Nel's New Day

December 26, 2019

DDT: Week 153 – Not a ‘Merry’ Christmas

[Note: My weekly roundup of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) happenings is a day earlier, and I may not be posting on Nels New Day for the next week. See you in 2020!)

DDT stayed quiet about Saudi Arabia’s exoneration of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the torture and dismemberment of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman, the man behind the killing according to the CIA, got off scot free while five people were sentenced to death and three others to prison. The two men who directed the torture and dismemberment, former deputy chief of intelligence Ahmed al-Assiri and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s top aid Saud al-Qahtani, were exonerated. DDT claimed that he protected MBS so he could sell them weapons, but he also personally makes millions from the Saudi’s use of his hotels and their real estate purchases. 

North Korea threatens a “Christmas gift” of nuclear testing, and DDT’s former national security adviser claims that DDT’s administration will soon need to admit failure in stopping NK’s nuclear ambitions because the U.S. is not “exerting maximum pressure on North Korea.” The U.S. has only a “rhetorical policy” with no actions to stop NK having nuclear weapons that can hit the U.S. or its allies. North Korea is “operating at full tempo” in building nuclear warheads according to experts, but DDT says things are just fine between him and Kim Jong-Un. A new structure was seen on a recent satellite image of the location where NK makes equipment for launching long-range missiles, and Bolton called NK an “imminent” threat.

After far-right evangelical Christian leaders’ attacks on the op-ed in Christianity Today advocating impeachment, author Mark Galli reported a boost in readership and support that outweighs criticism. In a second CT op-ed, editor Timothy Dalrymple wrote that evangelicals can be proud of DDT’s anti-abortion and religious liberty stands but evangelicals are “also associated with President Trump’s rampant immorality, greed, and corruption; his divisiveness and race-baiting; his cruelty and hostility to immigrants and refugees; and more.” The Christian Post, published by DDT-supporting Richard Land, then attacked CT, causing Napp Nazworth, a CP editor since 2011, to quit. He said, “They’ve chosen to represent a narrow (and shrinking) slice of Christianity. That might be a good business decision, short term at least. But it’s bad for Democracy, and bad for the Gospel.” DDT is punishing anyone—including evangelicals—who don’t support him.

On the other end of retaliation comes massive rewards, as for Robert Blair, who refused to testify for the impeachment inquiry despite his witnessing DDT’s withholding military aid to Ukraine. Blair will support the 5G development efforts despite no background in telecommunications. With a law and diplomacy degree, he has overseen spending, most recently in the Defense Department, before he became senior advisor in national security issues for acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Johnnie Moore, a DDT appointee, participated on a UN panel to decriminalize homosexuality in 70 countries other than the U.S. but concentrated only on eliminating sodomy. Known for his anti-LGBTQ messages, Moore opposes marriage equality and supports DDT’s transgender military ban. 

Amidst Boeing’s disasters, CEO Dennis A. Muilenburg has been fired—immediately. Boeing’s shares dropped 22 percent since the grounding of the 737 Max planes in March, a $52 billion market value loss. Those in the know think that the new CEO David L. Calhoun, hired to reassure people, won’t make many changes.

To circumvent federal laws preventing the government from collecting some types of information, ICE uses social media and for-profit data brokers to track at least one immigrant before arresting him. The person’s only crime was to reenter the U.S. to be with his family. Reuters has a $20 million contract with ICE for use of its CLEAR database. Over 55 percent of all prosecuted federal crimes in fiscal 2018 were immigrant-related, an 87 percent increase during DDT’s first full year, with the vast majority being misdemeanor illegal entry.

Property owners in southern Texas don’t want to give up their land for the wall, but DOJ lawyers are filing lawsuits to take the land. Last week, they tried to seize the land before a scheduled court hearing in February. The Fifth Amendment requires “just compensation,” but the government can deposit any amount it deems fair with the court and then immediately take the land. Two judges recently ordered a private pro-DDT group to stop building its own wall so workers went on vacation for a few weeks. On another property in a federal wildlife refuge, workers decided that the land was too saturated to support metal bollards on top of concrete panels.

DDT’s retaliation against anyone disagreeing with him is to be feared, according to former Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI), who did not run for re-election after expressing concern about DDT’s erratic behavior in a closed-door meeting with GOP colleagues. Other former and current GOP lawmakers and party strategists have anonymously agreed that elected officials can either retire or not criticize DDT. Out of office, Trott said:

“Trump is emotionally, intellectually and psychologically unfit for office, and I’m sure a lot of Republicans feel the same way. But if they say that, the social media barrage will be overwhelming.”

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tweeted “Merry Christmas” yesterday before he launched into his increasingly vitriolic messages targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom for California’s homeless problem, the FISA court, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). His Christmas message called for “deeper understanding and respect.”

George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that requires 25 percent greater efficiency for household light bulbs. DDT blames President Obama for banning incandescent bulbs and continued his rants against problems with toilets, water for washing hands, and dishwashers. His latest problem is alternative energy when he said, “I never understood wind.” Then he claims that windmills create “tremendous fumes.” The person elected by 63 million people for the U.S. president can’t get his toilets to flush and doesn’t understand wind.

Why do people support DDT? In the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, UC Santa Cruz professor Thomas Pettigrew identifies five major phenomena of his supporters:

Authoritarian Personality Syndrome: The advocacy or enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom demonstrates a lack of concern for the opinions or needs of others. This syndrome can be displayed by aggression toward “outsiders,” resistance to new experiences, and a rigid view of a hierarchical society. Because it can be triggered by fear, leaders can use this emotion to gain allegiance. DDT is especially appealing to people with this syndrome.

Social Dominance Orientation (SDO): Related to the authoritarian personality syndrome, SDO highlights societal hierarchy of groups. DDT stresses the whites as having a higher status over immigrants and minorities. People scoring high in these first two characteristics tended to vote for DDT.

Prejudice: Going back to Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy,” the GOP appeals to bigotry with code words signaling prejudice toward minorities audible to racists. DDT is more direct by calling Muslims “dangerous” and Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers.”

Intergroup Contact: Contact with other groups than one’s own can reduce prejudice; DDT’s white supporters have significantly less contact with minorities. A 2016 study showed “racial and ethnic isolation of Whites at the zip-code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.”

Relative Deprivation: Discontent comes from feeling deprived of what people believe they deserve, compared to others who they perceive as equal or inferior but who (unfairly) achieved more. DDT supported people’s feeling of entitlement by talking about U.S. jobs lost to Mexico and China while ignoring the large number of jobs lost to automation. https://qz.com/1144201/under-trump-us-jobs-are-moving-overseas-even-faster-than-before/   Ironically, DDT has sent more jobs overseas, including an additional 150 percent of federal contractors, than President Obama. The term “relative is used because the perception is skewed rather than “absolute.” For example, median annual income of DDT’s supporters is $72,000, smashing the myth of their being rebellious “working class.”

DDT promised a great economy for the United States, but the blue states bucking his policies see a faster growing economy than red states. Obsession to fracking caused 165,000 jobs, and coal mining has 53,000, an extra 2,000 during DDT’s office. Recent economic growth has occurred in urban areas, especially in the service industry. Blue states have increased the minimum wage, providing the national growth in wages which is small because the red states have largely left the wages static and suffering from inflation. The most heavily pro-Clinton areas saw mean household income increases of over $15,000 compared to the less than $10,000 rise in the most heavily pro-DDT areas. DDT promised jobs and wages; his tariffs brought exactly the opposite.

October 1, 2016

Who Are the Trump Supporters?

People follow Trump because they admire him—“say it like it is,” avoid “political correctness,” make money by cheating and call is capitalism, and make up their own rules. There are some specific characteristics of Trump supporters (TS) based on his values and approaches:

A desire to be ruled, not governed: The top predictor of being a TS is a belief in authoritarianism. TS are inclined to believe in obedience; they want strong leaders and respond aggressively to outsiders because they feel threatened. Trump’s promises to close mosques, ban Muslims, build a wall, and the generality of “make American great again” rises above constitutional rights or capitalism. The model for Trump is Vladimir Putin, the dictator of Russia.

Lack of class (as in quality): TS appreciate that Trump ridicules a disabled person, calls POWs losers, denigrates women because he doesn’t find them physically attractive, makes inappropriate sexual comments about his daughter, blasts a Gold Star family, etc.

Willingness to cheat and lie to people: Trump deflates his numbers to get low taxes, incessantly tells falsehoods, defrauds his employees, rips off people for his own benefit, etc. He fits the description of a pathological liar as words automatically pour out of his mouth that contradict what he’s said earlier or just “misrepresents” reality.

Racist beliefs: Trump embraces the alt-right movement, led the birther movement, belittles minorities by accusing them of being criminals and rapists, demands that judges in his thousands of lawsuits be white, fires minorities because of their skin color, etc.

Misogynist way of life: Trump’s attacks on Megyn Kelly brought his sexist attitude to the forefront of media, and he continues to incessantly insult women. In debates he brags about the size of his genitalia and claims that female opponents are too ugly to be president. Approached about his abusive statements about women, he doubles down on the outrageous comments by blaming the women for his beliefs. An acquaintance from Trump’s days in a military academy said that they learned about women from Playboy magazine and that Trump never got over this sexism.

Deficiency in religious/spiritual ethics: Trump grew up with the gospel of prosperity and has continued this conviction throughout his life. (See “Willingness to cheat and lie to people.”)

No credence in the U.S. Constitution: Republicans have rabidly sworn for the past almost eight years that President Obama doesn’t obey the constitution, yet GOP members ignore Trump’s plans to break the First Amendment by curbing free speech while forcing one religion on the nation’s entire population. He also wants to remove due process from anyone who annoys him—which covers a large number of people—and remove birthright citizenship, both enshrined in the constitution.

Rejection of hard work: For the most recent presidential debate, Hillary Clinton studied the issues, prepared specifics, and practiced for her encounter with Trump. People, including Trump, made fun of her because she worked hard to be ready for a difficult job—that of the President of the United States. Trump came in with no preparation, almost unable to stand for 90 minutes, but was praised for his energy and excitement. No information, just rude interrupting and repetitive generalities.

A reason for Trump to not prepare might be that he suffers from the Dunning-Kruger effect, an overweening confidence in his ignorant sense of superiority. With this effect, incompetents fail to recognize their own incompetence. Because they don’t understand that they are not good at something, they fail to see their personal flaws and don’t bother to work on self-improvement. The more incompetent they are, the greater their confidence.

For example, Trump is supremely confident that the solution for defeating ISIS is to steal oil from Middle Eastern countries, both a militarily impractical solution and a violation of international law. Not understanding cyber warfare, he makes a reference to “400-pound” hackers sitting on their beds. Trump thinks he can create stability in Asia by getting China to invade North Korea although both countries have nuclear weapons and China is a sponsor of North Korea. The man with no experience in politics or public policy accuses the former secretary of state as lacking “basic ability” compared to him.

People question why Clinton is only a few points ahead of Trump despite her superiority in knowledge and ability. The GOP, who now has no idea what to do with the monster they created, led its constituency into a state of racial resentment and bigotry in order to move the country’s assets to the wealthy. This audience is ripe for Trump support after watching the bullying star of a “reality” TV show for fourteen years and another year of almost all the media—not just the Fox network—promote him in a competition for ratings. At the same time, the media, both cable and mainstream, has spent 30 years constantly accusing Clinton of being “untruthful” and “untrustworthy.” Finally facing veracity, the media is helpless to change the situation that they created.

Think of “an egomaniac who ‘only loved himself’ — a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization…”  A man with “bottomless mendacity” who magnifies himself with “a slick propaganda machine”—a “big mouth” who rose to power, embraced by millions for his “doctrine of hatred.” A man who promises to lead the country “’to a new era of national greatness,’ though he was typically vague about his actual plans.” A man whose “ascension was aided and abetted by the naïveté of domestic adversaries who failed to appreciate his ruthlessness and tenacity” and those who found him an “evening entertainment.” Conservatives believed that they could “fence” him in.

These quotes are from a book review by Michiko Kakutani about Volker Ullrich’s new biography, Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939. The parallels between Donald Trump and the man who almost ruled the world are frightening.  

Hitler, who played on the people’s bitterness and resentments, was described as “so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth.” Editors of one edition of “Mein Kampf” described it as a “swamp of lies, distortions, innuendoes, half-truths and real facts.” Aaron Blake writes about “Trump’s tendency to make up facts, spew utter distortions and rely on innuendo.” Hitler claimed to be the visionary leader who could restore law and order just as Trump does, perhaps getting his lines from reading Hitler’s speeches. Hitler gained power from the uncompromising government dysfunction by giving his supporters the belief that they needed “a man of iron” to shake up the country. That’s what TS think that Trump will bring them.

The country has survived presidents who were hot-headed (Lyndon Johnson), dishonest (Richard Nixon), unprepared (Ronald Reagan), and overwhelmed (George W. Bush). But the U.S. has not faced a fascist who appeals to anti-immigrant sentiment, creates anger with the political and economic establishment which includes an attack on NAFTA, and expresses extreme intolerance toward non-Christian people. That’s what Patrick Buchanan did in the 1992 campaign when conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote that this mix of “nativism, authoritarianism, ethnic and class resentment” follows the classic mold of fascism.

Throughout history, fascism has started with lack of economic opportunity giving the wealthy almost the entire pie. As promoters of two political sides separate into their corners, the center vacuum leaves a space. The “center” fills with people who maintain superiority to everyone except the “right kind of people”—in the U.S., that means people born here who manage to have large salaries. The “superior” people dehumanize everyone else by calling them animals, thugs, and terrorists. If indiscriminate murderers are white, they are “mentally damaged.” All others are sub-humans.

A large middle class during the 1950s, more educated and financially well-off, disappeared when stagnating incomes throughout GOP leadership decreased advantages of savings, education, and healthcare. “Trickle-down economics” and deregulating Wall Street moved more wealth to the top. The two Bill Clinton terms during the 1990s started a reversal, but the appointment of George W. Bush to the presidency created a hit to the economy from lower taxes, trillions of dollars in war expenditures, and the severe recession from deregulation of borrowing.

People who support Trump come up with many excuses for casting their votes for Trump, but they could not support him if they didn’t believe that he is right in all his lying, fraudulent, racist, sexist, authoritarian, anti-constitution, nativist, incompetent, ill-prepared approaches toward ruling.

June 20, 2016

How Enduring Are GOP Delusions about Trump?

Why do people support Donald Trump for U.S. president? The answers are all over the place. Demographics show a majority are poor, lack a high school diploma, and hold racist beliefs. They disagree with being racists but use racial slurs and want to get rid of immigrants while keeping America white. Nate Silver, one of the best prognosticators for U.S. elections, tweeted, “Strongest correlate I’ve found for Trump support is Google searches for the n-word.” Others have noticed the same comparison.

Trump promised to pay lawyers to help one of his supporters who attacked a protester, and that promise may have led to other racist supporters. Jan Stachowiak has called for armed volunteers to help him intimidate and even kill black protesters at the GOP convention. He echoed Trump’s declaration that President is a terrorist sympathizer and now calls on “patriots … to defend this nation against a domestic terrorist organization supported by the terrorist in the White House.”

Hate speech and crimes have accelerated since the rise of Donald Trump. People are attacking Muslims and other minorities in his name, and immigrants and Muslims students are increasingly experiencing bullying by their classmates. Children of color are facing “an alarming level of fear and anxiety.” Out of 5,000 comments from a survey of 2,000 K-12 students, over 1,000 mentioned Donald Trump. Jewish journalists are being attacked for articles critical of Trump, and many are targeted with the (((echo))) symbol, used by white supremacists online to single out the names of Jewish people and coordinate attacks against them.

Republicans try to claim that they like Trump because he says what he thinks—although much of what he expresses on one day is reversed the next. Another reason they gave for their Trump votes is that he will get jobs. Below are some self-delusions from Trump supporters that don’t hold up to the light:

Trump will get everyone jobs. The massive reduction of taxes for the wealthy could financially ruin people in the nation. Higher interest rates could cause housing prices to tumble, by as much as $100,000, and undermine the economy, destroying over 3 million jobs. Trump has a pattern of cheating hundreds of employees, contractors, and bondholders when he refuses to pay his debts. If Trump runs the country like he runs his businesses, the nation is headed for bankruptcy.  But that’s a topic for an entire blog!

Trump will either change his impossible proposals or Congress will stop him. One of his ideas is a tax plan that would increase the debt by $10 trillion. The GOP hasn’t stood up to Trump thus far; there’s no indication that they’ll start if he gets elected. Congress cannot stop his foreign policy—for example, supporting Russia as he has indicated—because the president has control in this area. If the courts and Congress can stop every crazy Trump idea, then the GOP wouldn’t worry about Hillary Clinton’s getting elected.

Trump will be fine no matter how much he changes policies. The GOP has complained about Obama because, they whine, he is divisive, arrogant, delusional, and economically illiterate while he uses executive power for political ends. Trump is all these multiplied by at least 100.   

Trump will understand that he will need to be more “presidential.” After a brief fling with a teleprompter, Trump continues to pick fights with his own GOP and refuses to take any advice in campaigning. He claims that he will spend his time and resources trying to take California and New York along with other blue states for the general election. Instead of backing away from his racist remarks, he has denied media access to his press conferences to at least ten outlets, including the influential Washington Post.

Trump can get smart advisers. Trump takes no advice from anyone for his campaign, and there’s no indication that he will pay attention to advisers if he were president. Trump’s past and current advisers show that he selects the same kind of toxic person as he is. By now, he has alienated almost everyone on his short list for vice-president, and his philosophy of firing everyone who offends him—a simple thing for a thin-skinned person like Trump—means that anyone around him will be short term.

Republicans have no other choice. Thus far, the “Never Trump” keeps looking for a resurgence at the convention, especially if delegates demand that Trump release his tax returns. Mitt Romney could run, or Republicans could vote Libertarian. Supporting Trump is disastrous for GOP candidates like John McCain, past presidential candidate and Congressman for 34 years, who is struggling  in Arizona against his Democratic opponent. Marco Rubio (R-FL), considering another run for senate  after he talked about how much he hated being a senator and didn’t bother to attend to vote, may run again. If he wins, his forced support for Trump may stain him for life.

Republicans can disown Trump in the future. Conservative advisers claim that they need to not worry about this election and look to the future. The GOP looked to the future after their loss in 2012, deciding that the party’s survival needs support from women and minorities. Instead, they’ve gone over the cliff in the opposite direction.

Although Trump claims that he hasn’t “started yet,” he’s been running for president for over a full year, and he wrapped up the GOP nomination in early May. Today Trump fired longtime friend and campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, because he “needs a change.” Lewandowski has no experience with national campaigns and kept Trump away from anyone who does.

Trump’s polls are starting downhill. The Democratic primary in Michigan shows that polls are not infallible, but Trump loved them throughout his campaign because he looked good. By now, he’s behind Hillary Clinton by double digits in some polls although he calls that being “even” with her.

Trump’s problems go far deeper than dropping polls. He promised his voters that he would pay for his entire campaign himself so that nobody could control him, but he seems to be out of money. And donors aren’t flocking to him. The Koch brothers, known for giving to the sleaziest of conservative politicians, refuse to fund Trump. Charles Koch said he can’t give any money to the Trump campaign until there’s a major shift in tone and policy—and he doesn’t expect it to happen.

In the past, Trump lobbed another hand grenade every time he lost positive attention. Last week’s explosion was to accuse U.S. military members of stealing money in Iraq. In the past, Trump had claimed that he was a champion of soldiers and veterans, going so far as to say he was raising money for them that they never received. This accusation hurt Trump’s image. That may be the reason that he called for religious and ethnic profiling on Sunday’s Face the Nation, hoping that a bit of generic racism would help his standing. He’s also called for people to be put into prison if they don’t report on their neighbors.

Trump has already started telling people to snitch on each other in his rallies. http://www.dailywire.com/news/6656/trump-rallies-now-ejecting-fake-trump-supporters-hank-berrien  After he tried that approach, a woman smugly pointed to two people quietly sitting near her. Security took them out after she showed how one of them had held up three fingers and demonstrated. She said she didn’t know what it meant, but the gesture was like the Boy Scout salute.

RNC Chair Reince Priebus says that people don’t care what Trump says. If he’s wrong, there goes the election. If he’s right, the nation is worse than I like to think. Trump has had an amazing influence on the electorate, however.  Since January, Democratic voting registration increased 218 percent in just California. Registration is up 123 percent among Hispanics, an electorate that has an 87-percent infavorability toward Trump.

For almost a year, most of the media went along with Trump’s craziness, always assuming that people tired of it. After a study showed that Trump coverage in eight major outlets pushed him into the nomination, giving him $2 billion of free advertising, journalists are changing the “cute” reporting of the past to now illustrate the danger that is for the United States. Increasing fact-checking shows that Trump tells the truth 3 percent of the time. The tipping point might have been Trump’s racist remarks against an honorable judge, but it’s more likely that they got fed up with Trump’s criticism about the press, calling reporters, among other descriptors, “the worst human beings” he had ever met.

Hopefully more people in the media may more accurately cover Trump. The next questions are how long GOP politicians will put Trump ahead of the country and how long voters will continue to believe him.

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