Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’



MOUNT RUSHMORE, n. An aesthetic disaster in South Dakota. A desecrated mountain bearing the likenesses of four dead politicians chiseled into its flanks–in other words, graffiti tagging taken to its logical extreme. Every year, this unnatural wonder is reverently viewed by hundreds of thousands of camera-toting, polyester-clad Americans, a people who cherish kitsch ugliness as they do the infliction of pain.

(As regards Mr. Tangerine Man’s personality cult, the mass of plague enthusiasts who’ll shortly befoul that formerly beautiful mountain with an orgy of chest-beating and butt-kissing, H.L. Mencken had their number a century ago: “The American people, taking one with another, constitute the most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the end of the Middle Ages.”)

* * *

–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the 21st-century successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


It’s hard to believe, but there are a few good things coming out of the Coronavirus, economic, and systemic racism crises. The personal and societal tragedies far outweigh these bright spots, but they’re worth mentioning nonetheless. It’s always good to remind oneself that things aren’t quite as bad as they seem.

Here are some of the silver linings. Let’s take the darkest, foulest of “silver linings” — a “silver lining” akin to that you’d get by dropping a scratched-up, stamped-metal spoon into a septic tank, hauling it out two years later, holding it up to the sun, and regarding its glowing, rusty edge alight with filigreed fecal matter: that glowing, tangerine-colored fecal matter being Donald Trump. Here are the relatively good things about him:

  • Donald Trump is a moron, too stupid to understand his own best interests. Yes, Trump’s incompetence, his complete failure to lead during a deadly pandemic, has already cost well over 100,000 lives, and will likely lead to at least twice that. But when he came into office, Trump had a chance to completely destroy what passes for American democracy — that chance supplied by both the outright racist, authoritarian Republican Party and the screw-the-poor, authoritarian, corporate-servant Democrats, such as the Clintons, Obama, Holder, Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi, who all pursued Republican economic and social policies that resulted in an ever-expanding wealth gap, grossly inadequate and unequal healthcare and education, mass incarceration, and the police as uniformed, above-the-law terrorists.

If the Republicans had placed in power a capable fascist, who handled the Coronavirus pandemic competently, it’d likely be game over: he’d be immensely popular — and he’d have ushered in outright totalitarianism, which Trump obviously yearns for. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the Republicans installed Donald Trump, an outright idiot, too stupid to understand even the most basic of his own best interests. (We’re talking about a man so stupid he managed to bankrupt several casinos — otherwise known as licenses to print money — who began receiving a $200,000-a-year allowance at age three, who received over $400 million from his dad, and who was so incompetent he’d be much better off today if he’d just put his money into an index fund.) Trump’s self-sabotaging stupidity has given us vitally necessary breathing room.

  • Trump is a bullying sadist who brags about sexually assaulting women and his anti-LGBT Bigotry. Trump’s boasting about his sexual assaults, with over 20 credible accusers, including three who’ve accused him of rape; his utterly creepy comments about how “hot” his daughter is and how he’d like to date her; his condescending and dismissive attitude toward women; and his assaults on women’s reproductive rights have left him massively unpopular with women, and hence headed for defeat. (I’m a guy, and reading about Trump’s assaults on women leaves me wanting to take a shower; I’m sure the reaction is even more visceral for most women.)

Trump has also been pandering to his theo-fascist evangelical base by attacking gay human rights. This is already backfiring, furthering isolating the Republicans from the American mainstream.

  • Trump is an outright racist. Race-baiting has always been Trump’s stock in trade. Starting with the Obama birth certificate bullshit, and followed up by separating families seeking asylum (literally tearing babies out of their mothers’ arms), locking immigrant kids up in cages, and attempting to deport kids who were brought here without documentation and have spent their entire lives here, Trump has made it very plain that one of the most important Republican playing cards, perhaps the most important, is outright racism. Since the supposedly decent Republicans have seen fit to in no wise oppose Trump’s vicious actions, they’ve made it plain that racism is the Republican calling card — as it’s been since passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the consequent Republican Southern Strategy, replete with race baiting and voter suppression. Now, that Republican racism is out in the open (no more need for dog whistles), the Republicans have to own it, and they’re on a demographic suicide course. Trump has accelerated this day of reckoning.
  • Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. For this, we should thank Trump. Clinton was the ultimate, entitled, neo-liberal Washington insider. During the 2016 primary campaign, she rained down fire on Bernie Sanders’ mild, common-sense reforms within capitalism (reforms which he inexplicably labeled a “revolution” — bad branding if there ever was bad branding). Clinton was the ultimate status quo candidate. Had she won, the underlying, festering problems — a grossly unequal distribution of wealth and income, an ever-expanding surveillance state, grossly inadequate healthcare, stagnating wages, staggering student debt, an accelerating climate-change crisis — would have gone unaddressed (especially wealth and income distribution), or barely addressed, the Republicans could have run against her without having any real solutions to anything (as has become obvious), they could well have kept control of both the Senate and the House, and in 2020 they could have run an intelligent fascist who could have completely destroyed our sad farce of a democracy en route to an environmental apocalypse. Clinton, her husband, Biden, Obama, et al., paved the way for a Republican fascist. Thank god the Republicans chose one who’s uniquely loathsome and utterly incompetent.

Trump, with his bargain-basement Mussolini act, has alerted a great many people to the looming threat of fascism, and has provoked a huge progressive backlash. Where it will lead, no one knows, but the backlash against Trump, racism, economic disparity, and Trump’s callous, deliberately cruel policies provides at least some hope. One of those hopes is that the Republican Party will become a rump party influential in only the most religiously, socially, and culturally vicious and benighted parts of the country.

There’s one more related, relatively bright spot:

  • Joe Biden is an unprincipled opportunist who’s been in thrall to corporate interests his entire career. He’s made a career of catering to corporate interests (e.g., the bankruptcy bill that made it almost impossible to discharge student debt), advocating mass incarceration (his 1994 crime bill), and supporting Obama’s persecution of patriotic whistle blowers such as Ed Snowden. The good news here is that Biden is an unprincipled opportunist — but a smart one, at least smarter than Trump. He knows which way the wind is blowing, and he’ll probably bend accordingly. He might try to institute at least a few of the desperately needed reforms because he’ll think it’s to his political advantage to do so. I certainly hope so.

We’ll shortly deal with the silver linings of the Coronavirus pandemic and the economic collapse. (And, yes, there are some silver linings there, too.)

 

 


With the Coronavirus death toll already passing 70,000, and with Trump having royally screwed up the response thus far — where is the testing? where are the contact tracers? where is the PPE? why did Trump sit on his hands for months (January, February, the first half of March) after being warned repeatedly of the grave dangers of the coming pandemic? — one could make a good case that Trump is already guilty of mass negligent homicide. While the virus spread unchecked, Trump did next to nothing; instead, he wasted time downplaying the pandemic, insisting that the virus would “magically” go away. As a result, tens of thousands died. Trump’s inept response to the pandemic is almost certainly the greatest presidential leadership failure in the U.S. over the last half century, perhaps ever. (G.W. Bush’s plot to invade Iraq is a close second.)

In recent weeks, Trump has been undercutting the recommendations of his own Coronavirus task force by touting dangerous quack cures and proven-ineffective treatments. Now, with the virus still raging and another 1,000 to 2,000 Americans dying every day because of it, Trump and his science-denying minions are doing everything they can to ensure that there will be a second, deadly wave of the virus. Trump encourages the thugs, racists, outright Nazis, and deluded corporate tools participating in the astroturf reopening demonstrations, while Republican governors lift stay-at-home restrictions and reopen public gathering places.

These utterly irresponsible words and actions — prematurely opening the economy contrary to the advice of virtually all public health professionals — while the number of cases and deaths continues to rise, and while testing is still severely inadequate, guarantees that there will be a second deadly wave.

Why on earth would Trump want to do this? There are two reasons. The first is that, as is obvious, Trump is a malignant narcissist who cares about no one other than himself and his family. The second reason for this idiotic premature reopening of the economy is that Trump is, in fact, an idiot. It’s entirely possible that he might simply be incapable of understanding the consequences of what he’s are doing.

That’s probably not the case, though. Even though Trump and his minions are refusing to do what’s necessary — massive testing and contact tracing, income support for those who lost their jobs, institution of guaranteed sick leave across the economy, and institution of universal healthcare, while paying for it by taxing the hell out of the rich — there’s almost certainly a darker reason for the Republicans’ irresponsible actions and callous inaction. Trump has quite evidently made the calculation that if the economy recovers quickly and the second wave of infection, suffering, and death sweeps the country after this fall’s election, it’ll improve his prospects of winning a second term. He’s very probably wrong on both counts, but he appears to be dead set on this cold strategy.

Donald Trump and the Republicans have refused to provide anything approaching adequate aid to the tens of millions who have lost their jobs in this time of pandemic. They’ve coerced America’s unemployed workers (at least those who’ll have jobs to go back to) into making a horrible choice: expose yourselves (and your loved ones) to a deadly disease, or lose your homes and starve. As a result, at least tens of thousands more will die unnecessary, cruel deaths.

This isn’t politicking as usual. It’s premeditated mass murder.

 

 


For the last month I’ve been self-isolating, and have been working on a long-neglected project. Since 2014 or 2015, I’ve been intending to expand 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity (an 8,000-word pamphlet I wrote 20 years ago) to book length, and to increase the number of topics it covers. The purpose of 20 Reasons was to list all of the misery-producing traits of Christianity in one place, and I was pleased with the result when the pamphlet appeared in 2000, but over the years I gradually realized that the topic deserved much more extensive treatment.

With the election of Trump (with his evangelical true-believer base), the project took on more urgency, and now with the onset of the pandemic and consequent self-isolation, I finally have the time and motivation to finish the book.

At the moment I’ve written somewhere north of 30,000 words, and will likely write at least that many more by the time I finish the first draft in, I hope, late May or early June. The following is the first draft of Chapter 11, one of the new chapters. I’ll undoubtedly alter and expand it over the next month or two.

* * *

Christianity has an exceedingly narrow, legalistic view of morality

Everything which is not forbidden is allowed.” – the Lotus Principle (English common law)

Christians have certainly taken that principle to heart: they at least pretend to obey the dictates of the Bible (and their priests, popes, and preachers), while acting as if anything not specifically prohibited – no matter how sleazy, unethical, or outright monstrous – is perfectly fine, precisely because it is not prohibited by what they consider the only moral code: that expounded in the Bible.

They often pretend to keep the Bible’s commands punctiliously (keeping all of these commands would be utterly impossible), and to underline the sacredness of those commands will cite Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:18: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Of course, they only keep those biblical commands they choose to keep, especially those in vogue among their fellow Christians and those most open to public view.

The words of Jesus in Matthew 5:18 sum up Christian morality: follow the law as prescribed in the Bible.

But what a law!

Here are the most prominent prohibitions in the Bible, the Ten Commandments. (This very common list is an abbreviated version of the commands in Exodus 20.)

  1. I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any strange gods before Me.
  2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

  3. Thou shalt not make any graven image

  4. Keep holy the Sabbath day.

  5. Honor thy father and mother.

  6. Thou shalt not kill.

  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

  8. Thou shalt not steal.

  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.

This is a rather minimal set of moral precepts. The first three commandments, presumably considered the most important by their author, speak only to the pettiness of that author. The fourth seems reasonable except that it implies wasting time on religious rites. The fifth also seems reasonable, but does it really merit being a fundamental part of a brief moral code? The sixth is more than reasonable and should be a basic part of any code of morals – and it’s a pity that the Old Testament god repeatedly commanded its followers to violate it. The seventh commandment makes sense to some, but again, should it be a fundamental part of a moral code? Aren’t there other things a bit more important? The eighth is also reasonable and should be part of any code of morals, as should the ninth. And the tenth commandment is simply weird: stealing is already prohibited by the eighth commandment, so why include this thought crime unless part of the author’s purpose was to control the thoughts as well as the actions of believers.

Let’s see what else the Bible prohibits or condemns. (This is far from a complete list of biblical prohibitions/condemnations, and in most cases there are additional Bible verses prohibiting or condemning these things. Almost everything else the Bible condemns or prohibits is equally trivial or absurd as the list that follows.)

  • Working on the sabbath (death penalty). (Exodus 31:14-15, Exodus 35:1-2, Numbers 15:32-36)
  • Worshiping other gods or idols (death penalty). (Deuteronomy 13:6-9, Deuteronomy 17:2-5, Colossians 3:5)
  • Cursing one’s parents (death penalty). (Deuteronomy 17:24)
  • Rebelliousness (death penalty). (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
  • Witchcraft (death penalty). (Exodus 22:18, Leviticus 20:27)
  • Eating shellfish (an abomination). (Leviticus 11:10-12)
  • Blasphemy (death penalty). (Leviticus 24:14-16)
  • Wearing mixed fabrics. (Leviticus 19:19, Deuteronomy 22:11)
  • And, of course, sacrificing a blemished ox. (Deuteronomy 17:1)

But where the authors of the Bible really get hot and bothered is in their condemnation of sex. The Bible explicitly prohibits or condemns the following:

  • Adultery (an abomination and a death penalty). (abomination: Ezekiel 23:36-37, Leviticus 18:20, 27; death penalty: Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22, Ezekiel 23:45-47)

  • Fornication (death penalty). (Leviticus 21:9; death penalty: Ezekiel 16:35-40)

  • Cross dressing (abomination). (Deuteronomy 22:5)

  • Homosexuality (abomination and death penalty). (abomination: Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13; death penalty: Leviticus 20:13)

  • Sex with an “unclean” woman (abomination). (Leviticus 18:19, 27)

  • Being a rape victim but not crying out (death penalty). (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)

  • Inability to prove (female) virginity (death penalty). (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)

  • Sex with wife and mother-in-law (death penalty). (Leviticus 20:14)

  • Bestiality (death penalty and abomination). (death penalty: Exodus22:19, Leviticus 20:15; abomination: Leviticus 18: 23, 27)

  All of this begs the question, what doesn’t the Bible prohibit?

  • Slavery. The Bible nowhere condemns it, and in many places condones it, and even includes instructions on how to (mis)treat slaves. (See Chapter 16). And in one notable passage (Exodus 21:20-21) explicitly treats slaves as property.

  • Torture. The Bible not only doesn’t forbid torture anywhere in its nearly 800,000 words — it commands it: a number of passages order believers to not only kill, but to torture transgressors to death by burning or stoning (e.g., Leviticus 20:14, 20:27, 21:9). One might also mention that the Almighty is more than a bit of a sadist, as witnessed by, to choose but two among many examples, its horrific treatment of Job and its mental torture of Abraham

  • Rape. Not only doesn’t the Bible forbid rape, but in many instances God commands it, including child rape. Numbers 31:17-18 provides a “twofer”: in it, God not only orders child rape, but also mass murder.

  • Racism. There is not a single word in the Bible condemning it.

  • (Aggressive) Violence. Nowhere does the Bible condemn physical aggression. Rather, it commands it, over and over again.

  • Coercion. Again, the Bible nowhere condemns coercion. On the contrary, the relationship of God to its “chosen people” is coercive almost in its entirety, and what is slavery (which is implicitly condoned by the Bible) if not the ultimate form of coercion?

  • Cruelty. The Bible nowhere condemns it, and large parts of the Old Testament glory in it.

  • Mass Murder. God explicitly commands it (Hittites, Canaanites, and other victims of the “chosen people” in the “promised land”).

All of this helps to explain why so many Christians behave so abominably toward their fellow humans and other animals. They’ve learned from the example of their “moral” guide, and think that as long as they observe some of the injunctions in the Bible, especially those relating to sex, they’ll be “saved.” Beyond that, they believe they have complete carte blanche to do anything, no matter how cruel or vile. (Here, one can’t help but think of religiously observant mafia members, and of the Catholic Church which is only too happy to welcome them and take their money. One can’t also help but think of the torturers and torture implements employed by the church for centuries during the medieval and Renaissance periods.)

In response, Christian apologists would point out that there are many passages in the New Testament, especially those purporting to be the words of Jesus, prescribing kindness and tolerance. What they don’t point out is that in Matthew 5:18 Jesus specifically endorsed, as “the law,” all of the terrible things cited above, and that he never denounced the horrors of slavery or torture. That there are some good things in the Bible doesn’t excuse the many awful things in it, nor its many grave moral omissions.

It’s not hard to come up with a much better and much shorter list of “commandments.” In fact, The Satanic Temple (whose members have been aptly described as “atheism’s shock troops”) has done so with its Seven Fundamental Tenets:

  1. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason.
  2. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
  3. One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
  4. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo one’s own.
  5. Beliefs should conform to one’s best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one’s beliefs.
  6. People are fallible. If one makes a mistake, one should do one’s best to rectify it and resolve any harm that might have been caused.
  7. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

You decide, which seems a better moral guide, the Ten Commandments or the Seven Fundamental Tenets?


An Open Letter to the president
from Tommy Lee
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Fucking Lunatic,
At your recent press conference – more a word salad that had a stroke and fell down stairs, you were CLEARLY so out of your depth you needed scuba gear. Within minutes of going off air your minions were backpedaling faster than Cirque De Soleil acrobats… In India a week ago, i couldn’t get past the bit about your being the most popular visitor in the history of fucking India — a country of a BILLION human souls that’s only 3000 years old, give or take.!!! Trust me – Gandhi pulled CROWDS.. You pulled a cricket stadium and half WALKED out…

Do you know how fucking insane you sound, you off-brand butt plug? That’s like the geopolitical equivalent of “that stripper really likes me” — only 10,000 times crazier and less self aware.

You are fucking exhausting. Every day is a natural experiment in determining how long 300 million people can resist coring out their own assholes with an ice auger. Every time I hear a snippet of your Queens-tinged banshee larynx farts, I want to scream!
We are fucking tired. As bad as we all thought your presidency would be when Putin got you elected, it’s been inestimably worse.

You called a hostile, nuclear-armed head of state “short and fat.” How the fuck does that help?

You accused a woman — a former friend, no less — of showing up at your resort bleeding from the face and begging to get in. You, you, YOU — the guy who looks like a Christmas haggis inexplicably brought to life by Frosty’s magic hat — yes, you of all people said that.

You attempted — with evident fucking glee — to get 24 million people thrown off their health insurance.

You gave billions away to corporations and the already wealthy while simultaneously telling struggling poor people that you were doing exactly the opposite.

You endorsed a pedophile, praised brutal dictators, and defended LITERAL FUCKING NAZIS!

Ninety-nine percent of everything you say is either false, crazy, incoherent, just plain cruel, or a rancid paella of all four.

Oh, by the way, Puerto Rico is still FUBAR. You got yourself and your family billions in tax breaks for Christmas. What do they get? More paper towels?

Enough, enough, enough, enough! For the love of God and all that is holy, good, and pure, would you please, finally and forever, shut your feculent KFC-hole until you have something valuable — or even marginally civil — to say?

You are a fried dick sandwich with a side of schlongs. If chlamydia and gonorrhea had a son, you’d appoint him HHS secretary. You are a disgraceful, pustulant hot stew full of casuistry, godawful ideas, unintelligible non sequiturs, and malignant rage.

You are the perfect circus orangutan diaper from Plato’s World of Forms.

So fuck you Mr. President. And fuck you forever.

Oh, and Pence, you oleaginous house ferret. Fuck you, too. You’ll be as useful as a chocolate teapot against a medical crisis you Bible thumping cock socket.


(improved billboard by Billboard Liberation Front)


Two Trumpists up in Phoenix — the home to all that is foul, all that is atrocious — decided to take Dear Leader’s advice and ingested  chloroquine, an outdated anti-malaria drug with hideous side effects, to ward off coronavirus.

Better, they took it in its most readily available form, not as a pharmaceutical but as a cheap industrial chemical used for cleaning fish tanks.

Predictably, their adventure in self-medication / following Glorious Leader’s advice didn’t end well.

They both fell ill within a half-hour, and the guy died shortly after being admitted to the hospital.

His wife fell seriously ill, but survived, and . . . .

She says she’ll never again believe anything uttered by the Chosen One.

So . . . . Two down, 62,984,826 to go.


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.

* * *

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.


(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.)

* * *

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)

 

 

 

 


Some Trump 2016 supporters voted for him out of frustration. They were totally fed up with stagnant wages and both job and home losses during the Great Recession; Obama had betrayed their hopes — he saved the big banks but not them; and the Democrats in 2016 presented them with a Hobson’s choice: an almost equally loathsome candidate who promised more of the same, or Trump, who at least promised to shake things up.

The Democrats thought they could blackmail people into voting for their widely despised candidate, who won via a rigged primary, who openly ridiculed proposals for fundamental economic change and greater fairness, and who was the most disliked Democratic candidate since polls started tracking the matter half a century ago. Trump was even more disliked, so they thought they had the electorate in a hammer lock. It was essentially, “Vote for me suckers, or it’s Trump! What are you gonna do, punks?” Clinton and her accomplices didn’t even attempt to present  a positive agenda. Her message was pure and simple, “It’s me or Trump.”

And, surprise surprise, that message failed to inspire.

The corporate Democrats had argued that Clinton was more electable than Bernie Sanders, who had a far higher popularity rating and who was calling for fundamental (if reformist) change. (Bernie’s calling his proposals a “revolution” is ridiculous — they’re a call for mild reforms within a fundamentally corrupt system. Still, they’re the best thing going on the electoral front).

Today, another longtime Washington insider, corporate Democrat and Obama accomplice, Joe Biden, has taken up the “electability” argument. He has the same do-nothing mantra as Clinton, “It’s me or Trump,” the same lack of proposals for real change, and the same stench of insider politics. (Why has his son Hunter been receiving $50K per month for being on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, a position for which his only qualification is his name? If anything, Biden has behaved honorably there. But the fact remains that his son is trading on the Biden name.)

As well, Biden has been a faithful servant of big pharma and, especially, the big banks and credit card companies, who have royally screwed average people. He was a lobbyist for credit card giant MBNA through 2005, and worked diligently to make it harder for people to file for medical-caused bankruptcy, and all but impossible for students to discharge through bankruptcy student loan debt, which has approximately quadrupled since 2005.

One thing Biden’s supporters conveniently forget to mention in their “electability” argument is that Trump received the votes of only 26% of those eligible to vote, and Clinton roughly 28%, while 5% voted for minor party candidates (almost certainly out of frustration), and a full 41% of those eligible to vote chose not to vote.

If the Democrats have the sense to nominate a candidate calling for real change (especially in healthcare), they’ll almost certainly win. Of Trump’s 2016 supporters, especially those who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, they could likely pick up one in ten. And of the 41% who didn’t vote in 2016, even if they motivated only one in ten to vote, they’d win in a landslide.

The only way they could really fuck this up is by nominating Joe Biden.



Yes, plural: linings, not lining. Let’s begin with the most obvious:

  • Trump has laid bare the racism that is the foundation of the modern Republican Party. Since the 1960s, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the partial demise of the Jim Crow system, the Republican Party has pursued a “Southern Strategy” that appealed to racist whites through both anti-black/anti-Latino actions (e.g., the “war on drugs” and mass incarceration) and scapegoating rhetoric. Until recently, that rhetoric was of the dog-whistle variety, the use of code words (e.g., “illegal aliens,” “food stamps,” “welfare queens,” “tough on crime,” etc.) that GOP leaders could (im)plausibly deny were racist. Now, the GOP’s racial bigotry is overt. With Trump, the festering racism that is the basis of the Republican Party’s strategy has oozed out from under its rock. In a way, it’s refreshing to see racists being racists, rather than hypocritically asserting that they’re not. (Some Republicans still make that pro forma assertion, but you can tell their hearts aren’t in it, and they don’t seem to expect any but the most willfully ignorant to buy it.)
  • One of the primary reasons the GOP got away for so long with its implausible denial that it’s a racist party is that the corporate media allowed it to. For over half a century, corporate outlets virtually always, under the guise of neutrality, balance, allowed Republican politicians and pundits to deny that their code-worded racist terms and rhetoric were in fact racist. (The way “neutrality” works can be exemplified by the following: “Some say the sun rises in the East. Others say it rises in the West. The controversy continues.”) Now, at least some corporate media outfits (e.g., AP, NBC, CNN) are calling the GOP’s racism “racism,” and some are calling Trump’s, and occasionally other GOP leaders’, lies “lies,” rather than “misstatements,” “erroneous statements,” or “untruths.” I don’t expect this to continue past Trump, but it sure is refreshing while it lasts.
  • Trump’s overt racism has laid bare the GOP’s claim to represent all of America, all of the people. By definition, racists do not represent all of the people, but rather one “superior” group. (While Trump claims to “love” his overwhelmingly white supporters, he, and the rest of the GOP. are cynically manipulating his ignorant, gullible, and mean-spirited followers, while systematically screwing them — consider Trump’s tax scam, his opposition to raising the minimum wage, and the GOP’s perpetual campaign to prevent universal healthcare, leaving tens of millions uninsured or under-insured, with tens of thousands resultant unnecessary deaths annually.)
  • Trump’s overt racism has laid bare the GOP claim to be the party of morality. (The same could and should be said about his sewer-rat personal behavior.) What’s moral about racism? What’s moral about supporting racists?
  • Trump’s racism has also exposed the gross hypocrisy of his evangelical base. Evangelicals claim to be the standard bearers of “family values,” yet Trump’s racist immigration policies resulting in deliberate separation of children from parents, children locked in cages, and U.S. Border Patrol and ICE agents literally ripping toddlers from their mothers’ arms, seem not to bother them at all. These theofascists vehemently oppose women controlling their own bodies, and they whine endlessly about abortion killing “babies” (“babies” including clumps of cells no bigger than the head of a pin), yet when Trump inflicts grievous harm upon actual babies and their parents, these hypocrites are silent, and continue to support the bullying, racist thug who deliberately hurts children. If you wanted to put the hypocrisy and amorality of the religious right under a magnifying glass, Trump’s racism has supplied that glass.
  • Trump’s racism has also exposed the sheer gutlessness, the utter lack of principles of virtually all Republican “leaders.” Since Trump took office, they’ve aided and abetted him in covering up his many and serious criminal activities, and now they don’t even have the guts to denounce his overtly racist statements and actions. Trump’s racism has shown the craven and contemptible nature of the GOP and its leaders.

In short, Trump’s racism has shattered the facade of normalcy in America. It’s pulled back the curtain on many ugly truths. Decent people are repelled by the racism and viciousness of Trump and his followers, and that racism and viciousness have shown how necessary it is to oppose Trump’s “very fine people” in the streets and to crush them at the ballot box next year.

 


A few days ago, an old friend I haven’t seen for some time dropped by for a shoot-the-shit session. We’ve never been especially close, but always enjoyed hanging out and, in the old days, did some home brewing together. He’s a smart guy, an ex-Army officer, and fairly progressive politically.

It was late afternoon, approaching evening, with a deep blue sky overhead, with a jet streaking to the northwest leaving a lengthy contrail behind it, with both of us sitting in the shade around the back-patio table. We were about two beers in, and as the contrail spread out and drifted straight above us, I pointed to it and drawled, “Chem trails!” thinking we’d have some fun talking about conspiracy theories and pseudoscience.

I was wrong.

He proceeded to vigorously expound the chem-trail conspiracy theory, but couldn’t provide anything approaching coherent explanations of why? how? — what’s the purpose? how’s it work? — who’s doing it (the government, of course)? or how could “they” cover up a massive conspiracy over a period of decades?

It was like trying to nail mucilage to a door. He retreated into a cloud of ever-vaguer (hence harder to debunk) claims, and eventually withdrew to the ultimate conspiracy-theorist position: “You can’t prove I’m wrong. Prove it!” Never mind that the burden of proof is on those making claims, especially extraordinary claims.

I then asked him where he was getting his information from. Guess, just guess. It was all on the ‘net of course, and the first site he mentioned was — wait for it — Infowars. I took a deep breath and asked him, “You don’t look at The Guardian, CNN, NBC, New York Times, AP, Al Jazeera, El País [Madrid daily, which has a great online site], or any of the other normal news sites?” Nope. They’re part of the “cover up,” and he only trusts Infowars and other sites that are “consistently accurate.”

At that point, I said something to the effect of “You’re out of your goddamned mind!” “No you are!” etc., etc., until we decide to have another beer and switch topics, to something we could agree on, such as that Trump is a cancerous polyp lodged in the colon of humanity.

My pal’s immersed in an alternate-reality bubble that’s hermetically sealed, and that confirms his faith in the reality of “chem trails.” Oh dear! Sigh.

The chem trails “theory” (a bad misuse of the term “theory”) sounds fairly harmless, but it isn’t. Why? Once you abandon rationality and evidence-based decision making — i.e., the scientific method — in any area, you’re totally adrift, vulnerable to emotional appeals, and with no even remotely reliable means of determining the real from the imaginary.

Thus, medieval clerics believed that witches caused thunderstorms, contemporary religious fanatics insist that a mass of cells smaller than the head of a pin is a human being, others insist that the world is ruled by a cabal of Jewish bankers, and still others insist that a mean-spirited sexual predator and con man who’s never done a day’s work in his life and began receiving a $200,000-a-year allowance at the age of three, is somehow on the side of the working man.

All of these irrational beliefs and conspiracy theories have obvious, real-world consequences.

So, how do we debunk conspiracy theories? Critiquing them and presenting massive contrary evidence seems, by itself, to have no effect. Just look at the Trump personality cult. Trump openly bragged that he could murder someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and no one would care. It’s probably more extreme than that. As I’ve mentioned previously, Trump could probably strangle a puppy and then sodomize its corpse live on national TV, and his sycophants would excuse his behavior as “Trump being Trump,” “a different kind of president.”

Trump flaunts this immunity by resorting to ever more blatant lies, lies that a third-grader should understand as lies, and that demonstrate his hold over his followers. A recent example is his claim that China will pay the tariffs he imposed on Chinese goods. It would take an absolute moron or a totally subservient, brain-washed cultist to buy this obvious denial of reality. Yet, millions of people apparently do buy it.

So, what to do?

Regarding Trump’s goose-steppers, they’re only 26% of eligible voters (in 2016, Hillary got 28%, minor party candidates 5%, and fully 41% were so disgusted they didn’t even bother to vote), and once economic reality hits them in the face — especially the upcoming recession [my guess, mid to late 2020] and ever-increasing medical bills — some will abandon him. Most won’t, but some will.

In a broader sense, cultists are almost unreachable. Until physical reality smacks ’em in the face, they’re unreachable — and even then most will cling to their Glorious Leader and his scapegoating, turning their hate on the helpless and near-helpless.

We need to reach those who haven’t yet fallen into the clutches of cults and those who are wavering.

How?

One of the most important ways is the teaching of science and critical thinking skills in grade school and high school. Give people these tools early, and they’ll use them to safeguard themselves, their friends, and their families. (It’s no accident that the leading dissidents in the USSR were scientists.)

Another way is through ridicule. Irrational, cultist beliefs are invariably absurd, and often harmful, when held up to the light of day. Ridicule won’t reach brainwashed cultists, but it will reach the young and those with doubts. We need a legion of George Carlins and Christopher Hitchens to tell the scathing truth (honorable present-day shoutouts to Jim Jeffries, The Onion, and The Satanic Temple).

A third and important way is to present factual, well documented information. For decades, this was the only approach used by rationalist and atheist groups, and it’s clearly inadequate. But in combination with these other approaches, it’s invaluable.

There are probably other good ways to combat conspiracy-theory/cult beliefs, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind.

Please add your ideas in the comments section. I’d love to hear them.

 

 


All right. I’m bracing myself for blowback from the identity-politics wing of the Democratic Party — that part that’s more concerned about patting themselves on the back, demonstrating their virtue, and shaming their more pragmatic brethren, than defeating Trump.

Think I’m talking about Joe Biden? Wrong! Biden is a corporate sell-out hack with no discernible virtues. He backed the Clinton “tough on crime” measures in the ’90s that helped increase mass incarceration and racial sentencing disparity; as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the run-up to the disastrous Iraq War, he not only voted in favor of that disaster, but avoided calling expert witnesses who would have called Bush/Cheney’s blatant dishonesty into question. He actively abetted that crime against humanity, helped sell it, because he almost certainly thought it would be to his political benefit to do so. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he totally screwed Anita Hill at the Clarence Thomas hearings — and helped saddle us with extreme-right authoritarian Thomas — by refusing to hear Hill’s corroborating witnesses about Thomas’s gross sexual harassment of Hill.

As VP, he enthusiastically supported Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s war on whistle blowers (thus criminalizing exposure of war crimes, while letting war criminals off the hook).

He also supported Obama’s decision to save the banks while screwing the millions of people who lost their jobs and/or homes who voted for Obama, the master bullshit artist, who betrayed us en masse. (Yes, I voted for Obama in 2008, hoping that his “hope and change” promises weren’t complete bullshit, complete dishonesty — I was wrong.)

Biden also supported Hillary Clinton’s engineered Libya disaster (with no exit strategy in sight), which she thought would make her appear “tough.”

And, of course, he used his VP shoulder to prop up the Obama/Clinton policy of support for “ISIS-with-oil,” the murderous Saudi Islamic regime.

Joe Biden is a complete fraud as a representative of the working class, and a symptom of everything that’s wrong with the Democratic Party.

Most recently, however, he was ambushed by Kamala Harris on day 2 of the Democratic debates. He was like a deer in headlights.  Notwithstanding that Harris’s attack was simplistic and borderline dishonest (yes, Biden did repeatedly praise racist ubermensch John Stennis), and completely missed the point, Harris did Trump a major favor.

It’s always the same with conventional identity-politics liberals, such as Harris: they pose a false dichotomy. In this case, that the “choice” was between forcing white kids to be bussed to shitty, predominantly black schools an hour away from their homes, or be “racist.”

This totally misses the point: Why are some schools shitty, with damn near no money, and others aren’t? Unequal funding!

The bussing “solution” to this is to maintain unequal, shitty schools in black areas (and around here Mexican areas), but to subject some white students to them as well to subject most black students to them, and to give a few black/Mexican students access to better “white” schools.

Can you think of a more effective way to set black and white (and Mexican) working people at each other’s throats? Why not equal funding across district lines? Or, better, across state or federal lines.

Why not? Why not equal funding? The status quo is called “artificial scarcity.” It’s how they manipulate us.

It serves the interests of the powers-that-be very well. Divide and conquer.

No one — not a single one — of the Democratic candidates, not even Bernie Sanders, had the guts to point this out. Not a one had the guts to point out that the very obvious solution is to get away from property-tax funding of schools and to turn to equal state (better, federal) funding for every damn school in the country.

No one called Kamala Harris on this. No one called her out on playing the false-dichotomy, racial-division game.

All successful improvement programs (notably Social Security, Medicare), are universal. They benefit everyone. To do less, as Harris (and Biden, and Clinton, and Obama) did is to set us up for division along racial lines — perhaps deliberately. Which plays into the hands of the GOP racists.

And let’s not even start on “reparations.” The fundamental assumption of this is that things are basically okay, but for racial disparities. Really? What reality are you living in? What about the Mexicans who the border crossed? What about the Native Americans? What about the illiterate European immigrants who died working in abusive, exploitative conditions (e.g., one of my grandfathers — an otherwise horrible excuse for a human being — who died from from silicosis after working for decades in awful conditions in a foundry — I remember at five, in the 1950s, watching him hurl his lungs up on my parents’ back porch, and then die, strangling before my eyes.) Yeah, I’m “privileged.”

Please. Stop dividing us. Please stop patting yourselves on the backs for how “woke” you are, and please shut the fuck up — please get over yourselves, stop getting in the way of real change. Real change means betterment for everyone.

Unless Kamala Harris stops playing the identity-politics card, unless she starts talking about and emphasizing measures that will make life better for everyone (regardless of race and gender), she’s playing Trump’s game.