Monday, March 16, 2020

Trump's Fear Factor

This story about trump goes back a few years, about May of      2015.
It seemed that only one other guy in Northern Minnesota was with me (or I with him) in skewering trump as every opportunity.
He was just itching for me to lambast him… And I did willingly, even eagerly.
He scared me at the time. I could tell he was a despot just by the way he talked. The way he talked about women especially.
He seemed to have a mean demeanor when talking to and about employees.
Well, we are three years into his reign, I hope.
I have written a lot of words about him. I have searched for more because I just couldn’t understand how reasonable people could support him.
Well, this material that I am sharing with you will help explain at least the majority of your questions.
I don’t understand it all. These professors and doctors are way over my head but hopefully I have distilled enough to make some sense of it for you.
If we have another Democratic debate like last evening February 19, 2020, trump will have another four-year term and our country will be in tatters, if not a satellite of Russia or China or North Korea.
Please get everyone you know to get out and vote and bring there mothers and fathers and sisters and aunts.
Remember 2016. The biggest block that caused trump to win were the people that didn’t vote.
And I have heard that song and dance again. I don’t like anyone so I’m not going to vote.
Ask the question!!!
How much do you like trump?

Well, if you don’t vote you are voting for him.

Toddler in Training

This post is part of a series that I published in January of 2019.

I am putting it together as one blog post.

I have studied and researched material on trump since March 2015.

The events of the last few weeks increase the urgency of republishing this material so that 'normal' people, who may not give a hoot about his politics have a touchstone where they can find out how trump amassed his loyalists, to include the Senate and Republican Congressmen, and how he keeps them in line.

This post is surgically removed from the original article published in Hubpages in January of 2019. I added more meat which now appears lost.

"The Fear Factor"  begins in his real estate years. 

He is not a smart man so he depends on his ability to scare the pants off you to keep you in line. 

I am leaning heavily on articles by Dr. Bobby Azarian published in Psychology Today. The article is "Mind in the Machine".

If you want to get a jump on me you can also read: "A Complete Psychological Analysis of Trump's Support." (Boy there are a lot of articles now on this topic! 

Dr. Azarian leans on fellow researchers David Dunning and Jason Kruger for the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

The materials are harder to read than what I usually write and it is a long piece so you may want to break it up into sections.

I hope you will bear with me because it is extremely important that you understand all of this.

I am sure you are aware of how taxing his pronunciations can be. Without merit, without sound reasoning, and without a shred of good public speaking skills and without facts he hollers at the top of his vocal capacity.

In addition, his shills such as Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Bill Barr, Rudy Guiliani, Bob Jordan and Mark Meadows et al. add to his crassness and bellicosity.

Let's crank up this machine again and move along in our effort to dismantle the facade of trump's supporters.

I have appropriated a term trump hates "Deep State" to describe how his machinations have infiltrated and seized the inner workings of our governments from food safety (the lack thereof); barbaric treatment of immigrants especially brown-skinned ones especially along our Southern Border; his idiotic and relentlessly damning foreign policy which he tries to portray as his "perfect" personal relationship with dictators and fascists.

A case in point is the increase in tariffs on Chinese imports. To quell their appropriation of our technology he beats up the average American citizen with price increases instead of fashioning policies to deal with the actual problems with Chinese manufacturers.

This may also be part of the super-hot American economy due to business profits.

First, he gives wealthy businesses and business owners massive tax breaks that will take more than ten years to pay for (posted in the news this week). Then he gives the American business up to 25% additional profits for them to declare as their intelligent business management when they are just the markup that businesses took on the bump in tariffs (and they hollered that raising pricings would hurt their bottom lines!).

Then China retaliates by not purchasing our farmer's soybeans because he did not target the real item of his wrath. Then he pays farmers their lost income from American tax coffers.

Oh, I could go on but let's return to how trump has used his loyal followers to get us into this mess.

In addition to Dr. Azarian's research and others I mention, I need to make you aware of other research.

An article in The Washington Post on January 23, 2016, by Jacob Bogage, tells the story of neuroscientist Ryan McGarry who applies electrodes to your head, shows you video clips of violent material, and can tell you how you are going to vote for. Scary?

Maybe we will be able to discover how to trump, trump without dissecting millions of brains!

An article in Politico Magazine by David Dunning on May 2016 introduces us to the Dunning Kruger Effect. 

The Dunning-Kruger Effect States: Humans often OVERestimate their Political Expertise. Indeed people are unaware of how misinformed they actually are!

Other points that we will consider as we move along:
The Power of Mortality Reminders and Perceive Existential Threats;
Relative Deprivation - A Misguided Sense of Entitlement;
Lack of Exposure to Dissimilar Others;
Trump's Conspiracy Theories Target the Mentally Vulnerable.

Trump's Fear Factor cuts even deeper

Trump doesn't like the term "Deep State". That is part of the reason I am using it. To explain what will be left when he finally does leave office.

He doesn't like the term because he thinks it "sounds corny". Obviously, that is its intent. ("The Hill Rising" with Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton, January 16, 2019).

I just can't let go. Maybe after he loses the 2020 election and we find out all the damage he has caused I will be able to stop skewering him. (I don't think he is going to lose the election and after his impeachment and then acquittal - not vindication) we will see the true trump - not the constrained self we have seen - well maybe in the 2 weeks since his acquittal.

I hope all of the Republican senators are voted out of office for their stupidity and cowardice. But I doubt that will happen.

I have been writing about trump since May 2015 before he even started to run for president.

I don't capitalize the first letter of his last name for the very reason that he has not earned any respect in my eyes. Whatever honorific he may feel is his due, I don't use. Period.

A friend and I used to lampoon him on Facebook. At the time I think we were the only ones in Northeastern Minnesota to do so.

Frankly, he scared me. Still does.

That has been proven over and over again. Or have you forgotten the time he gave classified information to our enemies or a few weeks ago when he almost started a war with Iran (and said our troops only had headaches from at least 12 ballistic missiles landing close to their positions. TBI (traumatic brain trauma) is more than headaches and more than 100 troops were injured!).

The Fear Factor - Now we are into the hardcore:

Cut right to the core of our democracy! Read on if you dare!

The "deep state" (from the Turkish: derin devlet) or a state within a state describes a clandestine network founded in 1923 by Mustafa Ataturk to protect his secular government that supposedly continued his policies behind the scenes.

I turn the state on its head and use it to describe the means and results of trump's corruption.

If he is elected for another term I have no doubt that we will begin to see results of his deep state by the ease with which proclamations are slid into place.

If he is not re-elected then we will see his deep state, by the way, the new president's proclamations if ARE NOT implemented. I suspect we will find many that are. That will take years to ferret them out.

The first three reasons why his follower fawn over him:

1. Practicality trumps Morality (put intended): For rich people, trump gave massive tax cuts which mean they will follow him anywhere even to the detriment of the environment in which they live.

The Republican Senators that did not convict trump were unforgivable. They set up a precedent that may be with us always. It reminds me of coprophagy. We had to Bernese Mountain Dogs do what dogs do. They ate their own poop!

2. The Brain's Attention Span is more strongly engaged by trump: In a study for The Washington Post "participants watched 40 minutes of political ads." The ads of Hillary Clinton held their attention for only so long. Trump held their attention and emotional arousal high throughout the session EVEN when they didn't agree with his statements!

3. America's Obsession with Entaintment Celebrities: trump's supporters are addicted to entertainment and so-called reality TV. Some of his supporters even FORGAVE for what he said (Ala "grab by the pussy"). "They seem to be happy as long as they are entertained."

4. "Some men just want to watch the world burn":  Some of his supporters are probably too
rebellious and just love chaos. They seek to trounce the establishment even with fire when
necessary. Dr. Azarian labels this Schadenfreude - the pleasure derived from watching other's pain - the more the better).  This is also known as 10-year boy schoolyard meanness.

On Friday, January 11, 2019, The New York Times started an avalanche of articles, discussions, and arguments with the story on trump as an asset of Russia.

This was proven beyond any doubt by the Mueller Commission.

5. The Fear Factor: Conservatives are More Sensitive to Threats - THIS IS A BIGGIE!
"Science has shown that the conservative brain has an exaggerated fear response when faced with stimuli that may be perceived as threatening."

In the Journal "Scientific American" a study found that  "conservatives have a stronger physiological reaction to startling noises and graphic images compared to liberals."

A brain-imaging study published in "Current Biology"
 revealed that those who lean right politically tend to have a larger amygdala - a structure in the brain that is electrically active during states of fear and anxiety. 

Furthermore, a study published in the "CBS News"
found that it is possible to predict whether someone is liberal or conservative simply by looking at their brain activity as they view threatening or disgusting images, such as mutilated bodies.

"Fear keeps his followers energized and focused on safety."

6. The Power of Mortality Reminders and the Perceived Existential Threat:

A part of Sidney Solomon's "Terror Management Theory" explains trump's fear-mongering. 

"Humans have a unique awareness of their own mortality. The inevitability of one' s death creates an existential terror and anxiety." (Existential: concerned with existence; affirming the existence of things. Google Search)

Fear-mongering encourages people to more strongly defend those who share images and identities against those who do not share the same.

 (I suggest a reading of an interview with Ashley Jardina on She has written a book "White Identity Politics." This book deals a lot with some of the issues presented here. Death reminders "may influence voting habits in favor of more conservative presidential candidates" (in favor of George W. Bush in this study).

Trump's constant emphasis on threats may be making brains respond "positively rather than negatively to bigoted statements and divisive rhetoric." 
Dr. Azarian lays out that most politicians lie, yet none does it in the magnitude or frequency of trump.

Dr. Azarian has drawn some of his conclusion from a 2017 review paper published in the "Journal of Social and Political Psychology" by the psychologist and UC Santa Cruz professor Thomas Pettigrew. You can review a copy here.

We learned that the Dunning-Kruger Effect explains " the problem isn't that people (who voted for trump) are misinformed: it's that they are completely unaware they are misinformed."

A new study in the Journal "Political Psychology" carried out by the political scientist Ian Anson at the University of Maryland Baltimore County hammers the Dunning-Kruger Effect home and even expands on its implications.

As predicted, the results showed that those who scored low on political knowledge were also the ones who over-estimated their level of knowledge. 

But that wasn't all. 

When participants were given cues that made them engage in partisan thought, the Dunning-Kruger Effect was made even stronger.

This occurred with both Republicans and Democrats, but only those who scored low on both political knowledge, to begin with! 

"Strangers in Their Own Land" Anger and Mourning on the American Right

An ezine I found while researching this post is "Cognoscenti", a publication of WBUR, Boston MA. (It is also a skincare line in Australia.) The Twitter handle is @cobur.

The first article I read was by Julie Wittes Schlack. It is a particularly excellent article based on the book "Strangers in Their Own Land" by sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild.

The crux of her book is that people shoehorn new political information into their old political beliefs.

This causes them to vote against their own best interests.

Another excellent article is by Bill Eddy in "The Big Think"
(another excellent publication). His article is "How Toxic People Wage Emotional Warfare on Others."

His column in this edition is "How Power-Hungry Politicians Divide and Conquer." Other articles by Mr. Eddy in this edition are: "Why We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths and How We Can Stop"; "How High-Conflict Personalities Capture High Office"; and "How to Spot High Conflict People Before Its too Late."

Mr. Eddy's credentials? He is co-founder and president of the High-Conflict Institutes in San Diego, CA.

The Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy is Big Government

In 2011,  Cornell political scientist Suzanne Mettler surveyed the number of recipients of government benefits
who deny receiving benefits. Her theory "The current political circumstances are an existential threat to American democratic order."

People think Big Government is the Biggest Evil.

The numbers are shocking: depending on the program, they range to include 50 to 65 percent of those that benefit from 529 tuition savings plans, the home mortgage deduction, student loans, or childcare credits; 40 to 50 percent of those who receive Social Security, Pell Grants, unemployment insurance, veteran's benefits; and 25 to 40 percent of those who receive Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps are unaware that their money comes from the government.

"Left unanswered was whether these folks (in predominately red states) believe their benefactor was the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy!"

"These delusions are particularly prevalent in red states which contribute the least in federal revenues and rely most heavily on federal services."

Two years ago during the heavy floods in Houston, I  remember vividly that proud Houstonians said they didn't have flood plans or even city planning. But boy did they scream when their flooded areas needed federal assistance because that had paved what should have been their flood plains.

Puffer Fish

Misguided Sense of Entitlement

8. Relative Deprivation: A Misguided Sense of Entitlement:
"Relative deprivations refer to the experience of being deprived of something to which you believe you are entitled."

"It is the discontent felt when you compare your position in life to others" who you feel are unequal or inferior to you. But these people have more success than you.

This is common in "swing states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania."

These feelings can be economic, racial, or immigrant-based These feelings ignore the fact that you are not keeping pace with the "accelerating pace of education."

I cover this topic in a blog post "Capitalism Overreach and the West Virginia Coal Miners" which explores how we, in 2019-2020, will repeat the plight of the coal miners. (As of 2/18/20 I haven't had a chance to re-enter this post. Please stay tuned)

They saw the 20th Century pass them by.

We will witness this as the Fourth Industrial Revolution passes our citizens by.

9. Lack of Exposure tDissimilar Others:

"Racial and ethnic isolation of Whites at the Zip-Code level is one of the strongest predictors of support for trump."
I grew up in Northeastern Minnesota in a small town. Most towns in Northern Minnesota are small. My town was not particularly homogeneous. Other towns, especially those on the "Iron Range" or "da range" as it was known, were settled primarily by Slovenian, Finnish, Italian, Sweden, Norway, and over thirty other nationalities. 

Each town contributed to the most diverse populations in the state.

"Minnesota's Iron Range is notable in terms of public safety; several Iron Range towns with populations of less than 15,000 people rank among the most dangerous in the state when measured by violent crime and property crimes per capita, even when compared to the more populous metropolitan cities.

"The Iron Range" is really three ranges: Vermilion, Mesabi, and Cuyuna.

I always assumed that most of us that populated Northern Minnesota was fairly progressive. After all, the state voted Democratic 11 times since it had voted for Richard Nixon in 1972. 

It voted primarily democratic in national elections began in 1932.

2016 was scary, Clinton won by only 1.5% or 44, 593 votes.

Conspiracies and Theories

10. Trump's Conspiracy Theories Target the Mentally Vulnerable:

They may appear to be just odd quirks in modern society but the followers of the crackpot allies of trump like Alex Jones, and the shadowy QAnon may have psychological illnesses like paranoia, delusions like schizophrenia or are at least vulnerable to them.

The link between schizotypy and belief as conspiracy theories is well-established.

A study in the Journal "World Psychiatryshows that this condition is still very prevalent in the population. 

Visit some alt-right websites and discussion boards to see evidence of this manipulation.

There are additional topics that range from trump tapping into the nation's narcissism to understanding the racist brain. 

A few nits and lice for you to check out if you wish.

Social Psychological Perspective on Trump Supporters| Pettigrew| Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

A Complete Psychological Analysis of Trump's Support| Azarian| Psychology Today

Remember Reagan's catchphrase? Republicans still parrot "Government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem."

Republican oligarchs like the Koch brothers "have spent millions convincing ordinary Americans that government is the enemy."

"How the Koch brothers bankroll "Fox News of the regulatory policy world" to help push polluter-friendly agenda"

This was the headline, June 3, 2019, in "Raw Story" and the Washingtonian. The articles tell how the Koch brothers use George Washington University to spread their erroneous gospel.

Very scary but true. "Many Americans who benefit from government assistance are literally in denial" as we say earlier in the post.

11. Trump Taps into the Nation's Collective Narcissism:

This narcissism is the shared belief "in the greatness of one's national group." We have seen how this unrealistic belief has been unleashed many times in our history.

A study published in 2017 in the Journal "Social Psychological and Personality Science" found a direct link between national collective narcissism and support for Donald Trump by Thomas F. Pettigrew, professor at UC Santa Cruz. 

"Collective Narcissism involves negative attitudes and aggression toward 'outside' groups who are perceived as threats."

Trump exacerbates collective narcissism with his anti-immigrant, anti-elitist, and strongly nationalistic rhetoric."

He refers to his supporters as "true patriots" or "real Americans" and pushes his brand of superiority, success and wealth.

12. The Desire to Dominate Others:

This desire is "a distinct trait similar to an authoritarian personality." It refers to people who have a preference for the "social hierarchy of groups."

These groups have a high social status and trumpet their dominance over low-status groups. These people are "typically dominant, tough-minded, and driven by self-interest."

A 2016 study in "Science Direct" compared cognitive (relating to) ability and authoritarianism to understand support for trump or Clinton.

The first recollection I had of trump was his grand-sense-of-self especially as he compared himself to others. ("I am the only one who can do this" was his refrain.)

The study tested "two ideological beliefs: right-wing authoritarianism, and social dominance orientation."

The result is illuminating:
High right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance predicted that people had more favorable attitudes of trump.

Lower cognitive ability predicted that people would have greater intentions to vote for trump and lower intentions to vote for Clinton.

Is this a surprise? You have read thru this whole article want is your answer to this question?

How about a two-minute interlude of great images before we finish the last 500 or fewer words?

Rope Harness by Miriam Tell 

Rob Buck

Rob Buck

Shawn McGovern

Sombrero Galaxy

Sent by John Ahonen I don't know who set up the image

13. Authoritarian Personality

This explains trump's and his follower's tendencies to be obsessed with rulers such as PutinXi Jinping, and Duterte of the Philippines.

Recall that "authoritarianism refers to the advocacy of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom and is associated with the lack of concern for the opinions and needs of others."


Authoritarian personality

Aggression, submissiveness, rigid hierarchy

"Trump fires back at reports on his lousy polling with accusations of the "Greatest Presidential Harassment of all time" Saturday, June 15, 2019, "Raw Story" headline.

Authoritarianism is displayed not only by trump but also his supporters.

Wikipedia defines "authoritarian personality" as a belief in total and complete obedience to authority. It is displayed in aggression to people who are not members of the same group, submissiveness to authority, resistance to new experiences, and a rigid hierarchical view of society.

"Authoritarianism is triggered by fear which makes it easy for leaders who exaggerate threats or fear-mongering to gain their allegiance."

In my blog post "How do We Recover? The Rise of the Intolerants" we see these people are willing to overthrow democracy they were raised in for a total and usually cruel rule of a dictator.

I think Hitler and Joseph Goebbels illustrates this precisely (see my blog post "Who is the Man? aka Repetitions Make it So."  Please wait until I get it retyped and posted. The same with the post above.

Goebbels slavishly followed Hitler and lifted him grand spectacles of the Third Reich.

If you are interested in an in-depth study of authoritarianism I recommend: "The F Scale as a Predictor of Fascism: An Overview of 40 Years of Authoritarian Research." The author is Joseph Mellon.

Matthew Mac Williams in a Politico article, defined this trait a predicter of whether you were a trump supporter. In fact, that is the title of his article "The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You're a Trump Support and it's not age, gender, race, income or religion" published on January 17, 2018.

Can you guess the trait?

Authoritarianism followed by terrorism.

trump plays directly to these inclinations of his supporters at rallies.

A surprising fact: the political scientist Professor Marc Hetherington "found that authoritarianism matters more than income, ideology, gender, age, and education" that predicted whether voters preferred  Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama."

Max Boot in "The Washington Post" on December 11, 2018, wrote, "America now has a party of Authoritarianism."

Another really good article is" "The Corruption of the Republican Party" by George Packer on December 14, 2018, in "The Atlantic."

Dr. Azarian wrote an article that appeared in "Alternet" on July 23, 2018. The headline read: "Those who score low on political knowledge overestimate their expertise more when the great emphasis is placed on political affiliation."

I have paraphrased this remark "People think they know what they are talking about (those in trump's sphere of influence) rarely know what they don't know!"

"Perhaps this helps explain why trump supporters seem to be tricked into believing obvious falsehoods." Daniel EfronLondon Business School, associate professor of organizational behavior. "Why trump Supporters Don't Mind His LiesThe New York Times, April 28th, 2018.

Deliver "alternate facts" often enough, boisterously enough, and sprinkle in some "dog whistles" that appeal to their baser instincts and we see results like these:

"In 2016 an experiment found that 45% of Republicans believe the Affordable Care Act included "Death Panels" and a 2015 study found that 54% of Republican primary voters believed then-President Barack Obama was a Muslim."

Even scarier was the study that found that only 25% of Republicans believe human activity contributes to climate change.

Even scarier is a study that showed that in just two years 2015 to 2017 58% of Republicans came to believe that a college education "negatively impacted the State of the Union!"

The last time I recall activities like these George Wallace was hammering out "dog whistles" to drum up support for his run at the presidency. An assassin's bullet laid him low before votes were cast.

Now we recognize these voices from a violent and ugly past have not been silenced.

How do we move on?

Thanks for stopping.

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