks to President Trump, is that many of us are starting to see politics in terms of “deals.” We are also thinking about a growing economy. Compare that approach to the Obama/Bernie/Clinton worldview that is more about wealth transfer in a world of scarcity. For my purposes today, you don’t need to decide which approach is better. I only make the claim that we are more focused on the Art of the Deal than at any time in American politics. This is one of the many ways President Trump is in our heads.

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President Trump’s 2017 Report Card (first draft)

As we approach the holiday season there will be much debate on how President Trump has performed for his first calendar year. As a populist president, I think the best way to judge his performance is by focusing on the issues voters say are their top priorities. Pew Research polled voters to determine their political priorities for 2017. Let’s see how President Trump is doing so far on the top ten priorities according to the public.

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Win Bigly Bonus Chapter

Readers who pre-ordered my new book, Win Bigly, already got a copy of the bonus chapter that I offered with the pre-order. Now that the book is out, I thought I would include it here for the rest of you. The context is that I’m a trained hypnotist and people often ask me about the topic, so I thought I would answer the most common questions about it. This chapter is in the book, but publishing it here makes it easier to share.

For me, the biggest impact from learning hypnosis was recognizing that people are not rational creatures. We’re creatures who act irrationally and then rationalize our choices after the fact, at least for any decision involving emotion. Once you embrace this concept, the world is far easier to understand. But there are a number of other practical benefits to adding this skill to your talent stack. I’ll tell you a few below.

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Persuading Terrorist Cowards

After the tragic terrorist attack yesterday in NYC (where I am now), leaders were quick to say it was an act of terror and the perpetrator was a coward. Both terms are persuasion mistakes. I’ll tell you why.

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