Astounding Cognitive Dissonance and Trump Support

Astounding Cognitive Dissonance and Trump Support October 28, 2020

I am writing this as both a challenge and a response to someone I know on Facebook who has featured namelessly as an interlocutor in a number of articles here.

I am interested in his, as a well-read and educated British citizen, public support for Trump. He will produce memes such as this:

To which I have to reply about sky-rocketing drone strike statistics (whilst rolling back transparency laws), authorisation of military strikes on Iran in 2019, employing an Iran war hawk in John Bolton as his Secretary of Defence, pulling out of Syria and leaving the Kurds for dead (I’m still angry about that) and so on. No, he hasn’t started a war, but his decisions have resulted in more American deaths in the last 6 months than two Vietnam Wars. He has Covid blood on his hands that far outstrip American war deaths over decades.

Here is the sort of thing he has said:

“I think Trump has been the best American President since Reagan.”

I am really coming to believe that there are some serious problems with people who support Trump as openly and honestly as this. I say this because I understand people who are shy Trump supporters because no one likes to support open racism and stark elitist corporatism in public. But to be open about it in this way means that all sorts of heuristics and biases will be implemented, as we shall begin to see in this first of two posts.

I declared there must be a whole heap of cognitive dissonance (the things your brain does to harmonise contrary evidence to a core belief held) in supporting Trump for someone in his position. Rather hilariously, he supplied it:

“Not that much cognitive dissonance… I mean, no more than it would to support the racist crook that Biden appears to be. If sifting through the good and the bad and supporting a president based on the good outweighing the bad means cognitive dissonance, then be dissonant. But there are a lot of intelligent people voting for Trump, so it shouldn’t be too surprising. I remember you hating Trump from the point when he declared his intention to run. You’ve only ever proven correct that initial assessment, and all the evidence you’ve gathered seems to support that view. Isn’t that strange though? Perhaps it was because I was open to Trump’s presidency, that my mind hasn’t been fogged by a persistent negative interpretation. The baying voices of the media and the smug self-assurance of people that condemned him from the start – people who seemed to know very little about politics in America – gave me enough caution to not pile in likewise, but to evaluate him on his actions.”

Okay. Wow. Where to start. Well, interlinearly, I suppose, because this an absolute smorgasbord of hogwash that I feel the need to purge myself of its poison. Today, I will just concern myself with the first few sentences.

“…no more [cognitive dissonance] than it would to support the racist crook that Biden appears to be.”

Jee whizz. Let’s compare Biden vs Trump for both criminality and racism and really see who is exhibiting cognitive dissonance. This makes me so angry, this statement, that an apparently intelligent guy, a teacher no less, could state this in all seriousness. To actually believe this.

Trump’s Criminality

There are so many websites and articles listing Trump’s crimes and criminality that I don’t know where to start. Just go Googling and see where you end up. You could try here:

It’s so bad they have to provide a key. The list is incredible. Trump has his own legal affairs Wikipedia page

Trump was involved in 3500 lawsuits before he was even elected, far more than any other President in history. Trump University anyone? Donald Trump was found to have defrauded students, and was forced to pay $25 million in restitution. That alone should shut this conversation down and show that my interlocutor hasn’t got the foggiest about what he is talking (nay, condescendingly lecturing).

I wonder whether anyone has written a book on Biden to expose his “rank criminality” and “steep illegality”. As USA Today states: “This level of criminality surrounding a president is unparalleled. We have not seen its like in American history…”

Or:

Here in the United States, we have never yet witnessed such an event. No commander-in-chief has been charged with a criminal offense, let alone faced prison time. But if Donald Trump loses the election in November, he will forfeit not only a sitting president’s presumptive immunity from prosecution but also the levers of power he has aggressively co-opted for his own protection. Considering the number of crimes he has committed, the time span over which he has committed them, and the range of jurisdictions in which his crimes have taken place, his potential legal exposure is breathtaking. More than a dozen investigations are already under way against him and his associates.

That article spells out what I have argued in other pieces, that Trump’s desperation to win this election (and break the law or suppress votes and democratic values in doing so) is existential. He knows he is facing the legal system if he loses.

Trump now faces a level of legal risk unlike anything in his notoriously checkered past — and well beyond anything faced by any previous president leaving office. To assess the odds that he will end up on trial, and how the proceedings would unfold, I spoke with some of the country’s top prosecutors, defense attorneys, and legal scholars. For the past four years, they have been weighing the case against Trump: the evidence already gathered, the witnesses prepared to testify, the political and constitutional issues involved in prosecuting an ex-president. Once he leaves office, they agree, there is good reason to think Trump will face criminal charges. “It’s going to head toward prosecution, and the litigation is going to be fierce,” says Bennett Gershman, a professor of constitutional law at Pace Law School who served for a decade as a New York State prosecutor.

Let me list just some of Trump’s inner circle who have been indicted (more than any other administration): Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, Alex van der Zwaan, Richard Pinedo, Sam Patten, Maria Butina, and so on. The list is VERY long.

How many indictments did Obama and Biden have? 0. Carter? 1. Clinton? 2. Certainly not as many as 217 in Trump’s as some have claimed.

And, remember, the statistics tell us that, in this context, this is the most criminal administration in the history of American politics. This is why, of course he is absolutely intent on packing the Supreme Court with his lackeys. He is also rumoured to be considering pre-emptively pardoning himself. Oh, but I’m the one with cognitive dissonance, am I? Because Biden’s criminality…?

Don’t forget Trump’s impeachment. We also have Trump’s continual replacement of staff who were holding him to account with hand-picked yes-men. (See the Salon article: “Trump’s latest crime spree: With pandemic for cover, he’s going for epic corruption”.)

Let’s throw in a couple of laws that Trump has broken as according to the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee:

  • Obstruction of justice (18 US Code 73)
  • Lied to investigators (18 US Code 1001)
  • Conspired with Russian intelligence to commit an offense against the US (18 US Code 371)

Apparently, they are ready to start proceedings as early as Q1 in 2021 for at least one of these.

Furthermore, the press found two more financial crimes at the beginning of this month.

Interestingly, it is perhaps the State level where his criminality is most likely to gain traction as they will not be in the purview of pardons and the SCOTUS (watch out for Cyrus Vance Jr.). He is likely to go for:

  • Falsifying business records (NY Penal Law 175.10)
  • Tax fraud (NY Tax Law 1806)

Don’t also forget Stormy Daniels, whom we know he paid off. And the around 25 women involved in sexual assault and harassment allegations with Trump. These allegations and actions would also evade executive privilege because they happened before he took office.

We know he has broken the Hatch Act and the Emoluments Clause (as have his whole family, it seems). An awful lot of people connected to Trump, and Trump’s family itself, are making money out of the Trump presidency.

I could go on and on and on. You, in the comments below, will probably furnish me with many more instances.

Joe Biden’s Criminality

Hunter Biden? Perhaps? Probably not?

I mean, for an account including a blind man positively IDing Hunter Biden that FOXNews refused to touch and no New York Post journalist or writer would put their name against to be put up in comparison to Trump’s affairs (that I cannot begin to recount effectively here) is nonsense.

Trump’s Racism

People have talked about Trump breaking norms, especially when it comes to talking about race, going as far as to say that he’s the “most racist president in modern history.” There are plenty of things you could point at to augment that argument: embracing birtherism, referring to African nations as “shithole countries,” telling congresswomen of color to go back to where they came from, calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” refusing to denounce white supremacists during a presidential debate and so on. [source]

Shall I just bullet point list here? Remember, Trump has literally been in court charged with racial discrimination and has had to pay fines for such. Has Biden?

  • Central Park Five. Now exonerated. Trump in October 2016 said he still believes they’re guilty, despite the DNA evidence to the contrary. Disgusting.
  • Stereotyping a Black reporter
  • Pandering to white supremacists. Charlottesville. Trump has been repeatedly slow to condemn white supremacists who endorse him, and he regularly retweeted messages from white supremacists and neo-Nazis during his presidential campaign.
  • Making a joke about the Trail of Tears
  • Called the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus the “Chinese virus” and “kung flu” — racist terms that tap into the kind of xenophobia that he latched onto during his 2016 presidential campaign.
  • Trump insinuated that Sen. Kamala Harris, who’s Black, “doesn’t meet the requirements” to run for vice president — a repeat of the birther conspiracy theory that he perpetuated about former President Barack Obama.
  •  The very first time Trump appeared in the pages of the New York Times, back in the 1970s, was when the US Department of Justice sued him for racial discrimination. Federal officials found evidence that Trump had refused to rent to Black tenants and lied to Black applicants about whether apartments were available, among other accusations.
  • Kip Brown, a former employee at Trump’s Castle, accused another one of Trump’s businesses of discrimination. “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” Brown said. “It was the eighties, I was a teenager, but I remember it: They put us all in the back.”
  • book by John O’Donnell, former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump’s criticism of a Black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” Trump later said in a 1997 Playboy interview that “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”
  •  The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino had to pay a $200,000 fine because it transferred Black and women dealers off tables to accommodate a big-time gambler’s prejudices.
  • Trump publicly pitched what was essentially The Apprentice: White People vs. Black People.
  • The case of Judge Gonzalo Curielgued concerning Trump University.
  • He tweeted and later deleted a racist image concerning Clinton.
  • His a pitch to Black voters in 2016, Trump saying some dodgy things.
  • NFL and Colin Kaepernick.
  • Trump reportedly said in 2017 that people who came to the US from Haiti “all have AIDS,” and he lamented that people who came to the US from Nigeria would never “go back to their huts” once they saw America.
  • Mary Trump has heard him use the N-word, as well as supposedly saying it on the Apprentice set.
  • Omarosa Manigault-Newman, employed as a black woman by Trump and subsequently leaving, says Trump is a racist who uses N-word: she felt a “growing realization that Donald Trump was indeed a racist, a bigot and a misogynist. My certainty about the N-word tape and his frequent uses of that word were the top of a high mountain of truly appalling things I’d experienced with him, during the last two years in particular.” Recalling her sudden and unceremonious departure, she writes: “It had finally sunk in that the person I’d thought I’d known so well for so long was actually a racist. Using the N-word was not just the way he talks but, more disturbing, it was how he thought of me and African Americans as a whole.” [source]
  • Race riots and BLM movement in the US have had fans flamed by Trump.

I could go on. There are many more. Most of the links and bullets above are listed in this article that also has some good references to research into the effect such approaches have had on voters, and the sort of voters who support Trump regarding their own prejudices. Trump clearly attracts racists and racist organisations – they support him. One has to wonder why. Well, it’s pretty obvious, really.

On the plus side for Trump, he signed into law the bipartisan ‘First Step Act’ in 2018, which provided the most sweeping changes to prison sentencing laws in decades, reversing Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill that disproportionately affected the Black community. However, he refuses to look at parity in the justice system until the economy is better…

Joe Biden’s Racism

Joe Biden has chosen a black woman as VP against Trump who has surrounded himself with middle-aged white men. Let’s see who most black people in the States think will solve race issues, Trump or Biden? Biden receives very strong support from black communities across the US.

Back in the 90s, with Clinton, he spearheaded the 1994 crime bill, which led to an increase of mass incarcerations.  Clinton’s administration, in order to fight off the Republicans (as well set out in the excellent The 13th) had to take on overly tough approaches to crime and punishment. It worked for Clinton at the expense of fairness and the incarceration of many blacks. This article does a really good job of explaining the law and showing that the truth is somewhere in the middle or what people on either side are claiming.

However, his plans for the future, if he is in power, far outstrip Trump’s lack of…anything. abc News do a good job at analysing the differences on race between the two:

Unlike his opponent, however, Biden does acknowledge systemic racism and has released the “Biden Plan for strengthening America’s Commitment to Justice,” which focuses on preventing crime, eliminating racial disparities and providing second chances for those who have had contact with the criminal justice system.

Biden’s plan, which was put forward before this year’s protests, calls for an end to private prisons, cash bail and the death penalty and would expand the Justice Department’s purview to address police and prosecutor misconduct. It would also institute an independent task force to tackle discrimination….

Biden has embraced the concept of “Black Lives Matter” and often talks about disparities in the country, telling ABC’s Robin Roberts that there’s a “fundamental difference” between the two candidates on race.

Essentially, for that single sentence, my interlocutor is on the wrong end of an utter whooping.

I challenge him to substantiate his claims and to show me that, at least for the purpose of the one sentence analysed here, Biden is a greater criminal and racist than Trump. This piece should serve to show that the axioms and supposed facts upon which he builds his arguments or support for Trump are wildly wrong. I mean, wrong by a large margin. This has been completely foundational for his further comments concerning his support for Trump and my position against his. I will continue to show how his position is completely untenable in my next piece.

I’ll finish this off tomorrow. I am amazed at this guy. And not in a good way.

 


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