Friday, October 14, 2016

Where Echidne Dons Her Pseudo-Psychologist's Hat And Then Analyzes the Trumpeteers

1.  I posted below about watching a Trump rally speech last Tuesday.  In fact, I watched it twice, the second time to count the repetition of certain words.  I did it, because repetition can amount to a type of brainwashing, and I wanted to see how Trump does it.

So I watched today's Trump rally speech for the same reasons.  He repeats the word "rigged" six times, if I got the count right, beginning with the media, mentioning Sanders as a victim of this rigging, seguing to the whole process being rigged, and finally coming out with "The whole election is rigged."

That was followed by "the whole thing is one big fix."  Trump then repeated that statement.  "Crooked" Hillary was mentioned at least three times.

That explicit statement about the elections as illegitimate is one step closer to the abyss than he took on Tuesday.

This leaves me very troubled, not only because of the cult-like flavor of what Trump is doing, but also because if his supporters believe in what he says, well, what are they going to do if Trump doesn't win?

2.  Scott Adams, the cartoonist of Dilbert fame, and also the cartoonist of misogynist fame, has a new blog post about the coming election, called The Era of Women.  The gist of the post is that since women are going to vote Hillary Clinton into power, women will be responsible for everything bad that will happen next.

The post is fascinating, and my usual type of analysis would be to note that electing the FIRST female US president, ever, is not the same thing as the monstruous regimen of women, except in the minds of a few,  that electing the FIRST female US president, ever, is not the same as women, as a class, taking all power from men, as a class, and that it most likely means very little change in any of the issues that keeps Adams awake at night.

I would also add that his opinion erases all the men who are going to vote for Hillary Clinton and all the women who are going to vote for Donald Trump, and then I would ask why he can't see the possible election of the first woman to lead this country as a step towards, you know, gender equality, rather than as the obvious total tilting of some imaginary power see-saw to favor the class of women.

I'd finish by asking why it is that Adams, and others like him, can't view individual women and men as individuals in politics.  After all, that is the goal in my value system when it comes to sex, race etc.

But I want to try something different, and that is to see what that post also sounds like to me:

Note the false generalization:  If one woman becomes the president of the United States, then all women are running the country, perhaps the world.

That sounds like the way the mind of someone depressed works:  Everything is SHIT.  Not just some things, but everything.

Note the end-of-world thinking:  The possible election of one woman wipes out any power men may have held.  Perhaps all the men in the Congress, the majority of Congress-critters, will be beheaded?  Perhaps the Catholic Church will have only a Popess and priestesses?  Perhaps all imams and mullahs will now be women?  Every CEO of every large corporation will now be female,  the military will only have girl generals, all television sports will be about rhythmic gymnastics, and every single talking head (and cartoonist!) will be female in this new world.  The earth has cracked open and will suck up poor Scott and anyone who is at all like him.

That, too, sounds like depression.

And so does Adams' attempt to compare men, as a class, to women, as a class, in some odd endeavor to decide which class "deserves" to rule:

Men had a good run. We invented almost everything, and that’s cool. But we also started all of the wars and committed most of the crimes. It’s a mixed record to be sure. Now it’s time for something different, apparently.

I'm not saying that Adams is depressed.  He's more likely to cause depression in others by what he has written.  But I spotted those similarities and then wondered how many of those who participate in the nastiest misogyny sites might suffer from the thought errors commonly associated with depression.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

"Rigged" and "Corrupt" in Trump-Speak

I watched Trump's Tuesday rally speech, the first speech intended for his base that I've watched.  It left me feeling troubled.

Not because of  all the things he promised:  the eradication of all poverty, the cutting of taxes for all (including a new 15% profit tax for corporations), the annihilation of ISIS, the return of all good jobs to the US (he is going to force Apple to make it's phones at home), the safeguarding of Medicare and Social Security, the rewriting of all trade deals and did I mention cutting taxes humongously?  Also chocolate cake and guns in every pots.  Just kidding about the cake.

His promises can't be fulfilled, but I understand that he is giving the usual politician's pre-election promises, though with no hints about how he might achieve all that, given that he is not yet a divine power, except maybe in his own mind.

His factual errors didn't worry me, either.  I expect those from Trump.  That he believes replacing Obamacare with Health Savings Accounts (which are subsidized saving, not insurance) would somehow make it possible for all Americans to have great quality care for a low price, well,  he probably doesn't know anything about how much ordinary people can afford to save or how much a physician visit or a hospital stay costs.  His proposal would bankrupt people and provide care for only those who are affluent.

I wasn't even that worried because his promises were gendered:  He promised good things to the police, to the fire-fighters, to the military, to the border control and to the veterans.  He promised nothing to the teachers or to the nurses or to those who care for the elderly and the sick.  But that tilt was expected, given who constitute his base.

No.  What made me troubled was this:  Trump kept repeating, over and over again these words:  "rigged" and "corrupt."*

Hillary Clinton is "crooked" (mentioned four times), "a bad, bad person" and "a disaster."   The leadership in Washington DC is corrupt, has "betrayed" Trump's audience and "squandered its wealth".  The Democratic Party is corrupt, its primary was rigged.  The media is corrupt (mentioned twice), and the news are rigged, the media is a disgrace.  The global order is corrupt and rigged (mentioned twice).

And he repeats words such as "destruction," "disaster"  and "criminal", when referring to Hillary Clinton's past or the Obama administration.  He asserts that Hillary Clinton wants to erase all borders around the United States, which sounds like accusing her of treason.

In another context Trump has called Hillary Clinton a devil.

Now put that together and what do you get?  A strong impression that Trump is telling his base that the American political system is all corrupt, all rigged, that the elections will be seen as rigged, too, unless Trump wins.

What is the emotional message Trump sends his adherents?  How should they act after November 9, if Trump doesn't win, if the devil wins, if the crooked person wins, if the corrupt and rigged media caused it, if the corrupt and rigged global order caused it?

That sounds like questioning the legitimacy of these elections.

* He also repeats the word "unbelievable," as applied to all the wonderful things he will provide this country.  Not sure if that is a Freudian slip.

Monday, October 10, 2016

On The Trump Video

Dahlia Lithwick's initial reaction to the recent Trump video was the same as mine:

After months of controversies over Trump’s personal attacks on women, his racist talk about an American judge of Mexican heritage, his casual slurs of immigrants and a Muslim American Gold Star family, and countless other controversies, it seemed as though the folks who were determined to back Trump saw and understood perfectly well who he was and had accepted it. More maddening, it seemed they just didn’t care.
That’s why, when the story broke on Friday that Donald Trump was caught on a live mic bragging about how he could kiss women—and grab their genitals—without their consent because he was famous, I initially wondered what the news was. Was there anyone alive surprised here? Voters have watched Trump joyfully trash and objectify women for more than a year. Republicans and their leaders have been offered evidence of Trump as an unrepentant pig since the primaries began.

It seemed obvious to her (and to me) that Trump would behave the way the video proves that he behaves, and it still seems obvious to me.

But it clearly wasn't obvious to everyone, including to many Republican politicians who suddenly came out condemning Trump.  Perhaps their different reactions were based on the argument Lithwick makes, that the new furor is about realizing that the "real" Trump was the same as the "performing" Trump?  Or perhaps it is simply because the video gives no slithering room for those who wish to defend Trump?  He said what he said and he was recorded saying it.

Then there was my initial reaction to how many Washington Post headlines* call the Trump video "lewd."  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word like this:

  1. 2 a :  sexually unchaste or licentious b :  obscene, vulgar

I also read the words "crude" and "vulgar" in other contexts, as references to the Trump video, and to his early interview statements about women.  But those words don't quite capture the worst of his opinions, which is the way he appears to describe sexual assaults or at least sexual harassment when referring to what he views as his sexual conquests.

I could write a lewd post without that lack of consent being a part of the story.  That Trump assumes consent, what with being a star whom he assumes no-one can resist,  is not the same as actual consent.  And for anyone who has been sexually assaulted or harassed, often out of the blue, that video is very painful watching.

And right in the middle of writing this post, I see that readers of the New York Times have had similar concerns.

I've seen a lot written about how Trump has normalized utterances in the political discourse of this country which earlier were regarded as being beyond the pale.  That is what makes me worried:  the idea that he might normalize sexual harassment or even sexual assaults.


* This one, this one and this one, at least.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Should Sports Boycotts Be Used In The Defense Of Human Rights? In The Defense of Women's Rights?

1.  This is what has just taken place:

Iran is the only country willing to host Women's World Chess Championship matches next February, so it has been awarded the competition.

The Iranian law requires that all women, regardless of their religion, must wear Islamic dress which in Iran includes a hijab or a head scarf.  This means that the chess-players from other countries, whether Muslims or not, must also wear the hijab, at least outside the game arenas.

Nazi Paikidze, a Georgian-American International Master and a Woman Grandmaster in chess, has announced that she will boycott the games  because the players will have to wear hijabs (1).  She has also

launched a campaign on demanding that the World Chess Federation reconsider Iran as a host for the women’s championship.
“These issues reach far beyond the chess world,” the petition says. “While there has been social progress in Iran, women’s rights remain severely restricted. This is more than one event; it is a fight for women’s rights.”
The petition has been signed by more than 3,000 people.
But some disagree with Paikidze’s stance. Mitra Hejazipour, a woman grandmaster (WGM) and the 2015 Asian continental women’s champion, said a boycott would be a setback for female sport in Iran.
“This is going to be the biggest sporting event women in Iran have ever seen; we haven’t been able to host any world championship in other sporting fields for women in the past,” Hejazipour, 23, told the Guardian. “It’s not right to call for a boycott. These games are important for women in Iran; it’s an opportunity for us to show our strength.”

That quote reflects the general question whether sports (and other) boycotts (chess being counted as a sport here) for human rights reasons help or hurt those they are intended to help.

But it doesn't really reflect the extent of inequality Iranian women legally must accept, which goes far beyond an obligatory religious dress code (2).

Even within the limited world of spectator sports,  Iranian women are banned from attending men's soccer or volleyball games.  Within the wider world of international sports the religious dress requirement can make participation extremely difficult for Iranian women (3) or seriously hamper their chances of doing well, given that their competitors are not subjected to the same requirements.