Ombrophobia and Trump

Ombrophobia: an abnormal fear of rain apparently correlated with bone spurs.

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US Mid-Term Elections: A Personal Reflection

I am afraid that last night was nothing like as good as it should have been, especially the Senate result, which means Trump can now easily put judicial and Supreme Court appointments through and rig the courts. 

But for me the real disappointment continues to be the Democratic Party, that still has not really grasped how Trump operates, still has not found the anti-dote to demolish him, and his lies; and above all still has not found an economics strategy to unite the country against the Plutocracy. Dems are still split left/right, establishment/insurgency rather than bonded around a new vision for the country way better than Trump BS and lies. They have no real counter narrative and the result showed that: Trump disliked, Dems not that liked in contrast.

Last night to me showed that without a change in strategic direction and a far more formidable candidate than I see on offer, Trump is headed for re-election in 2020. But hey I am Cassandra hoping my prophecies will head off disaster….. 

And as per Joe Hill: don’t waste time mourning, analyze, learn the lessons, strategize and organize!

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Progressive Ideas Vacuum

You would think that with authoritarian plutocrat-corrupted bigoted populists winning elections in Brazil, in the US, in Russia, in Europe, in the Philippines, wherever, you would think progressives would be doing deep thinking as to why this is happening.

You would think they would be doing some deep analysis about why progressives world wide are a strategic new-idea-lite vacuum in failing to oppose this “populist” trend with real alternatives. You would think progressives would be burning the mid-night oil, in libraries, out talking to the people, thinking new deep thoughts, trying new ideas, learning from history, experimenting, grappling with systemic insights as to what causes what, and starting the project to take back economics from the free market fundamentalists: the root cause of our present nightmare.

You would think they would be getting ready for the Trump Slump and the failure of said populists and their blame everyone, but themselves, excuses. You would think progressives by now ten years after 2008, would have a cogent narrative: this is what causes slumps, this is the role of debt, of inequality and of the plutocracy, its capture of government, in causing the impending return to the 1930s.

These are the ways to head this off and these are the future solutions to avoid this, and this is the path to good productive decent paying value add jobs for all…..and this is the grounded in reality and equally provided education needed to support this. You would think that…..

See any sign of this? Me neither. 

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Political Equation

Outrage + Activism – Strategy = Defeat + Cynicism

Author of this blog with reference to Trump’s America and the reactions to it, especially from the Democratic Party

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Human Folly

“It may be a sign of advancing age on my part, but I have come to believe that there is no stupidity of which we are incapable.

Martin Wolf on Reddit and in UK Financial Times

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The Psychology of Trump Supporters from Psychology Today by Bobby Azarian

My summary of this:

Authoritarian personality + Social Dominance Orientation + Prejudice + Isolation from the Other + Relative Deprivation (deprivation relative to those you feel are your inferiors) = Trump Supporter.

Though for me the real issue is the ineffectualness of the Democratic Party opposition to him and its total lack of new ideas or strategy. Now why is this?

A new report sheds light on the psychological basis for Trump’s support.

Posted Dec 31, 2018

Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons
Source: Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

The lightning-fast ascent and political invincibility of Donald Trump has left many experts baffled and wondering, “How did we get here?” Any accurate and sufficient answer to that question must not only focus on Trump himself, but also on his uniquely loyal supporters. Given their extreme devotion and unwavering admiration for their highly unpredictable and often inflammatory leader, some have turned to the field of psychology for scientific explanations based on precise quantitative data and established theoretical frameworks.

Although analyses and studies by psychologists and neuroscientists have provided many thought-provoking explanations for his enduring support, the accounts of different experts often vary greatly, sometimes overlapping and other times conflicting. However insightful these critiques may be, it is apparent that more research and examination is needed to hone in on the exact psychological and social factors underlying this peculiar human behavior.

In a recent review paper published in the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, Psychologist and UC Santa Cruz professor Thomas Pettigrew argues that five major psychological phenomena can help explain this exceptional political event.

1.     Authoritarian Personality Syndrome

Authoritarianism refers to the advocacy or enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom, and is commonly associated with a lack of concern for the opinions or needs of others. Authoritarian personality syndrome—a well-studied and globally-prevalent condition—is a state of mind that is characterized by belief in total and complete obedience to one’s authority. Those with the syndrome often display aggression toward outgroup members, submissiveness to authority, resistance to new experiences, and a rigid hierarchical view of society. The syndrome is often triggered by fear, making it easy for leaders who exaggerate threat or fear monger to gain their allegiance.

Although authoritarian personality is found among liberals, it is more common among the right-wing around the world. President Trump’s speeches, which are laced with absolutist terms like “losers” and “complete disasters,” are naturally appealing to those with the syndrome.

While research showed that Republican voters in the U.S. scored higher than Democrats on measures of authoritarianism before Trump emerged on the political scene, a 2016 Politico survey found that high authoritarians greatly favored then-candidate Trump, which led to a correct prediction that he would win the election, despite the polls saying otherwise.

2.     Social dominance orientation

Social dominance orientation (SDO)—which is distinct but related to authoritarian personality syndrome—refers to people who have a preference for the societal hierarchy of groups, specifically with a structure in which the high-status groups have dominance over the low-status ones. Those with SDO are typically dominant, tough-minded, and driven by self-interest.

In Trump’s speeches, he appeals to those with SDO by repeatedly making a clear distinction between groups that have a generally higher status in society (White), and those groups that are typically thought of as belonging to a lower status (immigrants and minorities).

2016 survey study of 406 American adults published this year in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that those who scored high on both SDO and authoritarianism were those who intended to vote for Trump in the election.

3.     Prejudice

It would be grossly unfair and inaccurate to say that every one of Trump’s supporters have prejudice against ethnic and religious minorities, but it would be equally inaccurate to say that many do not. It is a well-known fact that the Republican party, going at least as far back to Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy,” used strategies that appealed to bigotry, such as lacing speeches with “dog whistles”—code words that signaled prejudice toward minorities that were designed to be heard by racists but no one else.

While the dog whistles of the past were more subtle, Trump’s are sometimes shockingly direct. There’s no denying that he routinely appeals to bigoted supporters when he calls Muslims “dangerous” and Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers,” often in a blanketed fashion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a new study has shown that support for Trump is correlated with a standard scale of modern racism.

4.     Intergroup contact

Intergroup contact refers to contact with members of groups that are outside one’s own, which has been experimentally shown to reduce prejudice. As such, it’s important to note that there is growing evidence that Trump’s white supporters have experienced significantly less contact with minorities than other Americans. For example, a 2016 study found that “…the racial and ethnic isolation of Whites at the zip-code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.” This correlation persisted while controlling for dozens of other variables. In agreement with this finding, the same researchers found that support for Trump increased with the voters’ physical distance from the Mexican border.

5.     Relative deprivation

Relative deprivation refers to the experience of being deprived of something to which one believes they are entitled. It is the discontent felt when one compares their position in life to others who they feel are equal or inferior but have unfairly had more success than them.

Common explanations for Trump’s popularity among non-bigoted voters involve economics. There is no doubt that some Trump supporters are simply angry that American jobs are being lost to Mexico and China, which is certainly understandable, although these loyalists often ignore the fact that some of these careers are actually being lost due to the accelerating pace of automation.

These Trump supporters are experiencing relative deprivation, and are common among the swing states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. This kind of deprivation is specifically referred to as “relative,” as opposed to “absolute,” because the feeling is often based on a skewed perception of what one is entitled to. For example, an analysis conducted by FiveThirtyEight estimated that the median annual income of Trump supporters was $72,000.

If such data is accurate, the portrayal of most Trump supporters as “working class” citizens rebelling against Republican elites may be more myth than fact.

This article was originally published at Raw Story

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Politics as Entertainment

I sometimes wonder if politics hasn’t become simply infotainment, a branch of the entertainment industry; while the Plutocracy go about their tax cutting, government cutting, planet destroying sociopathic business.

Trump pretends to be a fascist and the Dems pretend to oppose him, while actually doing nothing very effectual, most of their leaders enjoying their tax cuts and the no need for trust funds to leave it all to their kids. Yes Trump is well cast to be a stage villain, and the Dem leaders well cast to be useless. And CNN makes a billion $s cast as the villain by Trump, which boosts their brand for liberals and they in turn cast him as the villain in return, which boosts their brand with liberals. Kabuki theater…smoke and mirrors and “the masses of the people for the most part hold their tongues”.

Here is a contrarian who writes for the Financial Times, saying something similar about foreign policy, between the lines: and yes I think he will be re-elected in 2020, and yes this will move the planet further towards destruction, inequality, Plutocracy but I suspect not fascism.

It is no accident I realize that the Left has no new ideas; why would it, the leaders, the professors, the good CEOs with the right social values, are doing very nicely in the status quo. It will take a major Depression, climate driven disasters, wars, whatever to change this, just like WW2.

And no I am not coming round to him at all….just trying to see beneath the surface, dark it is down there.

Opinion Donald Trump
America’s allies must master the art of dealing with Donald Trump.The president’s behaviour implies he is negotiable on much, and at affordable cost

Donald Trump can be worked with, or at least neutralised. And it can be done without total self-abasement

A lifetime on and in front of the television, that hurried medium, trained Donald Trump in the art of the compressed jibe. Next to “low energy” and “little Marco”, however, “lyin’ Ted” was a dud. It took supplemental strikes on Ted Cruz’s wife and father to sting the Texas senator, who called Mr Trump a “snivelling coward” in 2016.

On Monday, Mr Trump campaigned for Mr Cruz in Houston. There have been similar reconciliations with senators Rand Paul, who once called the president an “orange-faced windbag”, and Lindsey Graham, who, with Beckettian economy, went with “jackass”.

At this point, the done thing is to regret the moral capitulation of these one-time resisters. Less examined is the other side of the rapprochement. How easily Mr Trump comes to an understanding. For enemies, the price of re-admittance to his fold is the odd dose of flattery and votes for things they would have voted for anyway. Because he looks and talks like an immovable man, we miss evidence to the contrary.

The lesson here is not for Washington’s careerists. It is for allied nations. After they steadied gingerly from the savage shock of his election, countries were left with a practical question: how to manage this strange phase in relations with the US? How, at a stretch, to gain from it? Some, such as Germany, went into unofficial opposition. Others (Britain more than most) tried too hard to please him.

Neither has it right. Mr Trump can be worked with, or at least neutralised. And it can be done without total self-abasement. The president is not a driver of particularly hard bargains. He can live with symbolic gestures of concession: what some have called “tweetable wins”.

A minor renegotiation was enough to settle his decades-old grievance with Nafta. It also softened his more recent feud with Canada. Last year, he described Nato as “no longer obsolete” after assurances from Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general, about its work against terrorism. He was further defanged in his hostility to the alliance by a round of European military spending that mostly predates his presidency. As recently as April, he seemed (for a while) open to re-joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership on revised terms.

There is Trumpism as analysis: the US as gull, bearing burdens as liberty-taking foreigners giggle behind their hands. And there is Trumpism as action: small tweaks to the status quo, usually entailing a cosmetic financial sop to Washington. Perhaps he never believed the analysis in the first place. Perhaps he does not understand the smallness of the changes.

More plausible than either Mr Trump-as-fake or Mr Trump-as-fool is Mr Trump-as-politician. With re-election two years away, he wants diplomatic successes to parade. To that end, he plays up whatever he negotiates, intuiting that his voters crave the righteous momentum of America First as much as its precise detail.

Saudi Arabia supplies the most topical example of his susceptibility to economic gestures. Washington has reasons to preserve its alliance with the kingdom even after the alleged murder of dissident Jamal Khashoggi. But Mr Trump, who could mention Saudi counter-terror intelligence or usefulness against Iran, zeroes in on bilateral arms sales. Even if he is right to rate them at $110bn over time, they amount to a rounding error in the near-$20tn US economy. In other words, a veneer of munificence — “memorandums of intent” to buy American kit — has saved the Saudis from what might have been a breakdown of relations under another president.

The point is not to gloat at Mr Trump’s quickness to accommodate. (Would we rather that he was as stubborn as his image?) The point is to flag its usefulness to allies. He will lead the foremost power on Earth for two, perhaps six more years. Countries must find a modus vivendi with him. His pattern of behaviour implies that he is negotiable on much, and at affordable cost.

Although diplomats often resent mercantile foreign policy as a vulgarisation of their rarefied craft. But it has the blessing of clarity. There is no mistaking what a nation with such a policy wants.

What Mr Trump seems to want is a sense of restitution for monies diddled out of American coffers through such black magic as trade and collective security. Not always the substance: the sense. Knowing this, canny allies have somewhat stabilised relations with him through less-than-ruinous concessions, and let him have his day on Twitter. He means it when he calls himself a dealmaker. The mistake is to assume that he is a tough one

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