Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


Recently Rick Ross, one of America’s leading expert on cults and author of Cults Inside Out, who has long performed a major public service via his sites cultnews.net and cultnews.com (probably the best online sources of news and information on cults), addressed the question of whether Donald Trump and his followers constitute a cult. Ross’s conclusion is that no, Trump and his movement do not constitute a cult.

While I share that conclusion, I believe that some of Ross’s specific reasons for reaching it are debatable. For example, “Trump is not an absolute authoritarian ‘cult’ leader like a Jim Jones, Charles Manson or David Koresh. He was democratically elected and is subject to congressional oversight, judicial review by the courts and must run to be reelected. The President of the United States is also constitutionally limited by law to no more than two terms (eight years) as president.” This ignores that Trump wants to be an absolute ruler and is doing everything in his power to destroy the constitutional and institutional limits on his power, and encourages his followers to support him in doing this.

Rather than go over the other points I consider debatable, I’d encourage those who have the time to read Ross’s article before reading the following, which is a lightly edited and slightly expanded version of a post I published last year.

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Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure? front coverby Chaz Bufe, author of Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure?

Of late, critics often accuse Donald Trump and his followers of being a cult. The problem is that they seemingly never define what a cult is, never define the characteristics of a cult, and of course never see how well Trump & co. match such characteristics. It’s time to do so.

Before I began writing AA: Cult or Cure?, I spent well over a year on research, much of it involving religious and political cults. I discovered that all cults, whatever their nature — religious, political, commercial (e.g., multi-level marketing scams) — have many characteristics in common. By the end of my research, I had discovered 23 separate characteristics common in cults; some cults exhibit almost all of them.

(Robert Jay Lifton in his groundbreaking and influential Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism lists eight cult-like characteristics; while I included Lifton’s characteristics in the list I compiled, I strongly believe that his book would have been better if he had included more such characteristics — ones I believe are obvious. The same goes for Rick Ross’s discussion of the cultlike aspects of the Trump movement.)

Let’s see how many of the 23 cult characteristics Trump and his followers exhibit:

1) Religious orientation. Are Trump and his followers religiously based? Yes.

Trump’s core followers are conservative evangelicals. He received the votes of 81% of them in the 2016 election, and that level of support remains virtually unchanged. As well, Trump — who’s about as religious, and has about as much knowledge of the Bible, as the average poodle — routinely panders to evangelicals, flattering them endlessly and doing his best to ram through anti-choice, anti-LGBT judges and repressive, religiously inspired laws. Of late, Trump and his followers have even taken to describing him in purely religious, messianic language, as “the chosen one.”

2) Irrationality. Are Trump and his followers irrational, do they discourage skepticism and rational thinking? Emphatically yes.

Trump and his followers are characterized by their ignorance of and contempt for science and rationality. The examples of this are manifold, with climate-change denial being the most obvious and dangerous. Climate scientists — who arrived at their conclusions through massive, decades-long research and application of the scientific method to the data they’ve gathered — are virtually unanimous in the conclusions that climate change is due to human activity (especially the burning of fossil fuels) and that it’s a dire threat to humanity. Trump and his followers irrationally and dangerously deny this.

3) Dogmatism. Are Trump and his followers dogmatic? Yes in the case of Trump’s followers, no as regards Trump himself.

Trump’s most fervent followers, evangelicals, Bible literalists, are by definition dogmatists. They believe (or at least insist that they believe) that a 3,000-year-old book written by Iron Age slaveholders is inerrant, true in every respect. This leads them to insist on absurdities, such as that the Earth is only 6,000 years old; that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time (or that the devil placed fossils in the earth to mislead humans); that, for that matter, the devil actually exists; that the sun stood still; that a dead man arose after three days and walked out of his tomb . . . The list of dogmatic absurdities goes on and on. In contrast, Trump himself is an amoral opportunist with no apparent beliefs who will say and do anything as long as he thinks it’s in his self-interest to do so.

4) “Chosen People” mentality. Do Trump and his followers have such a mentality? Yes.

Trump’s evangelical supporters routinely and self-flatteringly refer to themselves using terms such as “God’s people,” “the elect,” and “the righteous.” They also consider themselves above other people, especially atheists and muslims, with a great many evangelicals (and other conservative religious folk) saying they would never vote for an atheist or muslim for public office. Trump himself is a very privileged rich kid with a massive sense of entitlement. He was a schoolyard bully as a child; he believes he has the right to grope women — and has bragged about that groping; and seems to abuse almost everyone unfortunate enough to come in contact with him. Only someone who thinks he’s better than other people, who thinks he’s entitled to do such odious things, would do them. One might also mention “American exceptionalism” here, a belief apparently held by almost all of Trump’s followers and, perhaps, by Trump himself.

5) Ideology above all else. Do Trump and his followers elevate their ideology over experience, observation, and logic? Yes, absolutely.

Again, the most obvious example is climate-change denial. But other examples abound, such as the insistence that grossly ineffective abstinence-only sex “education” is the only type that should be taught in public schools; that a few cells the size of a pinhead are, somehow, a “person” (apparently in the same manner that an acorn is an oak tree); that massive tax cuts for the top 1% are somehow good for the bottom 99%; and that America is the land of “equal opportunity” in the face of gross inequality in wealth and income and equally gross inequality in the quality of education for the rich and poor.

6) Separatism. Are Trump and his followers separatists? No.

We might be better off if they were. Instead of being separatists, they want to impose their beliefs on the rest of us through the coercive apparatus of the state.

7) Exclusivity. Do Trump and his followers present themselves as the exclusive holders of the truth. Yes.

Trump has been quite explicit about this. At a VFW convention on July 24, 2018, Trump said, “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening. Just stick with us . . .” As well, Trump’s core evangelical followers, biblical literalists, by definition consider themselves the exclusive holders of the (religious) truth. (The same holds for his Mormon and conservative Catholic backers.)

8) Special knowledge. Do Trump and his followers claim to have special knowledge that will only be revealed to the initiated? No.

Not unless you count Trump’s for-profit “university” scam, and that would be a stretch.

9) Mind control. Do Trump and his followers employ mind-control techniques? No.

Even Trump’s most hardcore followers don’t employ mind-control techniques such as sleep deprivation, deliberate near-starvation, hypnotic chanting, and thought-stopping techniques (e.g., reciting a mantra over and over again to ward off unwanted thoughts).

10) Thought-stopping techniques. Do Trump and his followers employ thought-stopping language? Not really. 

The childhood indoctrination of Trump’s religious-believer backers (evangelicals, conservative Catholics, Mormons), in which children are routinely warned that doubt comes from the devil (and, from my childhood, that you should pray the rosary to ward off doubt), is as close as you’ll get to thought-stopping language in the Trump movement.

11) Manipulation through guilt. Does Trump manipulate his followers through guilt? No.

Rather, Trump manipulates his followers through fear, hate, bigotry, and scapegoating. His appalling attacks on Mexicans and his fear-mongering about an “invasion” of immigrants is only the most obvious example.

12) The cult of confession. Do Trump and his followers use confession for purification and to tie believers to the movement? No. 

The closest any of Trump’s followers come to this is the practice of conservative Catholics who use that “sacrament” for purification and to tie themselves to the church.

13) A charismatic leader. Is Trump a charismatic leader, and do his followers treat him as one? Clearly, yes. 

I’d use many other terms in place of “charismatic,” but the adoration of the Dear Leader by his glassy-eyed followers is all too obvious. The fact that by their own lights he’s moral garbage matters not a whit to them. Nor do his constant, obvious lies and boasting, frequent self-contradiction, bullying behavior, and shameful self-serving. All too many of Trump’s followers worship him no matter what.

14) Hierarchical, authoritarian structure. Do Trump and his followers belong to a hierarchical, authoritarian structure. Yes, more than one.

First and most obviously, the Republican Party has been on a decades-long crusade to restrict individual rights (notably reproductive and LGBT rights) while simultaneously expanding the wealth and power of the rich and the corporations, and has likewise been on a decades-long crusade to entrench itself in power via gerrymandering and voter suppression — that is to entrench itself in power by destroying what passes for American democracy. As well, Trump’s conservative Catholic and Mormon followers (and to a lesser degree the evangelicals) belong to clearly hierarchical, authoritarian — “thou shalt”; “thou shalt not” — religious structures.

15) Submission of the individual to the “will of God” or God’s appointed representatives. Do Trump and his followers insist on such submission? Yes.

Trump, hypocritically so. But all too many of his followers are sincere in wanting to use the coercive apparatus of the state to force everyone to submit to that “divine will” (as they define it). Trump is only too happy to oblige.

16) Self-absorption. Are Trump and his followers self-absorbed? Yes.

Trump’s narcissism and self-absorption could hardly be more obvious. It’s almost equally so with his Republican Party, with its phony, preening nationalism, and its amoral, ends-justify-the-means mentality that pursues permanent entrenchment in power no matter how foul the means nor how much damage to the country.

17) Dual purposes. Does the Trump movement have dual purposes, are its real purposes other than those it presents to the publicYes, absolutely.

This is very obvious in very many ways. Trump — who received over $400 million from his dad — presents himself as the champion of the working man, yet he’s intent on squeezing money from the poor and working classes, and what’s left of the middle class, and transferring it to the top. He recently gave the largest tax cut in history to (primarily) the top 1%; he opposes raising the federal minimum wage; he opposes labor unions; he and his minions in Congress have partially dismantled Obama’s (grossly inadequate) healthcare plan and have offered nothing to replace it; and he opposes extending Medicare to all Americans, thus ensuring that tens of thousands of poor and working class Americans die from medical neglect annually. All of these things hurt working people, who he pretends to represent.

18) Economic exploitation. Does Trump economically exploit his followers? Yes.

Sometimes directly, as with Trump “University,” more often via government economic and taxation policies which work to the advantage of Trump and his billionaire buddies and against the rest of us. Trump’s tax scam (touted as tax “reform”), which will give close to two trillion dollars to corporations and the top 1% over the next decade, is the most obvious example of this.

19) Deceptive recruiting techniques. Do Trump and his Republican Party use deceptive recruiting techniques. Yes.

In addition to hypocritically presenting himself as the working man’s champion, Trump presents himself as the embodiment of patriotism in order to attract those who fancy themselves patriots. But his “patriotism” is the exact opposite of real patriotism, which is trying to do what’s best for the country and following one’s own conscience, doing what’s right in the face of disdain and abuse. For Trump and his followers, patriotism seems to consist of making a fetish of the flag (instead of honoring what it supposedly stands for), military worship, “patriotic” bumper stickers and hats, and engaging in domination/submission rituals at the beginning of ball games. One might also mention that Trump and other Republicans attempt to appeal to Christian moralists by posing as guardians of morality, when they themselves are moral sewers.

20) Possessiveness. Does the Trump movement go to great lengths to retain members? No.

Cults often go to great lengths to retain members, doing such things as threatening permanent disconnection of family members who leave the cult. Trump doesn’t do this nor does he advocate it.

21) A closed, all-encompassing environment. Has the Trump movement created such an environment? No.

Many cults (e.g., Rajhneeshees, Branch Davidians, People’s Temple, FLDS) set up isolated environments in which they control all aspects of members’ lives. The closest Trump’s followers come to this is having a single primary news source (Fox News for 60% of them) and being immersed in the Facebook echo chamber where they hear almost nothing but views they already agree with. But this is a far, far cry from Jonestown.

22) Millenarianism. Does Trump prophesy the end of the world? No.

The closest he comes is dire warnings about what will happen if the Republicans lose power. But some of his followers, hardcore evangelicals, do prophesy that the end is near and are actively trying to bring it about, to bring about Armageddon (through enthusiastic support of Israeli militarism and expansionism, and encouragement of American military interventionism in the Mideast) so as to usher in “the rapture.” Still, Trump is definitely not a millenarian himself.

23) Violence, coercion, and harassment. Do Trump and his followers engage in or encourage these things? Yes.

Recall Trump’s remarks that some of the murderous neo-Nazis in Charlottesville were “very fine people.” Then recall his attacks on the press as “enemies of the people” and his encouragement of violence against protesters at his rallies. Then recall the huge uptick in racist and anti-semitic violence by his alt-right/neo-Nazi supporters since he took office. Finally, let’s not forget that some of Trump’s “right to life” supporters routinely stalk, harass, threaten, and occasionally bomb or shoot abortion providers.

IN CONCLUSION

So, do Trump and his followers constitute a cult? Many of the cults I studied while researching AA: Cult or Cure? exhibit almost all of the above characteristics: the Moonies 22 out of the 23; the Church of Scientology and People’s Temple 21 of the 23; and Synanon 20 of the 23. In contrast, community-based Alcoholics Anonymous only exhibits 11 of the 23, “institutional” AA  (the 12-step treatment industry, which I dubbed “Cult Lite”) exhibits 16 of the 23, and the Trump movement exhibits 13 of the 23, so it’s not accurate to say that the Trump movement is a full-blown cult, though it does have distinct cult-like tendencies. However, and disturbingly, almost all of the cult-like tendencies exhibited by Trump and his followers are also characteristic of fascist movements.


One of the most depressing aspects of what passes for modern political discourse is the tendency on both the left and right to engage in collective guilt tripping. You hear this crap constantly: it’s all the fault of the boomers, men, millennials, women, feminists, blacks, whites, godless atheists (a bit redundant there, eh?), immigrants, Muslims, latinos, etc., etc., etc. ad nauseam. (Perhaps even more depressing is the guilt and self-loathing of white liberals who buy into this shit.)

There are several problems with the overly broad assignment of guilt (for damn near anything and everything you can think of). The first is that it’s lazy. It’s a ridiculously easy “analysis.”

The second is that it allows the demonizer to feel superior to the broad class of demonized (whites, blacks, latinos, men, “feminazis,” gay people, Jewish folks, whoever) simply because the demonizer is not a member of the demonized per se evil class. (Never mind what s/he is doing with their own life, never mind that they’re often a pathetic piece of human waste — they’re not a member of the cursed class, so they’re automatically virtuous; at present, this form of mental sickness is most pronounced in the outbreak of white supremacism and its related misogyny/homophobia.)

The third is that collective guilt lets those guilty of real evil off the hook. For instance, if you assign all Germans (including those not even born yet when it occurred) guilt for the Holocaust, it lessens if not eliminates the individual guilt of the murderers. This equal-opportunity guilt/blame places those who fought against and fled the Nazis on the same moral footing as those who perpetrated the horrors. But, gosh, isn’t it convenient to assign the guilt simply to “the Germans”? So easy. (The same of course applies to whites as regards the treatment of black people and Native Americans, and men vis a vis the suppression of women: the one-size-fits-all blame-game lets those guilty of real evil off the hook.)

The fourth is that it sets people against each other. As an example, I’ve spent my entire adult life working to eliminate racism, xenophobia, economic exploitation, religious authoritarianism, misogyny, homophobia — all the forms of coercive domination/submission — and I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to feel guilty for being a straight white male (things over which I have no control). While I share a lot of the goals of the blame-culture PC left, they’ve made themselves into my — and humanity’s — enemies, unwitting dupes of the powers-that-be in their divide-and-conquer game, in their blaming of me and countless others for things utterly beyond our control.

If we’re ever going to make real progress, we can’t do it by eating each other alive. Improvements in such things as wealth and income distribution must benefit damn near everyone; if for only certain classes of people, that’ll further divide us.

The fifth, and perhaps most major, problem is that the simplistic assignment of guilt based on race, gender, ethnicity, etc., is that it short circuits critical analysis. There are complicated reasons for almost every major problem. Assigning guilt to classes of people allows those (often unwittingly) serving the powers-that-be to avoid looking at the underlying societal/economic mechanisms that produce the various horrors (mass unemployment, environmental despoliation, restriction of reproductive rights, climate catastrophe, etc.). In other words, mass guilt provides convenient scapegoats. If you don’t look at the underlying mechanisms, and then do something to fix or replace them, you’ll never get anywhere: you’ll just arrive at an endless miasma of guilt, blame, and hate while those on top stay on top.

The sixth and most obvious problem is that assignment of collective guilt leads to atrocities. Such things as the Holocaust (for imaginary offenses), internment of Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps (again, for imaginary offenses), the Israeli government’s bulldozing of the homes of thousands of suspected Palestinian militants (thus punishing their entire families), and the caging of immigrant children (yet again for imaginary offenses).

The next time you hear someone say it’s all the fault of the Jews, the whites, immigrants, men, blacks, women, gays, Muslims, etc., etc., please realize that that person is a bullshit artist. Someone trying to distract you with scapegoats. Someone who wants to let those actually guilty off the hook. Someone who doesn’t want you to look at the underlying problems. Someone who’s however unwittingly a servant of the powers that be.


Death Wins All Wars front coverOur new book, Death Wins All Wars: Resisting the Draft in the 1960s, a Memoir, by Daniel Holland, recently received a nice review in the Winona Daily News. The reviewer states, “It’s worth your money. It’s worth your time. It might even change your life.” (Needless to say, we agree.)

Watch for further reviews of this very well written book.

 


(I normally don’t have much good to say about Barack Obama — the Great Disappointment, who saved the banks but abandoned the people who elected him — but he really hit the nail on the head with the following comment about “woke,” PC culture.)

“If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because ‘Man did you see how woke I was? . . .'”


(First, apologies for not yet delivering the promised Part 2 of the material on Hillary Clinton — I’ll deliver it eventually. The severe insomnia continues, and I’ve been spending my energy finishing the first edit of Chris Mato Nunpa’s very valuable Great Evil. I hope to finish that tomorrow and get on with the second edit. As an aside, I did the first edit on screen, but will print out the ms. after finishing that edit, as it’s considerably slower to edit a printout, but I tend to spot a lot more than I do when doing all of the editing on screen.)

Anyway, here’s the good news: The Pew Research Center just released a new poll on religious affiliation in the U.S., “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace.” The really good news is that the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as Christian declined by 12% over the last decade, but from 77% to 65%. That’s still far too high for comfort, but it’s a major improvement.

As well, self-identified Catholics declined from 23% to 20% of the population over the last decade, while “nones” (atheists, agnostics, spiritual but no religious, none of the above) increased from 17% to 26% since 2009 — and they (we) now considerably outnumber both Catholics and white evangelicals, who declined from 19% of the population a decade ago to16% today.

This is great news. Today, evangelical and conservative Catholics are doing their best to stifle democracy, prop up their utterly corrupt enabler Trump, and install a theocracy through whatever means at their disposal, no matter how foul (gerrymandering, voter suppression, foreign interference in elections). They probably won’t succeed, and if they don’t Christianity will continue its well-deserved downward spiral.

Once the authoritarian evangelists, Trump cultists, and other authoritarian religious fanatics are defeated (quite probably in 2020), we’ll likely (well, could) make some progress on climate change and other real social and economic problems, and move on to creating a more fair, peaceful, and sustainable world.

If the Christian religio-fascists don’t succeed in destroying democracy next year and cementing their rule, they’re doomed.

(At the risk of sounding like a mean, vindictive s.o.b., I wish we could disarm them, put them all on an island along with all of the Islamist religio-fascists, lace the water with contraceptives, and hand out machetes.)


Given how bowel-scrapingly loathsome Donald Trump is, it seems almost unseemly to attack any of his enemies, no matter how despicable. So, I’ve mostly — as have most Trump critics — been reserved of late in my criticism of the Clintons, Obama, et al.

No more.

Hillary Clinton just launched a straight-up McCarthyite attack on both Representative Tulsi Gabbard (long-shot hopeful for the Democratic nomination) and 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein, calling both of them “Russian assets.”

That strongly implies that both of them were consciously working with the Russians to undermine American democracy. Clinton’s evidence of that? None whatsoever. She makes the extreme stretch of concluding that since the Russians were sowing chaos in 2016, and now, and that some of their bots were promoting both Stein and Gabbard (along with many others on all sides of the fence — in order to sow chaos), that Stein and Gabbard are somehow “Russian assets.”

Her charge against Gabbard is that the Russians are supposedly “grooming” her to be a third-party candidate. The problem here is that Clinton offers no evidence whatsoever of this, and that Gabbard months ago emphatically stated that she will not run as a third-party candidate.

Why would Clinton launch such slanderous attacks on Stein and Gabbard? It’s obvious: She wants to destroy the most leftist candidate in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party (not that Gabbard doesn’t have major problems — she does: among other things she’s apparently a Hare Krishna, which would render her unelectable) and also to close off debate, to limit our electoral choices to the two major parties, the two wings of what Ferdinand Lundberg correctly called “the Property Party.”

Following Obama’s gross betrayal of the people who elected him — he saved the banks, not the people who lost their jobs and their homes — the corporate-Democrat/Republican good-cop/bad-cop mugging of the American public was wearing thin. It became all too obvious that the “good cop” was the junior partner in the looting of damn near all of us.

What better way to parry this growing realization than through false dichotomy.

Part and parcel of our sick parody of democracy is the pretense that the two wings of the Property Party, the Democrats and Republicans, are the only “realistic” choices, and that votes for third-party candidates against this rapacious duopoly are “wasted.” Or, even more grotesquely, that those who vote for third-party candidates or who abstain are somehow — in a classic example of false dichotomy — on the side of the “bad cop,” the Republicans (or their supposed Russian overlords).

Let’s please remember that in 2016 only 59% of those eligible to vote in the presidential election actually bothered to vote. Of the 100% of those eligible to vote, Trump got 26%, Clinton 28%, minor party candidates 5%, and 41% were so disgusted or demoralized that they didn’t even bother to cast a ballot.

Rather than address why over 40% of the American electorate found her and Trump so unattractive that they didn’t even bother to go to the polls, Clinton is attacking outliers and doing her best to tighten the Democratic/Republican duopolistic choke hold on our sad pretense of democracy.

She’s not attempting to broaden democracy, she’s attempting to strangle it.

She is utterly loathsome.

More tomorrow on her disgraceful record. (She should be locked up, but not for the reasons Trump and his minions trumpet.)

 

 


(First off, not all of those who voted for Trump in 2016 fall into the following category, only 75% to 80%. The remaining 20% to 25% were justifiably disgusted with the do-nothing policies of Obama/Biden/the Clintons that had left them totally screwed over economically, and just wanted to shake things up. If you’re among them, please realize that you are not who I’m talking about. I’m talking here about the real true believers, Trump’s personality cultists. There’s no reasoning with them, and it’s time to call them out for what they are.)

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We’ve all seen ’em, assholes driving around in land-raper pickups wearing MAGA hats, flying huge American flags. Using the symbol that’s supposed to stand for individual freedom and equal opportunity as a stand-in for preening jingoism, butt kissing of their glorious leader, and intimidation of those they disagree with.

They’re utter, total phonies. They systematically betray everything America is supposed to stand for.

Let’s look at specifics:

  • Freedom of speech. They beat protesters at Trump rallies, and show up bearing assault weapons at anti-Trump demos to intimidate protesters (as at Charlottesville — and thank god for Redneck Revolt showing up equally well armed to oppose them). On a more mundane level, Trump routinely attacks the press — about the only real check on the misdeeds of the powers that be — as “enemies of the people,” and god help you if you refuse to participate in the mass domination/submission spectacle at the start of ballgames.
  • Equality of Opportunity/Self-reliance. We’re talking about a moron who managed to bankrupt casinos, who had a silver spoon protruding from every orifice at birth, and who started receiving an “allowance” or $200,000 a year at age three — and in all a total of over $400 million from his dad. Trump is the proverbial entitled brat who was born on third base and has been bragging ever since that he hit a triple. And his sycophantic followers admire him for it.
  • Independence. Republicans/Trump supporters (there’s almost no distinguishing between them at this point) are slavish members of a personality cult. Trump famously bragged that he could murder someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his base would continue to support him. He was right, but it’s worse than that. He could strangle a puppy and sodomize its corpse on national TV, and his base would praise him for it, saying how “out of the box,” “what a different kind of president” he was. If sucking up to Dear Leader and excusing every one of his crimes is “independence,” Trump’s supporters would win a gold medal.
  • Mercy. Trump puts children in cages and separates them from their parents. The members of his personality cult applaud this vicious behavior precisely because it is so vicious. All too many of them like to hurt people. They do it vicariously through Trump, and feel self-righteous about it.
  • Your Tired, Your Poor. Somehow the powers that be and their tools have convinced idiot Trumpistas that people even poorer and more powerless than they are are the cause of their misfortunes. These fear-driven dumbasses actually believe that desperate people fleeing horrendous conditions in Central America are somehow threatening them. (Many of the refugees are fleeing Honduras — thank Hillary and Obama for that one with their support of the coup there in 2011, and the installation of the narco Hernández regime)  Trump’s followers concentrate their hate on these powerless scapegoats who just want work and safety for their families, while supporting a billionaire parasite who’s never done a single day’s work in his life.
  • Fairness. Republicans support a system in which the three richest men in the United States own more of the wealth than the bottom 50% of the population combined, and in which unearned income is only taxed at half the rate or earned (through work) income. They support a system that is rigged in favor of the rich. They’re also so deluded that they think that a billionaire con man is somehow on their side, and that he somehow personifies the American spirit. To quote a sign I saw yesterday (carried by a goofball at the corner of First Avenue and Ft. Lowell), “God delivered Trump to us.” If so, the Westboro Baptist Church must be right, and god really must hate America.
  • Loyalty. The orange cancer just capitulated to Turkish Islamist tyrant Erdogan and betrayed America’s only true ally in the Middle East, the Kurds. They lost over 11,000 soldiers fighting ISIS, and Trump just sold them out. As a result, there are already mass civilian casualties, over 100,000 have fled the Turkish invasion/bombardment, ISIS captives have been freed en masse, and America’s reputation is in shreds. Of course, the bootlickers in his personality cult will somehow find a way to praise him for this.
  • Courage. Then there’s Cadet Bonespur’s draft exemption during the Viet Nam War. There were reasons in abundance to avoid involuntary servitude during that imperialistic crime against humanity. Somehow, one suspects, Trump’s draft avoidance had nothing to do with principled reasons. On a more contemporary level, Trump routinely doesn’t even have the guts to take responsibility for his own actions. The latest example is his refusal to take responsibility for betraying the Kurds, insisting, even after his capitulating phone call to the Turkish thug whose tanks then rolled into northern Syria, that he’s somehow not responsible for that, and in fact opposes it. If he’d actually opposed it, he wouldn’t have pulled back US troops and wouldn’t have told Erdogan it was okay to invade Syria. (It’s a very good bet that most Republicans in both the House and Senate are well aware of this and are disgusted by it. But they’ve placed their own political fortunes, currying favor with the Trump cultists, above what’s good for the country. How patriotic.)

Trump’s cultists are the seamy underside of America: they’re the authoritarian 25% or so of the American people who give lip service to American ideals, wrap themselves in the flag, and then betray everything the flag is supposed to stand for. Their motto might as well be “Sieg Heil Y’all.” (with a tip of the hat to the late Molly Ivins, who ages ago came up with that most apt phrase)