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Spot on!

I suggest a small amendment to the final paragraph of your otherwise excellent analysis:

"America we used to be better than this. We really were."

Really, I do not see where Trump indulges in any fascist exhibitions that his rivals, both Republican and Democrat, do not. Other than "The Wall" and the deportations of *illegal* immigrants. But what country doesn't protect its borders? If Trump is a fascist for that, then so are all the leaders of all of the other countries.

I mean, seriously, Trump's wall might be contrary to John Lennon's addled imagings - a song asking for a world with no countries, religion or possessions written by a millionaire pop star with an extensive fur collection and that I think is the anthem for modern progressives - but what else is there to suggest fascism?

At least he is not trying to start 6 or 7 new wars to include one with Russia like all of the other candidates.

I too hope we are better than this, Michael, but I have resigned myself to understand that perhaps we are not! - AOD

I agree, Trump doesn't technically qualify as a fascist. As I understand it, fascism is the collusion and the joining together of government and big business. That's how Mussolini got the trains to run on time.

The real thing about Trump is that he's not very bright - he's crafty and has a great deal of resources (none of which he really earned himself, but instead inherited). He's also switched back-and-forth on his positions multiple times, from abortion to the Iraq War, he's been all over the place, so no real deep convictions.

If people are feeling economically left out - which most have been - why not support the candidate who advocates policies that will actually help the country. That would be Bernie Sanders of course.

"Trump, in my opinion, is not the answer. He appeals to the worst in human nature. America, we are better than this. We really are."

Thanks for posting this Michael! Thanks to everybody who cares enough to say this loud and clear!

My university is currently putting on the play "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson." I caught yesterday's showing. The play felt a lot like an episode South Park.

One thing that struck me was that Jackson's popular appeal is very similar to Trump's: he represented the poor frontier Americans who were routinely ignored by the politicians in Washington in favor of their higher-class coastal constituents. A large portion of his platform had to do with the "Indian problem," the struggles between white settlers and indigenous peoples, and his solution was basically mass deportation.

(It didn't hurt that Jackson was generally portrayed as a petulant child.)

So I definitely agree with you when you say "Perhaps the best way to characterize Trump is that he is a right-wing populist with proto-fascist tendencies."

The one bright side is that Trump's proto-fascist tendences might help delay an onset of outright facism. Not a sure thing, but IIRC, historically facism tended to rise all at once in response to the crises the pre-facist government caused and which the facist government tended to actually fix. If Trump can do anything to alleviate some of those problems, we might avoid the "mercury cure" of real facism.

(I'm a Sanders fan, FWIW, since his rise in popularity is a part of the same populist reaction to business-as-usual that is aiding Trump, and his brand of socialism might act as a bulwark against a more authoritarian form of socialism in the same way as Trump might help us by avoid facism. Clinton will almost certain continue the policies that will lead us to one or the other of those options.)

"America, we are better than this. We really are."

I wish I could agree with you about this.

Well Micheal, apparently we're better than this, except for about 1/3 of those who identify as republicans. The bright side is that is basically where the support for Trump ends. You either Love him or hate him.

I'm actually going to defend Trump a bit, believe it or not.

If Trump did not speak like a bully and endorse the, yes, proto-fascist blaming of the Other (Mexicans and Muslims) and denigrate the disabled and endorse a little roughing up of those with opposing viewpoints, then I could have a measure of enthusiasm for him. He is *not* standard high-calorie, low-nutrition Washington fare, and that could be a welcome change. But the fact that he does exhibit the above character flaws loses me while being the foundation of his popularity. The people who like him like him because he's a bully and says he's going kick butt. The love for this guy is quite similar to the love Germans had for Hitler. "Oh, we just want a change. We *need* one. And this guy will probably mix things up and not do anything too crazy."

But here's the real issue:


no one wrote,

||At least he is not trying to start 6 or 7 new wars to include one with Russia like all of the other candidates.||

The president has the most autonomy when it comes to military matters, and character is hard to judge in advance. George W. Bush went to war with Iraq because that's what he wanted to do. We need to be sure, at least insofar as possible, that the next president doesn't want the wrong things when it comes to war and foreign policy. Hillary will be a ****y president overall, I think, but I don't think she wants to start wars. That's why Hillary is preferable to Trump and why I can't support Trump. I think he *would* like to try his hand at military adventures.

James M. Jensen II wrote,

||I'm a Sanders fan, FWIW, since his rise in popularity is a part of the same populist reaction to business-as-usual that is aiding Trump, and his brand of socialism might act as a bulwark against a more authoritarian form of socialism in the same way as Trump might help us by avoid facism. Clinton will almost certain continue the policies that will lead us to one or the other of those options.||

I agree. Clinton will at best be a placeholder president (as Obama *mostly* was): not really leading us anywhere new but not trashing the country, either.

Heh, there's more to life than death...but is there more to life under materialism?

I have to admit I've sort of abandoned my interest in politics after realizing neither Left nor Right want to address the meta-problem of the nihilist materialist ethos.

And yes, I know the Right claims to be more religious, but I don't see a program for scientifically & philosophically challenging materialist there either.

In trying in my own small way to face this meta-problem I've seen both "degenerate hippies" and "reactionary bigots" working against the materialist cancer where elites on both sides of the aisle seem more than willing to let the chips fall where they may.

>At least he is not trying to start 6 or 7 new wars to include one with Russia like all of the other candidates. - no one

I could have sworn I've heard Trump say he was "the most militaristic" of any Republican candidate and that he would "bomb the shit" out of the USA's current enemies.

Maybe Republican bellicosity is just bluster to some, but the last several decades of Republican-led wars have dissuaded me of that notion.

no one said:

"but what else is there to suggest fascism?"

On CNN.com today:

||"I'd like to punch him in the face," Trump said, remarking that a man disrupting his rally was escorted out with a smile on his face. "He's smiling, having a good time.

Trump also claimed the protester was "nasty as hell" and accused the man of trying to punch the security officers forcing him out of the rally, though the man did not appear to be fighting off those officers.

"In the old days," Trump added, protesters would be "carried out on stretchers."

"We're not allowed to push back anymore," Trump said.

While Trump has at times urged his supporters not to hurt protesters, he has also repeatedly suggested that supporters should be handled more roughly.

When a Black Lives Matter protester was punched and kicked by attendees at a Trump rally last fall, Trump remarked the next day that "maybe he should have been roughed up."||

It frightens me that so many Americans admire this sort of behavior in a presidential candidate.

Matt said:

"Clinton will at best be a placeholder president (as Obama *mostly* was):"

Matt, I agree with you on two accounts: Clinton is not the most thrilling of candidates, and she's infinitely preferable to Trump.

But since you call Obama mostly a "placeholder," let me ask you this: in recent memory, what president has done a better job of moving the country in the direction you would like to see it go?

I think the kindest thing that can be said about Trump is that he may be the product of a specific time and place: in this case, a sizable segment of the country and people who seem to favor extreme measures and beliefs. In showing these beliefs to the public at large, it could help us do some soul searching to see if this is really how we want the country to proceed, similar to how an illness must be exposed before it can be excised and healed. In this case, it would be, to the best of my knowledge, racism and policies that favor discrimination and corporations over individuals.

What disturbs me more is that Trump seems to be the latest version of a trend throughout history where societies in trouble seek a scapegoat to blame for their troubles and then do really awful things to those scapegoats... and then collapsing anyway. If we look at it with the idea that reincarnation - or some form of it - exists, this could be a moment where we, collectively, have a chance to correct past mistakes and take a higher, more productive route. What that route is, I don't know, but I hope we follow it.

On one final note, I wonder if Trump, being a product of his environment, was produced by the White-hot Sphere of Pure Rage (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjonGtrCyVE).

Glad to see you've come round on Trump finally Michael!

SPatel - The same has happened to me. I used to be really into Politics but since getting back into this stuff not so much anymore! Bit selfish really as I'm in a lucky position and maybe don't need Politics that much right now.

"Trump, in my opinion, is not the answer. He appeals to the worst in human nature, and he appears to be a pretty poor example of human nature in his own right. As George Will quipped, "Is there a disagreeable human trait he does not have?"

America, we are better than this. We really are."

But I said as much on your fb page months ago, Michael! Okay, not nearly as eloquently or in half as much depth, but that was the gist of it. I hope and pray the rest of the USA comes to their senses and agrees with you. :)

"Hillary will be a ****y president overall, I think, but I don't think she wants to start wars. That's why Hillary is preferable to Trump and why I can't support Trump. " - Matt Rouge

I strongly agree with the first sentence right up to the "but" ;-)

Hillary wants to establish no fly zones in Syria. She has publicly stated this. News alert - ISIS doesn't have aircraft. The no fly zone is to keep Russian and Syrian govt aircraft grounded. If they fly, they get shot down. If that isn't looking to start a major war, I don't know is. And for what? To support head choppers and liver eaters in their attempt to take over the socially liberal, by Middle Eastern standards, country of Syria. That is horrible foreign policy. Worse than horrible actually. It's dangerous flexing of American muscle for a rotten cause.

All of the other candidates have the same approach except Trump and, just maybe, Sanders.

On another point, the problem of immigration, both legal and illegal needs to be discussed. Beyond the threat of introducing terrorists into the country, there is the employment issue. We have cities where huge proportions of the residents are unemployed; particularly blacks. How is increasing the available labor force, especially for low skilled labor, helping those that need the most help? Why is it "fascist" to bring up the topic with an eye on controlling immigration? Why is immigration not a legitimate issue to run on? Jumping on Trump for this just seems, IMO, arbitrary if it's meant in an honest spirit, but I'm guessing it's really nothing more than name calling in an attempt to discredit the clear leader in the election race.

IMO people calling Trump and his adherents "fascist" over immigration (again where honestly applied) seems to arise from the accusers imagining that these people must be - and are - rabid haters; like it's impossible to be against excessive and uncontrolled immigration without being a frenzied Nazi. That just isn't fair. It's black and white thinking. However, it is pretty effective when it comes to polarizing the country, dumbing down the democratic process and demonizing political opponents. It's really an effort to kill discussion of topics that some people don't want discussed.

How do we know that Trump supporters are hateful bigots? Well they don't want illegal immigration. Anyone who doesn't like immigration is a Nazi. There is the logic. No one else sees holes in it?

Exactly right, Michael, exactly right.

I have been describing him as "a right-wing demagogue with proto-fascist tendencies." Replace "demagogue" with "populist" and that's your description exactly.

I am glad we see it so similarly. You and I disagree on many things politically, so the fact that we see Trump the same way and came up with almost the same words to describe him is actually a promising thing: sane people on either side of the aisle can see him for what he is.

If he wins the nomination I think both Sanders and Clinton would beat him. But it might be closer than we'd like.

Trump is the only one speaking the unspeakable - the salaried class of America has spent the past 30 years looting the working class blind, and now the working class is striking back. If you want to understand how and why Trump is appealing so successfully to working-class America, I could suggest no better article than the following

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2016/01/donald-trump-and-politics-of-resentment.html

Actually, SPatel, Hillary Clinton may be your candidate, as she has said this about living in the White House:

"There is something about the house at night that you just feel like you are summoning up the spirits of all the people who have lived there and worked there and walked through the halls there." On the “Rosie O'Donnell Show,” the former first lady noted: "It's neat. It can be a little creepy. You know, they think there's a ghost there. It is a big old house, and when the lights are out it is dark and quiet and any movement at all catches your attention."

The White House is said to be very haunted, and I think a few presidents have said they've seen ghosts there. I'd imagine a lot of stressful scenes have played out there, and some would say that stressful emotions "hang around" places. In Paris, for instance, I wandered onto this plaza, and had a very distinct, cold, lonely feeling. I later found out it was where the executions where held during the French Revolution.

It all comes down to pitchforks and torches.
I don't think the supporters of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders really give a rats a*s whether their respective candidates have a coherent strategy of successful governance or not. They just want to burn (Bern) the Mother down.
Tar. Feathers. Now!

The Anarchist in me supports Bernie, and the nihilist in me doesn't care if Trump wins or not. If Trump wins, maybe the whole system will come crashing down and we can all start over from scratch. Then I wake up and realize that might create a couple of pesky problems, like economic collapse and blood in the streets.
I try to keep my sanity by reassuring myself that this is just a passing phase. Growing pains, if you will.

Life was so much simpler back in my childhood years, when I could chalk it all up to signs of the Second Coming. Now, I'm not even sure what to pray for.
Still, I can't help but think that everything's gonna be okay.
:)

It amuses me how an interest in the paranormal brings disparate people together. I adore Donald Trump. Those of use who accept the evidence of the paranormal have long had to endure the snide, sneering condescension of the pseudoskeptics who employ double standards and mockery and horselaughs. Which is, of course, strikingly similar to the tactics of liberal thought leaders like Jon Stewart, who was a master of repeating conservative positions in a sing-songy voice and copping a snide smirk for the camera.

Liberals hate Trump because he's using their playbook. You don't need substantive policy if you make people feel good about themselves, and so much of the liberal message is empty sloganeering. They get credit for expressing their concern for issues even if they haven't the first clue how to solve them. They engage in empty, posturing slacktivism, performing meaningless stunts "for equality" and posting it to Youtube, retweeting hashtags and calling it "raising awareness." They repeat words like "equality" and "diversity" like incantations, rather like praying a liberal rosary, without ever explaining them. What is "income inequality" and what would constitute "income equality." What is the "fair share" the rich are supposed to pay, and how is it calculated. Why is "diversity a strength?" And how is "Make America Great Again" any more or less of an empty, feel-good slogan than those? Trump is simply taking the fakery of other politicians, turning it up to eleven, and throwing it back at them. And they're responding with indignation because they see themselves. And I for one love watching them squirm.

And as to the threats of force and rabid collectivism? We're already starting to see the violent tendencies in Black Lives Matter and a disturbing number of college professors who openly antagonize and threaten conservative students. And the odious social justice movement is entirely collectivist, valuing the victimhood and identity of the group over any individuality. Blacks who dare express conservative opinions are called uncle toms and bootlickers. Conservative women are told they have "internalized misogyny." This is no different that the pseudoskeptical line of attack that anyone who accepts the paranormal cannot possibly do so from a position of reason and evidence, but because they're a deluded, irrational woomeister who's afraid of death. In each case, as soon as someone steps off the party line, they forfeit their group membership and open themselves to astonishingly vitriolic and, in the case of liberals, racist and sexist attacks. I thoroughly enjoyed watching old-guard feminists like Steinem and Albright step in it when they criticized young women flocking to Bernie because "that's where the boys are."

And I very much fear liberal totalitarianism. I look at the hordes of screeching campus protesters and I fear. Conservatives generally understand liberals aren't going anywhere, but liberals seem to increasingly believe they are on the cusp of a demographic and generational sea change that will forever vanquish their ideological opponents. When you believe your utopia is at hand, any who stand in the way become disposable, and it would not be difficult to make brownshirts out of the perpetually aggrieved, apoplectic, spittle-flicking, hypersensitive, pathologically narcissistic coddled millenial brats. I am often deeply ashamed of and afraid of my own generation. In reading liberal thought leaders on campuses and in news media, one thing has been made clear to me. As a white male, diversity means fewer of me. Tolerance, understanding and compassion are things that will be wrung out of me, but they are not things I will receive, unless I don some oppressed identity to accrue victim cred under liberalism's perverse zero-sum social calculus.

Point is, yes, I feel left out, attacked, maligned and threatened. And the left refuses to hear any complaint I make because, holding as I do the identity tags white and male, I am assumed to already have all the power and privilege, whatever my individual case may be notwithstanding. If it takes the prospect of President Trump to get their attention, so be it.

I suppose a feminist or BLM supporter would tell me something similar from the other side. Maybe so. They've got their side, and I've got mine, and I'm under no delusion that politics is anything but tribal. And maybe liberals will say what I'm feeling is some sort of payback for past oppression. Well, fine, but reprisal only breeds more reprisal.

(I apologize if you've already received this and discarded it. I was using a phone and got an error message the last time.)

Michael Vann, I agree with you that it's cathartic to see Trump thumb his nose at political correctness and scare the pants off the self-appointed elites in media and politics. That's why I started off as "Trump-curious." For those who may not know, I'm not a liberal. I'm a pretty conservative Republican (though more so on fiscal and national security issues). I was appalled by the GOP's attempt to make Jeb Bush the "inevitable" nominee. Trump was a useful - and entertaining - foil to use against the establishment. At first.

But as his campaign has progressed, his dark side has become increasingly apparent. He's mocked John McCain's sterling war record, ridiculed a disabled reporter, expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin, reversed himself constantly on key issues such as the individual mandate for health insurance, spewed profanity and vulgarity in his public remarks, misrepresented his personal history of supporting Democratic candidates (including Hillary) and liberal positions, claimed to have opposed the Iraq War from the beginning although his own statements from the time in question suggest the opposite, made wild accusations about the eligibility of both Cruz and Rubio, threatened a nuisance lawsuit against Cruz, and even adopted the Code Pink trope that "Bush lied, people died" (as opposed to the more reasonable complaint that Bush stupidly allowed himself to be misled by faulty intel).

Add to this Trump's business practice of abusing eminent domain against ordinary citizens (the same "regular folks" he now claims to champion), the multiple bankruptcies that left his creditors holding the bag for his failures, his bizarre public declaration that he would like to have sex with his daughter because she's so hot, and his general clownishness and swinishness, and what I see is, at best, a reality TV buffoon and, at worst, a bargain basement Mussolini.

No one, I am not calling Trump a (semi-)fascist because he is against illegal immigration, I'm also against illegal immigration, though I doubt that building the Great Wall of China along the Rio Grande is a practical solution. A better policy would be to deport people who have overstayed their visas and penalize employers who hire illegals.

Nor have I called Trump's supporters fascists. I think most of them are well meaning, and a few are personal friends of mine. I do think they have allowed their (justifiable) anger and resentment to override their logical reasoning. They are so intoxicated by the opportunity to give the finger to the elites that they have lost sight of the reality of who Trump is and how unsuitable he is for the presidency. As some blogger said, in the South Carolina debate Trump came across as "feral and unstable." He lashed out wildly, making crazy claims and insane accusations, obviously rattled by the boos from the (establishment-picked) audience. He is a narcissistic egotist who lives in a bubble of yes-men and is utterly unequipped to deal with criticism; he treats every tough question as a personal attack and every expression of disagreement as a personal insult.

The irony is that his supporters are looking for a "strong" man, but Trump is not strong. He is weak enough to bend to flattery from the likes of Putin, weak enough to fear a rematch with Megyn Kelly, weak enough that he feels the need to brag constantly about his wealth, his brains, his powerful friends, even his purported sexual prowess and physical endowments (about which I am skeptical). A strong, secure, well-adjusted man would not need to boast about any of this. Trump is a weakling's caricature of what a strong man would be like, just as his lifestyle is (as someone else has observed) a hobo's caricature of a what a rich man's life would be.

Wow, Michael, very well-said again!

no one,

Yeah, I'm not enthusiastic about Hillary. I don't think she'll be a war-mongering disaster like W, however. If I thought Trump was truly against war and Hillary was for it, I'd vote for Trump. Neither is going to get much else done, anyway.

You wrote,

||Why is it "fascist" to bring up the topic with an eye on controlling immigration? Why is immigration not a legitimate issue to run on? Jumping on Trump for this just seems, IMO, arbitrary if it's meant in an honest spirit, but I'm guessing it's really nothing more than name calling in an attempt to discredit the clear leader in the election race.||

I think of you as a consistently perceptive and deep-thinking person, so this is, well, bollocks. :) The reason why Trump is unacceptable on this issue is twofold:

1. He is not speaking in terms of Love of Neighbor. He is not presenting a calm, cool, rational case. Rather, he is engaging in Hatred of Neighbor, scapegoating Mexicans and Muslims, and generally trying to be as aggressive and controversial as he can on this issue. I mean, would you say that Hitler was just calmly critiquing the unfair and exploitative practices of "international finance" and providing a rational plan for change? Of course not. He was hatefully scapegoating the Jews for the misery of the German people. There's really no difference in the type rhetoric used by the two.

2. His plan, including the Wall and having Mexico pay for it, is pure idiocy.

Bruce,

||But since you call Obama mostly a "placeholder," let me ask you this: in recent memory, what president has done a better job of moving the country in the direction you would like to see it go?||

I'm not a huge fan of any recent presidents. I think Ike was pretty good, but then we have three in a row tainted by the Vietnam disaster. Both LBJ and Nixon had some social program successes and moved the country forward domestically. Carter and Reagan did good things with foreign policy but Reagan was not a good president for domestic policy (but actually not a total disaster either). I think GHW Bush and Clinton both didn't do that much. W of course ranks among the worst ever. Obama, placeholder except for the ACA.

I think our last truly great president was FDR. He had real vision and was a true leader.

Michael Vann,

Interesting comments. Some thoughts:

||I adore Donald Trump.||

I think it's as Michael says: people are overlooking his very real flaws because they're sick of our staid, stale, and ineffective political template and Trump doesn't follow that template at all. I get it. I like that about him too.

||Liberals hate Trump because he's using their playbook.||

No, it really is because of his dark side. Trump is actually more Liberal than any of the other Republican candidates, and he's actually the candidate I think would be the most reasonable on domestic policy overall (excepting the immigration issue). That's why, if Trump were to become president, I really wouldn't worry much about him except for him being a loose canon with other countries.

||You don't need substantive policy if you make people feel good about themselves, and so much of the liberal message is empty sloganeering. They get credit for expressing their concern for issues even if they haven't the first clue how to solve them.||

I think this is largely true of Liberal politicians. They have gotten used to getting nothing done and feel that being on the right side of an issue is good enough. In a way, it's relief that nothing gets done: just blame the Republicans for obstructionism, and onto the next election.

||What is "income inequality" and what would constitute "income equality." What is the "fair share" the rich are supposed to pay, and how is it calculated.||

I think we are largely clueless as a species as to how to run the economy at this juncture but we don't want to admit this. The Republicans are worse, however, as they believe that going back to some ill-defined past will result in economic recovery. They are wrong.

||Trump is simply taking the fakery of other politicians, turning it up to eleven, and throwing it back at them.||

I don't think Trump has a "meta" bone in his body, and any slogan he throws out is simply his sincere expression.

||And as to the threats of force and rabid collectivism? We're already starting to see the violent tendencies in Black Lives Matter and a disturbing number of college professors who openly antagonize and threaten conservative students.||

Because two wrongs make a right? This is quite the primitive justification of Trump's behavior. This is a presidential election, not performance art to make a statement about Liberalism. Trumps rhetoric is extremely irresponsible.

||In each case, as soon as someone steps off the party line, they forfeit their group membership and open themselves to astonishingly vitriolic and, in the case of liberals, racist and sexist attacks. I thoroughly enjoyed watching old-guard feminists like Steinem and Albright step in it when they criticized young women flocking to Bernie because "that's where the boys are."||

I identify as Liberal by default. I don't think Liberalism is any kind of coherent philosophy in 2016. I don't think the Democratic party has any kind of real vision. But I also don't feel persecuted when I go against what may be perceived as Liberal dogma (e.g., when it comes to global warming, I am a "lukewarmist"). I choose Democrats because Republicans have no ideas and actually think, incorrectly, we can go back to something that used to work and make it work again (they're doubly wrong, as they also misperceive the past).

||And I very much fear liberal totalitarianism. I look at the hordes of screeching campus protesters and I fear. Conservatives generally understand liberals aren't going anywhere, but liberals seem to increasingly believe they are on the cusp of a demographic and generational sea change that will forever vanquish their ideological opponents.||

I think this is Conservative echo chamber paranoia. But you are right that Conservatism is about to die out in this way. And good riddance. Totalitarianism will not follow.

||In reading liberal thought leaders on campuses and in news media, one thing has been made clear to me. As a white male, diversity means fewer of me. Tolerance, understanding and compassion are things that will be wrung out of me, but they are not things I will receive, unless I don some oppressed identity to accrue victim cred under liberalism's perverse zero-sum social calculus.||

You mention campuses a lot. That's one small slice of reality, and it's not all that real at that. I'm no fan of our university system, and yes, it does support a lame sort of activism that is largely pissing and moaning about random stuff. That said, these people aren't going to come after you because you're a white male.

||Point is, yes, I feel left out, attacked, maligned and threatened. And the left refuses to hear any complaint I make because, holding as I do the identity tags white and male, I am assumed to already have all the power and privilege, whatever my individual case may be notwithstanding.||

Well, that's the Paranoid Right style. How are you more screwed than anybody else?

||Well, fine, but reprisal only breeds more reprisal.||

Right, so we don't a President Trump causing people to squirm or getting people's attention or anything like that. We need leaders with real insights and vision. Unfortunately, we'll probably get Hillary, and we already know she doesn't have either.

Michael, I never thought I'd say this about your political commentary, but it's a pleasure to read your last comment. :)

So if it's between Trump and Hillary, who would you vote for? And don't say you'd sit this one out! That could be a recipe for disaster.

Also: who do you like, if anybody, among the other Republicans?

"Trump is a weakling's caricature of what a strong man would be like, just as his lifestyle is (as someone else has observed) a hobo's caricature of a what a rich man's life would be. " -MP

Oh, I agree. Trump has huge character flaws that I find truly disturbing. One of my points is that the other candidates do as well. True, they aren't always as flagrant in displaying them, but that's just a matter of presentation as opposed to actual content.

There's something else. The other candidates are the sock puppets of true fascists; people whose character and policy goals are horrifying. And these aren't all Americans. Hillary, for example, is owned at least in part, by Saudi Arabia. Cruz and Rubio are beholden to the neocon borg and Wall Street bankers.

Then there is everything Michael Vann commented on; which I also, sadly, agree with.

So that's where this Trump supporter is ultimately coming from. Yes, by all means give the establishment the finger. They asked for it. If nothing else the establishment may learn from 2016 and run better candidates next time. That may be Trump's greatest contribution.

No one asks: "How do we know that Trump supporters are hateful bigots?"

Could it be because Trump is almost a caricature of the hateful bigot? Why would anyone support a leader who didn't' share their values?

Bruce asked, "So if it's between Trump and Hillary, who would you vote for? And don't say you'd sit this one out! That could be a recipe for disaster."

I can give you my cheat sheet as of today, though my calculus is always subject to revision:

Trump v. Hillary? Hillary. (I think nothing good about her, but at least she's not insane.)

Cruz v. Hillary? Cruz. (I don't go for his "Praise Jesus" schtick or his creepy personality, but I agree with some of his policy ideas. And he is very smart.)

Rubio v. Hillary? Rubio. (He's a lying two-faced weasel, but again I agree with some of his positions, though I don't know if he would actually stick to them.)

I'm convinced Hillary will get the nomination and Sanders will drop out, but if by some mischance Sanders should be nominated, I would vote for any Republican except Trump. In a Trump v. Sanders scenario I would not be available to vote, as I would be busy investigating real estate properties in Tahiti. Hey, it worked for Gauguin.

"I think of you as a consistently perceptive and deep-thinking person" - Matt

Thanks! That means something coming from you :-)and I return the compliment to you as well as extend it to everyone on this blog. Smart people can disagree however....

"He is not speaking in terms of Love of Neighbor. He is not presenting a calm, cool, rational case. Rather, he is engaging in Hatred of Neighbor, scapegoating Mexicans and Muslims, and generally trying to be as aggressive and controversial as he can on this issue."

I just don't it that way. I mean I can see how you can make a case for that and that you'd even be right is some cases, but, by no means, all. For example, I am against illegal immigration and I like that Trump wants to do something about it, but it is not the primary reason I like Trump. Furthermore, I simply don't agree that if you don't want the country overrun by illegals (sucking about $3 billion in public money a year in California alone), that it makes you a bigot. Personally, I like Mexicans. I lived in the SW most of my adult life. When I worked for Uncle Sam I depended on Hispanics to have my back and they, on me, in some dangerous situations. We worked and played together. I've also done a lot of concrete and block work with Mexicans with temporary visas. they schooled me on hard manual labor in the burning sun! Great people. Yet, I still think that we need to control immigration and a lot of Hispanic citizens, in my experience, agree. The vote last night in Nevada should confirm that. So to me the whole bigot/fascist because of "the wall" is just ridiculous. I think it comes from people that have ulterior motives against Trump and/or are just prone to knee jerk liberalisms and that are disconnected from the whole situation.

If you actually listen to what Trump says on the issues, as opposed to sound bites and translations in the liberal media, his plans are far more well developed than the jingoisms of the other candidates. And they make sense. I want a guy who makes good deals for America, not a self-serving/self-enriching incompetent.

Now, combining the whole not loving your neighbor with scapegoating....I held my nose and watched Bernie Sander's town hall in SC the other night. It was exactly what Michael Vann notes up-thread. Totally pandering to blacks by bashing whitey, totally making excuses for a lot of bad behavior coming out of that culture, bashing successful people, offering $billions in handouts and lots and lots of divisiveness and identity politics that I - and a lot of Americans - are just sick of. I almost barfed listening to the rhetoric.

So why is Trump a bad guy for his wall talk, but Sanders and Clinton get kudos for divisiveness? It's all a matter of personal viewpoint and has nothing to do with objective reality.

So I'm back to seeing Trump bashing as a tactic to shoot down the leader who will be the next POTUS.

And this, I think, deserves a separate comment:

"||And as to the threats of force and rabid collectivism? We're already starting to see the violent tendencies in Black Lives Matter and a disturbing number of college professors who openly antagonize and threaten conservative students.||

Because two wrongs make a right? This is quite the primitive justification of Trump's behavior. This is a presidential election, not performance art to make a statement about Liberalism. Trumps rhetoric is extremely irresponsible." - Matt

I've noticed you inserting some spiritual concepts into your argument. I think that is noble, but inappropriate.

First, I see it as Michael Vann does; politics is tribal. Period. If you try to make policies around Christian values, you will get clobbered, perhaps quite literally, by the other people who either didn't read that book or, if they did, are wont to ignore how it might apply to them when convenient to their baser instincts.


Second, IMO, the role of government in the USA is to create - or better yet maintain - an environment where citizens are free to be what ever they want to be and yet protect people when one's concept of being directly and imminently imposes a threat to the material safety of another's. That is the basis for policy development; not a Christian sense of fairness. At least that is how it was originally intended.


Interesting, Michael Vann, that you feel threatened by college protests. Have there been any deaths associated with college protests in the last 50 years or so?

I admit, as a liberal, there are certain people on the left who are nauseating - Alec Baldwin comes to mind - but they're far and few between. And they don't represent the Democratic Party and their views are their own.

The problem with Trump, which no one has mentioned, is that it really does seem like he has psychological problems. He certainly enjoys belittling others and talking about violence to others, and he does these things A LOT.

Michael,
I have to add my 'here!, here!' to Matt and Bruce's praise for your comments of 2/23/16, 11:06PM about Trump. I wish I had the political savvy to write about Trump as you do. I too will not vote for either Trump or Clinton.

Perhaps this nominating process reveals something far more serious about the American people than about the candidates. Never have I seen in my 75+ years a population of the U.S. in which the majority had lost the ability to think! - AOD

@ Kathleen - Ah thanks for that. I really do find it amazing that every candidate claims to believe in God, and thus presumably in souls, but no one ever suggests a science of religion in the fashion of Myers & James.

I guess it's just too far removed from present concerns.

@ Roberta - Yeah I don't know why, but the current debates of today pale for me compared to the question of where materialism will lead tomorrow.

Their picture is so bleak, while it feels like the better world of guys like Henri Bergson, who had a place for consciousness in the universe, seems just around the corner if we'd only just reach...

@ Michael Vann - If it's any comfort, I don't know when straight white guys as a whole became the enemy either? After all there are collections of prejudice in every group.

Michael said:

"Trump v. Hillary? Hillary."

I'm encouraged to hear that! It's good to think that at least some Republicans will cross lines.

"Cruz v. Hillary? Cruz."

Well, we've seen how government manages to survive when one party despises the president. But what happens when both parties feel that way?

The good news: Democrats and Republicans will finally agree on something.

But geez—a guy whose default mode is us vs them? Do you really want that attitude in the guy whose finger is on the button?

"Rubio v. Hillary? Rubio."

Among the Republicans, he's the best of three awful choices.

So Hillary gets my vote. (But you knew that.) I think the "untrustworthy thing" has been laid upon her by her enemies. I see no evidence for the notion that other politicians are, as a whole, more honest.

She's smart, experienced, compassionate, and I would feel no shame in thinking of her as my leader.

Without a shiny vision, though (like Bernie's), it's gonna be a long hard slog for her. Fortunately she's good at that.

Matt said:

"I'm not a huge fan of any recent presidents. . . . I think our last truly great president was FDR."

I had a feeling you'd have to go back that far. I was mostly making the point that calling Obama largely a place-holder is asking a lot.

Considering the catastrophic economic conditions that were in place when Obama took office, and the progress we've made in areas like gay rights and more sensible drug laws (which he didn't initiate but didn't try to block), I'm pleased at what's been accomplished.

As to ISIS, if any single leader is to be assigned blame, it should be G. W. Bush, another us-vs-them guy.

In praising Obama, I forgot to mention health care—at least he took concrete *steps*!

Then, too, he had to deal with an opposing party as dedicated to seeing a president fail—at any cost—as perhaps we've ever seen.

Michael, as a Republican, do you have any interest in Kasich?

I am a white male moderate-to-liberal Democrat who lives in Kansas and Kasich reminds me of Bob Dole, in the sense that he is cranky and conservative but not a total idiot. He doesn't have Cruz's creepitude, Rubio's software glitches, or Trump's bombastic aggressiveness.

Kasich is way more conservative than I am, but he is the only one that (speaking as a Democrat) seems like he could get some conservative Democrats to vote for him. Swing state governor at all.

He strikes me as a formidable candidate against either Hillary or Sanders. Why isn't he catching on with Republicans?

@ Dammerung:

Thanks for that interesting article from Greer. Don't always agree with him but always admire his thought process.

Plus "Dubyobama consensus" *is* an amusing turn of phrase. :-)

Thank you for your comments, Mr. Rouge.

I don't deny that my experiences are only a narrow portion of reality. I also don't deny that they are informed to a certain extent by fear. Since I belong to the millenial generation, their activities are what are most immediate to me. My fears may well be overblown. I think plenty of things millenials on the other side fear are likewise overblown. But even if we are tilting at windmills, it doesn't diminish the fervor with which we do so.

I also think Trump has significant political acumen, which owes to the fact he's someone experienced in marketing, which is all running for office really is. He has to be to sell skyscrapers and television shows. And while this may be preposterous to some people, I think he has a lot in common with Barack Obama when it comes to message mongering. It's not simply what he says, but how he delivers it, and both he and Obama use similar tactics to convey different messages to different audiences. Obama's practiced demeanor spoke so well to what many on the left are or see themselves as: the erudite, dispassionate intellectual who looks down his nose at partisan concerns, a "citizen of the world" if you will. Trump uses a similarly practiced demeanor to sell the opposite idea: a pugnacious strong-man leader. I think Trump and Obama both understand politics on a deep level, and that is that how you make people feel is the most important consideration. Now I tend to agree with Hume that reason is the slave of passion, and I don't buy into the reason vs. emotion schism simply because I think reason is hopelessly outgunned in that match. Connect with people emotionally and you'll always triumph over a policy wonk who can't do so. I'm pretty sure Obama and Trump are well acquainted with Edward Bernays, and Trump flaunts his flouting of political correctness the way flapper girls waved their "torches of freedom." Of course, since different people have different values, connecting with one person emotionally means alienating another, but that's a trade-off politicians have to make. If he does end up facing Hillary, he'll have to adjust his strategy. He can't run roughshod over her like he did Jeb. If there is a policy wonk inside Trump, and its a leap of faith on my part, he won't reveal it until the actual presidential debates.

Lastly, I agree two wrongs don't make a right. But I also believe you don't win fights by being better than your enemies. Maybe I'm more cynical than anyone my age has a right to be, but politics is a knife fight, and to participate at all let alone win you have to have a knife and be willing to use it. I also tend to agree that most political philosophy as understood along traditional delineations is incoherent. Nationalism and nativism are far better descriptors of my beliefs than conservatism is. I generally don't care about the social issues that animate traditionalists, nor am I particularly averse to a big government as long as its doing things that I want it to. But I fully support Trump on the immigration issue. Its frustrating because the immigration of which the Statue of Liberty is symbolic is far preferable to what we have now. The immigration that came through Ellis Island was well controlled. Part of that was simply geography, with people coming on ships to an island, but we also had an inspection process in place that was anything but compassionate, with inspectors scrawling chalk letters on people like sides of meat and unceremoniously sending those with incurable conditions home. The irony is I think Trump is proposing exactly the measure that could spur real immigration reform, in that a physical control mechanism would enable more effective processing of immigrants and a shortening of the naturalization period. And perhaps in the future when Mexico's situation has improved we can even ceremoniously dismantle it.

FDRLincoln wrote, "Kasich is way more conservative than I am, but he is the only one that (speaking as a Democrat) seems like he could get some conservative Democrats to vote for him. Swing state governor at all. He strikes me as a formidable candidate against either Hillary or Sanders. Why isn't he catching on with Republicans?"

I think Kasich is seen as too establishment and too liberal by the grassroots GOP voters. I started out disliking him, but have come around to thinking he would probably be a good choice. But the numbers are very much against him.

no one,

||I just don't it that way. I mean I can see how you can make a case for that and that you'd even be right is some cases, but, by no means, all.||

It's about his rhetoric and hateful statements about Mexicans and Muslims. Is this really debatable? It's a separate issue from whether his proposed policies would be a good idea or not. One can express care and and concern for Mexicans and still propose a "wall" (a little difficult, but possible). But Trump expresses hatred. I mean, he says crazy ****, such as the quote about Mexicans being rapists and whatnot. This isn't cause for concern?

||If you actually listen to what Trump says on the issues, as opposed to sound bites and translations in the liberal media, his plans are far more well developed than the jingoisms of the other candidates.||

I've heard many crazy things he's said with my own ears. This is a big issue because politicians usually are willing to say only a small percentage of what they are actually thinking. I.e., they hide their intentions. Admittedly, Trump says a high percentage of whatever comes to his mind ("mind"?), but saying hateful things about Mexicans and Muslims isn't a good sign of things to come were he to become president.

||I held my nose and watched Bernie Sander's town hall in SC the other night. It was exactly what Michael Vann notes up-thread. Totally pandering to blacks by bashing whitey, totally making excuses for a lot of bad behavior coming out of that culture, bashing successful people, offering $billions in handouts and lots and lots of divisiveness and identity politics that I - and a lot of Americans - are just sick of. I almost barfed listening to the rhetoric.||

Could you provide any quotes? I have not heard anyone accuse Sanders of hate speech. I'm perfectly willing to consider his actual words, however, and I won't reflexively defend him.

||So why is Trump a bad guy for his wall talk, but Sanders and Clinton get kudos for divisiveness? It's all a matter of personal viewpoint and has nothing to do with objective reality.||

Because Trump uses actual hate speech. I know you're perceptive enough to *know* that his rhetoric is way, WAY outside the norm. Provide any Sanders quotes you like. As for Hillary, I don't think she's divisive. If anything, she's a chameleon like her husband, trying to please everyone and offend no one.

||So I'm back to seeing Trump bashing as a tactic to shoot down the leader who will be the next POTUS.|| Well, he isn't going to be POTUS. I have yet to see any pundits who think he can win. If anything, Republicans are despairing and assuming Hillary will win. Which she will, since those who support Trump support him very strongly, but they are only a substantial percentage of *Conservative* voters. Liberals and independents won't go for that.

Second, it's not "bashing." You have fellow Conservative Michael calling him out on the same stuff we people of the Left do. How do you explain that?

Third, I actually like Trump in more than a few ways. If it were not for his very substantial and dangerous flaws, I think he could actually be a good president. It's unfortunate, but without those flaws he also wouldn't be attracting disaffected right-wingers, and we wouldn't be talking about him right now.

I said,

||As for Hillary, I don't think she's divisive.||

Actually, I meant that I don't think she's divisive in her speech. As a person well known to the electorate, sure, she is (i.e., opinion is strongly divided about her). The irony is that Mitt Romney might well be able to beat her because she *is* divisive, but she is going to be running against Trump and will win handily.

Bruce wrote,

Matt said:

||I had a feeling you'd have to go back that far. I was mostly making the point that calling Obama largely a place-holder is asking a lot.

Considering the catastrophic economic conditions that were in place when Obama took office, and the progress we've made in areas like gay rights and more sensible drug laws (which he didn't initiate but didn't try to block), I'm pleased at what's been accomplished.||

The ACA is significant. Other than that, yes, he's been a pretty benign president, albeit also supporting bad policies from Bush (the surveillance state, etc.). I'm also gravely disappointed that he didn't go after Wall Street criminals or Iraq war criminals (the torturers, etc.). He's been much too conciliatory and could have done a lot more. That's what makes him a placeholder.

||As to ISIS, if any single leader is to be assigned blame, it should be G. W. Bush, another us-vs-them guy.||

Yes, I don't blame Obama in particular for how things in the Middle East have played out. He was handed a ****y war from Bush and has managed competently but not brilliantly.

Michael Vann,

||Thank you for your comments, Mr. Rouge.||

Call me Matt. :)

||I don't deny that my experiences are only a narrow portion of reality. I also don't deny that they are informed to a certain extent by fear. Since I belong to the millenial generation, their activities are what are most immediate to me. My fears may well be overblown. I think plenty of things millenials on the other side fear are likewise overblown.||

I think the Millennials are a great generation, and you guys are getting a raw deal, so hang in there. Fear is something to work on over time. Bruce and I were talking about our fears in the comments of another post. I think getting past/over/beyond/through fears is one of the big missions we have on this planet.

||I also think Trump has significant political acumen, which owes to the fact he's someone experienced in marketing, which is all running for office really is.||

I concur. There is a lot to like about him, so his flaws are doubly regrettable.

||And while this may be preposterous to some people, I think he has a lot in common with Barack Obama when it comes to message mongering. It's not simply what he says, but how he delivers it, and both he and Obama use similar tactics to convey different messages to different audiences. Obama's practiced demeanor spoke so well to what many on the left are or see themselves as: the erudite, dispassionate intellectual who looks down his nose at partisan concerns, a "citizen of the world" if you will.||

Your point about Obama is quite right, IMO, and it's a big reason why we on the Left are so disappointed with his performance: lots of rhetoric, little actual, um, performance.

I don't know if Trump and Obama are really that alike, however, other than being good at appealing to a particular audience? That could be truthfully said of any politician, no?

||Trump uses a similarly practiced demeanor to sell the opposite idea: a pugnacious strong-man leader.||

The question: How much is an act, and how much is real? It's entirely possible that Trump is putting on a clever show (in an instinctive sort of way: as I said, I don't think he's a "meta" guy) to win and will be an entirely reasonable POTUS. OTOH, were he to win, he might also act totally crazy. It's unclear.

||Now I tend to agree with Hume that reason is the slave of passion, and I don't buy into the reason vs. emotion schism simply because I think reason is hopelessly outgunned in that match.||

Ha, yes, well, I think it depends on the person, but the average person isn't very smart, so on average I think you're absolutely right!

||Connect with people emotionally and you'll always triumph over a policy wonk who can't do so.||

Sadly true. I'd like to think that sometimes the connection is congruent with the pol's actual beliefs and intentions; i.e., the person connects because of what's really there. But, sadly, usually not.

||I'm pretty sure Obama and Trump are well acquainted with Edward Bernays,||

I wasn't, so now I'm studying up. Thanks!

||Of course, since different people have different values, connecting with one person emotionally means alienating another, but that's a trade-off politicians have to make.||

Aptly observed!

||If he does end up facing Hillary, he'll have to adjust his strategy. He can't run roughshod over her like he did Jeb. If there is a policy wonk inside Trump, and its a leap of faith on my part, he won't reveal it until the actual presidential debates.||

Those are going to be quite interesting. Talk about asymmetrical warfare! And I'm not just talking about Hillary being the better debater, although of course she is. They will just take totally different approaches to debating, and it will be very weird.

||Lastly, I agree two wrongs don't make a right. But I also believe you don't win fights by being better than your enemies. Maybe I'm more cynical than anyone my age has a right to be, but politics is a knife fight, and to participate at all let alone win you have to have a knife and be willing to use it.||

It depends. The fact is that Trump is going to go into the race with Hillary *not* accepted by the majority of the country, and I think Hillary will just be able to let him hang himself.

||Nationalism and nativism are far better descriptors of my beliefs than conservatism is.||

Please elaborate.

||But I fully support Trump on the immigration issue. Its frustrating because the immigration of which the Statue of Liberty is symbolic is far preferable to what we have now. The immigration that came through Ellis Island was well controlled.||

And it used to be that there were no passports and no immigration controls in the US. Mexicans could just walk over here and live here.

||The irony is I think Trump is proposing exactly the measure that could spur real immigration reform, in that a physical control mechanism would enable more effective processing of immigrants and a shortening of the naturalization period. And perhaps in the future when Mexico's situation has improved we can even ceremoniously dismantle it.||

Nope. The reason why we have the current situation is that there is a symbiosis between the US and Mexico. Mexico being a relatively impoverished country encourages Mexicans to come here and work; the US gets cheap labor, and Mexico gets hard currency sent back. The fact is that the system benefits TPTB in both countries. The ruling elite in Mexico has no incentive to improve conditions there. What we *should* do to really solve the problem is not build a wall but take over Mexico and allow immigration and investment to flow both ways. That's the realpolitik of the situation, not some wall, which will never work.

no one wrote,

||I've noticed you inserting some spiritual concepts into your argument. I think that is noble, but inappropriate.||

I don't know about noble, but I know it's appropriate!

||First, I see it as Michael Vann does; politics is tribal. Period.||

I don't know how to process that, as I don't really know what you are thinking. So Hitler's politics is totally fine: emphasize what's good for the Folk (the tribe), and screw everyone else? OK, if you're not going that far, then how far?

||If you try to make policies around Christian values, you will get clobbered, perhaps quite literally, by the other people who either didn't read that book or, if they did, are wont to ignore how it might apply to them when convenient to their baser instincts.||

K, so you are basically admitting that Republicans *don't* practice Christian values (I totally agree) and their ostensible Christianity is just a charade (I totally agree!).

||Second, IMO, the role of government in the USA is to create - or better yet maintain - an environment where citizens are free to be what ever they want to be and yet protect people when one's concept of being directly and imminently imposes a threat to the material safety of another's. That is the basis for policy development; not a Christian sense of fairness. At least that is how it was originally intended.||

Sort of. Government has also always been about drawing upon the collective powers of the populace to accomplish things that people couldn't do separately. Public works like building the capital are one example that existed right from the start, the military being another. Sure, it used to be less than it is now. Today, governments all over the world, basically every single one, can only operate--modern society can only operate--based on collective action. Republicans like to pretend that this isn't the case. And that too is a big charade, a mere brand for their constituency, since they know that's the case.

Michael Vann, Great comments!

"I also think Trump has significant political acumen, which owes to the fact he's someone experienced in marketing, which is all running for office really is."

Agreed. He is not crazy. He just understands the right kind of noise to make to 1. get lots of free coverage in the media and 2. to resonate with voters.

If he was crazy, he'd have gone broke a long time ago. Crazy people are really good at going broke no matter how much they started with, unless they are totally removed from the process (which Trump is not). If the retort is that he has hired good people to take care of him, then I would say that hiring good people is not something a crazy person does. Crazy people do not follow the advice of good people.

Bottom line, which I think is where Trump lives, is that he is winning. I like winners. I like bold people that break the mold and win. The mold hasn't done anything for me. That, in a nutshell, is the Trump phenomenon. Brilliant; not crazy.

I am wondering if the rest of the world sees Trump as the epitome of the "Ugly American". I certainly see him as such.

He appears to be an old, egotistical, overbearing, overweight, blustery, foul-mouthed white male with dyed blond hair and billions of dollars, not especially well educated and seemingly with little or no appreciation of the things an advanced refined culture allows. He is like a school-yard bully who resorts to name calling, insinuations and innuendoes with little supporting proof as a way to discredit his more competent opponents and to convince the low information voters and the semi-intelligent do-gooders that he represents them.

Well, I hope that no foreign person judges me by the actions of Donald Trump. He does not represent me in any way. - AOD

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