PT 110 | Being Specific


As you may have known by now, there are so many ways that truth can be purchased in our daily lives. Most especially by people in power positions, the truth can easily be made to work for what they need and want others to believe. In this episode, Bill Stierle and Tom talk about how that is being done in Portland, Oregon. They also tap into the role of the media and even the President in creating fear, in being reactive rather than proactive. Standing out from this discussion is the importance of making truth in honesty range by making it specific. Bill and Tom dive in further and explain why this is so.

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Getting More Truth By Being Specific

Bill, there is a different level of truth being purchased that we’re seeing going on in Portland, Oregon, and maybe soon in some other cities around the US.

There’s a lot of pain going on. The show is about communication, how to reduce conflict and violence, what to say or do, and to watch how truth can be shifted and purchased away from us, the viewer. There are many examples of how language, mayors, police chiefs, government officials, congressmen, senators, the president can say things better to make it go better. A lot of times, that’s not what they’re interested in. They’re not interested in getting it to go together. They’re using the best thing and the only thing they have and they think this is going to work. What happens is they’re only getting temporary compliance and long-term suffering. That’s a little bit about what we’re facing now.

It’s unsettling. The mayor of Portland was with a crowd of protesters speaking with them outside the federal building in Downtown Portland. He was speaking with the protesters and empathizing with them.

What was the thing that he said or did? As soon as somebody said empathizing with them, sometimes it’s sympathizing with them. Let me hear what the person said or did, and let me see how close it got to the bone.

This is the quote by a New York Times journalist who was on the ground there. He said, “It’s an unconstitutional occupation.” He told the crowd, “The tactics that have been used by our federal officers are abhorrent. They did not act with probable cause. People are not being told who they are being arrested by and you’ve been denied basic constitutional rights.” He goes on to say, “This is a waste of federal resources and it’s getting increasingly dangerous.”

All of that stuff has some truth to it, but regrettably, it’s not helpful.

That’s unfortunate.

If you’re a reader from the left, you’re going to get fired up by, “He’s on our side.” If you’re a listener from the right, “We’re here to stop people from destroying things in your city. A left-minded federal agent is saying, “You, people, are doing violence. It doesn’t matter if it’s constitutional, I’m trying to protect property. That’s what my assignment is, to protect property.” The things that he said had truth to it and it’s done. A lot of that was sympathetic. Let’s convert it language-wise into something helpful.

To people in California, rain is like a mystery. Click To Tweet

If he pulls it to himself, he would then say, I’ll pretend I’m the mayor, “I am as furious as you are. We need fairness and justice in this city. Fairness and justice look like this. Our ability to choose our leadership looks like this. Just to bring truth to you, we did not request the federal officers to be here. We’re employing them to allow the state to deal with how we’re engaging at the citizen level. The federal response is too large for what’s going on here. We’re interested in peacefully hearing from our citizens what the President and the federal agents be willing to step back and let our local forces handle this. Thank you very much for your concern. We’ll let you know if we need your support. We’d like greater support with PPE. We’d like for greater support with testing.

We’d like greater support that way. Those requests we’ve made. The request for federal agents is a request we did not make.” I put in the spice in the sauce after that because you’re not giving us what we asked for. You’re giving us something that is meeting your needs based on the amped-up media that your seeing. Who is amping up the media on the right-hand side would be Fox people putting together footage and proving that Portland is a mess.

Some of the other media outlets are not doing the left any favors either. The New York Times and CNN are proportionalizing the violence.

The reason why I picked on Fox there is because my awareness of at least what’s been reported to me, which has the limited awareness that I have is that this is a station that Donald Trump pushes truth in their direction saying, “If it’s bad over there, then I need to do something extraordinary there.” The people that are following the orders are the federal agents that go on like, “We’re just following orders here. We’ve heard and we have watched it being bad here.” Instead, when getting there, the commander goes, “There’s not enough going on here.” The commander goes on like, “These are my orders here.” Are they being proportional? No, they’re not being proportional because in their mind it has been portrayed acts.

I’m going to tell a personal story, which is nothing to do with anything except for perception and perspective. I was living at the first-floor apartment in Los Angeles when one of the El Ninos came through in early 2000. There was all this rain that hits Southern California before we hit our big drought. We were getting drenched. A friend of mine who was writing an article for the Christian Science Monitor said, “Bill, I’m writing this article and I need somebody to interview. Can you tell me about what your thought is about El Nino? I looked at it and went, “I have not been affected by it at all. There’s a little bit more water around and there’s more rain, but it’s not that big of a thing. I don’t get it why the media is exploding this El Nino thing.”

It goes out and he puts it in the paper, “Bill Stierle says media is making things too big.” Three days after that, this big rainstorm hit my apartment complex. My apartment was filled up with this much water like 1.5 feet of water at the bottom. I watched the water bubble underneath the glass sliding door. There was nothing I could do to stop the water from coming in and drenching the entire apartment. I was picking pieces up off the ground and setting them on top of things just so I could save a bunch of things.

The reason why I’m sharing this story at this point is that it has to do with truth and perception. The media showing this thing and somebody at Portland might be seeing it this one way, but they also might not be seeing another section that’s being amplified. You might know somebody or may have read an article if somebody is up in the Portland area has that perspective of “I’m not seeing this” and be ready for the perception and perspective conversation after this. Go ahead.

It’s one step removed from me, but I happen to have someone who I’ve known since I was thirteen years old back in junior high school. A dear family friend posted the truth of what is REALLY going on in Portland. I re-post her great words below:

PT 110 | Being Specific

Being Specific: If you want more truth, you’ve got to be specific, but you also have got to be in the honesty range.



Thanks to friends and family who have checked in on us. We live in the heart of the Portland Downtown neighborhood, one block from Pioneer Courthouse Square, about four blocks N and four blocks W of the nightly protests at the Multnomah County Justice Center, and now the US District Courthouse (pictured here on Saturday evening, July 18, 2020) next door. Despite media reports to the contrary, Downtown PDX isn’t a burning, smoking apocalyptic ruin with “violent anarchists” protesting everywhere. What the news doesn’t show you is that not only is Portland’s Downtown still standing, there also have been many other protests in Portland over the last 50-plus days with thousands and thousands of people marching and gathering with no violence or police confrontations (and yes, almost everyone is wearing masks). Almost every evening, we walk around our Downtown neighborhood and have seen our retail businesses and restaurants starting to reopen, plywood has come down from windows, and there is some amazing art on the plywood that is still up.

What’s going on? After the single night in late May when we had looting/rioting and vandalism across many downtown blocks (including our block), there has been a gathering of about 100-300 protesters every night after dark at the Multnomah County Justice Center. This protest tends to be peaceful at the start, then turns confrontational around 11:00 PM. This affects maybe four blocks of Downtown PDX. The Portland police and nighttime Justice Center protestors engage with each other, and at this point, neither side seems to feel like they can step away. It’s been a stalemate for weeks and our city and state leaders don’t seem to be able to figure out the best way to end it. That said, Oregon does not need unwanted and unasked-for federal interference to deal with an Oregon problem (specifically, Portland, specifically a few blocks Downtown), especially when federal agents violate American citizens’ constitutional rights. You can’t be for States’ rights and condone these unsolicited federal-level actions.

The Federal building next door to the Justice Center has had windows broken, fireworks were thrown at/in the building twice, graffiti, and some cameras and a card reader damaged. Claiming that damaging/attacking federal property is attacking America is a facile and false equivalence. If you love this country, you should be up in arms at federal agents violating the constitutional rights of our fellow American citizens by snatching people off the streets, and Federal agents attacking and shooting people who are protesting peacefully as per their First Amendment rights. It is is a damn dangerous precedent. This country was founded on protests, and the right to protest is enshrined in our rights as American citizens. When the federal government takes it upon itself to go where it has not been asked to go, and breaks up protests violently and violates American citizens’ rights, it is attacking the very fabric of America.

In the meantime, we are going to continue to walk around our Downtown neighborhood, enjoy and support the few places that have opened under Oregon’s Phase One, and I will continue to hope that the federal agents get the hell out of Portland.”

It’s helpful. It’s a helpful slice the when of their experience, the scope of the experience, like Bill Stierle’s rain story. My perception in the rain story is that I grew up in Florida where rain was no big deal. My sensitivity to rain in Southern California was like, “So what if it’s raining? I grew up with the rain to age eighteen before I left. I know rain. It’s no problem.” To people in California, rain is like a mystery.

Not only is it a mystery, but in Southern California, the newer communities are built with serious rain drainage rivers that are dry 95% of the year. Our Earth cannot absorb that much water in a short period of time. If you don’t have a way to direct that water back out to the ocean, you capture as much as you can for your reservoirs and all that but it’s serious. I didn’t live in Southern California at the time, but I was in Southern California in 1996 or 1997 when there was a 500-year rain here then because my in-laws are here. It was devastating to the community.

This is a great capture. The reason why we’re having this counter-narrative to purchase truth is if you want more truth, you’ve got to be specific but you also have got to be an honesty range. If something has a bigger cut, you need a bigger Band-Aid, but if it doesn’t have a bigger cut, you don’t need the bigger Band-Aid. Federal troops in Portland, Oregon is too big of a Band-Aid, especially if it’s not asked for. If it’s not asked for, then you don’t give it. The role of the federal government is to be responsive, not to be proactive and reference to things that the state needs to build resilience around. Things that are coming from the outside of the United States into the United States. That is a federal problem issue and welcome to the virus thing. That’s a federal thing. The federal people need to think in that bigger strategic way. Not to say, “We’re going to pass this off to the States and see how you guys do.” It’s like we did not know that was in our range of things. We don’t have any relationship with anybody in China. We can’t go and find out what the problems are. That’s a federal thing.

The role of the federal government is to be responsive, not proactive. Click To Tweet

It’s interesting because one way to look at it is that the virus knows no state borders in reality. You’re right when you were saying that about what the federal role and responsibility is. I was thinking when it comes to national security, you would expect that to be a federal level response. Somebody is coming in from the ocean to the shores of Oregon and making their way into Portland, which by the way, Portland is not right on the ocean, but still some rivers come in. Somebody makes their way to Portland, “I could see it. Let’s get out the National Guard. We might need to get the military or the federal agents.”

A foreign sub raised above the surface in Portland, how did it get up the river?

We’re speculating here, but it’s true. This response is out of proportion. I thought when you were speaking as though you were the mayor of Portland, which his name is Ted Wheeler, when you were saying what he could have said differently. It would have put some interesting perspective on it had he had the presence of mind to say that, “We haven’t asked for this kind of support, but we have asked for the support for PPE and testing. We have asked for this kind of support to help protect us from this real foreign enemy.

To speak in an unsettling way, he uses the narrative that I choose. I did it off the cuff because that’s my job, to do it on the fly. If I’m writing that out, nobody will shoot tear grass in his direction. Nobody on the other side because I’m empathizing with the federal troops that are there. They say the media and the federal troops might be having the experience that we in Portland are having the same experience we had in May. We want to reassure them that although we see their presence here, it’s not needed. They are valued people as fellow United States citizens. We want to go back to the place where we can restore mutual respect between officers and our constituents, our voters, and our residents. We want mutual respect, not power over tactics. Would the federal troops be willing to receive?

I can see President Donald Trump making his best effort because he might have seen something dangerous or two. He might be thinking that it’s worse than it is. It is not. We are speaking up here and we were handling it within our state. I can see where he might have been feeling scared and nervous and was trying to give a safety too soon. We did not need his level of safety and protection. He is justified by having the troops move back away from our citizens. Thanks for thinking of us. I’ll be a little tug and cheeky here, but it is acknowledging and seeing the effort, even though it’s unwarranted and unneeded, that how he could have taken it that way. I would imagine and I don’t think many people would argue with me with this truth that the president tends to be reactive. I don’t know if anybody would argue with that. I don’t think so. I think he’s reactive. He tweets reactively.

What’s interesting is the fact that the mayor got tear-gassed with the protesters, the citizens of Portland by those federal troops. That’s made the news and it has found a bigger light on what’s going on Downtown Portland. Unfortunately, the mayor wasn’t prepared to make such a statement, not to empathize with the protesters there, but to make that statement and speaking to the federal level to the administration in the White House because it would have been amplified just as much. It would have been seen as properly proportionalizing that this federal response is power-over and overreaching. The federal government is not meeting the needs of the people in these other ways. It would have been much more effective.

There are two tenets I usually work on. The first thought that goes to my mind is to be specific and to state the obvious. Those are the two things. With a child, I am going to state the obvious, “It looks like it’s fun standing on top of the table like that.” Meanwhile, I know my need for safety is not met because the kid’s 1 or 2. “You’re standing on the table. How does it look from that position? Isn’t it neat the way it looks from that position?” “Yeah.” It’s different. When you do it that way, you’ve taken all the fun out of getting up on the table because you didn’t create the forbidden fruit of getting on the table. It becomes whatever.

I got on the table once and mom didn’t get upset. I don’t have to say, “Look, mom, I did it again.” She saw me do it once. I don’t have to do it again. A lot of times, a lot of those behaviors go away right away if you state the obvious and be specific. In the communications to the mayor that could have given to the federal level, as well as the state level, and then have some communication that it could take place that the governor would say about what the mayor was saying and saying, “I think that there might have been some over-amplification here of the problem. The belief that we needed more support than we did. “If we need support, we’ll ask.” That’s what the function of the federal government is. In other words, I’m still framing it in a way that gives an honest perspective of what’s going on because if a kid is in a backyard playing with a squirt gun, it’s not a good idea for the police to send a SWAT team for it.

PT 110 | Being Specific

Being Specific: In theater, it’s not so much about the end result as much as it is the journey.


Suppose three people called 911 and say, “There are a lot of kids screaming in the backyard and I’m hearing sounds like gunfire.” The police have got to wait for the truth to come to them. The 911 person has got to ask, “Would you be willing to tell me a little more information about this truth?” Not to tilt it to level-ten. The tragedies that we have seen from that position have been disheartening and sad too, the overreaction part. This gets us into bigger troubles about how our physiology as a human being is getting hijacked to be on a heightened sense of safety, a heightened sense of fear about our neighbors. That’s not good business. To say that the suburbs are coming, there will be no more suburbs. The suburbs will disappear as you know it. Are you looking at the same thing that I’m at? No, I’m not. I am escalating fear because that’s what I’ve done from the start and it had me win. I’m going to escalate fear instead of speaking truth to reality.

He’s focusing on something he’s trying to exert some control and power over when he has demonstrated the complete lack of power to do anything regarding the virus itself.

I don’t want to be fearful about the virus because I can’t make it an enemy. If I make an enemy, I have to do something about it. It’s weird.

That’s why he’s making an enemy of these Democrat cities. That’s what he’s labeling them like the City of Chicago and the City of Portland.

They’re trying everybody to be collaborative and cooperative, but he’s not doing it that way. He’s looking for the enemy. If we think about FDR speech, “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.” He’s the anti-FDR speech, “You be fearful and because you’re fearful, I’ll be your savior.” That’s what he’s doing and he gets a vote for it, a lot of them. You need to be fearful. I have all the answers to keep you from being fearful. People still believe it like they are on the hook for it. You want me not to be fearful, demonstrate a systematic plan for reducing COVID in every state at the federal level. Give guidance and then I won’t be fearful but blaming somebody else. They’re going to wait for you to implode, which is what’s happening. It’s such a big thing. It’s not just building one hotel and the X of thousands of people that it takes to do that. This is collaboration and cooperation at a scale that is well beyond his skillset. It’s disturbing to say that you can build a lot of things with about 2,000 to 5,000 people.

We were talking about the mayor of Portland and that he was talking to people and he got tear-gassed that same day. The day before that took place, the President resumed having a “Coronavirus briefing” here with no one from the administration’s task force. No Dr. Deborah Birx, no Dr. Anthony Fauci, no nothing. He decided to have a briefing because there hasn’t a briefing in so long and he’s trying to control the media cycle and the narrative when he hasn’t been having it for a long time. The reason I bring this up is that you mentioned there needs to be a national plan and response while he was asked a question saying, “What is the administration’s strategy to deal with Coronavirus?” He said, “We have a strategy. We’re coming up with a strategy. We’re working on a strategy.” He didn’t come to this briefing with a strategy, with a plan. Because somebody asked him, he says, “We have the best strategy. We’re working on that. We’re working on it a bit.” There was no strategy. There was no discussion except that he’s trying to purchase truth and saying, “We’re making one now.”

It’s anticipatory. That’s level-two dopamine. It’s all an anticipatory set. It’s like, “I’m waiting for.” Sales are about sizzle. It’s not about the steak. You get the steak and the steak tastes good but the sizzle by the smell of the stake.

The anticipation is almost better than the reward sometimes.

The anticipation is almost better than the reward sometimes. Click To Tweet

That’s why professional wrestling works well is that there’s a reward. Somebody is going to win this match. It’s simple. There’s anticipation. What’s the anticipation? The people coming into their grand entrance with all the music that’s coming in, and how they get into the ring, their signature entry, their signature moves. What am I here for? Am I here to see that it? No, I’m here because I’m rooting for this person and I’m rooting for this person. Donald Trump is perfect for that environment. He has spent time in that environment with those peeps. They’re great for entertainment. It’s just that government is not the same as entertainment or a theater. I like good theater. I like to drift away and not think about all the different tasks and details that I need to take care of in my real world, whether it’s through me watching football or whatever your taste of entertainment, watching chess, a polo, whatever you want to do. There is entertainment for your thinking style, but it doesn’t work with governance. That’s what we’ve learned through the last years is the governance piece is not helpful to us.

In theater, it’s not so much about the end result as much as it is the journey. I don’t know how many people, but I certainly watched the musical, Hamilton, on the 4th of July weekend, which became available on Disney+. We all knew from the beginning that Hamilton was going to get shot by Aaron Burr and die. We knew that was going to happen. We didn’t watch it to find out the result of the story. We watched it to see the human journey along the way, the theater and the entertainment. Unfortunately, that story makes for great entertainment, not necessarily great governance. That’s a problem when you have a theatrical marketer in the White House.

We can still be pulling out on this truth being specific and pulling out on state the obvious, and build a stronger needs-based narrative that can work for us. Let’s keep walking down this street because there is a bit of tricking the giant that I want to come back to during our next episode. How to trick the giant to get it to carry us from the place we are to the place we need to be. It’s the metaphor that’s up again. I think it’s going to be valuable.

I’m interested to have that discussion. It’s not only about where we need to be carried now. We may have to also come back to that tricking the giant if Joe Biden wins the election and Donald Trump doesn’t want to leave the White House. You’re going to have to trick the giant right out of that White House.

We’ve got to work on that. That’s a big thing. More to come, Tom. Thanks a million. This has been great. Thanks, everybody. I appreciate it.

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