This is Cadwalladr level nonsense

Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows turned over to the House select committee investigating the 6 January Capitol attack a PowerPoint recommending Donald Trump to declare a national security emergency in order to return himself to the presidency.

The fact that Meadows was in possession of a PowerPoint the day before the Capitol attack that detailed ways to stage a coup suggests he was at least aware of efforts by Trump and his allies to stop Joe Biden’s certification from taking place on 6 January.

The PowerPoint, titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 Jan”, made several recommendations for Trump to pursue in order to retain the presidency for a second term on the basis of lies and debunked conspiracies about widespread election fraud.

That someone makes up a powerpoint of options does not mean that the decision makers were following that set of options now, does it?

28 thoughts on “This is Cadwalladr level nonsense”

  1. Of course, he should’ve declared a state of emergency and had the election fraud conspirators rounded up and shot.

    Unfortunately Trump suffered from two problems:

    (1) he’s not actually Julius Caesar or General Franco, he’s a moderate Republican businessman who thought the rule of law still existed in the United States. All the lying and crying about him being a dictator was pure projection.

    (2) unlike Caesar or Franco, he had no army behind him. Couldn’t even find more than a handful of people willing to staff his administration without actively undermining his government.

    Best possible outcome for the United States at this point is a Boris Yeltsin moment, but the former USSR was less institutionally corrupt and drunk on its own mad dreams of power than the present DC regime, and the Red Army was more patriotic than the United States Army.

  2. That it’s a Power Point tells me everything I need to know. Prepared by morons intended for morons. It’s like all those bloody YouTube vids. Look, there’s some things are easier to comprehend visually. Usually they involve the manual manipulation of things. Apart from that, if you can’t get the idea over in writing with necessary images & charts appended, there’s something wrong with your audience. Or you.
    I’ve seen some of these things. The information content wouldn’t make a paragraph. I just don’t absorb information in that way. Usually I’ll skim though quickly whatever it is, to establish the framework of the subject. Then go back & fill in with all the details. Some parts may need revisiting several times to make it all fit together. Doesn’t everybody do it like that? Those without attention deficit disorder, that is.

  3. Wholeheartedly agree with you there, Steve. It’s the same failing as the Leave camp in the referendum. Trusting the system’s honest & thinking the referendum result was a victory. It was only the opening engagement of a protracted battle that played out over subsequent years. That was very nearly lost.
    I’d say Trump was good. Much better than the Leave people. But in his 4 years he barely got off the invasion beaches. The defences were strong & layered in depth. He really needed what went on at the Capitol back in ’17 or ’18.

  4. The rule is to add a hypothetical qualifier, e.g. “How to stage a coup d’état in Minecraft”. The prime example is O.J. Simpson’s book “If I did it”.

  5. BiS.
    Most PPT’s are indeed written by morons. Lacking in any idea of how to impart information to the target audience, bad grammar, bad spelling, bad punctuation. The term ‘Death by PowerPoint’ exists for a reason.
    But, when done well it is a fantastic aid to both presenter and their audience. Every slide should contain the key information that the audience needs to take away from the session without being line after interminable line of text (with the aforementioned bad…etc).
    Some people just use it as bullets point prompts for their script, but NASA got slaughtered for doing that after the Challenger disaster.
    It’s also how the presenter embellishes the information with anecdotes and additional nice to know stuff. Not vital to understanding but adding some real world examples and experiences.

    p.s. I do not work for Microsoft and this is not a paid presentation…….

  6. Quite honestly, Addolff, I don’t understand the point of presentations. Unless it’s the free coffee. Good theatre I suppose, but if you’re interested in something you need information. The information density is always too low. I read at something like 10 times the speed someone speaks & the script for a half hour presentation is around 3 or 4 pages.

  7. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    Ignoring the electoral fraud issue there is a lot to be said for the British system whereby if you lose an election the removal vans turn up at Downing Street 9AM sharp the next morning.

    I recall Gordon Brown took a bit more shifting than most, but this hangover nonsense, we just had it here as well in what were likely our last ever “free and fair” elections, whereby the defeated incumbent hangs around for a couple of months really sucks.

  8. Implicit in the Brit system, isn’t it, Binky? The Brits elect representatives not governments. The representatives choose governments. But it can only work in FPTP electoral system which tend to favour two dominant parties & the one gets the most representative does the choosing. Anything else & you’re into horse trading until & if. Which is always going to take time.
    The US federal system’s a relic of that with the electoral college. But was originally hampered by geography. The time it took to get the college all in one place to choose the government. I suppose the Brit system must have had the same problem but they never made the mistake of writing the interregnum into law. Head of State & government being separate entities? Constitutionally, in the UK, elections don’t actually change anything at all.

  9. BiS. Brit system (in theory) Head of State appoints Prime Minister on the basis of being the person with the best chance of getting business through Parliament. In particular the all important raising of money.
    US system (in theory) George Washington replaced George III, it’s an elected monarchy, the incoming Pres is heir apparent.

  10. Bloke in North Dorset

    To be fair to Brown, not a phrase I thought I would ever find myself saying, while negotiations were ongoing there’s wasn’t anyone for the Queen to appoint. It could have even been the case that he did remain PM.

  11. That’s how I read it, BiND. Camoron didn’t get enough seats to command a majority. Could have lost a VONC. The horsetrading could have resulted in Labour in government with the support of a majority of MPs. It’s not even bounden on Tory MP’s have to support a Tory government. Constitutionally, the monarch appoints a PM supported by the majority of the house. Parties don’t figure. Absent him resigning, Brown’s still PM unless he loses a VONC. Even then if no-one else accepts the appointment. Or is there a fall-back option if there’s no PM? Maybe the monarch forms its own government.

  12. Actually, I quite like that idea. Particularly today. Brenda’s probably the only competent adult in the room.

  13. Bill Gates is going to have to spend time in a special circle of hell made just for him for PowerPoint alone. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told by someone proudly stating that they’ve created a 90 slide PowerPoint, to which I groan and ask can’t you keep it under ten?

  14. TD… I always tell those people the projector is broken, but we do still have the old overhead projector…

    To be fair, Powerpoint is a brilliant presentation tool. When properly used.
    which, of course, rarely happens. It’s not the tool. It’s the idiots allowed to use it.

  15. @djc
    US system (in theory) George Washington replaced George III, it’s an elected monarchy, the incoming Pres is heir apparent.

    This is not how the Founding Fathers set up the US government. Congress was the preeminent body as it represented the States and the People (Senate and House respectively). The President was to execute the laws passed by Congress and run the Military and foreign affairs. Congress found that it could avoid responsibility for all the icky, vote loosing details in the law by devolving it to the Executive branch. This led to the current Imperial Presidency. Led by King Brandon I.

  16. @BiS. Both..
    Again.. If used right.
    Full-body text for the participants, the PPT only highlighting the relevant portions and tricky bits, and the presenter used to and/or trained in public lectures.

    I know.. I know.. those are rare. But it is what the program was designed to facilitate. That most people only manage monkey-typing on typewriters is not the program’s fault.
    It does nothing more than what was already done with transparencies and overhead projectors. And before that blackboards and flip-overs/que boards..
    The actual problem precedes Powerpoint by several decades, if not centuries.

  17. “I don’t understand the point of presentations.”

    The point of academic seminars is to answer the audience’s questions afterwards and promote general discussion. The best ones often last about half an hour, with the speaker equipped with lots of back-up facts, diagrams, graphs, to be used in the discussion. The room should have been booked for at least an hour and a half in hopes of the conversation will really ignite.

    Powerpoint usually proves a dismal tool to this end, having provoked the audience into surreptitiously looking at their phones in search for relief from the boredom of watching a speaker turn his back on them and speed-read his slow thoughts.

  18. “US system (in theory) George Washington replaced George III, it’s an elected monarchy, the incoming Pres is heir apparent.”

    “This is not how the Founding Fathers set up the US government.”

    Nah, it is pretty much exactly how they set up the US government. Congress was to play the role of Parliament, where nearly all the central power resides; the elected monarch was to have only a little more power than a constitutional monarch.

    The novelty was that even Congress didn’t have a lot of power compared to the thirteen states. Though it wouldn’t seem novel to a Swiss, for instance, or a citizen of the Holy Roman Empire of the German People.

    How about the United Provinces – did they have a lot of power not centralised?

  19. @Dearieme
    I suppose if you’re rooted to the university way of learning. Although having rolls of vellum & candles about would add to the atmosphere. I’d be more in favour of a distributed document that everyone can study at their leisure. And you’re not dependent on the author being capable of doing a stage turn. Q & A & discussion? That’s what this here interwebby’s made for. With everyone able to think through their questions & responses before they put them. Sounds a lot more C21st.

  20. Hmmm.. The United Provinces were more or less a predecessor to what France, and later the US used..
    Still tied to nobility, and regularly… very messy..

    But yeah.. Not unlike the Holy Roman Empire. Lots of power remained in the provinces, and while the Stadholder of Holland was important, the position’s influence was mostly through the fact that the one who got it was generally also Prince of Orange in his own right, and as such bled down the ranks.

  21. Bloke in North Dorset

    The whole point of the States accepting a Federal govt was that its powers were limited and enumerated. If Congress had done its job properly there wouldn’t be a cult of the president.

  22. I think it’s inevitable, BiND. It’s the way people are wired. Somebody has to be top dog. If it wasn’t the office of president it would be another office. Leader of the House? Or the biggest or richest state would be pre-eminent & the Big Cheese of that.. Which was what they were trying to avoid. Switzerland seems to have avoided it. But Switzerland’s tiny. It would be a very small top dog. President Yorkie.

  23. Not only does it not mean that, it also doesn’t mean that the PP was suggesting any particular COA. And it certainly doesn’t mean the reporting on what the PP contains or suggested is *true*.

  24. <blockquote.Grikath
    December 11, 2021 at 4:30 pm

    It does nothing more than what was already done with transparencies and overhead projectors. And before that blackboards and flip-overs/que boards..
    The actual problem precedes Powerpoint by several decades, if not centuries.

    The thing with transparencies is that they were harder to make so you were naturally more economical with what you put on them. I don’t think we spend more or less time making PP slides today than transparencies 40 years ago but since PP is easier to fill up with shit people spend that time filling them up with shit.

    PP is the problem with easy communication showing up a decade before social media. If communication is easy, most of what you communicate will be worthless.

  25. I think it’s inevitable, BiND. It’s the way people are wired. Somebody has to be top dog.

    Yes, and it was clear from the very beginning that the executive was the position that was feared and desired. The fairly universal acceptance of Washington delayed the bun fights, but then it was all in. And seeing as it was the founders themselves coveting the role it may be that they didn’t really intend it to be subservient.

  26. bloke in spain,

    “That it’s a Power Point tells me everything I need to know. Prepared by morons intended for morons. It’s like all those bloody YouTube vids. Look, there’s some things are easier to comprehend visually. Usually they involve the manual manipulation of things. Apart from that, if you can’t get the idea over in writing with necessary images & charts appended, there’s something wrong with your audience. Or you.
    I’ve seen some of these things. The information content wouldn’t make a paragraph. I just don’t absorb information in that way. Usually I’ll skim though quickly whatever it is, to establish the framework of the subject. Then go back & fill in with all the details. Some parts may need revisiting several times to make it all fit together. Doesn’t everybody do it like that? Those without attention deficit disorder, that is.”

    The thing with any sort of conference, and most meetings is that they’re a relic from the era before easy copying and distribution. I hear people complaining about Zoom, but why are you using it? Why do you have 12 people for a “team meeting” still? Why are you asking Bob about how something is going, and having John sat there, bored? Why not just email Bob? Or let Bob use Jira and update his progress himself?

    I haven’t written a powerpoint in probably 20 years. I write documents and email them to people. “This is the proposal for XYZ”. Then they email me replies. Maybe we have a meeting on contentious issues. The benefits of this approach are things like that people can read it when it suits them, it’s a permanent working document.

    Same as when I see these 12 person Teams meetings. You’re wasting a day of effort there. My boss gets a progress update via email. If he wants to know more, he calls me.

  27. BiS, you can print off a ‘Handouts’ version of a presentation, with a picture of the slide with an area for the trainees to make notes, in addition to them having a notepad. I used to give my trainees all a copy of the slides that they would be seeing. Other trainers I worked with were very reluctant to do so. PowerPoint is a tool/method, like others (OHP’s, chalk and talk, flipchart exercises – when I was a trainee (thirty odd years ago)each member of the class took turns reading out a Rule Book clause in class….) and ultimately, it is up to the trainer to make best use of them.
    Unfortunately lots of them can’t.

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