As we start a new era, see the similarities between Obama and Trump

Summary: America has begun a new era with a new president. The similarities between Obama in 2008 and Trump today are remarkable. More precisely, between how we saw Obama and see Trump, with the Left and Right swapping roles. Perhaps another 4 or 8 years of crushing disappointment will teach us lessons we failed to learn from Obama. Then the reform of America can begin.

“It’s agreed. Different presidents, same script for America!”

Trump and Obama

Tens of millions of Americans believed Obama was not a legitimate President, being born outside the USA (Wikipedia). Tens of millions of Americans believe that President Trump is not a legitimate President due to Russian interference in the election; large numbers believe Trump is an agent of Russia (stories have him compromised in a variety of different ways).

The parallels go deeper. Obama won the presidency campaigning as The One bringing “hope and change”. Trump won the presidency (with a minority in the popular vote) making a wide range of big populist promises — many of which will be difficult or impossible to fulfill (e.g., boosting employment in manufacturing, and rebalancing trade with China). Neither entered office with a plan to fulfill their promises.

A look at the Obama administration

Obama delivered on some of his promises, most notably by enacting ObamaCare, expanding the war in Afghanistan (unsuccessfully), and various Leftist social policies. On some he failed to deliver, such as closing the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay. He betrayed his followers on many key issues: the banker-friendly bailout (esp. allowing mass foreclosures using perjury and forgery, illegal assassination of an American citizen, increased illegal domestic surveillance, and the promised “most transparent administration” (staging an unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers, including use of the Espionage Act).

The Right went bonkers during the Obama years, with fantasies about Obama as Hitler — and the horrific deeds he would do. Sales of firearm soared during Obama’s years, as they prepared for Obama’s mass confiscation of guns.

About the coming Trump era

“Remember that the first person Donald Trump killed due to his presidency was Sharon Jones.” {Source.}

— She died on November 18 at age 60 of pancreatic cancer (NYT). The source of the rumor was an LAT story: “Jones, Roth said in an interview Saturday, suffered a stroke on Nov. 8 — election night — as she was watching the returns. …’She told the people that were there that Trump gave her the stroke,’ said Roth, laughing.”

Both aspects of these aspects of the Obama era are likely to repeat in the next four years, with Left and Right swapping places in this dance. Those hoping for populist reforms are dreaming. People are policy in Washington, and Trump has appointed a bog-standard far-right wing team. Meanwhile the Left has gone bonkers, screaming fantasies of a fascist revolution — including Trump’s mass imprisonment of his enemies and calling off the 2020. Every day their fantasies get wilder, doubling down on the fear barrage the failed so spectacularly during the election campaign.

“When one starts with ‘issuing a new decree’, it’s clear one has neither understanding nor respect for Constitutional separation of powers.” {Source.}
— Every President has used executive orders as a powerful tool (they are “decrees”).

What will happen if the Left’s forecasts of fascism prove false, and we get traditional conservatism? Will they be discredited after their years of wild unsupported predictions? They have wagered their credibility.

Experts say Trump has a narcissistic & authoritarian personality!

psychiatry

“On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

“The ‘Goldwater Rule’” in The Principles of Medical Ethics: With Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry, 2001 Edition.

The Goldwater Rule: Why breaking it is Unethical and Irresponsible.”

By Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Ph.D. at the American Psychiatric Assn website.
3 August 2016. Red emphasis added.

“Since 1973, the American Psychiatric Association and its members have abided by a principle commonly known as “the Goldwater Rule,” which prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on someone they have not personally evaluated. The rule is so named because of its association with an incident that took place during the 1964 presidential election. During that election, Fact magazine published a survey in which they queried some 12,356 psychiatrists on whether candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater, the GOP nominee, was psychologically fit to be president. A total of 2,417 of those queried responded, with 1,189 saying that Goldwater was unfit to assume the presidency.

“While there was no formal policy in place at the time that survey was published, the ethical implications of the Goldwater survey, in which some responding doctors even issued specific diagnoses without ever having examined him personally, became immediately clear. This large, very public ethical misstep by a significant number of psychiatrists violated the spirit of the ethical code that we live by as physicians, and could very well have eroded public confidence in psychiatry.

“We live in an age where information on a given individual is easier to access and more abundant than ever before, particularly if that person happens to be a public figure. With that in mind, I can understand the desire to get inside the mind of a Presidential candidate. I can also understand how a patient might feel if they saw their doctor offering an uninformed medical opinion on someone they have never examined. A patient who sees that might lose confidence in their doctor, and would likely feel stigmatized by language painting a candidate with a mental disorder (real or perceived) as “unfit” or “unworthy” to assume the Presidency.

“Simply put, breaking the Goldwater Rule is irresponsible, potentially stigmatizing, and definitely unethical.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the Obama years, about Trump and the new populism, and especially these…

  1. Three big things to expect from the Trump era.
  2. See the warnings about Trump’s infrastructure plan. It’s betraying populism.
  3. The Left goes hysterical over Trump, giving him a free ride as President.
  4. Trump assembles a Strategic and Policy Forum to better hear the 1%.
  5. Trump is the next logical step as America becomes a plutocracy.
  6. The Left sees President Trump and goes mad.

James Bowman reviews Disney’s “Frozen”, & its frozen ideology

Summary:  James Bowman reviews Disney’s Frozen, looking beneath the animation to show how it reflects the changing nature of women in America. That makes the film even more interesting — to people interesting in the New America rising on the ashes of the America-that-once-was. Better or worse? You decide.

 

Film review of Frozen:
“Frozen in Ideological Time “

By James Bowman.

American Spectator in the
issue of 14 February 2014.

Posted with his generous permission.

 

…The very concept of “seriousness” as applied to the arts hardly has any meaning now, ever since — as the Times’s film critic A.O. Scott announced nearly a decade ago — “children’s entertainment has become the cornerstone of the American movie industry, not only commercially, but artistically as well.”

But cartoons and the cartoon-like dominate to the extent that they do not only because so much of the movie audience today is made up of juveniles but also because they are the means of re-mythologizing the culture along progressivist lines with the help of the sort of fantasy known as ideology. Star Wars was a big part of that effort, of course, as was Star Trek.

Thirty years ago when I was a teacher, I once assigned a class to do a presentation on someone each pupil regarded as a hero. One boy gave his talk on Captain James T. Kirk. I made him go away and re-do it on someone real, as I thought he was mocking the assignment; but I wonder now if, even then, he simply had no better idea of heroism. Certainly you would be surprised nowadays if any child didn’t assume that what was wanted was an account of his favorite superhero. Real heroes, being no longer politically correct and gaining no advantage from their mere reality, can no longer compete with the fantastical kind.

The job that has been done on girls, while less well-recognized has been no less thorough than that which has been done on boys. Princesses are to girls what superheroes are to boys: objects of admiration not in spite of but because of their unreality. Recently Harrod’s teamed up with Disney to introduce a Disney-world-style “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique” to London — “a magical beauty salon,” according to Disney, “where any little girl can make her dream of becoming a princess come true.” That should tell you something about the Disney concept of truth. Tanya Gold of the London Sunday Times fulminated against the move as a politically retrograde step, but she must not have seen many Disney princesses of recent years. Now they don’t just look pretty until Prince Charming comes along. They’re more like “Princess” Leia of Star Wars, their faux-royalism mere camouflage as they doff their tiaras to lead the revolution.

The latest example comes with Frozen, which is similarly a tale of disenchantment masquerading as enchantment. Getting real would truly be a momentous step for Disney if real meant real, but of course it doesn’t; it means getting ideological.

Continue reading

Stratfor: Trump risks a trade war with China that cannot be won

Summary: Trump’s big promises won him the Presidency, much as Obama’s promises of “hope and change”. Here is a second article by Stratfor looking at Trump’s ability to do better than Obama at delivering on them. Will Trump fail gracefully, like Obama, or catastrophically?Stratfor

A Trade War That Cannot Be Won

Stratfor, 11 January 2017.

Forecast

  • Protectionist trade policies toward China would do little to achieve the incoming U.S. administration’s stated goal of reviving U.S. manufacturing.
  • Beijing would use various means — in particular, harassing U.S. companies that operate in China and depend on the country’s growing consumer market — to retaliate against protectionism in the United States.
  • President-elect Donald Trump’s administration will likely focus on curbing Chinese steel imports, a policy that could boost U.S. manufacturing without doing much damage to China’s economy.

Analysis

The trade relationship between the United States and China is a cornerstone of the global economy and a linchpin of the economic, social and political order in both countries. But in recent years, and particularly during the runup to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the partnership has come under fire in the United States. Leaders such as President-elect Donald Trump have criticized Washington’s trade ties with Beijing as unfavorable, since China’s exports to the United States exceed its imports from it. Trump has decried the negative effects of this trade imbalance and promised to correct it, for instance by imposing a 45% tariff on Chinese imports. Despite the backlash that such a drastic measure would invite from Beijing, Trump argues that the United States is better poised to weather a prolonged trade dispute than is China, thanks to their lopsided trade relationship.

A closer look at U.S. trade activities with China casts doubt on this idea, however. Changes in the composition of Chinese exports to the United States, the structure of manufacturing supply chains and the aims of U.S. corporate investment in China have evened the field between Washington and Beijing. As each side tries to achieve increasingly contrary political and economic goals, neither would be immune from the fallout of a trade war. China has just as many options to retaliate against protectionist U.S. policies as the United States has to punish Beijing. The challenge is to understand which tactics the countries’ leaders are likely to choose — and to what end.

Continue reading

Put the stories about record 2016 warming in a useful context

Summary: Alarmists have gone hysterical about the third year of record global warming. Should we be hysterical? Fortunately NOAA and NASA provide graphics showing us the temperature record, so we can put the current warming in a larger context. The temperature trend is not the only piece in the climate change puzzle, but it’s an important one — worth taking a few minutes to understand. The climate does not care about our politics, and will have the last work in the policy debate.

Global Warming

Current trends: what’s the weather doing now?

The big news is that 2016 temperature anomaly was a record high: 0.07°F warmer than 2015 and 0.04°F warmer than the previous El Nino peak in 1998. Measuring temperatures from El Nino peak to peak is a crude but effect measure of warming because ENSO cycles are so powerful. NOAA “The global temperatures in 2016 were majorly influenced by strong El Niño conditions…“.UK Met Office: “A particularly strong El Niño event contributed about 0.2C to the annual average for 2016…

Also, neither increase is even close to statistically significant. The 2016 anomaly was 1.69°F  ±  0.27°F). Alarmists ignore the actual numbers, preferring to make alarming pronouncements about the coming climate apocalypse (vagueness is the alarmist’s best friend).

There is no one true way to show trends in global temperature. Here are three different perspectives; all give roughly similar results. First, a graph by NOAA of the global average surface temperature in Decembers (their excellent interactive website shows data since the reliable instrument era began in 1880). This graph minimizes the overall warming trend, which is concentrated in the months of May, June, & July. Click to enlarge.

Continue reading

Deciphering the scandalous rumors about Trump in Russia

Summary: Stories about the Trump-Russia scandal continue to roil the media. It might dominate the vital start of the Trump administration. Even if it does not, these events are rich with lessons about hidden aspects of America’s politics. Here is an expert’s analysis, a follow-up to Here are the facts so far about the Trump-Russia file.

Poster of Trump and Putin in Vilnius

Ints Kalnins/Reuters.

The story of the Trump-Russia file is among the most significant news of 2017. Not because it is yet another disreputable story about Trump (credulously believed by the Left). Not because of its salacious details (which so excite the Left). The involvement of US intelligence agencies makes it important. We can only guess at their motives for publicizing this unverified information. They move like the sandworms in Dune, giant beasts visible only by their wake on the surface.

As usual with scandals (real or imagined), the British press have covered this more closely than their US cousins. Mostly by speculation, but the better elements have presented intriguing analysis. Such as this in yesterday’s London Review of Books: “How to Read the Trump Dossier” by Arthur Snell — a veteran of the UK Foreign Office, now a managing director of corporate intelligence firm PGI Intelligence. This provides the strongest case I have seen for taking the Trump-Russia file seriously. It goes off the rails at the beginning.

“None of the claims made in the dossier has yet been verified, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take it seriously. Intelligence is information, from a privileged source, that supports decision-making. It is seldom verifiable because that information is rarely in the public domain.”

Why should we take this file seriously if it has no verification? Here is the closest Snell gets to an answer. It’s quite daft.

Continue reading

Populism is reshaping the West. Here’s what we can expect to get.

Summary: Suppressed for generations, the greed and incompetence of the West’s elites allowed populism to re-emerge. But few understand it. Many confuse it with progressivism. Elites consider it “the bad thing”, when the proles slip their leash. Populism is reshaping western nations. We should understand it. To help us, here is a clear introduction in which a professor at Oxford reviews a new book about populism by a professor at Princeton.

 

Is Europe Disintegrating?

By Timothy Garton Ash.

Excerpt from the London Review of Books,
19 January 2017.

A review of What Is Populism?
by Jan-Werner Müller.

 

I have used the word “populist” several times without pausing to define it. But isn’t it just a woolly, catch-all term for parties, movements, and presidential candidates we don’t like? What is populism? This is the question addressed in an excellent short book by Jan-Werner Müller, a German scholar who now teaches at Princeton. Müller recalls that Richard Hofstadter once gave a talk titled “Everyone Is Talking about Populism, but No One Can Define It” {at the London School of Economics, 1967}, yet he makes the best effort I have seen to give the term a coherent contemporary meaning.

Populists speak in the name of “the people,” and claim that their direct legitimation from “the people” trumps (the verb has acquired a new connotation) all other sources of legitimate political authority, be it constitutional court, head of state, parliament, or local and state government. Donald Trump’s “I am your voice” is a classic populist statement. But so is the Turkish prime minister’s riposte to EU assertions that a red line had been crossed by his government’s clampdown on media freedom: “The people draw the red lines.” So is the Daily Mail’s front-page headline denouncing three British High Court judges who ruled that Parliament must have a vote on Brexit as “Enemies of the People.” Meanwhile, Polish right-wing nationalists justify an ongoing attempt to neuter Poland’s constitutional court on the grounds that the people are “the sovereign.”

Continue reading

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let the GOP remember its great betrayal

Summary: Amidst the recollections about the trials and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr., let’s remember that at the peak of his success another man’s actions would undo much of his work. Barry Goldwater betrayed the Republican Party and poisoned American politics at what should have been a moment of triumph. Now the Republicans have an opportunity to fix this, and recapture their lost greatness.

Martin Luther King: Injustice

In 1964 Martin Luther King Jr. was leading the civil rights movement to its greatest triumph since the Civil War. But one man’s decision had introduced corruption into the Republican Party, which has flowered so greatly in the following five decades.

Reflecting the parties geographical, not ideological, foundations, the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed on 19 June 1964 with strong majorities in both parties — but against determined opposition.

  • Democratic Party: 46–21  (69%–31%).
  • Republican Party: 27–06   (82%–18%).

The Republican candidate for the Presidency cast one of those “no” votes. Barry Goldwater saw an opportunity to redraw America’s political map and end the Democratic Party’s domination, held since the Great Depression. The price paid: betrayal of the Republican Party’s century-long civil rights legacy, the original foundation of the Party. All for nothing. Goldwater lost by a landslide of 38% to 61% for Johnson. He did not even get 30 pieces of silver.

Here’s the speech Goldwater gave justifying his betrayal, from the website of Brad DeLong (Prof Economics, Berkeley). It has the high-flown rhetoric racists have used since the founding, and use today. The red text highlights the apocalyptic forecasts often used to scare Americans from doing what they know is right. DeLong decodes the key phrases Goldwater used to disguise his betrayal.

Continue reading