Tag Archives: donald trump

Trump points to Sweden’s problems with migrants. Then they riot, again.

Summary: While America grapples with its irrational debates about immigration, Sweden grapples with the consequences of massive immigration from failed states. Their experience is rich with lessons for America, as Sweden seems unable to see — let alone understand — what is happening. This also provides another example of how the US press automatically declares Trump wrong, even when there is some truth to what he says.

Aftermath of riot in Rinkeby, Sweden

Policeman at aftermath of riot in Rinkeby, Sweden on 21 Feb 2017. © TT News Agency / Fredrik Sandberg, via REUTERS.

Slowly Trump’s performance as president becomes clear, how he handles the complex multi-dimensional aspects of the role. Uniquely he has become our Court Jester. Much of what he says is entertaining nonsense. But occasionally he says unmentionable truths that we need to hear. Such as the recent chatter about Sweden’s open borders policy, which reveals much about our inability to clearly see the world — and our push-back to news about it that disrupts the approved narrative.

 

The reaction was swift. Automatic mockery from the Left, and an interesting response from Sweden’s official Twitter account.

Reality quickly pushed back, hard, with stories about a new riot in an area of Stockholm with a large migrant population — with notable riots in 2010, in 2013, and 2016. See “Police intervention in Rinkeby was followed by riots and looting” in Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers (see Wikipedia).

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Predictions about the next 4 years, after the first 18 days of Trump

Summary: After 18 days, we can make a tentative evaluation of the Trump Administration. We have seen how and who he appoints to key offices. We have seen how he formulated and implemented 8 Executive Orders, 12 Presidential Memoranda, and 3 Presidential Proclamations. It gives us enough information to draw some tentative conclusions about the competence of Team Trump. They’re disturbing conclusions.

Trump: Make America Great Again

Some powerful observations by Paul Krugman in “Dude, Where’s My Policy?

“…spare a bit of attention to what doesn’t seem to be happening. Has anyone heard anything, anything at all, about domestic policy development? Remember, after the election Wall Street decided that we were going to see a big push on infrastructure, tax cuts, etc.. Some analysts were warning that progressives should be ready for the possibility that Trump would engage in “reactionary Keynesianism.” Worrying parallels were drawn between Trumpism and autobahn construction under you-know-who.

“But if there’s a WH task force preparing an infrastructure plan, it’s very well hidden …Seriously, I’ve been saying for a while that there will be no significant public construction plan. Wall Street economists, at least, are starting to catch on. Meanwhile, that Obamacare replacement is still nowhere to be seen, with GOP Congresspeople literally running away when asked about it.

“Big tax cuts — and savage cuts to social programs — are still very much on the Congressional Republican agenda, and they could put it all together, hand it to Bannon, and have Trump sign it without reading. But I’m starting to wonder: surely they planned to unveil things during the Trump honeymoon, with the public prepared to believe that it was all done with the little guy’s interests in mind. Even pre 9-11 Bush could count on media goodwill and supine Democrats to ram through his tax cuts.

“But now? With massive public distrust, and media fully willing to do real reporting on the distribution of tax cuts, not “Democrats say that the rich are the big winners”? With the media infatuation on Serious, Honest Paul Ryan at least temporarily dented by his avid support for Muslim bans and all that? Maybe they’ll do it anyway, but it seems a lot less certain than it did in November.”

More details in the New York Times: “Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles“. It describes a White House on the edge of chaos, operating with plans or procedures, run by a president obsesses with polls and trivial. The article gets increasingly bizarre as it progresses.

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An anthropologist explains how immigration serves the needs of capitalism

Summary: The frenzy of lies about Trump’s executive order “banning Muslims” is just the first round of what might be the major battle of his term — about immigration. America’s elites, Republican and Democrat, are united in their determination to keep the borders open. Here Maximilian Forte explains how immigration meets the needs of our economic system and its owners.

Immigration

Immigration and Capital

By Maximilian C. Forte,
at Zero Anthropology, 8 August 2016.
Reposted with his generous permission.

Immigration, rightly or wrongly, has been marched to the frontline of current political struggles in Europe and North America. Whether exaggerated or accurate, the role of immigration is situated as a central factor in the Brexit referendum in the UK, and the rise of the “America First” Trump movement in the US. It seems impossible that one can have a calm discussion about immigration today, without all sorts of agendas, assumptions, insinuations and recriminations coming into play. Staking a claim in immigration debates are a wide range of actors and interests, with everything from national identity and national security to multiculturalism, human rights, and cosmopolitan globalism. However, what is relatively neglected in the public debates is discussion of the political economy of immigration, and especially a critique of the role of immigration in sustaining capitalism.

Before going forward, we have to first dismiss certain diversionary tactics commonly used in public debate, that unfortunately misdirect too many people. First, being “anti-immigration” does not make one a “racist”. One does not follow from the other. Being a racist means adopting a racial view of humanity as being ordered according to what are imagined to be superior and inferior, biologically-rooted differences. Preferring “one’s own kind” (whatever that means) might be the basis for ethnocentrism, but not necessarily racism as such. It’s important not to always lunge hysterically for the most inflammatory-sounding terms, just because your rhetorical polemics demand an instant “win” (because you don’t win anything; you just sound like someone who doesn’t know what he or she is talking about). Also, xenophobia neither implies racism nor ethnocentrism, because it can exceed both by being a fear or dislike of anyone who is “foreign” or “strange”.

Conversely, one can be entirely racist, and quite pro­-immigration at the same time, as long as immigration is restricted to members of one’s own race. Other forms of racist pro-immigration policies would include slavery itself, indentured labour, down to the casual racism of “let’s have Mexicans, they make such wonderful gardeners”. Furthermore, the available survey data in the US suggests that, “far from being rooted in racism, opposition to immigration in the U.S. seems to be rooted in concerns about the ability of less-skilled immigrants to support themselves without Medicaid, SNAP, the earned-income tax credit, and various other supports” (Reihan Salam’s “Why Are Immigration Advocates So Quick to Play the Race Card?”, National Review, 1 July 2016). Salam adds this point: “My guess is that if immigration policy were not viewed through a racial lens, opposition to immigration would in fact increase substantially”. Also, there is a distinction to be drawn between opinions that are anti-immigrant and policies that are anti-immigration, even if there can be overlap between the two.

Finally, all of this obscures the basic questions that are seemingly never asked today in most public debates: 1) Are questions about racism, identity, and openness the most important ones to be asked about immigration? And, 2) Why must workers be pro-immigration?

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Trump writes an obviously good Executive Order. The Left attacks it.

Summary: Trump’s flood of executive orders have been an assortment of far-right ideas, mostly written in haste (and hence poorly researched and carelessly written). The Left has vehemently opposed them all, even some that are obviously good ideas. It’s vital for the 1% that we not unite on anything, even something small. Such as pruning the weeds from the vast garden of government regulations.

Woman Climbing a Pile of Paperwork

The body of Federal laws and regulations has been growing for two centuries. Neither Congress nor Federal agencies have any incentive to cancel those that have become outdated, or are proven ineffective. The pile of laws, unknowable to the average citizen, selectively enforced by government officials and the 1%’s well-paid attorneys, has become a threat to our democracy.

How many regulations are there?

The usual way to count new pages in the Federal Register, begun in 1935. See this graph of their annual page count (this is total pages, including blanks). The total for 2016 of 82,324 was a record high — above the 2010 high of 81,405 in 2010 (both not including blank pages).

Pages in the Federal Register

The best source of information is the Congressional Research Service report “Counting Regulations: An Overview of Rulemaking, Types of Federal Regulations, and Pages in the Federal Register” by Maeve P. Carey (4 October 2016). They show that the Federal Register recorded 191,304 final new rules during the 40 years 1976-2015 — 4,783 per year. The annual number of rules slowly climbed from 1976, peaking in 1980 at 7,745. It has since declined to a record low of 3,410 in 2015. But that’s a crude measure. Some rules are trivial, some are only temporary, and some are revoking previous rules.

There is a better way to measure this. The 1996 Congressional Review Act requires tracking of “major rules”, which means any rule that has or is likely to result in…

  1. “an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000 or more;
  2. a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions; or,
  3. significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of US-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises in domestic and export markets.”

There have been an average of 70 new major regs per year during the past 19 years (1997-2015). That includes a substantial increase to 81/year during Obama’s first 7 years in office.

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Listen to Trump’s inaugural speech: words that could overthrow the 1%

Summary: Tens of millions of Americans have heard, read, or watched those on the Left misrepresent what Trump said in his inaugural speech. Here are the opening paragraphs. They are pure populism, with populism’s usual overlap with the progressives’ agenda. The one percent cannot let you see that overlap, which might lead to recreation of the New Deal alliance — the only possible threat to their power.

Trump: make Americ great again

Read the opening of Donald Trump’s inaugural speech. This is pure populism. This might be, as Paul Krugman said (which I also believe) “Trump plays a populist on TV”. But the Left’s commentators and journalists misrepresented what he said. For an obvious reason: they cannot admit that much of what Trump said is true — and worse, that they agree with him. (See another analysis below, by an anthropologist). Trump could become a great president if he follows through on his inaugural speech.

“For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished -– but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered -– but the jobs left, and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

“Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s Capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

“That all changes -– starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.

“What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now.

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Stratfor: The Hurdles to Building Trump’s Border Wall

Summary:  Building a wall is one of Trump’s major campaign promises. Under the Secure Fence Act of 2006 America spent $6 billion to build 690 miles of fences and walls along the 1,900 mile border with Mexico (in addition to existing walls of unknown length). Here Stratfor examines the mechanics of fulfilling Trump’s promises.Stratfor

The Hurdles to Building a Border Wall

Stratfor, 23 January 2017.

The building of a border-length wall between the United States and Mexico is a campaign promise that U.S. President Donald Trump continues to nurture. But the construction of such an edifice is no small matter, assuming Congress would even approve or agree to fund the endeavor in the first place. Not only must the Trump administration deal with internal complications — legal opposition, issues of land ownership and physical geography — but there is also the matter of U.S.-Mexico relations and the fluid, adaptive nature of the migrant flow from South America.

The need to build a complete border barrier between the United States and Mexico was a consistent feature of Trump’s campaign trail rhetoric. Even after winning the election, Trump continued to tout the wall’s necessity. Now, it is well within the new administration’s power to seek legal justification and funding to build additional barriers along the border. This could mean additional fencing, but actually building a substantial wall is no small matter. It is relatively straightforward to reinforce places where barriers, such as pedestrian fencing, already exist. But when it comes to the substantial reaches of borderland without fencing, such as the winding path of the Rio Grande as it makes its way through Texas, things become more complicated.

It would be difficult for the incoming administration to justify constructing additional barriers along parts of the exposed Texas border, in part because of the natural barrier posed by waterways, and because much of the land along that section is privately owned.

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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. There are scores much nightmares that convative leaders used to terrify and so mobilize their flocks. For a partial list see Brian Tashman’s “Ten Right-Wing Predictions About Obama That Never Came True“.

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 in 2020 if the Left’s forecasts of fascism prove false, and instead of NAZIs we get traditional conservatism (i.e., rolling back the New Deal, a stronger plutocracy)? Will their years of wild unsupported predictions discredit them as a serious alternative government? 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.