Conspiracy theories among Trump-ites

When Grania sent me this tw**t this morning, I thought for sure the guy’s statements were a joke:

Well, never underestimate the credulousness of those who support Trump. Even I couldn’t believe some of the stuff you’re about to hear:

Here’s Jordan Klepper from yesterday’s Daily Show interviewing some attendees at a Trump rally, including the guy in the tw**t above. Their ignorance and willingness to believe conspiracy theories is unbelievable, but remember: half of Americans are dumber than average.  (I must admit that I have some worries about Hillary Clinton’s health, but not enough to prevent me from voting for her.) At least I know why Barack Obama wasn’t in the Oval Office on 9/11!

I’ll be in Hong Kong on Election Day, but have already ordered my absentee ballot.

h/t: Grania

142 Comments

  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    What, you people didn’t know 911 was masterminded by a backbencher in the Illinois legislature?

    • Dominic
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      It was a plot by Porsche!

      • Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        Nah! The date was chosen to be the emergency services dial number.

  2. Posted September 22, 2016 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    The responses mirror what I grew up with in Arizona. As batshit crazy as they sound (and are), that’s poor white America in a nutshell.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      That goes a long way towards explaining Jan Brewer, I suppose.

    • mdeschane
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      I take exception for your implication that we Arizonans are, in general, batshit crazy. I transplanted from Wisconsin 20 years ago so that may exclude me from the title Arizonan, but I consider myself one anyway. Yes, there are a lot of batshit crazy Arizonans, including some of our politicians (appropriately named Flake or Duecy for instance), and they are unfortunately in the majority right now. But we have some very progressive politicians, one openly atheist representative, at least one openly lesbian congress person and an openly lesbian former governor, and, I would like to think that some of us are sane, educated and relatively moderate or even liberal and (gasp!) atheist.

      Signed
      Batshit Crazy, Liberal, Atheist Arizonan

      • GBJames
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        The past six years have demonstrated that we in your old home state are, in the majority too often, also batshit crazy.

  3. GBJames
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    sub

  4. yoyoma
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    You mean, “half of Americans are dumber than the median”. With a skewed distribution you can have an average where greater than half are above/below the average. 🙂

    • John Taylor
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      We get into this every time!

      • Posted September 22, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        Worth it.

        Yours in accuracy,

        MB

        • think again
          Posted September 22, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

          There are Deplorables, and then there are the lower median Deplorables.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      This group was selected from the bell curve’s thin left tail.

  5. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    This smells fishy to me.

  6. Geoff
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I’m guessing there were a lot of people not in the Oval Office that day.

    • Posted September 22, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      All accomplices.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        You’ve been listening to Alex Jones again?

        • Posted September 22, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

          Who wants to know? Where were you on 9/11???

  7. Posted September 22, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Fortunately (and despite the GOP), we here in Minnesota have both “no-fault” absentee voting (you can vote absentee without giving a reason) and early voting, which I will take advantage of.

    I’ll quote Sam Harris here:

    “If you gave me the choice to randomly pick [for the US Presidency] an American citizen or take Trump? I would roll the dice, with a random citizen. Do you realize how bad[ly] that could turn out? Do you realize how many people in this country shouldn’t be President? I would go for door number two. Because at a minimum, I would expect a randomly chosen, unqualified citizen to be so terrified and awed by the responsibility being thrust upon his or her shoulders that they would be desperate to defer to real experts. Trump has the opposite attitude. His lack of qualification is married to an egocentrism the likes of which we have never seen. So, no, the health issue is a non-issue for me.”

    And I agree with Sam.

    • Flemur
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      that they would be desperate to defer to real experts.

      Bad idea.

      +
      In detailed studies, in which “experts” were asked to make forecasts about the future (predicting which of three possible futures would occur), it was found that the “experts” did no better than well-informed non-experts! As Tetlock says, “We reach the point of diminishing marginal predictive returns for knowledge disconcertingly quickly,” he reports. “In this age of academic hyperspecialization, there is no reason for supposing that contributors to top journals—distinguished political scientists, area study specialists, economists, and so on—are any better than journalists or attentive readers of the New York Times in ‘reading’ emerging situations.”

      • JohnE
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        Three problems with this “study.” First, it was not a universal condemnation of all experts; the study was limited to “political and economic” experts. Second, the qualifications of the participating experts were not a factor in their selection; they were simply 284 people who made their living “commenting or offering advice on political and economic trends,” such that Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity may well have been in the group. Lastly, the participants were challenged to predict very specific events (such as whether the U.S. would go to war in the Gulf), rather than predicting the types of broader social and economic trends that we might expect a political or economic expert to opine about with some level of accuracy.

      • Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        Do you think a randomly chosen US citizen will handle (for instance):

        – Global warming response
        – Foreign policy
        – Tax policy
        – Criminal law policy
        – Banking law
        – Environmental policy
        – Air transport regulation
        – Food and drug policy and enforcement
        – Why, how and where to deploy military force
        – Treaty negotiations
        – Labor policy
        – Health care reform
        (I could keep going)

        — better than people who have spent their lives studying and working on these subjects?

        Just give it to Joe Sixpack (like the guy in the video) and all will be well?

        • jimroberts
          Posted September 22, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

          The question is not, “Would a randomly chosen US citizen likely be a good president?”, but rather, “Is it likely that a randomly chosen US citizen would be a better president than Trump?”

          • Posted September 22, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

            That’s not the point that I’m responding to. I referring to the point made in a comment that using experts for policy decisions is a bad idea.

            I agree with Sam Harris that a randomly chosen US citizen would be likely to be less harmful than Trump as President.

            • jimroberts
              Posted September 23, 2016 at 2:01 am | Permalink

              Sorry, I intended my reply to be to Flemur.

      • ChrisB
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        Flemur, I think you missed the point here. It wasn’t about how good the ‘experts’ are compared to well-informed non-experts.

        The choice Sam Harris proposes in his hypothetical is between a randomly chosen citizen and an unqualified, lurching, malignant narcissist.

        In this situation, I would go for Joe (or Mary) Sixpack also.

        • Posted September 22, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          I disagree with flemur’s point, too (see below), but I don’t think s/he missed Sam’s point. Sam is saying that even though a random person will likely be as or more stupid than Trump, the random person would also likely not be so egocentric as to ignore expert input. So the random person would at least stand a chance of governing with the competence of those experts. Flemur is calling into question the validity of expert advice. But like I said, I disagree. I think there’s every reason to put more stock in expert advice than uninformed hunches.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        There’s a lot more to running the executive branch of government effectively than making accurate predictions — like establishing foreign and domestic policy.

      • Posted September 22, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        In addition to John’s points, I’d add that the value of expert input is not limited to making predictions.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      That sounds like a variation on William F. Buckley, Jr.’s quip that he’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phonebook than by the 2.000 members of the Harvard faculty.

      Of course, WFB was a Yale man, so there’s that.

      • Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        It’s a well-known fact, of course, that all those whose surnames begin with A are in the bottom half of the bell curve. And not near the middle.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 22, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

          Does that mean someone whose name starts with the alphabet’s 13th letter falls right in the middle of the normal distribution? 🙂

      • Posted September 23, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        Flemur seems rather trollish: Throws out something inflammatory and then leaves.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 23, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

          You got that impression too?

          cr

  8. JohnE
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    It just confirms what most of us suspected.

    It’s funny, but very, very, very scary.

    • somer
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      His national security approach is terrifying; not only for the rest of the world but for America. I used to just think he was a bit of a clown and a narcissist who people ultimately would not vote for. Now I think he is a complete psycho and he’s still very much in the running. How many republican former candidates are standing as independent candidates against Trump? Lets hope Republican electoral college members can vote for them.

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Just how dumb are a significant part of the American public? Nielson Top 10 shows on TV this week were:

    NFL football
    NFL football pre-kick
    NFL football
    America’s got talent
    America’s got talent
    NFL football
    60 minutes
    Dancing with the Stars
    Football night in America
    Emmy Awards

    I have no idea why 60 minutes is in there?

    • Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Maybe it was an episode about football.

    • Karen Bartelt
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      60 Minutes is right after Sunday afternoon football games, and right before “Football Night in America”. That’s why. They just don’t turn the TV off on Sunday.

      • Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        They’re so bloated with beer and hotdogs that they can’t find the remote 😉

    • Kevin
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      My twelve year old has no idea what a quarterback is and I am relatively confident he could not name more than two NFL teams. This is what a parent can obtain by not owning a TV.

    • TJR
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      And I bet most of them are so dumb they don’t even know that it’s not real football.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        Soccer’s not real football either. That would be Rugby. 🙂

        • TJR
          Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          Spot the kiwi…..

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

            😀

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 22, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          Unfortunately, if that’ s suggesting that New Zealand is as polluted by rugby as the US is by NFL, I’d have to agree.

          The ‘off’ button on the remote is a beautiful thing.

          cr

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted September 22, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

            Oh, if you lived near enough to Nebraska and got your TV out of Omaha you might not think so. Go Big Red is a vaccination they give out free at all the clinics.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      That’s shocking … what’s a pansy show like 60 Minutes doing in the top 10?!

  10. Historian
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    “Trump is rallying passionate support from the voters most estranged from the social and demographic trends reshaping America, particularly blue-collar, older, non-urban, and evangelical whites.”

    —-Ronald Brownstein, The Atlantic

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/09/americas-cultural-civil-war/500087/

    Trump supporters, as described above, are the most susceptible to conspiracy theories since they are the least likely to have access to reliable news sources. I have read many descriptions of why Trump appeals to them. The theory that explains the most to me is that they are receptive to Trump’s politics of nostalgia (“Make America Great Again”). These people look to the past, particularly to the mythic 1950s, when good, high paying blue-collar jobs were plentiful, Christianity and its values went largely unchallenged, America ruled the world, and minorities “knew their place” – unseen and quiet except when they were cleaning your house or mowing your lawn.

    Such a world, to the extent it existed, is never coming back. The implicit racism in Trump’s speeches particularly attracts them. For them, no matter how bad things may be, they are at least white and therefore superior to “the others.” In short, a proto-fascist demagogue is just their man.

    • rickflick
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      I think that is probably the correct analysis. I think there are other factors in play. One is that Americans love a winner (see Patton in an earlier post), and Trump makes them think of an unapologetic, swaggering sports hero – always a winner – at least in his own mind.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        The only historical figures I’ve ever heard Trump refer to are Patton and Douglas MacArthur (oh, and St. Reagan, when he’s trying to crawl into Ronnie’s leftover skin to explain why he used to be a registered Democrat).

        The approach to governance Trump propounds is Caesarism or Bonapartism — essentially the caudillo, strongman form of government. The Donald would probably refer to Napoleon or Julius Caesar at his rallies, instead of to Patton and MacArthur, if he and his crowd weren’t such complete historical ignoramuses.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted September 22, 2016 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

          I’ll give you MacArthur with Trump. That guy was was a complete legend in his own mind. The people who worked around and for MacArthur when just talking small talk always would say, if I want your opinion I’ll ask Douglas.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

            DM: “I shall return.”

            GI: “If he’s the only one returning, why do we hafta go with him?”

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted September 23, 2016 at 12:51 am | Permalink

              I preferred Ahnuld’s version –

              “Ah’ll be back!”

              cr

        • Posted September 23, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

          As I told a close friend who became a starry-eyed Reagan worshipper when he came of age at the time of Reagan’s rise: Reagan could not have been nominated by the GOP in 2016. He would have been drummed out of the party as a liberal.

      • Historian
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Because Trump always refers to himself as a winner and his opponents as losers, his supporters also think of themselves as winners even for those who have accomplished little in life. This psychological mechanism is similar to sports fans who think of themselves as winners just because their favorite teams may be a winner. If a person cannot find an internal reason to maintain self-esteem then an external one will have to do.

        • Richard
          Posted September 23, 2016 at 5:05 am | Permalink

          Reminds me of a documentary I saw on UK TV a few months ago about the Ku Klux Klan: all the members seemed to be losers (or at least, low-achievers), but it bolstered their self-esteem to feel superior to another group of people.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know how likely Trump voters divide up quantitatively, but they are pretty diverse. There are the sorts that you describe, but others will vote for him because they vote Republican and they especially if they do not like Hillary. Others because they do not like the pandering to special interests, and think Trump is his own man. They just want to see change.

      • Historian
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Here is empirical proof of what I have been saying. Pew Research asked the following question: “Is past or present better for people like you?” The comparison is with 50 years ago. Only 19% of Clinton supporters say the past was better while 81% of Trump supporters say so. So, yes, the overwhelming majority of Trump supporters look to a perceived better past, which they think Trump will somehow restore. It’s the politics of nostalgia.

        See Pew Report released August 18, 2016, p. 17.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          Yes, they’re nostalgic for a time that never existed — not in their childhood, not before they were born, only in their beggared imaginations.

          • Posted September 23, 2016 at 3:22 am | Permalink

            When I think about it, the good old days of my childhood were not better; they only seem that way because I was naïve, ill-informed and ignorant of many of the world’s problems.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Another recent survey showed that Trump voters were significantly more concerned about terrorism. Something like 80% to 35%.

        You see Trump playing on fear constantly, and his lines are almost always outright lies. He constantly conflates refugees coming to the US with terrorism (wrong/pants on fire lie), talks of this being the worst time “ever, ever, ever, ever, ever” for Blacks in the US, grossly inflates the numbers of immigrants who have committed a crime, and tops it all off by saying Clinton wants to abolish the 2nd Amendment (she’s categorically stated she doesn’t).

        Talk about dog whistles.

        • Posted September 22, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

          Yes. And it is true that in the “good old days”, Americans were not periodically attacked by Islamist terrorists on their own soil. On this important topic, I think Trump is right.

          • GBJames
            Posted September 22, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

            To be fair, mostly we let our good old gun-nuts, lunatics, and crooks attack us on our own soil.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted September 22, 2016 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

            But it’s not refugees that are the problem. Of all the hundreds of thousands of refugees that the US has taken via the UNHCR program, only three have ever been arrested for terrorist activities, and none have killed anyone. It’s not like Don Jr’s a few deadly poisonous ones in a “bowl of skittles.” There’d be just one that might make you ill in a bowl of more than 250,000 skittles.

            Trump’s reaction to terrorism would make the problem worse, not better.

            • Posted September 23, 2016 at 1:47 am | Permalink

              Trump, if he is telling the truth about what he intends to do (you know what a liar he is), may spare America some troubles in the short term, but will make the world a worse place.

              The case for accepting refugees from incompatible cultures is stronger than for accepting economic immigrants. Talking about them, however, I wish to point a fact that troubles me. The pre-war Syrian population included about 10% Christians. So among 10,000 refugees accepted by the USA we’d expect about 1000 Christians. The real number, however, was about 50. I find this worrying. Of course, the Muslim refugees are not to blame for this – it must be America’s fault.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted September 23, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

                Not necessarily. For a start, almost all Christians support the Assad government, so very few Syrian refugees are Christian. Christians have their pick of which country to go to, and are less likely to choose a country that has a reputation for racism. Then there is the refugee process itself which is extremely complex and takes a minimum of 18-24 months, of multiple interviews and checks. Very few people are accepted as UNHCR refugees – the idea that a terrorist would try to infiltrate via that process is frankly ridiculous.

                The most dangerous would be tourists who come from countries who are part of the visa-waiver programme as they have almost no checks. However, they can still stick out because of not being familiar with the country. That is why most successful terrorists are people who grew uo in the US but for whatever reason become radicalized. Often that is caused, among other things, by a feeling of alienation from mainstream society and that is exacerbated by the kind of hate Trump promotes.

              • Posted September 23, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

                We have some Christian refugees from Syria, maybe from regions taken over by ISIS.

                “Most successful terrorists are people who grew up in the US but for whatever reason become radicalized. Often that is caused… by a feeling of alienation from mainstream society and that is exacerbated by the kind of hate Trump promotes.”

                This is exactly the problem: once you accept people from an incompatible culture without making sure that they want to live this culture behind, you must bend over backward to make them happy, otherwise some of them may resort to bombing you, and it will turn out to be your fault.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted September 23, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

                Except that it’s not the adults who come from an incompatible culture that are the problem usually, it’s their children, who are USians, and grew up in that culture. They’re often picked on because, for example, they look different, which is hardly their fault, even though they’re as USian as any other child. Years of that leaves a mark, and some will react badly. Of course, there’s no excuse for terrorism no matter who does it, but there are reasons.

                An inclusive, accepting culture is less likely to result in damaged adults than the kind of atmosphere promoted by Trump and many of his supporters.

              • Posted September 23, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

                I disagree. If host racism was an important part of the problem, then we would see similar degrees of radicalization among Pakistanis and Hindus, and among black Muslims and Christians. This is not the case. Actually, when a black born-and-bred American wants to express an extreme degree of rejection of his society, he often converts to Islam.

                I have visited New York and New Jersey, the scene of the latest bombings and the new home of alleged bomber Ahmad Rahami. It is an assembly of diverse ethnicities, a Babylon. To look different, you must be green or blue.

                Immigrant children are split between parental and host culture. This is a terrible strain even if the two cultures are similar. I have seen it in many children of non-Muslim immigrants (from my viewpoint, emigrants). If the two cultures are very different, the situation is expected to be worse. I think parents should consider carefully their children’s best interest before emigrating.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted September 23, 2016 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

                That is an important point – that kids can get torn between different cultures. I think we have to find ways to make it work rather than just ban certain immigrants. It actually works more often than it doesn’t. I suppose we will have to agree to differ on that one.

                As for Islam – there is an additional problem there currently because of the influence of Islamism. Again though, radicalization is actually pretty rare and more likely to occur when there are other issues like marginalization from society. Also, it’s more likely to occur among immigrants than refugees because of the process refugees go through. UNHCR refugees are already extensively screened (what Trump would call extreme vetting). Immigrants have a much lower level of screening and many tourists, such as those the millions that enter the US on the visa-waiver program each year, have no screening. Tourists are actually the biggest risk as far as outsiders go and refugees are the least risk by far.

                A bigger risk than tourists though are homegrown terrorists. It’s much easier for them to fly under the radar and they do. If you look at who has committed terrorist acts within the US since 9/11, it’s mostly US citizens who were born there or who have been there since early childhood.

              • GBJames
                Posted September 24, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

                “I think parents should consider carefully their children’s best interest before emigrating.”

                Tell that to my Great Great Grandparents.

                The notion that a solution to the world’s problems is to be found in keeping people from mixing with people different from them is, I think, a trifle naive.

              • Posted September 24, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

                Mass emigration has been a disaster to my country, to my family and (as I have observed) to many other families. And few people talk about it, because it doesn’t sound good.

                It is not about keeping people from mixing with different people (besides, there are less drastic ways of mixing, such as trade, tourism, temporary work abroad, international study etc.). It is about keeping enough youth, energy and talent to maintain the donor country, and preventing a mindset in which young people, instead of confronting and solving problems, depart to places where a (seemingly) less problematic life already exists. It is also about creating decent life conditions globally, instead of suggesting that the few decent places accommodate the entire population of the many countries unfit for human habitation.

              • GBJames
                Posted September 26, 2016 at 7:01 am | Permalink

                I don’t disagree that there are consequences for mass migrations of people. Some of them are unhappy consequences.

                But the point you seem to ignore is that people don’t usually migrate to distant places just for the hell of it. They do so because the conditions under which they are living have become intolerable and they perceive a better life if they move. For many life does improve.

                I agree that global solutions are required. But they can’t simply be wished into existence. And in the meantime, locking people into virtual cages of awfulness and barring the door is not going to contribute to finding global solutions.

              • Posted September 26, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

                Some of the migrants are indeed driven by necessity. But not all of them; possibly not even the majority of them. Actually, those in a most dire state usually haven’t the resources or the opportunity to leave.

                I am writing about the cultural drive to leave. The fellow students who ask patronizingly several years after graduation: “Are you still in (the country’s name)?” The reporters who chase 16-yr-old school kids with the question “What keeps you in the country?” In the extreme case of Syrian refugees, the mirage of a dream life that drives parents to take their kids out of safe (if miserable) camps and to stack them into leaky boats.

                See this report about two Iraqi migrants:
                “Omar had worked as a day laborer in restaurants and supermarkets, while Abdullah had driven a taxi, which he sold to help finance his trip. They say their decision to migrate was mainly driven by peer pressure.
                “I saw that everybody was leaving and they were saying, ‘It’s like this and that (in Europe).’ But when I went there it wasn’t like that at all,” Omar said.”
                http://bigstory.ap.org/article/3ca7d927874f4faebc6acccd987ee671/iraqi-refugees-return-after-europe-disappoints

                These two were lucky. They didn’t drown, didn’t suffocate, and eventually returned home poorer but wiser.

                I have a total of 4 first cousins: two in Germany, one in Switzerland and one in America. This morning, I met the advisor of my Master thesis. She has 2 daughters. One is in the USA, the other is in Germany. The first advisor of my PhD thesis also has 2 daughters. One is in Switzerland, the other is in Belgium. The second advisor of my PhD thesis has a daughter (in the USA) and a son (in Australia). I live next door to a lady who has a son and a daughter, both in Spain. My career gained speed from the fact that two colleagues emigrated to the USA and one to Germany. Does this picture look good? Well, I enjoyed my speedy career, but

              • GBJames
                Posted September 26, 2016 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

                Does the picture look good? It looks neither good nor bad, from where I stand. You’ve listed a bunch of people who have moved to other countries because the opportunities were there and they wanted to move. Just like my GGGrandparents, I might add.

                Is it good for the economy of your country? Maybe not. But the solution is to make it more appealing to stay not to build walls keeping them out, ala Heir Drumph.

                This exchange began because you said “I think parents should consider carefully their children’s best interest before emigrating.” But now you list a bunch of cousins and children of professors who, I think, have emigrated in their own best interest.

              • Posted September 26, 2016 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

                3 of the 4 cousins emigrated as children, taken by their parents. One of these parents was a divorced father, custodian parent. He always brags about what nice father he is and how good his decisions have been, though both his daughters are now estranged from him, and one has developed a mental condition.
                Another man I know, father of 3, claimed to emigrate to provide “a good life” for his children, and chastised parents like me who prefer to raise their children home. His children initially seemed well integrated; now, 2 of the 3 no longer seem so. I do not wonder that a disproportionately large share of radicals have been children immigrants. It must be a huge strain to be uprooted by your parents’ choice, brought to a foreign place, forced to communicate in another language, and maybe burdened to explain that there is nothing wrong with coming from X country. I wonder how lightly people who haven’t had this as children decide that it is OK to push it down their children’s throats.

              • GBJames
                Posted September 26, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

                I think you’re moving the goalposts. But that’s irrelevant.

                People have migrated since the beginning of time. They have always done so because they perceived that it would be beneficial. That’s basically a truism. The fallacy I’m arguing against is that somehow this almost innate tendency is something that can be mandated away by building walls or telling parents to think of the children. They ARE thinking of the children. You just don’t like the results.

              • Posted September 27, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

                You posted a very deep question: what can citizens of destination countries do to improve the situation. I have looked at the topic mainly from the viewpoint of donor countries, because this is my world. So my solution is simple: if you can, stay where you are, try to build your life and fix the place.
                Otherwise, we have for long relied on US military power. It is obvious that nothing else could help against entities such as Assad’s regime or ISIS. This era is gone, however, and we must adapt.
                First World citizens and governments could at least praise and support the good guys and condemn the bad ones. Instead, we too often see short-sighted Realpolitik. Reza Aslan initially tried to fit in in the USA, even converted to Christianity. Then, he found out he would have a sweeter life as a professional Muslim, to praise the ideology that ruined his ancestral home country and tell Americans how bad they are. Meanwhile, Iranian-Americans who speak out for human rights abuses in their homeland are considered troublemakers:
                http://www.azarmehr.info/2016/08/enemy-of-us-state-dept.html (warning: graphic photo at the bottom of linked post).

                About the wall-building: humans have indeed always migrated, but also have always tried to control and limit migration. Until the initiative for migration drops universally, immigration controls are needed. Merkel tried to abolish them, then urgently called Erdogan to do her dirty work.

                About parenting – you are right, of course. When I say that “parents must think of their children”, I mean that they must think until they reach my conclusions, after which they are free to stop thinking ;-). It is the same with vaccination and “natural birth”. I can explain how vaccines work and why they are important, and if some parents remain anti-vax even after that, I call them names and leave them alone.
                I use every opportunity to tell young people about my experience – that those of my generation who emigrated are, on average, worse off than those who stayed. The youths do not believe me. What I say goes against a cultural paradigm. And it is not easy to change a culture.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted September 22, 2016 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

            When were these “good old days”? ‘Cause I’m almost certain there were other things going on then — on a day-in, day-out basis — worse than the domestic terrorist attacks we’ve experienced.

            I’m also pretty sure that, given a clear-eyed choice, no one but a handful of weirdos and nostalgia freaks would actually opt to go back to those days.

            • Posted September 23, 2016 at 2:00 am | Permalink

              I visited New York in 1997. Passing by the World Trade Center, our guide told us about the 1993 bombing. He described its failure and the subsequent arrests as a battle won once and forever, as if talking about World War II. To me, this memory is of “good old days”.

              You are right that only an insane person would wish to return to the past. The uni-directional flow of time is one of the most fundamental features of reality. Nevertheless, I find perfectly OK the wish to recreate certain features of the past, such as the refusal of the West to bow down to Islam. (Also the smaller population number and carbon emissions.)

            • Diane G.
              Posted September 24, 2016 at 1:34 am | Permalink

              Well I’d just love to go back to when I could aspire to being June Cleaver, cooking dinner wearing high heels and pearls…

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 22, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

          “talks of this being the worst time “ever, ever, ever, ever, ever” for Blacks in the US”

          I hope every black voter who hears that thinks for five seconds before casting their vote. We all know blacks were so much better off 100 years ago, don’t we?

          cr

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

            ” … the blacks love me … what have they got to lose? … now, where’s my African-American? … There he is!”

            • Diane G.
              Posted September 24, 2016 at 1:36 am | Permalink

              LOL! Actually Trump does have something in common with Reagan–Teflon.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted September 22, 2016 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

          Dog whistles is the correct term and most of the followers in Trump land are barking mad.

    • Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure what “least likely to have access to reliable news sources” is supposed to mean. The radio that gives them access to right-wing talk shows also gives them access to NPR; the television that gives them access to Fox News also gives them access to other cable and network news channels as well as PBS; the internet they get their conspiracy theories from also gives them access to any number of reputable news web sites, and to countless other sites and blogs that give opinion and commentary from every perspective imaginable.

      So is it really a matter of “access,” or is it simply that–like anyone else–Trump supporters are susceptible to confirmation bias, and so seek out sources of information that tell them what they want to hear, even while other sources of information are just as readily available?

      • Historian
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        I will agree that Trump supporters could expose themselves to other than right-wing news sources if they made the effort. Hillary supporters could do the opposite. And, yes, confirmation bias may deter most from doing so. It should be noted, however, that the overwhelming number of news-oriented radio talk shows are right wing.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        But they don’t subscribe to The New Yorker or The Nation, or get the Sunday Times home delivery, the way the bien pensants do. 🙂

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 24, 2016 at 1:40 am | Permalink

        Yeah, that statement tripped me up, too. If anything we have such a plethora of news sources so immediately accessible today that you’d hit one with any random cat throw. It also seems to excuse the uninformed due to circumstances beyond their control rather than the banal old disinclination to have to think.

  11. Flemur
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I’m sure they were all randomly sampled, unlike like these Hillary supporters.

    • Historian
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Undoubtedly there are supporters of both candidates who live in a surreal world of fantasy and blatant ignorance. What I don’t know (perhaps polls are available) is what percent of each candidate’s supporters consist of the ignorant vote. To say that each candidate has ignorant voters (which is inevitable) could be nothing more than the logical fallacy of false equivalency. It is possible that one candidate has significant more appeal to the ignorant.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 24, 2016 at 1:44 am | Permalink

        I should think that by now there’d have been several studies on just what characteristics/circumstances result in people falling for demagogues.

    • Karen Bartelt
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      But what’s different with trump are the blatantly, willfully ignorant higher-ups, such as one of his Ohio campaign chairs who claims there was no racism before Obama, that “If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity, it was given to you,” and that in the 60’s, “Growing up as a kid, there was no racism, believe me. We were just all kids going to school.” She probably grew up like I did, in a nearly all-white high suburb. Of course there was no racism, especially when our parents hired “them” to clean our houses.

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/22/trump-ohio-campaign-chair-no-racism-before-obama

      • Historian
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        I watched the video and my mind was boggled by the ignorance of this woman. I am sure she actually believes her idiocy. She is unable to see beyond her own limited experiences and, therefore, makes generalizations that defy the reality that anybody who studies race in America would instantly realize.

      • Historian
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        News Flash: Kathy Miller has just resigned as Trump country chair because of her “inappropriate” remarks.

        http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2016/09/22/mahoning-county-donald-trump-campaign-chair-no_racism-before-obama.html#

        • Posted September 22, 2016 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

          I was surprised by the characterization of her opinions as “inappropriate”. They were just dead bloody wrong!

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted September 22, 2016 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

            Oh no. ‘Inappropriate’ is much, much worse than ‘wrong’.

            ‘Inappropriate’ started out as a mealy-mouthed (and inaccurate) euphemism for ‘offensive’ and offending people has become the worst crime one can commit in public discourse.

            ‘Wrong’ implies an objective truth and since peoples ‘lived experiences’ trump actual facts any day, ‘wrong’ ceases to have any great significance.

            (I wish that was all just sarcasm but I’m rather afraid it might not be).

            cr

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        She said she was in “the real estate industry” and they never had any problems with race, none. Yeah, they would simply “redline” the black folk out of the white neighborhoods and into the ghetto. See? No problem!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Trump is on track to lose the vote of white college-educated voters, the first time a Republican presidential candidate has accomplished that impressive task since Ike ran against Adlai for the first time in ’52.

      Lord knows, a college degree is no guarantor that one is either educated or intelligent, but Trump’s losing that vote is still a meaningful statistic.

      • Richard
        Posted September 23, 2016 at 5:11 am | Permalink

        “a college degree is no guarantor that one is either educated or intelligent”

        What a sad indictment of our times and the depths to which our educational systems have sunk.

  12. rickflick
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    They say “Comedy Is Tragedy Plus Time”. Hopefully no more than 4 years if Hillary loses.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      They also say time stands still if you’re sucked inside a supermassive black hole. We’ll see if the clocks are still running come 11/7. 🙂

  13. Kevin
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    That was fantastic. The good part about Trump rallies is they collect most of the crazies from each community in one place…makes society safer.

    I will miss seeing his flock out in open if he does not become president. They are not going to go away if Trump goes away…that’s the unfortunate part of this story.

  14. Posted September 22, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Wow. Though I wonder how many people they ‘sampled’ to get this clip. Also, I’m not convinced it isn’t a put on.

    • Craw
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Ah, “Spot the fallacy.”

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, Trump supporters self-select for low Spearman g factor.

  15. Leigh
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I can dismiss the video, but I can’t dismiss Trump’s support. The one thing I know definitely about Trump supporters is that they are registered and they will vote. In contrast Democratic voters may or may not be registered and they have to be coaxed to vote. If that doesn’t make your blood run cold, I don’t know what will.

    I’m curious — what are you all doing to make sure we don’t have a Trump victory on November 8. How involved are you in campaigning – not just for Hillary, but for all the other candidates and ballot questions. If stupid people are elected to run our country, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

  16. Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Since I’ll be in England, I’ve just contacted my local election official and requested an early ballot. Can’t not vote in this election!!

  17. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I became aware of how illiterate some folks in the Midwest are when I stopped in a 7-11 and started leafing through a Vanity Fair.
    The woman behind the counter asked if that was a good book. I said, “Well, yes. At least it’s a good magazine.”
    She then asked me in all earnestness what the difference was between a book and a magazine. She honestly didn’t know.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Your dialogist was obviously a New York publishing executive, JLH; they’ve been known to referring to their magazine as “the book.” 🙂

    • GBJames
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      As a Midwesterner, I take exception to that!

      Everyone here knows that a magazine is something that holds bullets for your weapon. And a book is what you take with you on Sunday!

    • Eli
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      My moment came when I was in a gas station in Vancouver, Canada and there was a white American who was apparently upset because he thought the advertised price was per gallon rather than per liter. After much ranting about the Canadian use of the metric system he concluded by saying “No one else uses it!!!”

      • Posted September 22, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        I’m always astonished by ‘merican’s ignorance of the metric system. Perhaps because I was a scientist and used it all the time, I sometimes have to convert “English” measurements to metric!

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 22, 2016 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

          New Zealand converted to metric several decades ago but I still think in Imperial (inches, feet and miles). I just convert automatically (and approximately) in my head, which is good enough for most purposes.

          I’m astonished by younger folks’ ignorance of what a foot or a mile is. I have the impression that Europeans (who have lived with the metric system all their lives) are better acquainted with Imperial (or American) measurements than their New Zealand counterparts.

          cr

          • Posted September 23, 2016 at 11:32 am | Permalink

            I found the inconsistent use in the UK even odder than the US’s reluctance, in a way. Was that an artifact of the EU or something? I never did figure out what the pattern was. Units for: speed, weight and distance vs. volume and (I think) mass … hm!

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted September 23, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

              No, not usually a product of the EU. Just traditionally using whatever unit was most convenient and customary, e.g. horsepower for IC engines, either horsepower or kilowatts for electric motors. Since IC engines originated in Europe, bore and stroke would be measured either in inches or millimetres, but engine capacity always in cc or litres (never cubic inches).

              But then Europe, in referring to the nominal sizes of pipes or water pumps, often used inches even though everything else – actual dimensions or flow rates for example – would be metric.

              For a current example – and this is international – consider the wheels and tires on your car. My BMW currently has 7Jx16 wheels with 195/60 R16 tires – this is the same terminology whether in Germany, (metricated) New Zealand or the US. An American Ford Mustang has 255/40 ZR19’s. The 7, 16 and 19 are inches (width and diameter). The 195 and 255 are tire width in millimetres.

              Units for weight and volume, though, in everyday use, are often still derived from old traditional measures (in whatever country). Hence the proliferation of different ‘ounces’ or ‘tons’ or even, as we know, gallons.

              cr

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      She saw the magazine’s title and assumed it was a re-issue of the William Makepeace Thackeray novel, obv.

      Your characterization of the Midwest isn’t really fair … there’re lots of illiterates on the coasts, too, East and West. And the South? Well, let’s not even go there …

      • qlz
        Posted September 23, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        Not all southerners are racist (or god-besotted): the comedian Trae Crowder expresses alternative viewpoints: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTHsQd-vRXK1bp4vpifl6yA

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 23, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          I didn’t mean to suggest that they were; there’re plenty of southerners who are open-minded and forward-thinking.

          But the South does have more than its fair share of racists and xenophobes. One has only to look at the electoral map to see how well Trump is doing in Dixie — and how deeply red the region has become since enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the resultant “southern strategy” of the GOP.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 24, 2016 at 1:57 am | Permalink

      “I became aware of how illiterate some folks in the Midwest are…”

      I’ve lived in California, Oregon, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, and Michigan. There are illiterates (and worse) everywhere.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 24, 2016 at 1:59 am | Permalink

        Damn, there should be a Texas in there between New York and Massachusetts.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 24, 2016 at 2:45 am | Permalink

          I don’t think there’s room for it. Politically, geographically or intellectually [vbeg]

          cr

  18. Posted September 22, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    “I must admit that I have some worries about Hillary Clinton’s health, but not enough to prevent me from voting for her.”

    Is there anyone for whom it would be enough to prevent them from voting for her? I don’t see how it could possibly make a difference to anybody. So, let’s assume the worst, and assume that Hillary will drop dead sometime between now and inauguration day, or sometime early in her term, or whenever, so that a vote for Hillary is really a vote for Tim Kaine. Does that assumption change anybody’s vote from Democrat to Republican? How many people are there who are prepared to vote for Hillary over Trump, but would vote for Trump over Kaine, were that the choice? If anything, I imagine that scenario would swing more votes to the Democrats than away from them (including from non-voters or third-party voters who are put off by Hillary). However severe her health concerns may be, pragmatically, I don’t see how those concerns could be a liability to the Democrats, as far as winning the election goes.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      You’d exhaust the line of succession established by the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 before finding anybody I wouldn’t prefer to Trump. 🙂

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        Yeah *but* – it helps to establish the image of Hilary as weak, and voters like a *strong man* (or woman) to lead them. You know, like Maggie Thatcher, or Mussolini, or Franco, or Hitler, or Stalin, or Napoleon. Or Donald Trump. Gotta have someone to stand up to Putin!

        (They conveniently forget about FDR)

        cr

        • Eli
          Posted September 22, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          There’s an episode of Dr. Who (second season of the new series, I think), in which the Doctor, upset with the Prime Minister, brings her down by whispering in her aid’s ear “Don’t you think she looks tired?” The next we see there’s a no confidence vote.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted September 22, 2016 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

            Yes, I recall that. Along with the running gag that the character always felt she had to introduce herself. “I’m Harriet Jones” “Yes, we know who you are”.

            (It worked in its context).

            cr

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted September 22, 2016 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

            Sounds like a move that could make Cardinal Richelieu blush.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 24, 2016 at 2:02 am | Permalink

          “Gotta have someone to stand up to Putin!”

          Where standing up to Putin means having a bro crush on him?

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted September 24, 2016 at 2:49 am | Permalink

            Can you tell me where I made the slightest hint of a suggestion of an implication that it had to make any sort of sense?

            Well, then…

            cr

            😉

      • Posted September 22, 2016 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, you could exhaust a much longer list before I’d prefer to Trump — I’d vote for the Devil himself first. (Although, as an atheist, I doubt the Devil is likely to run for office!)

      • chris moffatt
        Posted September 23, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        Not really encouraging when you realise that Paul Ryan stands third in that line. OTOH if something happens to Clinton Tim Kaine steps in; if something happens to Trump it’s Pence a bigoted dominionist. Right there is a really good reason to vote for Clinton.

  19. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Somehow I seem to have got on the mailing list for some crazy right-wing conspiracy loonies of the type shown above, and among the emails from lonely Russian ladies and people wanting to sell me little blue pills, there’s a smattering of sensational and alarming warnings of apocalyptic things that are about to happen to the US Right Now if ‘we’ don’t take action.

    The Gays and Obama are conspiring to take away our guns so we’ll be defenceless when ISIS invades, that sort of thing. Sometimes with a plea to ‘watch this video by Bill O’Reilly’, just to confirm that their pot is well and truly cracked.

    Unfortunately I can’t quote one as my trashcan auto-empties regularly.

    cr

  20. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    (I must admit that I have some worries about Hillary Clinton’s health, but not enough to prevent me from voting for her.)

    Remind us in the very worried outside world, who’ll get the bomb codes if Hillary croaks? I’m pretty sure it won’t be Saunders, but who and why I’m definitely as clear as finely disseminated aqueous suspensions of phyllosilicate sheets (“mud”).

    #4 yoyoma : You mean, “half of Americans are dumber than the median”. With a skewed

    Plus or minus a half a Merkin. Though the concept of half of yoyoma’s Momma’s Merkin does make one’s eyeballs go into stick-stuck-back mode.

    infiniteimprobabilit “Somehow I seem to have got on the mailing list for some crazy right-wing conspiracy loonies of the type shown above, and among the emails from lonely Russian ladies and people wanting to sell me little blue pills,”

    Same email address (or linked-to website) for both mails?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 22, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      “Same email address (or linked-to website) for both mails?”

      Possible, but on the whole I think more probably not. It’s not immediately apparent to me why the target market for Bill O’Reilly-type looniness would be the same as the target market for viagra / Russian-women-phishing. (I assume the Russian ‘ladies’ are phishing, anyway).

      It’s not as if, in my ramblings around the Internet, I couldn’t have trod on all sorts of things I didn’t oughta have trod on…

      cr
      (well, ‘clicked’, not ‘trod’, but you get the idea)

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted September 22, 2016 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know about you, but I do my trodding through good leather, a stab-proof shank, and a fair dose of dubbin to keep the outside out and the sweat and slime in.
        Chthulu – is that you, or did I just take my socks off?

      • pali
        Posted September 23, 2016 at 12:54 am | Permalink

        The target market seems obvious to me: older (50+) insecure white men. I know that’s the main O’Reilly demographic, and I’d be surprised to learn it isn’t also the one most interested in Viagra and Russian mail-order brides.

  21. Posted September 23, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I am reading William Manchetser’s history of the USA from 1932-72 (The Glory and the Dream).

    It is remarkable to me how the arguments and even the catch-phrases of the “right” have changed so little (I suppose that goes with their general attitude!) since the 1930s.

    I’m reading political speeches from 1932, 1936, and they could have come out of the mouths of 2016 Republicans.

    I will try to bring some quotes.

  22. Mike
    Posted September 24, 2016 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    If there was ever a reason for dis-enfranchising certain people you have one right there. These people have the power to, and will probably help elect,a narcissistic megalomaniac to the most powerful office in the World, and that should scare the hell out of everybody.


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