Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Trump's Dummkopfs

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  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Zach Bagnall,

    How the ‘Great Paradox’ of American politics holds the secret to Trump’s success (audio version) – on what drives people with every reason to vote against Trump to support him instead. Wondered where this one was going at first, but it winds up with a fairly strong thesis.

    TL;DR: when "temporarily embarrassed millionaires" become "permanently embarrassed millionaires", they blame everyone below them for holding them back. And as one of the commenters in the article posted, "a generation ago these men were all [George] Wallace Democrats. It only appears as a paradox to well rounded people willing to consider the big picture."

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    It's the same mechanism behind Brexit, behind Corbyn, and behind anything else where a bunch of frustrated people who feel (rightly or wrongly) that they've been marginalised and ignored and patronised and exploited by those in charge are suddenly presented with a lightning rod: the opportunity to scream 'FUCK YOU' as loudly as they possibly can into the face of The Establishment.

    Of course, clearing up and dealing with the hangover after the festival of Misrule is always a hassle. But that's a tomorrow problem, right?

    Back row kids vs front row kids

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Ewan Morris, in reply to Zach Bagnall,

    And further from the Guardian, this piece from David Eggers, who attended a Trump rally, makes it more difficult to write off all Trump supporters as stupid and bigoted.

    Since Nov 2006 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Emma Hart,

    hate is dangerous

    Fear is the path to The Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Fear is the path to The Dark Side

    The things most fear are confections of their minds. Sure there are real things to be afraid off, tho systematically they have been eliminated from our environments. so now we grow fears in the fertile soil of our own minds.
    And when that becomes a norm bad things happen. We need the light of reason, rationality to guide us individually and collectively. We need leaders to be reasoned, not spin doctoring.That is the way to the dark side.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1878 posts Report Reply

  • steve black,

    Thank you Emma. That Chris Cleave address was great.

    and White Man Behind a Desk is back...and on target. Go Robbie.

    sunny mt albert • Since Jan 2007 • 116 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Conal Tuohy,

    Of course Trump is one of the wealthy elite himself, but there’s a difference in perception which is based on a real difference. Clinton is 100% an ‘establishment’ candidate in a way that Trump absolutely is not. She has been a senator for donkey’s years; a First Lady; a Secretary of State,

    Clinton was a senator for two two terms, winning re-election with a big swing and taking 67% of the vote. She was Secretary of State for one term.

    and she has long been seen to be in the pockets of Wall St

    Since … ooooh, last year, when Bernie Sanders made it a campaign issue. There’s something odd and ahistorical about the the way the narrative has been completely rewritten. I had someone try and tell me she’d ditch Obamacare – they were quite surprised to learn that she’d been behind the first bid for healthcare reform as First Lady.

    She’s a flawed candidate and a terrible campaigner, but her eight years in elected office were actually pretty successful. She’d have been New York senator for ever had she so chosen.

    giving secret speeches for money and defending them from taking all the blame for the crash. Her financial wealth must be a fraction of Trump’s, but she acquired it by leveraging her political connections.

    Do you ever wonder why she cops that out of all proportion to all the other former officeholders with speaking agencies – even Bill, who’s taken many more banking industry gigs than she has?

    It’s the same mechanism behind Brexit.

    It is in the sense that it’s the rejection of institutions. It is worthwhile thinking about why we have those institutions.

    I guess the other thing to account for is the role of race. There have been polls this year that had black voter support for Trump at zero. And at his worst levels, after the DNC, he was winning in just one demographic: white men.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I kind of hate the dogma that Trump supporters are stupid. I really don't think they are. But I do think they have a very limited range of knowledge and experience.

    One of the things we noticed when we lived in the US (2 decades ago) was that a huge number of Americans live in relatively small social communities. They get little or no contact with people outside their social circle at all. So if that social group has a meme that, for example, all crime is committed by immigrants then that gets reinforced over and over again.

    It's confirmation bias ramped up to the max. They have an idea and never meet anyone who challenges that idea. Even worse than that they get exposed to outright falsehoods so often that the lies feel like truth to them.

    And so when Trump comes along and repeats all those same lies it's obvious that they'll support him.

    I don't think it's about hate as such, but rather a distrust of those outside their communities, which is a fairly normal human reaction.

    Trump recognized the power of those groups with such strong confirmation bias and played to them. A lot of people were really surprised by just how many people have those biases but anyone who's spent time in those small communities will recognize them. Add them up and they become a really large scary voting block.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Some of the local Bernie fans I've interacted with are really not reality-based at all. The time I tried to point out to a couple of them that their ammunition-shortage conspiracy theory was just a lightly-adapted version of a long-running right-wing conspiracy theory was ... memorable.

    The alt-left and the alt-right have been on the same page quite a lot lately.

    Especially those Bernie-or-bust types who are threatening to cut off the nose to spite the face and vote Trump. Bobby Kennedy's speechwriter sounds like one of them, on the grounds that the Dems are bigger warmongers than the GOP. The firmly reality-based Noam Chomsky has cautioned against such nose-cutting:

    He’s less militaristic? Is he really? I mean he says it’s easy to get rid of ISIS — we just bomb the shit out of them. That’s less militaristic? What happens if you do that? You get into a war with the Islamic world. That’s exactly what ISIS wants; they want the West to read their playbook. Like Al-Qaeda, what they’re dreaming of is a major Western attack which will mobilise the whole Islamic world and you’ll have a huge war and maybe they’ll come out of it, so yeah, let’s do that.

    What are his domestic policies? Increase the military budget — it’s already more than half of discretionary spending, but let’s increase it. Cut back taxes on the rich — no new resources. It means there’s nothing left for the government, essentially, which is fine by them — at least they’ll have a government for the rich — that’ll stay of course — but any possible beneficial thing that could be done is gone.

    Furthermore, you enter into immediate conflicts with other countries. You impose high tariffs on China. What do the Chinese do? Say thanks? They’ll want to react! Kill the Iran deal? Fine, that isolates the United States. Europe will probably continue, so the U.S. is just isolated. So we get into a situation: the line is, everyone’s attacking us, cheating us, we need a bigger military — we’re at war with the world. That’s less militaristic? I mean, it just doesn’t make any sense.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    The firmly reality-based Noam Chomsky has cautioned against such nose-cutting:

    I don't always agree with Chomsky, but as he indicates, this shit is just basic. If a President Trump was to act on even half his stupid foreign policy promises (and I include flouting trade agreements in that) the world would become a much more dangerous and unstable place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

  • Zach Bagnall, in reply to Ewan Morris,

    And further from the Guardian, this piece from David Eggers, who attended a Trump rally, makes it more difficult to write off all Trump supporters as stupid and bigoted.

    Thanks, I missed that. Eggers is fantastic.

    Colorado • Since Nov 2006 • 120 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Ewan Morris,

    ...this piece from David Eggers, who attended a Trump rally, makes it more difficult to write off all Trump supporters as stupid and bigoted.

    Steinbeck redux...
    It all fits in, as The US seems to be edging towards a new 'dustbowl era' that Trump's 'Snake oil salesman' (huckster/charlatan) persona should resonate so well.
    Shades of The Master and Margarita and other tales of beguilement - all Trump has to do is utter the right trigger words and thus create a mirror in which everyone will see their own personal desires reflected - you can't fool all the people all of the time, but if you can do it at a crucial time to enough people, well, anything is possible... even the unthinkable.

    some related asides:
    Let the games begin...
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv-radio/84550921/donald-trump-game-made-by-kiwis-scaling-new-heights-drawing-attention-from-his-fans

    and
    No racism until Obama
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/314012/black-people-'only-have-themselves-to-blame'-trump-campaign-chair

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7881 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I largely agree with this FT comment piece on the threat to global stability of a Trump Presidency:

    The Republican party’s contender for the White House is not alone in cosying up to the Kremlin. Populists across Europe — Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France, Nigel Farage’s UK Independence party and the fascist Jobbik and Golden Dawn in Hungary and Greece respectively — have all tipped their hats to Moscow. Mr Putin also has sympathisers on the left. Britain’s Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is more comfortable denouncing US “imperialism” than challenging Russian revanchism.

    And:

    The obvious fear is that a temperamentally unstable president Trump would lash out in a crisis. Robert Gates, the Republican former US defence secretary, says simply that he is “unfit to be commander-in-chief”. Mr Trump’s reaction to the latest bomb outrage in New York fitted the pattern. The US had to “knock the hell out of them … do something serious over there” — “them” being indeterminate and “over there” being the Middle East.

    The bigger danger lies in Mr Trump’s promise to withdraw — to tear up trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, throw up trade barriers against China, repudiate the Paris climate change agreement and the nuclear deal with Iran, and abdicate responsibility for the security of east Asia and Europe. Mr Trump’s policies are shot through with contradictions but one constant drumbeat is his belligerent isolationism. America will go it alone. Hyper-realism, some call it. Dangerous is a better word.

    The comments below it are almost uniformly hostile – alt-right and alt-left in step and, one has to suspect, a few of those Russian-sponsored trolls in the mix.

    This is typical:

    The reason liberals hate Putin, Trump, Netanyahu, and Europe’s emerging ethnonationalist parties is that all of these at least attempt to represent the interests of their countries and citizens. Liberalism, on the other hand, is the upper classes allied with an entire class of immigrants they have brought in to make war on the native middle and working classes of every single Western nation. Trump and the rest, who want to celebrate their peoples and countries, make the liberals look as bad as they are.

    Someone with the screen name “John Galt” replies:

    WELL SAID SIR!

    And this:

    I guess the “liberal, rules-based system” allows obama to support a war in syria by funding jihadi groups, approve staging a coup in Ukraine, and provoking russia so that putin is justified in the eyes of his people to use military force in crimea and syria.

    obama and hillary are pushing toward hot war with russia (and already in syria) – one wonders which planet the author of this article is from

    the author asserts without evidence that trump is “authoritarian” – i would suggest that he is no more,and probably far less “authoritarian” than obama or hillary

    I can't quite tell if it's a paid troll or just a useful idiot.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

  • Conal Tuohy, in reply to Russell Brown,

    | and she has long been seen to be in the pockets of Wall St

    Since … ooooh, last year, when Bernie Sanders made it a campaign issue.

    No, the fact of Hillary's "friendliness" to Wall Street and their financial support has long been public knowledge.

    New York Times from 2007: Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street Windfall:

    In the halls of high finance, Hillary Clinton’s stock seems to be rising.

    In the latest quarter, Ms. Clinton tapped into a gusher of donations for her presidential campaign from employees at the major investment banks.

    Remember there was a big media scandal in the 2008 presidential election where one of the Wall Street "bundlers", a bloke named Hsu, turned out to be a crook. So the perception of a Wall Street connection is not at all new.

    Here's an article from 2007 which headlines the fact that Wall St funding had swung from their earlier favourite, Clinton, towards Obama, now that he had won the Democratic nomination, and it goes on to say:

    If Obama picked Clinton as his running mate, that might ease Wall Street's fears that his administration would hike capital gains and dividend taxes, said Michael Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners in Greenwich, Connecticut.

    In some parts of the country this perception is more of an issue than in others. In NY it's not such a big deal (just as in London, Brexit was not a winner). But in the rust belt, this is a major negative for her. In the rust belt, the US "institutions" such as the Congress and Senate and the two political parties are not highly regarded (and rightly so), and being seen as an insider and establishment figure is a turn-off. Why do we have institutions? I'd suggest many hard-hit working-class people think their role is to maintain the status quo, and they're not keen on that idea.

    I'm no fan of Trump, at all, and I really hope Clinton wins the election, but it does seem to me that you're are barking up the wrong tree here; fixating on the "culture war" rather than seeing it as a symptom of a deeper malaise. Trump is tapping into a real (justified) sense of injustice, and a frustration with the American system's failure to really grapple with the deep economic crisis. But Clinton is no radical, like Sanders, and she can't tap into this well-spring of working-class frustration, which is falling for Trump.

    Bernie Sanders' support base included a lot of these people who are now going to Trump. They've been brought up on Fox News and they're not sophisticated or politically cultured individuals. But if Sanders had been the candidate, he could have won them over to a progressive cause, despite their "deplorable" bigotry, the polls are very clear on this.

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Zach Bagnall,

    FT comments are bizarre sometimes. These people are paid up subscribers.

    The obvious fear is that a temperamentally unstable president Trump would lash out in a crisis.

    There was a story recently from someone present at a security briefing with Trump where he asked three times "Why can't we use nukes?".

    Colorado • Since Nov 2006 • 120 posts Report Reply

  • Nik Dirga,

    This piece in the Atlantic remains the single best piece of writing I’ve seen on why the US has gone so far off the rails with this election. It’s years and years of obfuscation, illiteracy and idiocracy coming due.

    “The biggest obstacle, I think, is the general public’s reflexive, unreasoning hostility to politicians and the process of politics.”

    From an outside, strictly historical presidential history-buff perspective, this year is utterly fascinating. But for the human cost and long-term dysfunction it's spreading, it's utterly terrifying. Clinton is a flawed candidate, but she's struck me for years as the only grown-up in the room and I'm hoping knee-jerk nationalism, rampant sexism and "everything is the other guy's fault" blamesplaining won't win the day.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Conal Tuohy,

    I’m no fan of Trump, at all, and I really hope Clinton wins the election, but it does seem to me that you’re are barking up the wrong tree here; fixating on the “culture war” rather than seeing it as a symptom of a deeper malaise. Trump is tapping into a real (justified) sense of injustice, and a frustration with the American system’s failure to really grapple with the deep economic crisis.

    Which doesn't really account for the ubiquitous role of race in these movements, in the US and Europe. Why does Trump have a net 14-point lead in approval among white Americans, but little support among black and Latino Americans? Why is Le Pen just as keen on Putin as Trump is?

    It seems, more than anything, like the externalising of blame, in quite an alarming way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Which doesn't really account for the ubiquitous role of race in these movements, in the US and Europe. Why does Trump have a net 14-point lead in approval among white Americans, but little support among black and Latino Americans? Why is Le Pen just as keen on Putin as Trump is?

    It seems, more than anything, like the externalising of blame, in quite an alarming way.

    Yep, there's both an economic and cultural dimension to the Trump war machine. I look at it partly as a triumph of Rovian/Crosbyite divide-and-rule politics - the blue-collar bloc has been led to blame those below them for holding them back, instead of the rentier hyper-class who caused much of the mess to begin with.

    The 12 cookies joke that emerged early on during the Great Recession comes to mind. As does railroad baron Jay Gould's purported remark during a major industrial dispute: "I can hire half the working class to kill the other half."

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • AndrewH, in reply to Russell Brown,

    "There have been polls this year that had black voter support for Trump at zero. And at his worst levels, after the DNC, he was winning in just one demographic: white men."
    Oh, fuck off. That's one helluva lot of white men voting in a bloc to reach his polling numbers.
    I honestly can't believe how condescending you are - it IS Brexit again. An upper middle class and above are making out like bandits while the lower classes are progressively and consistently reamed. While the published stats are so thoroughly juked there's serious discussion of the economy being in recovery.
    Trump is terrible, no doubt or question about it.
    But the moronic HRC TINA verbiage is simply pathetic. Fine if you support HRC, just don't pretend she's in any way virtuous - she's a disgusting exemplar of everything that's wrong with US politics. Corrupt, a compulsive liar, devoid of any empathy or sense of morality. A fucking political turd circling the bowl, in the gravitational embrace of her grotesque "charitable foundation".
    If you had the courage to admit you just don;t get it about Trumps supporters (and Brexit) I'd have some sympathy, but your condescension is just awful.
    Russell Brown - student hero. has somehow morphed into middle class, Auckland property owning wanker.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It is in the sense that it’s the rejection of institutions. It is worthwhile thinking about why we have those institutions.

    And also worthwhile thinking about why these institutions are being rejected en masse.

    In last year's Labour leadership contest, also-ran Andy Burnham chose to launch his campaign at a bank in the heart of London's financial district, with a speech about how Labour had 'got it wrong' on business.

    Reports that he also asked why those on zero-hours contracts didn't just eat cake instead, if they couldn't afford bread, are at this time unconfirmed.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    As does railroad baron Jay Gould's purported remark during a major industrial dispute: "I can hire half the working class to kill the other half."

    Not such a joke back then. It was fairly common in industrial disputes in the US between 1877 and 1927 to use machine guns on striking workers.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I've just started reading Linda Tirano's 'hand to mouth'. There's a pretty big chunk of it up on Amazon as a pre-purchase preview (although the formatting is odd).

    There's an interview with her here where she notes:

    "I have a very close friend who votes Republican like clockwork. He understands the party doesn’t do much that is likely to help him as someone who might need welfare. So, as a social conservative, he’s going to vote according to which party supports his views on abortion, because that’s a thing that matters to him and he feels he can get movement on it, there will be a direct effect. Whereas if he votes on an economic issue, it’s just a different bunch of rich people doing a bunch of rich people things. [emphasis added]"

    Now, with that in mind, explain to me again why everyone should be voting for Hillary?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Conal Tuohy,

    [Working class frustration at economic hardship] doesn’t really account for the ubiquitous role of race in these movements, in the US and Europe. Why does Trump have a net 14-point lead in approval among white Americans, but little support among black and Latino Americans?

    Because racial minorities have been made scapegoated by his campaign? Like right-wing populists always do? I mean, obviously you know that; so why are you asking? Why do you think that negates the idea that Trump's support is riding a wave of legitimate grievance with joblessness, homelessness, and hopelessness, and social alienation?

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Yikes. Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page – a former Merrill Lynch investment banker with money in Russian oil – is under investigation:

    U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials — including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue.

    The activities of Trump adviser Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election, the sources said. After one of those briefings, Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote FBI Director James Comey, citing reports of meetings between a Trump adviser (a reference to Page) and “high ranking sanctioned individuals” in Moscow over the summer as evidence of “significant and disturbing ties” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin that needed to be investigated by the bureau.

    Some of those briefed were “taken aback” when they learned about Page’s contacts in Moscow, viewing them as a possible back channel to the Russians that could undercut U.S. foreign policy, said a congressional source familiar with the briefings but who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. The source added that U.S. officials in the briefings indicated that intelligence reports about the adviser’s talks with senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin were being “actively monitored and investigated.”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

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