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Cracking Trump

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Remember that scene in the movie “Predator” where Arnold asks the alien “what the hell are you?” and the Predator repeats it back to him? Yeah, that. The world outside President Donald Trump’s immediate family has the same reaction. From Tony Schwartz (co-author of “The Art of the Deal”) to Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, everybody’s got a take on cracking Trump.

The latest is from Jonathan Chait, who posited “Social Darwinism is what truly guides Trump.” I was intrigued by his twitter post claiming “instinctive social Darwinism,” to which I responded I don’t even know what that is. Social Darwinism is a belief that cultures and social groups are subject to the same “survival of the fittest” natural selection that Darwin observed in plant and animal species.

Social Darwinism is a mostly discredited philosophy in its conclusions, which favor the rich and dismiss the poor as outworkings of inferior moral or character traits. Trump has always attributed his own success as something ineffable, an “it” that one either has or doesn’t have. Chait quotes Trump from a 1990 Playboy interview:

“The coal miner gets black-lung disease, his son gets it, then his son,” he told an interviewer. “If I had been the son of a coal miner, I would have left the damn mines. But most people don’t have the imagination — or whatever — to leave their mine. They don’t have ‘it’ … You’re either born with it or you’re not.”

I am familiar with that interview, because I used it in my own hot take at cracking Trump, written back in February, 2016, where I too asked “what the hell are you?” and received the question back as an answer.

And this is where Chait’s attempt at the Gordian knot of Trump’s mind fails. Trump said he didn’t want a poor person in an advisory role dealing with the economy. I happen to agree with this logic. A poor person, upon winning the lottery, will most likely spend it all and have nothing. A rich person will be much more likely to invest some, and save most, because the rich are more interested in building and preserving wealth than the poor.

But do I want a rich person to be my military chief? Or my spiritual adviser? Almost certainly not. And Trump hasn’t picked millionaires for every key position. But in White House politics, those with access to the Oval Office do tend to be–well, rich. So what’s Chait’s point here?

Social Darwinism is the tissue connecting this shady conduct with the Republican Party’s highest policy priorities. Conservatives believe programs that tax the rich and benefit the poor illegitimately meddle with the natural and correct distribution of wealth produced by the marketplace. The Republican health-care bill — both what passed in the House and what Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has brought to the Senate — confers a nearly trillion-dollar tax cut that overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy. That appears to be its sponsors’ primary consideration. Secondarily, it strips away an equal amount in Medicaid and middle-class insurance tax credits.

His point is that Social Darwinism isn’t just Trump’s issue, it’s the GOP’s as a whole. In other words, Republicans are bad people because they don’t believe that “the poor” as a class should be given everything social progressives see as a “right.”

Here I call B.S. Because all of Chait’s little jaunt into Trump’s mind is to support this one statement.

The best explanation for this grand act of self-sabotage (beyond his simply not understanding the policies he endorses) is that Trump, like much of the Republican Party, is an instinctive social Darwinist.

Trump is many things, in fact he is a walking contradiction depending on where the light catches him, but he’s not a Social Darwinist. Chait wrote that Social Darwinism “is the intellectual scaffolding, constructed by writers like Ayn Rand and various Austrian economists, behind the vision of conservatives like Paul Ryan and David Koch.” That’s also demonstrably false.

Ayn Rand’s philosophy was “objectivism” where happiness, productivity and objective reason were the measure of a man, mankind, and everything. Therefore, all would simply find their place in life’s Pachinko board, some of it from inherent ability, some from attitude, and some from sheer luck.

I don’t think Trump believes in this way. He believes that great people can inspire, and that the power of positive thinking (the title of his erstwhile pastor, Norman Vincent Peale’s book) can help anyone achieve their dreams. If anything, Trump sees himself as a walking example of this philosophy. He is his own hero, and therefore accountable to no one, especially writers, reporters and bloggers trying to crack his cerebellum.

Most Republicans believe some of Trump’s core philosophy, as do Democrats. Where most differ is in Trump’s unyielding belief in self, his shifting moral relativism, and his mistrust of those not unfailingly loyal to him. Therefore when we ask of Trump “what the hell are you?” we tend to get the same question back.

Chait cheated and begged the question of how Republicans think, using Trump’s mirror ball to support his pretext.

That kind of cheating will leave us all exactly where we started. We don’t know anything new about President Donald J. Trump. We don’t know anything new about Republicans, other than Chait believes they are bad people.

Ultimately, Trump is guided by his own instincts, which are neither some form of “noblesse oblige” nor some innate superiority of the rich over the poor. He is guided by winning, defeating those who oppose him, and getting the upper hand in that struggle by any means possible for which he will suffer the least consequences.

In three words: Don’t get caught. The codicil: Have an excuse.

The ironic part about that philosophy is that both Bill and Hillary Clinton share it. Trump is just better at it than Hillary (but not necessarily better than Bill). How easily do intellectuals like Chait forgive one side’s addiction to self and power but attribute the other side’s use of the same to evil.

I suggest we all stop trying to crack Trump–which leads to headaches–and simply judge him on his actions and results.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Susan Malouff

    July 2, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    It has been proven that the teachings of Norman Vincent Peale are not only false but dangerous as well. Although he used other words to describe his methods of self empowerment they are, in fact, methods used for self hypnotism. Using self hypnotic methods consistently can lead to mental illness, Borderline Personality Disorder to be precise. Thus, you are mistaken, as Trump’s beliefs are clearly a combination of Prosperity Gospel and Social Darwinism, with both “religious” beliefs negating Biblical teachings and the true meaning and understanding of Christianity. Make no mistake, Trump has followed these beliefs throughout his life, as his father’s belief in Social Darwinism left a lasting effect on him as well as the beliefs and teachings of Peale, whom he refers to as “his pastor”. That being said, due to his behavior it is clear that Trump has been using Peale’s techniques consistently for years because he is, in no uncertain terms, showing signs of severe mental illness which makes him very dangerous to the United States and American people.

    • Steve Berman

      July 3, 2017 at 5:04 am

      Come now. Let’s not disparage the president or the dead. But you have proven my point and even acknowledged that I’m right. I’m not mistaken at all. Let’s assume Trump has BPD and look at some of the most common symptoms (I am not a psychiatrist, are you?).

      • Markedly disturbed sense of identity
      • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment and extreme reactions to such
      • Splitting (“black-and-white” thinking)
      • Impulsivity and impulsive or dangerous behaviours
      • Intense or uncontrollable emotional reactions that often seem disproportionate to the event or situation
      • Unstable and chaotic interpersonal relationships
      • Self-damaging behavior
      • Distorted self-image
      • Dissociation
      • Frequently accompanied by depression, anxiety, anger, substance abuse, or rage
      • I believe Trump has at least 7 out of 10 of these to some degree. Trump integrates some elements of the Prosperity Gospel but without the Gospel part. I don’t see Social Darwinism as integrated into his teaching. Social Darwinists do not say “I love all people” as a general rule. They focus on who in society isn’t pulling their weight. Trump never talks about that.

        The man is “me” all the way down. I actually think he is a well-adjusted sociopath who has learned emotional responses and mimics them as well as he can. His one-time friend and mentor Roy Cohn said (before he died) “Donald pisses ice water.”

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Media

Trump failed with Putin due to anti-Trump Republicans and fake news

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Following Trump’s bizarre performance at the Helsinki Summit with his BFF Vladimir Putin, bi-partisan condemnation of his press conference was swift and severe after he expressed his willingness to accept Putin’s word that Russia didn’t interfere with the 2016 election, despite findings by US intelligence proving otherwise.

Not to worry, though. Following this backlash, and now that he’s home and a safe distance away from Putin, Trump’s false bravado was back on full display yesterday as he attempted to backtrack from his previous statements about Russian interference.

According to Trump, he didn’t reject US intelligence in favor of Russia; he simply misspoke. He’s always believed Russia interfered. He’s just a victim of the English language.

“The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,’ sort of a double negative. So you can put that in and I think it probably clarifies things pretty good.

“I have on numerous occasions noted our intelligence findings that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections.”

But Trump’s difficulty with contractions isn’t the only reason for this apparent misunderstanding. Not at all. The real culprit, as is always the case when the news is unfavorable, is the “Fake News” media.

Sadly, criticism of Trump’s Helsinki remarks has been noticeably missing in some so-called conservative circles in Washington and in the media. Not only that, they have joined the Trump echo chamber in defending him.

For example, according to Trump, Sen. Rand Paul agreed with his claim that the Mueller investigation was responsible for Trump’s troubling comments.

Additionally, in an interview with Trump Pravda (FOX News), Paul called out Republicans who criticized Trump, labelling them pro-war and/or anti-Trump for doing so.

“Republicans that are making the criticism are either the pro-war Republicans like McCain and Graham or the anti-Trump ones like Sasse … They are motivated by their persistent and consistent dislike of the president.”

In the House of Representatives, so-called conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus embraced Trump’s “Fake News” mantra, arguing that the media’s criticism of Trump’s statements had overshadowed his accomplishments concerning Russia. At least, that’s how Freedom Caucus member Rep Warren Davidson sees it:

“The reality is people are upset about what President Trump said, but they’re not giving him credit for what he’s done.”

Is it just me, or shouldn’t what you say jive with what you do? I think they call that walking the talk.

Meanwhile, sounding like he wrote Trump’s “Fake News” talking points, the conservative talk show host formerly known as Rush Limbaugh, also blames the media for Trump’s pro-Russia comments, saying that their “embarrassingly shallow and puerile, infantile questions” were responsible.

So, take heart, America. Trump didn’t mean what he said when he said it. He was simply playing 3-D chess with the Russian President, and anyone who thinks otherwise only does so because they are pro-war, anti-Trump, and they believe fake news.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

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Foreign Affairs

Being American doesn’t mean ignoring facts. Ron Paul right about Trump-Putin meeting.

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In the era of torn Russian relations, Ron Paul takes a step back and views more information than almost any pundit on air or on twitter. It’s bipartisan to hate Russian, and that causes many Americans to hold inconsistent views on foreign policy issues related to Russia.

The media’s coverage on all things related to Russia was bad before it’s terrible coverage of Trump. We need a balanced factual approach to foreign relations with Russia. Not everything is Russia’s fault. America needs a new approach to Russia, and Trump can bring that.

John Kerry spent so much time picking losing battles with Russia and the United States needs to move on from these geopolitical skirmishes. Part of this means throwing the Obama administration under the bus. Between John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, US interests in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe faced setbacks. Only then can we have a better relationship with Russia.

I appreciate Ron Paul’s perspective because, in an era of hot takes and the political popularity of Russia hating, he maintains a just perspective that embraces facts.

US Russia Factsheet

US and Russia

  • These two countries have the largest nuclear arsenal
  • US military currently miles ahead of Russia
  • Relations have ever been good
  • Both (sort of) friends with the Kurds
  • Russia largely used as scapegoat, punching bags in American politics
  • Trump administration upped military spending
  • US through NATO still practices a containment policy with regards to Russia
  • Both countries have issues with Islamic terrorism
  • Working together on North Korea issue

Russia

  • Is not a free country
  • Does not pretend to be a free country (like Europe)
  • Its people largely view the break up of the Soviet Union as a tragedy (regardless of feelings about communism)
  • Actually likes Putin, a lot (strangely)
  • Has had Putin at the helm for decades

Iran

  • Putin came out in affirmation of the Iran Deal
  • Trump remained opposed
  • This point of contention was largely ignored by the media
  • Russia and Iran are allies
  • Iran taking control of Iraq through Shia paramilitaries
  • Backs Houthi rebels in Yemen

Iraq

  • Invaded by the US in 2003
  • War lost when the Obama Administration refused to negotiate a status of forces agreement
  • Iraqi military fell apart to ISIS when they invaded from Syria
  • Iranian backed militias filled the vacuum
  • Status of Kurds unclear

Syria

Ukraine

Turkey

  • Turkey is a member of NATO
  • Turkey opposes Israel
  • Turkey provoked war with Russia by downing Russian jet
  • Turkey becoming increasingly Islamic under neo-Ottoman regime
  • Kemalism was killed in the attempted coup
  • Ergodan held a referendum to grant himself more power
  • Russia and Turkey have an arrangement in Syria to not fight each other
  • Turkey performing land grab in Syria
  • Turkey killing Kurds in Syria
  • Turkey backing its own Islamist in Syria

Israel

  • Trump administration the most Israel-friendly administration in US history
  • Russia opposes Israel on a geopolitical level (along with most US allies)
  • Russia backs enemies of Israel
  • US backs enemies of Israel (Saudis)
  • Israel believed to have nuclear capabilities

Libya

  • US and Russia back differing factions
  • US played large role in destabilizing region during the rebellion
  • Terrorist that America aided attack a US consulate and murdered four people, including Ambassador Stevens

2016 Election

  • US has long history of meddling in foreign elections
  • Russian meddling had no effect on the outcome of 2016 election
  • DNC never handed over server to investigators
  • Indictments are not convictions, not even close
  • Russia should be embarrassed if that was their attempt to interfere in a US election
  • Media overplaying story because they dislike Trump

US Agencies

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Culture and Religion

Video: What is a Classical Liberal?

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A short video making the point that the Left is no longer Liberal, having traded individualism for collectivism.

In one of their first animated video shorts, the Rubin Report discusses the vitally important topic of just who is a Classical Liberal.

OUR FIRST ANIMATED VIDEO! What is a Classical Liberal?

Liberalism has been confused with Leftism or progressivism, which is actually has nothing to do with classical Liberalism. Sadly the Left is no longer Liberal at all for it has traded individualism for collectivism.

The Rubin Report
Published on Jul 10, 2018

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