Donald Trump Is a Terrible Politician

Some journalists believe he’s brilliant and cunning. They are very wrong.

Source: newrepublic.com

Author: Brian Beutler

Emphasis Mine

Back when Donald Trump was winning primaries, Mark Halperin, the famously well-compensated political journalist at Bloomberg, went on TV and said Trump is a terrific politician.

“He is one of the two most talented presidential candidates any of us have covered,” Halperin opined. “He just is.”

Trump’s skill, he explained, exceeds Barack Obama’s because, unlike Trump, Obama “had David Axelrod and David Plouffe and a squadron of people around him who knew what they were doing.” Trump flies solo, ergo every supporter he counts, every stadium he packs, is somehow more rightfully his.

Halperin has also defended Trump from accusations of racism on the grounds that “Mexico isn’t a race,” and posed for this notorious picture, so unspoken affinities may be affecting his analysis. But to this day, as Trump is losing to Hillary Clinton in every poll, it is still commonly suggested that Trump has mysterious political powers. No matter what he says, his supporters love it! If he’s losing, it might be because he’s “deliberately trying to avoid winning.”

I would like to propose an alternate hypothesis: Donald Trump is bad at politics. He won the Republican primary because he is a bad politician, he is losing today because he is a bad politician, and part of what makes him a bad politician is only doing the kinds of things his supporters love, which can appear to be good politics to incurious journalists, but is actually not.


Case in point: On Wednesday night, Trump returned in characteristically Freudian fashion to Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News and announced he would forcibly remove not just immigrants, but citizens from the U.S. if they’re found to have extremist views. “Whether it’s racial profiling or politically correct, we better get smart,” he said.

Trump isn’t exactly winging it. Some Americans are scared, authoritarian, and racist. In a big country such as ours, there might even be millions and millions of them. Fear, authoritarianism, and racism are also strong sentiments, so it stands to reason that the people who exhibit them would be loyal Trump supporters, and unusually inclined to attend his rallies, where the themes are frequently fear, authority, and racism.

This appeal was sufficient to win Trump the primary not because he demonstrated raw talent, but because the Republican Party is broken to the point where demagoguery is a more valuable currency than governing experience, donor networks, “ground game” and other attributes. If Trump exhibited any talent at all, it was recognizing just how vulnerable the GOP was to being overtaken by its own Id.

When the primary was all over, Trump had an extremely loyal core of support. By dint of being the nominee of a major party, millions more reflexive or reluctant or low-information voters accreted around that core, leaving Trump with the support of perhaps 40 percent of likely voters, and nowhere to go but down.

Saying things like we should exile U.S. citizens will help Trump fill arenas, but it also underlines how, contra Halperin, Trump is an almost comically untalented politician.

Kicking citizens out of the United States for having extreme ideological views is unconstitutional. Not unconstitutional in the way that conservatives imagine the only policy regimes allowed under the Constitution are ones they like, but unconstitutional in a clearly delineated way.

This was, in essence, the point Khizr Khan was making at the Democratic convention three weeks ago when he asked Trump, “Have you even read the United States Constitution?”

Trump’s decision to respond by attacking the Khan family was, in itself, open-shut evidence of his near total lack of political talent, but Trump and his surrogates justified his decision to defend himself on the grounds that Khan had attacked him unfairly—i.e. that it’s wrong to suggest Trump has never read the Constitution.

Based on a number of things Trump has said—including that the Constitution has (at least) twelve articles (it has seven)—Khan was on solid ground thinking maybe Trump never read the thing. But from the moment Khan’s speech captured the country’s imagination, and Trump responded as if he’d been slandered, that question—have you even read the Constitution?—made the metaphysic transformation from rhetorical to literal. Nearly a month has passed, and Trump has done nothing to address this glaring deficiency. He continues to propose unconstitutional ideas on a weekly basis, and it is a safe bet that when he and Clinton meet for their first debate next month, he will be confronted with some trivial question about the Constitution and have no clue how to answer.

Trump created this liability for himself over the course of a year, so sitting down and reading the Constitution—all 4,453 words of it, or less than a half hour of reading time—would only be the first step toward assuring skeptics and critics that he’s intent on safeguarding the country’s laws and traditions. But whether it’s because he’s irremediably lazy, or that he believes this kind of ignorance allows him to pander to scared, authoritarian racists without a filter, he is unwilling to do it. He would rather keep his crowds big and his polls bad. Even if it means allowing Hillary Clinton to shove him into a buzzsaw in front of a huge TV audience a few weeks from now.

This isn’t ultimately a question of instinct or strategy, because in a sense it’s both. But in a more important sense it doesn’t matter. Talented candidates will bridle their instincts long enough to ensure they’re making good strategic decisions that help them win elections. Donald Trump isn’t doing that, because he’s a bad politician. Most well-compensated journalists get that.

See:https://newrepublic.com/article/136153/donald-trump-terrible-politician?utm_source=New+Republic&utm_campaign=1f4018b171-Daily_Newsletter_8_19_168_19_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c4ad0aba7e-1f4018b171-59481477

Understanding Trump

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Source: Huff Post

Author: George Lakoff

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.:The nomination of Trump has provided an incredible vindication for George Lakoff’s insights into American politics.  This is a very informative and valuable essay, which should be read and understood by all progressives – one might recall the Donald’s acceptance speech while reading.  At the “end of the day”, we must work hard to win, and the harder we work, the more we will win.)

There is a lot being written spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More that half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have cited my works well over 100,000 times.

As a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon.

Yet you will probably not read what I have to say in the New York Times, nor hear it from your favorite political commentators. You will also not hear it from Democratic candidates or party strategists. There are reasons, and we will discuss them later this piece. I am writing it because I think it is right and it is needed, even though it comes from the cognitive and brain sciences, not from the normal political sources. I think it is imperative to bring these considerations into public political discourse. But it cannot be done in a 650-word op-ed. My apologies. It is untweetable.

I will begin with an updated version of an earlier piece on who is supporting Trump and why — and why policy details are irrelevant to them. I then move to a section on how Trump uses your brain against you. I finish up discussing how Democratic campaigns could do better, and why they need to do better if we are to avert a Trump presidency.

Who Supports Trump and Why

Donald J. Trump has managed to become the Republican nominee for president, Why? How? There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their anger. People don’t think much of Congress and want a non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And Why Trump?

He seems to have come out of nowhere. His positions on issues don’t fit a common mold.

He has said nice things about LGBTQ folks, which is not standard Republican talk. Republicans hate eminent domain (the taking of private property by the government) and support corporate outsourcing for the sake of profit, but he has the opposite views on both. He is not religious and scorns religious practices, yet the Evangelicals (that is, the white Evangelicals) love him. He thinks health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, as well as military contractors, are making too much profit and wants to change that. He insults major voting groups, e.g., Latinos, when most Republicans are trying to court them. He wants to deport 11 million immigrants without papers and thinks he can. He wants to stop Muslims from entering the country. What is going on?

The answer requires a bit of background.

In the 1900s, as part of my research in the cognitive and brain sciences, I undertook to answer a question in my field: How do the various policy positions of conservatives and progressives hang together? Take conservatism: What does being against abortion have to do with being for owning guns? What does owning guns have to do with denying the reality of global warming? How does being anti-government fit with wanting a stronger military? How can you be pro-life and for the death penalty? Progressives have the opposite views. How do their views hang together?

The answer came from a realization that we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in family terms: We have founding fathers. We send our sons and daughters to war. We have homeland security. The conservative and progressive worldviews dividing our country can most readily be understood in terms of moral worldviews that are encapsulated in two very different common forms of family life: The Nurturant Parent family (progressive) and the Strict Father family (conservative).

(N.B.: it has been noted that the most common characteristic of Trump supporters is that they support an authoritarian outlook.)

What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families.

In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right. Many conservative spouses accept this worldview, uphold the father’s authority, and are strict in those realms of family life that they are in charge of. When his children disobey, it is his moral duty to punish them painfully enough so that, to avoid punishment, they will obey him (do what is right) and not just do what feels good. Through physical discipline they are supposed to become disciplined, internally strong, and able to prosper in the external world. What if they don’t prosper? That means they are not disciplined, and therefore cannot be moral, and so deserve their poverty. This reasoning shows up in conservative politics in which the poor are seen as lazy and undeserving, and the rich as deserving their wealth. Responsibility is thus taken to be personal responsibility not social responsibility. What you become is only up to you; society has nothing to do with it. You are responsible for yourself, not for others — who are responsible for themselves.

Winning and Insulting

As the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” In a world governed by personal responsibility and discipline, those who win deserve to win. Why does Donald Trump publicly insult other candidates and political leaders mercilessly? Quite simply, because he knows he can win an onstage TV insult game. In strict conservative eyes, that makes him a formidable winning candidate who deserves to be a winning candidate. Electoral competition is seen as a battle. Insults that stick are seen as victories — deserved victories.

Electoral competition is seen as a battle. Insults that stick are seen as victories — deserved victories.

Consider Trump’s statement that John McCain is not a war hero. The reasoning: McCain got shot down. Heroes are winners. They defeat big bad guys. They don’t get shot down. People who get shot down, beaten up, and stuck in a cage are losers, not winners.

The Moral Hierarchy

The strict father logic extends further. The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate. The hierarchy is: God above Man, Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults above Children, Western culture above other cultures, America above other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites above Nonwhites, Christians above nonChristians, Straights above Gays.

We see these tendencies in most of the Republican presidential candidates, as well as in Trump, and on the whole, conservative policies flow from the strict father worldview and this hierarchy

Family-based moral worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition — who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines for you what the world should be like. When it isn’t that way, one can become frustrated and angry.

There is a certain amount of wiggle room in the strict father worldview and there are important variations. A major split is among (1) white Evangelical Christians, (2) laissez-fair free market conservatives, and (3) pragmatic conservatives who are not bound by evangelical beliefs.

White Evangelicals

Those whites who have a strict father personal worldview and who are religious tend toward Evangelical Christianity, since God, in Evangelical Christianity, is the Ultimate Strict Father: You follow His commandments and you go to heaven; you defy His commandments and you burn in hell for all eternity. If you are a sinner and want to go to heaven, you can be ‘born again” by declaring your fealty by choosing His son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Savior.

Such a version of religion is natural for those with strict father morality. Evangelical Christians join the church because they are conservative; they are not conservative because they happen to be in an evangelical church, though they may grow up with both together.

Evangelical Christianity is centered around family life. Hence, there are organizations like Focus on the Family and constant reference to “family values,” which are to take to be evangelical strict father values. In strict father morality, it is the father who controls sexuality and reproduction. Where the church has political control, there are laws that require parental and spousal notification in the case of proposed abortions.

Evangelicals are highly organized politically and exert control over a great many local political races. Thus Republican candidates mostly have to go along with the evangelicals if they want to be nominated and win local elections.

Pragmatic Conservatives

Pragmatic conservatives, on the other hand, may not have a religious orientation at all. Instead, they may care primarily about their own personal authority, not the authority of the church or Christ, or God. They want to be strict fathers in their own domains, with authority primarily over their own lives. Thus, a young, unmarried conservative — male or female —may want to have sex without worrying about marriage. They may need access to contraception, advice about sexually transmitted diseases, information about cervical cancer, and so on. And if a girl or woman becomes pregnant and there is no possibility or desire for marriage, abortion may be necessary.

Trump is a pragmatic conservative, par excellence. And he knows that there are a lot of Republican voters who are like him in their pragmatism. There is a reason that he likes Planned Parenthood. There are plenty of young, unmarried (or even married) pragmatic conservatives, who may need what Planned Parenthood has to offer — cheaply and confidentially by way of contraception, cervical cancer prevention, and sex ed.

Young or middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own wealth… That is why Trump wants to keep Social Security and Medicare.

Similarly, young or middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own wealth. They don’t want to be saddled with the financial burden of caring for their parents. Social Security and Medicare relieve them of most of those responsibilities. That is why Trump wants to keep Social Security and Medicare.

Laissez-faire Free Marketeers

Establishment conservative policies have not only been shaped by the political power of white evangelical churches, but also by the political power of those who seek maximally laissez-faire free markets, where wealthy people and corporations set market rules in their favor with minimal government regulation and enforcement. They see taxation not as investment in publicly provided resources for all citizens, but as government taking their earnings (their private property) and giving the money through government programs to those who don’t deserve it. This is the source of establishment Republicans’ anti-tax and shrinking government views. This version of conservatism is quite happy with outsourcing to increase profits by sending manufacturing and many services abroad where labor is cheap, with the consequence that well-paying jobs leave America and wages are driven down here. Since they depend on cheap imports, they would not be in favor of imposing high tariffs.

But Donald Trump is not in a business that makes products abroad to import here and mark up at a profit. As a developer, he builds hotels, casinos, office buildings, golf courses. He may build them abroad with cheap labor but he doesn’t import them. Moreover, he recognizes that most small business owners in America are more like him — American businesses like dry cleaners, pizzerias, diners, plumbers, hardware stores, gardeners, contractors, car washers, and professionals like architects, lawyers, doctors, and nurses. High tariffs don’t look like a problem.

Many business people are pragmatic conservatives. They like government power when it works for them. Take eminent domain. Establishment Republicans see it as an abuse by government — government taking of private property. But conservative real estate developers like Trump depend on eminent domain so that homes and small businesses in areas they want to develop can be taken by eminent domain for the sake of their development plans. All they have to do is get local government officials to go along, with campaign contributions and the promise of an increase in local tax dollars helping to acquire eminent domain rights. Trump points to Atlantic City, where he build his casino using eminent domain to get the property.

If businesses have to pay for their employees’ health care benefits, Trump would want them to have to pay as little as possible to maximize profits for businesses in general. He would therefore want health insurance and pharmaceutical companies to charge as little as possible. To increase competition, he would want insurance companies to offer plans nationally, avoiding the state-run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The exchanges are there to maximize citizen health coverage, and help low-income people get coverage, rather than to increase business profits. Trump does however want to keep the mandatory feature of ACA, which establishment conservatives hate since they see it as government overreach, forcing people to buy a product. For Trump, however, the mandatory feature for individuals increases the insurance pool and brings down costs for businesses.

Direct vs. Systemic Causation

Direct causation is dealing with a problem via direct action. Systemic causation recognizes that many problems arise from the system they are in and must be dealt with via systemic causation. Systemic causation has four versions: A chain of direct causes. Interacting direct causes (or chains of direct causes). Feedback loops. And probabilistic causes. Systemic causation in global warming explains why global warming over the Pacific can produce huge snowstorms in Washington DC: masses of highly energized water molecules evaporate over the Pacific, blow to the Northeast and over the North Pole and come down in winter over the East coast and parts of the Midwest as masses of snow. Systemic causation has chains of direct causes, interacting causes, feedback loops, and probabilistic causes — often combined.

Direct causation is easy to understand, and appears to be represented in the grammars of all languages around the world. Systemic causation is more complex and is not represented in the grammar of any language. It just has to be learned.

Empirical research has shown that conservatives tend to reason with direct causation and that progressives have a much easier time reasoning with systemic causation. The reason is thought to be that, in the strict father model, the father expects the child or spouse to respond directly to an order and that refusal should be punished as swiftly and directly as possible.

Many of Trump’s policy proposals are framed in terms of direct causation.

Immigrants are flooding in from Mexico — build a wall to stop them. For all the immigrants who have entered illegally, just deport them — even if there are 11 million of them working throughout the economy and living throughout the country. The cure for gun violence is to have a gun ready to directly shoot the shooter. To stop jobs from going to Asia where labor costs are lower and cheaper goods flood the market here, the solution is direct: put a huge tariff on those goods so they are more expensive than goods made here. To save money on pharmaceuticals, have the largest consumer — the government — take bids for the lowest prices. If Isis is making money on Iraqi oil, send US troops to Iraq to take control of the oil. Threaten Isis leaders by assassinating their family members (even if this is a war crime). To get information from terrorist suspects, use water-boarding, or even worse torture methods. If a few terrorists might be coming with Muslim refugees, just stop allowing all Muslims into the country. All this makes sense to direct causation thinkers, but not those who see the immense difficulties and dire consequences of such actions due to the complexities of systemic causation.

Political Correctness

There are at least tens of millions of conservatives in America who share strict father morality and its moral hierarchy. Many of them are poor or middle class and many are white men who see themselves as superior to immigrants, nonwhites, women, nonChristians, gays — and people who rely on public assistance. In other words, they are what liberals would call “bigots.” For many years, such bigotry has not been publicly acceptable, especially as more immigrants have arrived, as the country has become less white, as more women have become educated and moved into the workplace, and as gays have become more visible and gay marriage acceptable.

As liberal anti-bigotry organizations have loudly pointed out… bigotry, those conservatives have felt more and more oppressed by what they call ‘political correctness.’

As liberal anti-bigotry organizations have loudly pointed out and made a public issue of the unAmerican nature of such bigotry, those conservatives have felt more and more oppressed by what they call “political correctness” — public pressure against their views and against what they see as “free speech.” This has become exaggerated since 911, when anti-Muslim feelings became strong. The election of President Barack Hussein Obama created outrage among those conservatives, and they refused to see him as a legitimate American (as in the birther movement), much less as a legitimate authority, especially as his liberal views contradicted almost everything else they believe as conservatives.

Donald Trump expresses out loud everything they feel — with force, aggression, anger, and no shame. All they have to do is support and vote for Trump and they don’t even have to express their ‘politically incorrect’ views, since he does it for them and his victories make those views respectable. He is their champion. He gives them a sense of self-respect, authority, and the possibility of power.

Whenever you hear the words “political correctness” remember this.

Biconceptuals

There is no middle in American politics. There are moderates, but there is no ideology of the moderate, no single ideology that all moderates agree on. A moderate conservative has some progressive positions on issues, though they vary from person to person. Similarly, a moderate progressive has some conservative positions on issues, again varying from person to person. In short, moderates have both political moral worldviews, but mostly use one of them. Those two moral worldviews in general contradict each other. How can they reside in the same brain at the same time?

Both are characterized in the brain by neural circuitry. They are linked by a commonplace circuit: mutual inhibition. When one is turned on the other is turned off; when one is strengthened, the other is weakened. What turns them on or off? Language that fits that worldview activates that worldview, strengthening it, while turning off the other worldview and weakening it. The more Trump’s views are discussed in the media, the more they are activated and the stronger they get, both in the minds of hardcore conservatives and in the minds of moderate progressives.

This is true even if you are attacking Trump’s views. The reason is that negating a frame activates that frame, as I pointed out in the book Don’t Think of an Elephant!It doesn’t matter if you are promoting Trump or attacking Trump, you are helping Trump.

A good example of Trump winning with progressive biconceptuals includes certain unionized workers. Many union members are strict fathers at home or in their private life. They believe in “traditional family values” — a conservative code word — and they may identify with winners.

Why Has Trump won the Republican nomination? Look at all the conservative groups he appeals to!

Why His Lack of Policy Detail Doesn’t Matter

I recently heard a brilliant and articulate Clinton surrogate argue against a group of Trump supporters that Trump has presented no policy plans for increasing jobs, increasing economics growth, improving education, gaining international respect, etc. This is the basic Clinton campaign argument. Hillary has the experience, the policy know-how, she can get things done, it’s all on her website. Trump has none of this. What Hillary’s campaign says is true. And it is irrelevant.

Trump supporters and other radical Republican extremists could not care less, and for a good reason. Their job is to impose their view of strict father morality in all areas of life. If they have the Congress, and the Presidency and the Supreme Court, they could achieve this. They don’t need to name policies, because the Republicans already of hundreds of policies ready to go. They just need to be in complete power.

How Trump Uses Your Brain to His Advantage

Any unscrupulous, effective salesman knows how to use you brain against you, to get you to buy what he is selling. How can someone “use your brain against you?” What does it mean?

All thought uses neural circuitry. Every idea is constituted by neural circuitry. But we have no conscious access to that circuitry. As a result, most of thought — an estimated 98 percent of thought is unconscious. Conscious thought is the tip of the iceberg.

Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.

The mechanisms are:

1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits the determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.

2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark ‘(C)’ in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.

There is a common metaphor that Immorality Is Illegality, and that acting against Strict Father Morality (the only kind off morality recognized) is being immoral. Since virtually everything Hillary Clinton has ever done has violated Strict Father Morality, that makes her immoral. The metaphor thus makes her actions immoral, and hence she is a crook. The chant “Lock her up!” activates this whole line of reasoning.

3. Well-known examples: When a well-publicized disaster happens, the coverage activates the framing of it over and over, strengthening it, and increasing the probability that the framing will occur easily with high probability. Repeating examples of shootings by Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos raises fears that it could happen to you and your community — despite the miniscule actual probability. Trump uses this to create fear. Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father — namely, Trump.

4. Grammar: Radical Islamic terrorists: “Radical” puts Muslims on a linear scale and “terrorists” imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a “radical Republican terrorist.”

Trump is aware this to at least some extent. As he said to Tony Schwartz, the ghost-writer who wrote The Art of the Deal for him, “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and it’s a very effective form of promotion.”

5. Conventional metaphorical thought is inherent in our largely unconscious thought. Such normal modes of metaphorical thinking that are not noticed as such.

Consider Brexit, which used the metaphor of “entering” and “leaving” the EU. There is a universal metaphor that states are locations in space: you can enter a state, be deep in some state, and come out that state. If you enter a café and then leave the café , you will be in the same location as before you entered. But that need not be true of states of being. But that was the metaphor used with Brexist; Britons believe that after leaving the EU, things would be as before when the entered the EU. They were wrong. Things changed radically while they were in the EU. That same metaphor is being used by Trump: Make America Great Again. Make America Safe Again. And so on. As if there was some past ideal state that we can go back to just by electing Trump.

6. There is also a metaphor that A Country Is a Person and a metonymy of the President Standing For the Country. Thus, Obama, via both metaphor and metonymy, can stand conceptually for America. Therefore, by saying that Obama is weak and not respected, it is communicated that America, with Obama as president, is weak and disrespected. The inference is that it is because of Obama.

7. The country as person metaphor and the metaphor that war or conflict between countries is a fistfight between people, leads the inference that just having a strong president will guarantee that America will win conflicts and wars. Trump will just throw knockout punches. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Trump repeatedly said that he would accomplish things that can only be done by the people acting with their government. After one such statement, there was a chant from the floor, “He will do it.”

8. The metaphor that The nation Is a Family was used throughout the GOP convention. We heard that strong military sons are produced by strong military fathers and that “defense of country is a family affair.” From Trump’s love of family and commitment to their success, we are to conclude that, as president he will love America’s citizens and be committed to the success of all.

9. There is a common metaphor that Identifying with your family’s national heritage makes you a member of that nationality. Suppose your grandparents came from Italy and you identify with your Italian ancestors, you may proud state that you are Italian. The metaphor is natural. Literally, you have been American for two generations. Trump made use of this commonplace metaphor in attacking US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is American, born and raised in the United States. Trump said he was a Mexican, and therefore would hate him and tend to rule against him in a case brought against Trump University for fraud.

10. Then there is the metaphor system used in the phrase “to call someone out.” First the word “out.” There is a general metaphor that Knowing Is Seeing as in “I see what you mean.” Things that are hidden inside something cannot be seen and hence not known, while things are not hidden but out in public can be seen and hence known. To “out” someone is to made their private knowledge public. To “call someone out” is to publicly name someone’s hidden misdeeds, thus allowing for public knowledge and appropriate consequences.

This is the basis for the Trumpian metaphor that Naming is Identifying. Thus naming your enemies will allow you to identify correctly who they are, get to them, and so allow you to defeat them. Hence, just saying “radical Islamic terrorists” allows you to pick them out, get at them, and annihilate them. And conversely, if you don’t say it, you won’t be able to pick them out and annihilate them. Thus a failure to use those words means that you are protecting those enemies — in this case Muslims, that is, potential terrorists because of their religion.

I’ll stop here, though I could go on. Here are ten uses of people’s unconscious normal brain mechanisms that are manipulated by Trump and his followers for his overriding purpose: to be elected president, to be given absolute authority with a Congress and Supreme Court, and so to have his version of Strict Famer Morality govern America into the indefinite future.

These ten forms of using with people’s everyday brain mechanisms for his own purposes have gotten Trump the Republican nomination. But millions more people have seen and heard Trump and company on tv and heard them on the radio. The media pundits have not described those ten mechanisms, or other brain mechanisms, that surreptitiously work on the unconscious minds of the public, even though the result is that Big Lies repeated over and over are being believed by a growing number of people.

Even if he loses the election, Trump will have changed the brains of millions of Americans, with future consequences. It is vitally important people know the mechanisms used to transmit Big Lies and to stick them into people’s brains without their awareness. It is a form of mind control.

People in the media have a duty to report it when the see it. But the media comes with constraints.

Certain things have not been allowed in public political discourse in the media. Reporters and commentators are supposed to stick to what is conscious and with literal meaning. But most real political discourse makes use of unconscious thought, which shapes conscious thought via unconscious framing and commonplace conceptual metaphors. It is crucial, for the history of the country and the world, as well as the planet, that all of this be made public.

And it is not just the media, Such responsibility rests with ordinary citizens who become aware of unconscious brain mechanisms like the ten we have just discussed. This responsibility also rests with the Democratic Party and their campaigns at all levels.

Is the use of the public’s brain mechanisms for communication necessarily immoral? Understanding how people really think can be used to communicate truths, not Big Lies or ads for products.

This knowledge is not just known to cognitive linguists. It is taught in Marketing courses in business schools, and the mechanisms are used in advertising, to get you to buy what advertisers are selling. We have learned to recognize ads; they are set off by themselves. Even manipulative corporate advertising with political intent (like ads for fracking) is not as dangerous as Big Lies leading to authoritarian government determining the future of our country.

How Can Democrats Do Better?

First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

And don’t forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource. Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas Police got it right. Training, community policing, knowing the people you protect. And don’t ask too much of the police: citizens have a responsibility to provide funding so that police don’t have to do jobs that should be done by others.

Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Can the public create jobs. Of course. Fixing infrastructure will create jobs by providing more public resources that private lives and businesses depend on. Public resources to create more public resources. Freedom creates opportunity that creates more freedom.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Obama sets the pace: Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. Bill Clinton won because he oozed empathy, with his voice, his eye contact, and his body. It wasn’t his superb ability as a policy wonk, but the empathy he projected and inspired.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.

And remember JFK’s immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.

Be prepared. You have to understand Trump to stand calmly up to him and those running with him all over the country.

___

George Lakoff is Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. His most recent book is The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant! His previous books on politics and social issues are Moral Politics (1996, 2002), Don’t Think of an Elephant! (2004), Whose Freedom? (2008), The Political Mind (2008), and The Little Blue Book, with Elisabeth Wehling (2012). The third edition of Moral Politics will be published in September in time for the 2016 election.

This Blogger’s Books and Other Items from…

The ALL NEW Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate
by George Lakoff

Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think

Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think
by George Lakoff

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/understanding-trump_b_11144938.html

Donald Trump’s Caesar Moment

Detached from history and fueled by fear, his convention speech was utterly unlike anything we’ve heard in American politics.

I am king
I accept

Source: Portside

Author: Jeff Greenfield, Politico

Emphasis Mine

It was a speech perfectly suited to the nominee. It was a speech utterly unconnected to anything we have ever heard from any previous nominee. It was, then, exactly what we should have expected from this most unexpected of candidates.

Most American presidential nominees—indeed, most convention speakers—pay homage to outsized figures of the nation’s past, even some from the other side of the spectrum. House Speaker Paul Ryan, as did countless others in Cleveland, paid homage to Ronald Reagan. Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence told the assembled Republicans that “the heroes of my youth were President John F. Kennedy and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Ronald Reagan himself, back in 1980, quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt. In past conventions, the Founding Fathers were invoked, or inspirational party leaders of the past, or some link to the heritage of party or country.

And Donald Trump? In his speech, there was no thread of any kind linking him to past American greats, no sense that he is following any tradition. Indeed, in one of the best-received lines of the speech, he told us, of our “rigged” system: “I alone can fix it.” Fix it with his own party’s leadership in Congress, or with an aroused populace? No. “I alone can fix it.”

In so many other ways, Trump presented himself as a man alone, imbued with the power to do what no other person or institution can do. Consider how he described his visits to “the laid-off factory workers, and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals. These are the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice.

“I am your voice.”

In his speech, Trump defined himself as a bedrock figure in American culture: the figure who faces danger alone, who follows his own code of conduct.

In this declaration—repeated at the end of the speech—Trump defined himself as a bedrock figure in American culture: the figure who faces danger alone, who follows his own code of conduct. He is Gary Cooper, standing alone against the Miller Gang in Hadleyville. To be more precise, and more contemporary, he is the man who uses his great wealth to protect the powerless from evil: He’s Bruce Wayne as Batman, Tony Stark as Ironman.

In this persona, there is no room for a note of good humor or the kind of self-deprecation we’ve seen in other nominees. Mike Pence noted, in introducing himself to the crowd, that Trump “is a man known for having a large personality, a colorful style, and lots of charisma. I think he was just looking for some balance on the ticket.” Bill Clinton in 1992 mocked his own disastrous, wandering 1988 nominating speech by saying he’d run for President, “to finish the speech I began four years ago.”

Nor is there any room for a cautionary note about the limits of presidential power. John Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address, for instance, ends by saying of his: “all this will not be finished in the 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1000 days, nor in the life of this Administration.”

What does Trump say?

“..the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end.”

(N.B.: crime is at a 40 year low.)

“On the economy, I will outline reforms to add millions of new jobs and trillions in new wealth that can be used to rebuild America.”

“On January 21st of 2017, the day after I take the oath of office, Americans will finally wake up in a country where the laws of the United States are enforced.”

“I am going to bring our jobs back to Ohio and to America – and I am not going to let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way, without consequences.”

In this speech, we have finally seen the answer to the perplexing question of just what political philosophy Donald Trump embraces. It is Caesarism: belief in a leader of great strength who, by force of personality, imposes order on a land plagued by danger. If you want to know why Trump laid such emphasis on “law and order”—using Richard Nixon’s 1968 rhetoric in a country where violent crime is at a 40-year low—it is because nations fall under the sway of a Caesar only when they are engulfed by fear. And the subtext of this acceptance speech was: be afraid; be very afraid.

(N.B.: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – FDR inaugural speech March 1933.)

It is impossible to imagine anyone else giving an acceptance speech so disconnected from anything in the American political tradition. Whether voters see that departure as a cause for celebration or worry may help decide what happens in November.

Jeff Greenfield is a five-time Emmy-winning network television analyst and author.
See:http://portside.org/2016-07-22/donald-trump%E2%80%99s-caesar-moment

Bigotry Confirmed: 66% of Trump Supporters Believe Pres. Obama Is A Muslim

Source: occupydemocrats.com

Author: Colin White

Emphasis Mine

It really is astonishing just how far a misinformation campaign will go in this country. A recent poll by the Public Policy Polling firm reveals that just under two-thirds, around 66%, of Donald Trump supporters believe that President Obama is a Muslim. On top of that, 61% still believe the President wasn’t born in the United States. This kind of perpetual ignorance represents a deep disconnect with reality, tying into the narcissistic delusions of American exceptionalism that has become mainstream through the incessant trumpeting of FOX News and the right-wing echo chamber.

It symbolizes a fundamental refusal to recognize realities, dismissing rationality and reason in favor of appeals to our most base and primitive emotions- fear of difference and of the unknown. The Republican voting base has been reduced to malleable puppets on a string, rendered a quivering mess from a diet of constant self-righteous infallibility and hyperbolic fear-mongering, torn between two extremes so much that they are left as perpetually exploitable by those with the ability and charisma to manipulate them.

“America is under attack!” cries the right-wing. “Black Americans are murdering police officers and undermining the rule of law! Terrorists are going to attack our nation! Immigrants are coming to take your jobs! Healthcare services are murdering children!” It is the lowest and most despicable form of political manipulation, the kind that causes pogroms and race riots if it gets out of hand. The American people need to wake up and face the facts. Living in fear will get us nowhere. 

See:http://wp.me/p3h8WX-4ZV

Donald Trump’s Biggest Crime Is His Honesty: How He Exposes the Sickening Rot At the Core of the GOP

Republicans have spent decades dressing up fear as courage, pretending at seriousness while advancing hysteria.
The right wing in American politics is still quoting the 18th century: What matters most is the affect of the man or woman who holds our highest office.

Source: Salon, via AlterNet

Author: Patrick Smith

Emphasis Mine

Many of us cast last week’s Republican debate in Cleveland as entertainment—I have heard the thought repeated many times—but this seems to me a cheap dodge. To laugh at the assembly of 10 right-wing presidential aspirants for two hours of questioning is to flinch from a truth too heavy to bear even as we must. The Fox News spectacle counts as entertainment only as tragedy does.

Given the position these people seek, the decisions the next president will make, how seriously our media and many voters take them, and the money lining up to advance one or another of them into office, we have just been advised of how very perilous the American predicament is at this moment. Bad as the candidates’ domestic agendas are, the danger is greater, far greater, on the foreign policy side, and this is our topic.

Somebody smart recently defined tragedy as the difference between what is and what could have been. This is the thought: We have a brief time left to correct our course before the American experiment begins to self-destruct beyond retrieval, and we have not yet proven strong or brave or honest enough to make the move. To me, this is what makes last Thursday’s spectacle tragic rather than comic.

I have thought since the Tea Party’s appearance on the political scene half a dozen years ago that the American right was destined to destroy itself before our eyes. Last week’s G.O.P. display—it was politics as spectacle, not a debate—convinces me of this. The Republican Party as it has been in history is already gone, more or less, and is being replaced—more swiftly than one would have thought possible—with what amounts to a fanatical fringe.

Good enough that the Republicans tip into unreason, you might think. But who could have guessed that irrationality was a winning political platform? Who would have imagined even a few years ago that the Rockefeller wing of the party was so spineless and desperate to win Washington that it would capitulate to extremists thoroughly incompetent to address the 21st century’s self-evident realities?

The question to come is whether the American electorate will commission those who have usurped the G.O.P. to destroy a lot more than the party. Put any one of these people in office and Americans will forfeit their chance to participate constructively in a self-evidently emergent world order, to escape a past that now haunts us, to act abroad out of something other than fear.

We have to start with Donald Trump to understand what we are getting from the right flank of our right-wing nation. It may seem unlikely, but Trump and the reaction to him among his G.O.P. opponents took me right back to my years as a correspondent in Tokyo: Every so often a cabinet minister in the long-governing Liberal Democratic Party would make some egregiously unsound remark about the righteousness of Japan’s Pacific war, objectionable Westerners or the inferiority of the Chinese. The next day he would be sanctimoniously removed from office and forced to provide a ritualized apology that meant nothing.

What was the offending minister’s sin? It lay not in his thinking or convictions, one came quickly to recognize, but in articulating publicly the views of all orthodox Liberal Democrats.

This is Trump among his fellow Republicans. Post-Cleveland, I think of him as the id of the G.O.P. The other 16 candidates detest him more than any Democrat does, I would wager, because there is no air whatsoever between the Donald’s views—assuming they remain stable long enough to make them out—and those of anyone else vying for office in the reconstituted G.O.P.

All that marks out Trump from other Republican aspirants is his presentation, the too-blunt-to-bear crudity of his prejudices against too many things and people to count, his hollowed-out presumptions of American primacy, his impossible promise to lunge backward to “make America great again.”

In a word, Trump comes up with the wrong affect. And there is no understanding the spectacle American politics has become, or why this nation conducts itself so recklessly abroad, unless we grasp the importance of affect in the American consciousness and American public life.

Trump is correct in his estimation of what a right-wing American pol has to be to get anywhere: dismissive of the Other, intolerant of all alternative perspectives, suspicious of thought, given to action (preferably violent) while indifferent to its consequences. Trump’s ultimate sin—a paradox here—is to possess an affect so plainly the sum total of what he has to offer that it exposes the rest of the Republican crowd: They are all empty but for slightly varied poses. All they have for us is affect.

Since the days of Jefferson, Americans have cast themselves as “a people of feeling,” to borrow a phrase from the historian Andrew Burstein. Ours was a “culture of sensibility.” Americans, in other words, tended to rely on feeling, as opposed to thought, to understand a given question or fix a given problem.

This New World trope was part of what made Americans American. Yes, America was the flower of the Enlightenment and authority derived from law. But reason was not the source of true conviction in American culture. Emotional experience was, as the Great Awakening of the 1730s made starkly plain. One felt, one was converted, then one believed.

The sentimental aspect of the American character assigned great importance to affect. Bearing, demeanor, attitude, posture—these things took on a certain patriotic dimension. A good American had to be observably American.

To be “affectionate,” indeed, was part of what it meant to be American in the early years. But the peaceable, generous, good-willed Americans of the 18th century gave way in the 1820s to the Jacksonian kind of American: Aggressive, uncompromising, masculine in the traditional manner, suspicious of intellect and sympathy, given to swift action and simple justice.

You can see where this leads easily enough.

Think of all the Hollywood films and television programs you have wasted your time watching. Think of John Wayne, Joe Friday, Hoss Cartwright and everything Clint Eastwood has ever done. Think of “Duck Dynasty.” To a very weird extent, our culture consists of a never-ending lesson in the proper American affect. Now as in the 18th century, it is affect that distinguishes us and proves us patriotic.

Same thing in our national political life.

Al Gore was a lousy candidate because his demeanor was wooden—“hard to like the guy.” Bill Clinton can say “I feel your pain” and thus we find faith in his policies. Bush II reports of Putin, “I saw into his soul,” and it is honored as serious comment. Sarah Palin attacks Obama for speaking well, which means he is not “a real patriot.”

And here we are in 2015. Scott Walker says of the most significant diplomatic accord to be negotiated in decades, “We don’t need more information… we need decisive leadership and we need it now…. The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in the face of our enemies.”

It says nothing and everything, doesn’t it? Nobody in Cleveland last week said anything of substance, either. Jeb Bush gave one of his foreign policy speeches Tuesday, and again, while he said nothing, the presentation told the whole story. The right wing in American politics is still quoting the 18th century: What matters most is the affect of the man or woman who holds our highest office.

As may be plain, I assign the 2016 presidential contest a large psychological dimension. The policy positions will count, of course, and I will get to them, but what is most fundamentally at issue is the character of the American consciousness.

To strip the point to the simplest terms, we are in an argument between affect and thought, or between feeling and reason. We need to have it, but right-thinking people must recognize that we do not have much time to get it done.

To substitute affect for thought, as all G.O.P. candidates propose, is dangerous for two reasons. First and very practically, it almost inevitably produces bad results. Bush II’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in the post-September 11 period are obvious but not isolated cases. The need was to look tough, to act without thinking, to declare “mission accomplished” on an aircraft carrier’s deck.

Second, affect is a dangerous appeal to the subconscious in us. It addresses unsayable fears, resentments and insecurities, and fortifies idealized selves, self-images derived from impossible Hollywood plots and characters. In this respect it is the doorway to irrational politics and behavior, especially in our conduct abroad.

To complete the thought, while affect may be mistaken for charisma, the two are very different. The latter is a many-sided attribute in a man or woman. Charisma draws its power from thought, insight, imagination, wisdom; it leads people to new understandings, ways of seeing they never knew were possible.

Affect is by comparison one-dimensional. It reduces politics to spectacle, so it is ersatz, WalMart charisma at best. Reagan, who dragged America back into the politics of affect after the defeat in Vietnam, was the master—and hence the idol of all 10 men on the stage in Cleveland. Bobby Kennedy (the later Bobby) or Mandela were by contrast charismatic figures.

Two exceptional pieces on the Republicans have come out since Cleveland. Both shed good light on what the Republicans propose to offer voters as they try to win back the White House.

Last Friday Paul Krugman, the Princeton economist and New York Times columnist, published an opinion item headlined, “They Can’t Be Serious.

“While it’s true that Mr. Trump is, fundamentally, an absurd figure, so are his rivals,” Krugman writes. “Talking nonsense is what you have to do to get anywhere in today’s Republican Party…. Or to put it another way, modern Republican politicians can’t be serious—not if they want to win primaries and have any future within the party. Crank economics, crank science, crank foreign policy are all necessary parts of a candidate’s resume.”

There is something in this not to be missed. In effect, the Republicans’ gamble is that the denial of the realities with which we live will prove attractive to enough voters to put a G.O.P. candidate in the White House. Two big things are at stake here. One, the Republicans may turn out to be right. Two, denial is essential to the right wing’s position. They are committed to refusing any acknowledgement of the requirements the 21st century imposes upon us.

Denial is totemic, then—a kind of ritual of refusal. It reflects, and I would say unmistakably, a deep, subconscious fear abroad among us. Many voters want to see and hear denials. They depend on the irrationality of each one.

This is what I mean by a self-destructing party—and the danger all of us will face if we get a Republican victory next year. We will be made prisoners of our past in all its real and imagined aspects. It is not possible, of course, to live well in such a space.

A few days ago the Atlantic published Peter Beinart’s “The Surge Fallacy,” an essay on the return to Bush II foreign policy postures. We have had next to nothing other than bluster from Republican aspirants so far, but again, these people say nothing but tell us everything. Beinart describes a kind of subterranean drift in the right-wing orthodoxy—yet another attempt to lunge backward into permanent avoidance.

“Over the past decade, the foreign-policy debate in Washington has turned upside down,” Beinart begins. “As George W. Bush’s administration drew to an end, the brand of ambitious, expensive, Manichaean, militaristic foreign policy commonly dubbed ‘neoconservative’ seemed on the verge of collapse…. That was then. Today, hawkishness is the hottest thing on the American right. With the exception of Rand Paul, the G.O.P. presidential contenders are vying to take the most aggressive stance against Iran and the Islamic State, or ISIS. The most celebrated freshman Republican senator is Tom Cotton, who gained fame with a letter to Iran’s leaders warning that the United States might not abide by a nuclear deal…”

Beinart identifies a new rewrite of the Iraq narrative—wherein Bush won the war with his 2007 “surge,” and the Obama administration punted it by withdrawing American forces—as the signal moment in this latest iteration of American militarism. The “surge fallacy,” as Beinart calls it, was Jeb Bush’s theme, made ad hominem with an attack on Hillary Clinton, when he spoke Tuesday at—where else?—the Reagan Library in Southern California.

(N.B.: To withdraw troops in 2011 was established by the GW Bush administration, and the term “Reagan Library” is indeed a quintessential oxymoron).

What are we to say when the Republican candidate who trades on an image of moderation—this is his affect, of course—turns out to be as ungiven to reason as the worst in the lineup? The follow-on problem here is that, however well or badly the Republican candidate does in the election, he or she can force any Democrat, with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders, to cast America’s foreign policy alternatives in proximately unreal terms.

The American right’s new hawkishness, thus, is not a sickness from which the rest of us can claim immunity. There is none for Americans. In a remarkable appearance at the Reuters newsroom in New York Tuesday, Secretary of State Kerry put the point as forcefully as he has ever said anything: “Our allies are going to look at us and laugh,” he warned, if this country’s rightists kill the accord with Iran.

Then this: “It’s not going to happen overnight. But I’m telling you, there’s a huge antipathy [to U.S. leadership] out there. There’s a big bloc out there, folks, that isn’t just sitting around waiting for the United States to tell them what to do.”

Last week’s message from Cleveland is simple and stark, it seems to me. The politics of affect must be understood for what it is and then decisively countered if we are to advance into that place known as the 21st century.

This means we have to stop pretending to take posing politicians, those who dress up fear as courage, as credible voices in the conversation Americans need to have. Let the media write about them as if they are serious. They are serious only as measures of how much needs to get swept away.

These judgments may seem Cassandra-like, but so be it. It seems to me Cleveland also told us that the political season to come could prove a last, best hope for who knows how long to alter the course to destruction we remain on.

 

Patrick Smith is the author of “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” was the International Herald Tribune’s bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote “Letter from Tokyo” for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications.

 

See: http://www.alternet.org/donald-trumps-biggest-crime-his-honesty-how-he-exposes-sickening-rot-core-gop?akid=13388.123424.sWtjSi&rd=1&src=newsletter1040977&t=12

Why the Right’s Panic About Boy Scouts’ Gay Ban Reversal Is Based on Urban Legend

The conservative media’s immediate assumption was that this must be politically correct culture spinning out of control.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Amanda Marcotte

Emphasis Mine

The Boy Scouts of America are, especially compared to their girl power-centriccounterpart the Girl Scouts, a conservative organization. Only this week did their leader, Robert Gates, call for an end to the long-standing to the ban on gay scout leaders, meaning they’re arguably further behind the times than the Catholic Church. This week, none of this prevented the Boy Scouts from becoming the center of a completely ridiculous swirl of controversy in the right wing press that rushed to paint the highly religious, conservative organization as some kind of bastion of political correctness run amuck. ‘And by doing so, illustrated one of the weirdest habits of the American right: The reliance on urban legends and rumor-mongering as political propaganda, a habit that is not nearly as common on the left.

At issue was a post at the official Boy Scout blog, Bryan On Scouting, in which blogger Bryan Wendell reminded scout leaders that the official Boy Scout policy that “BSA policies prohibit pointing simulated firearms at people”. This policy includes water guns, though playing with water balloons is permitted as long as they’re not big enough to hurt anyone. Wendell justified this rule with a bit of cheeriness clearly not intended to be taken too seriously, by quoting a friend who said, “A Scout is kind. What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?”

Somehow, the conservative media got ahold of this story and blew it completely out of proportion. The immediate and widespread assumption was that this must be politically correct culture spinning out of control. Fox News host Rachel Campos-Duffy asked, “If we keep emasculating our boys and not letting boys be boys, how are we gonna raise the next generation of hardcore CIA operatives, Navy SEALS?” It was a question that assumed not just that women can’t be CIA operatives, but, bizarrely, that little girls don’t play with water guns, both assumptions easy to disprove with a minimum of research.

Allahpundit at Hot Air tried to feign a light tone, but still had to argue, “that’s insane”. James Lilek of National Review hollered that it was a “nanny-state” policy that represented “the feminization of male institutions”. (Again with the strange assumption girls don’t like water guns!) Daily Caller rounded up right wing nuts deploring the end of civilization and other such conservative hobbyhorses.

Of course, it was all based on a misunderstanding. As director of communications for Boy Scouts Deron Smith explained to Huffington Post, this rule has been in effect for a long time. While the organization declined to explain further about their reasoning, reading the original blog post makes it clear that water guns are just part of a blanket ban on any kind of toy gun use on other kids. Not to speculate too much, but considering that it’s a wide-reaching restriction, this reeks not of a “nanny state” society but is likely more about shielding the Boy Scouts from liability. Toy guns, even water guns, vary wildly in how safe they are for play, especially when used on other kids. Any lawyer worth his salt would conclude that it’s better just to ban all gun play during official scouting activities, and steer kids to activities that require less legal exposure.

But while common sense and a little internet searching would demonstrate that this story is being blown way out of proportion, don’t expect this legend of the Boy Scout water gun ban to die down any time soon. Instead, it will probably grow and spread and become a staple of kitchen table grousing and email forwards. In other words, we’re looking at the development of yet another right wing urban legend.

Experts who collect these say that the number of conservative urban legends floating there dwarfs anything the left could produce. Sure, there are liberal urban legends here and there, but Snopes, which collects urban legends as the proliferate, shows that the vast majority of politicized ones pander to right wing fears and prejudices. Some, like this Boy Scout story, have a basis in (badly misinterpreted) facts and others such as the claim that Muslims are trying to remove crosses from a Catholic university, appear made up whole cloth. Some, like the “Marine Todd” story about a marine who supposedly punched an atheist college professor, are so stupid that it’s hard to believe anyone would buy into them, but sadly, they spread like fire. Because of this, sites like My Right Wing Dad have an endless supply of fodder.

Why does this happen? It’s tempting to say that it’s because conservatives are simply more gullible than liberals, but that’s not likely it. I used to get a lot of these kinds of emails from conservative friends and family members, until I started redirecting them to Snopes for debunking. Instead of thanking me for setting them straight, they instead just stopped sending the emails. Not the choice of sincerely mistaken people so much as people who know, on some level, that this email is bunk and just don’t want someone to spoil the illusion.

Instead, the reason has a lot to do with how people rationalize and justify their beliefs. As science writer Chris Mooney explained to Salon in 2013, “you feel these views before you think these views, and then you rationalize your beliefs”. Both liberals and conservatives, then, have a tendency to decide how they feel about something and then “take whatever evidence there is out there and twist it so that it supports their view”. We like evidence that supports our views and we discount evidence that conflicts with our views and creates cognitive dissonance.

Bluntly put, and as has been understood for awhile now, liberal views generally tend to be better supported by real world evidence like facts and scientific research. (There are exceptions, of course. The hostility to GMOs is very liberal and very much rooted in wishful thinking instead of facts) Bereft of much in the way of facts to support their view that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, conservatives instead turn to a bunch of anecdotal, often utterly false urban legend type evidence. While anecdotal evidence can be persuasive across ideologies, conservatives just need it more to justify their worldview.

In addition, as Mooney reported in Mother Jones in 2014, research shows that conservatives have more of a “negativity bias”, which means “they are physiologically more attuned to negative (threatening, disgusting) stimuli in their environments.” In other words, they are more fearful and respond more to fear-mongering than liberals. Fox News could have told you that, but it’s always nice to have some scientific evidence.

And that’s what these conservative urban legends are about: Conservatives keeping each other in a heightened state of fear by constantly warning each other about the endless threats to their safety, their identity, their masculinity, their religious holidays, whatever they’re hyped up about today. And using that fear to justify reactionary politics.

Which brings us back to the Boy Scouts. While a common sense reading of this tale would suggest it’s just a big organization being prudent about legal liability, the need to believe that conservative manhood itself was under threat is why conservatives eagerly swapped this story. The Facebook thread under the Washington Times post about it was a marvel of conservatives freaking out about this non-existent threat to masculinity. “But I bet they can wear dresses if they want,” one poster complained. “Soccormomism strikes again,” another wrote. “Grow up sissies!!!,” he added, scolding the actual children in question. “Raising pussies!,” commented another. “They will not be satisfied until all of the Males in this country are little pussies?,” whined another.

Again, there is zero reason to believe this policy is about gender, in any fashion. Water guns aren’t really a gendered toy, enjoyed by boys and girls alike. But facts aren’t getting in the way of conservatives telling each other tall tales of how American masculinity is under attack and manhood is about to be ended forever because liberals and because reasons. No wonder every conservative outlet imaginable jumped on this non-story and made such a fuss over it. They certainly know their audience.

See:http://www.alternet.org/gender/why-rights-panic-about-boy-scouts-gay-ban-reversal-based-urban-legend?

Apocalypse Election: Fear and Paranoia Won on Tuesday, Though Ebola and ISIL Were Not on the Ballot

The only antidote to fear is the courage to confront it and fight for the values we hold dear.

Source:AlterNet

Author: Don Hazen

Emphasis Mine

We live in a society where fear is pervasive. Sometimes it’s very real, especially when it comes to climate change, joblessness, racism, violence against women and more. But in the context of this election, fear was often manufactured, transmitted zealously by the corporate media, pushed relentlessly by Fox and other right-wing outlets. Messages of fear dominated many of the campaign ads that led to Democrats getting crushed in many elections.

In this environment of fear, compounded by massive amounts of unregulated political spending, and tons of money from the Koch brothers and other heavy spenders, the Democrats seemed lost, despite having lots of money of their own. Given their current confused approach to politics, their general inarticulateness, and their need to run away from the President and Obamacare, most Democrats didn’t stand a chance against the onslaught.

The fear message wasn’t the only problem for the Dems. As Paul Rosenberg points out on Salon, the Democrats’ lack of agenda or message resulted in an unexcited base, so the electorate turned out to be older than in 2010 as millennials stayed home in droves. The Republicans had even less of an agenda, but focused on their potent one-two punch of the fear card and the pummeling of Obama, whose popularity is in the dumpster. Of course, Obama’s low approval rating is partly the result of six years of fearmongering about him and Obamacare.

The only way to beat a bully—or many bullies with hundreds of millions of dollars—is with incredible courage and truth-telling. But most Democrats ran scared in this election. Nothing demonstrated that more than Obama’s backing off on immigration reform, something he promised during the summer; a moment when his courage could have stood out and mobilized people. He likely changed his mind because of fear from all the fearful Democrats who worried it would make them lose. But they lost anyway and they were wrong. Courage was what was needed.

In America today a lot of people are fundamentally convinced that things are out of control and there is no sane solution. And many may fear that if they try to think sanely they will just despair. How do you stay oriented toward reality and not despair, not lose heart? Well, one way is to grasp for straws and go for crazy ideas. Which is a lot of what happened in 2014.

Ebola and ISIL 

It’s striking that hysteria over Ebola was one of the top falsehoods repeated in the election, as documented by the Pulitizer Prize-winning PolitiFact (which is connected to the St. Petersburg Times). As PolitiFact reports, there were five separate big lies spread about Ebola in the campaign. Two of them were pushed by Republican officials, and the others by right-wing websites. Most were rated “Pants on Fire,” PolitiFact’s humorous metaphor for an obvious lie.

Here’s a debunking of the biggest Ebola lies trotted out during the election:

According to PolitiFact:

 

  • “In July, Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., wrote to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claiming that people are crossing the southern U.S. border carrying Ebola, citing ‘reports.’ But none of the reports were credible, and the experts we talked to said Gingrey was wrong.

    “Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., claimed recently that the isolated cases of Ebola in the United States directly contradict the assurances of President Barack Obama and his administration. ‘We were told there would never be a case of Ebola in the United States,’ McCain said.”

    But as PolitiFact asserts, Americans were never told that.

    In terms of the biggest whoppers told during the campaign, one that got very broad coverage was the ludicrous claim iby U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.,n an interview on Fox News, that members of the Islamic State (called ISIS or ISIL) have been caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. “ISIS is coming across the southern border,” Hunter said, adding a moment later: “I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas.” Hunter claimed that he relied on right-wing websites that offered no sources…a neat way to insert fear into the public psyche.

    9/11 Still Dominates

    The attacks of 9/11 still form the basis of our current paranoid environment. The incredible buildup of a massive security apparatus, along with the militarization of local police departments, is helping to spread fear. Tom Engelhardt, who has done amazing work to catalog and sound the alarm on the security state, explains, “In the post-9/11 era, in a phony ‘wartime’ atmosphere, fed by trillions of taxpayer dollars, and under the banner of American ‘safety,’ it has grown to unparalleled size and power. And in 2014, the expansion is ongoing.”

    Engelhardt continues:

    “Meanwhile, the 17 members of the U.S. Intelligence Community — yes, there are 17 major intelligence outfits in the national security state — have been growing, some at prodigious rates. A number of them have undergone their own versions of corporatization, outsourcing many of their operations to private contractors in staggering numbers, so that we now have ‘capitalist intelligence’ as well. With the fears from 9/11 injected into society and the wind of terrorism at their backs, the Intelligence Community has had a remarkably free hand to develop surveillance systems that are now essentially ‘watching’ everyone — including, it seems, other branches of the government.”

    In a more recent article, Engelhardt writes that we have lived with the background noise of 9/11 for the last 13 years:

    Inside the American Terrordome, the chorus of hysteria-purveyors, Republican and Democrat alike, nattered on, as had been true for weeks, about the ‘direct,’ not to say apocalyptic, threat the Islamic State and its caliph posed to the American way of life. These included Senator Lindsey Graham (‘This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed here at home’); Majority Leader John Boehner, who insisted that we should consider putting American boots on Iraqi and perhaps even Syrian ground soon, since ‘they intend to kill us’;  as well as Democrats like Florida’s Senator Bill Nelson, who commented that ‘it ought to be pretty clear when they… say they’re going to fly the black flag of ISIS over the White House that ISIS is a clear and present danger.’ And a chorus of officials, named and anonymous, warning that the terror danger to the country was ‘imminent,’ while the usual set of pundits chirped away about the potential destruction of our way of life.”

    The media continued to report it all with a kind of eyeball-gluing glee. The result: 71% of Americans believed ISIS had nothing short of sleeper cells in the U.S. (shades of Homeland!) and at least the same percentage, if not more (depending on which poll you read), were ready to back a full-scale bombing campaign, promptly launched by the Obama administration, against the group.

    Déjà vu again.

    Does this election remind you of any recent ones where fear dominated? How about 2004? In an article in Start Making Sense: Turning the Lessons of Election 2004 into Winning Progressive Politics (published by Chelsea Green and created by the editors of AlterNet),  psychologist and trauma specialist Vivian Dent wrote:

    “Fear won out over anger. 2004 marked not just the most important election in a generation, but also the most emotional.  In this hothouse of feelings, the Republicans adroitly manipulated the politics of fear. Democrats, meanwhile, fumbled the politics of anger and failed to inspire the politics of courage and hope.

    “Like so much in this election, the fear that drove the Republican vote […] flourished after the 9/11 attacks. Aghast at the violence, death, and destruction, Americans looked to the White House to help us […] The Bush team responded with a series of choices that systematically reinforced the country’s fear and dependency while undermining its hope and trust.

    “Instead, he quickly framed the U.S. response as a ‘war on terror,’ with himself in sole command. Then, with the full cooperation of the media, his administration repeated that frame so assiduously that many Americans quickly became unable to think of it in any other way.”

    There is a direct line from the collective fright and trauma of 9/11 through the Taliban, to the current fears of ISIL, which conservatives have worked hard to associate with immigrants coming across the border. Throw Ebloa into the mix and you have a powrful fear concoction.

    Dent continues:

    Fear narrows people’s thinking, moves them away from logic and toward emotional and physical reactions. Its effects start in the brain. When they’re too scared, people literally can’t think straight until they get some reassurance. Complex policies and nuanced arguments turn into noise that just confuses and upsets them more.”

    As psychiatrist Daniel Siegel explained to columnist Arianna Huffington:

    “It’s not about left wing versus right wing; it’s about left brain versus right brain.

    “Deep in the brain lies the amygdala, an almond-sized region that generates fear. When this fear state is activated, the amygdala springs into action. Before you are even consciously aware that you are afraid, your lizard brain responds by clicking into survival mode. Fight, flight, or freeze.

    When we are afraid, we are biologically programmed to pay less attention to left-brain signals – indeed, our logical mind actually shuts itself down. Fear paralyzes our reasoning and literally makes it impossible to think straight. Instead, we search for emotional, nonverbal cues from others that will make us feel safe and secure. We don’t want to hear about a four-point plan to win the peace, or a list of damning statistics, or even a compelling, well-reasoned argument. We want to get the feeling that everything is going to be all right.”

    So what can we do? Really, we have to be much more organized and courageous. A fear-dominated society makes people crazy. When people feel crazy, they do crazy things. They do not think rationally. Manipulating fear works, but so does inspiring hope and courage. But there is no meta message of courage coming from Democrats.

    The overall response to Ebola could have been much more courageous. Leaders should have said, “People are suffering terribly in Africa. The Americans going to help people in Africa are very brave. They are heroes. We will give them all the care and support that they need. We want them to help stop the spread of Ebola. Let’s cheer their efforts. Let’s support them.” But

    Democratic leaders like Andrew Cuomo’s original position on quarantines along with others like Chris Christie, was the opposite of courage. It spread fear.

    Sadly, Obama may not be the person to step forward with the necessary courage and the right messages. So much of his good will has been squandered these past six years. He also suffers from the fact that historically black men are symbols of fear. And despite the inspirational oratory in his first campaign and early on in his administration, his instinct has not been to gather people together and mobilize. His White House is a very tightly run operation, and to many he feels like a loner as President—in contrast, say, to the gregarious Joe Biden, who could be the Democrats’ version of George Bush.

    No one suggests it’s easy to fight pervasive fear, especially with characters on the loose like Texas senator Ted Cruz, who is probably the most dangerous of the fear peddlers because he seems to understand how to use fear to rally troops and attract lavish media attention.

    But it has been done before. People finally had enough of Joe McCarthy and his witch hunts in the 1950s, though it took a while. The most courageous icon in our recent history is Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who despite the fact that there was much to fear, was able to effectively communicate to Americans that “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

    We can’t expect a hero to swoop in and sweep away the enormous fears that plague us; leftovers from 9/11, from the huge military and national security buildup and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and ISIL and Syria. Who knows where we’ll go to war next? Courage has to rise up and spread—and it needs to be moral courage—protecting our families from climate change, embracing immigrants to be part of our society, saying no to humongous military expenditures and endless war, and developing much stronger community bonds among progressives who believe in a vision of the future which is far, far different from the message of fear. Fear won big on November 4th. Remember that the only antidote to fear is the courage to confront it and fight for the values we hold dear.

    Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.

     

    No, illegal immigrants haven’t carried Ebola across the border.No, the Ebola outbreak isn’t a Bill Gates/George Soros conspiracy.No, Obama didn’t sign an order mandating detention of Americans.

 

See: http://www.alternet.org/apocalypse-election-fear-and-paranoia-won-tuesday-though-ebola-and-isil-were-not-ballot?akid=12447.123424.vUBxSX&rd=1&src=newsletter1026092&t=3