F… the authoritarian Republicans let’s get to work

The Trump legacy

President Biden said he wanted to unify that nation. Republican authoritarian lawmakers think that means he can’t do anything they oppose.

In his inaugural address, President Joe Biden said that to solve the issues facing the United States — the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s economic struggles, domestic terrorism, the changing climate, access to health care and education, systemic racism — the nation must unite.

Some Republicans seem to have taken that to mean Democrats should abandon their policy promises and do nothing that the GOP doesn’t agree to.

“To overcome these challenges — to restore the soul and to secure the future of America — requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity,” Biden told the nation. “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation. Unity. I ask every American to join me in this cause.”

In the days since Biden spoke, an array of GOP lawmakers have focused solely on the word “unity,” calling everything Biden and other lawmakers in the Democratic-majority House and Senate do a failure to keep a promise to “unite” the country.

Here are things the Republican authoritarians have said Biden and the Democrats must not do because they don’t promote “unity.”:

Protecting public lands

On his first day in office, Biden issued a series of executive orders and actions aimed at undoing damage caused by the Trump administration. An order titled “On Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” includes a provision to restore national monuments in Utah that Donald Trump had tried to shrink.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee attacked the order on Thursday as “simply incompatible with his promise of unity.” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney agreed, saying it would “only deepen divisions in this country.”

Halting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The climate order also includes a provision placing a temporary moratorium on leases sold to fossil fuel companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan was not pleased: “Today, in his inaugural address, President Biden called for national unity and healing,” he said in a statement. “However, just hours earlier, his administration took their cues from radical environmentalists in issuing punitive and divisive actions against Alaska, many other resource development states, and whole sectors of our economy.”

Stopping the Keystone XL oil pipeline

Another climate order provision revokes a permit issued by Trump in March 2019 for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, explaining the revocation: “The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest.  The United States and the world face a climate crisis. … At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs. … Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”

Republicans, including Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Texas Rep. August Pfluger, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Fischbach, and New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, accused Biden of betraying his call for unity.

“Revoking permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline undercuts a serious infrastructure project, renewable energy growth, and rail relief for grain,” tweeted South Dakota Sen. John Thune on Thursday. “This admin can’t ask for unity & bipartisanship one minute but continue to push bad left-wing policy the next.”

Rejoining climate accords

Biden took a separate action on Wednesday to start the United States on the path to rejoining the Paris climate agreement after Trump took the country out of it, calling climate change a hoax.

Colorado Rep. Ken Buck tweeted, “President Biden called for unity this afternoon, but his first actions in office say otherwise,” saying that rejoining the agreement was part of a “liberal agenda” that “will further weaken our nation.”

Appointing someone to run the Department of Health and Human Services

Biden’s nominee to serve as secretary of health and human services, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, has not yet been given a confirmation hearing. But Fox News published an opinion piece written by Sen. Tom Cotton on Thursday that demanded the Senate reject the nomination, calling Becerra a “lawyer and career politician” with “no experience in public health, large-scale logistics or other challenges of the pandemic. What Becerra lacks in public-health experience, however,” Cotton sneered, “he makes up for in enthusiasm for his party’s most radical views.”

Cotton, a lawyer with no experience in public health, wrote, “Joe Biden campaigned on pledges to unite the country and defeat the pandemic; he continues to stress these twin priorities. But his nominee to be secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, is a partisan culture warrior who undermines both pledges.”

Appointing a special envoy to Iran

Biden and nominee to serve as secretary of state, Antony Blinken, are reportedly considering appointing Robert Malley to be their special envoy to Iran. Cotton apparently does not like this pick either.

On Thursday night, he tweeted, “Appointing radicals like Malley gives the lie to all of President Biden and Tony Blinken’s rhetoric of unity.”

In 2015, Cotton was the initiator of a letter, signed by 47 senators and addressed directly to the leadership of Iran, that warned the Islamic Republic not to rely on any nuclear nonproliferation agreements negotiated by the Obama administration, an action that an observer called “mutinous.”

Reforming immigration

Biden took actions to protect undocumented young people brought to the United States as children and revise some of Trump’s anti-immigration policies.

“On Wed., President @JoeBiden called for unity to ensure success for our nation. I agree,” tweeted Tennessee Rep. David Kustoff. “However, unity doesn’t come by prioritizing policies like open borders (esp during COVID), decimating oil & gas ind., & granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants.”

Stopping construction of Trump’s wall

Biden also moved quickly to freeze construction of Trump’s incomplete $15 billion wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, terminating the “national emergency” that the previous administration had used to justify siphoning funds from military allocations for the project.

“President Biden’s inaugural address focused heavily on unity, bringing the nation together after the division we’ve experienced. The new EOs he just signed, however, cater to the Left, ignoring the steps necessary to move America forward,” tweeted Florida Rep. Kat Cammack on Wednesday. “Halting the progress we’ve made at the border stymies the work we’ve accomplished to combat illegal entry and stops the reasonable, lawful options in place for those trying to immigrate lawfully.”

Restoring funds to international aid groups that provide abortion

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top epidemiologist, told the World Health Organization on Thursday that Biden would soon “be revoking the Mexico City policy,” which blocks federal funding to international groups that provide or discuss abortion. Established by Ronald Reagan in 1984, the policy has been rescinded by Democratic presidents and reinstated when Republicans were in the White House.

Buck decried this too on Thursday, tweeting, “President Biden is reinstating a widely unpopular policy to fund and promote abortions across the globe. So much for unity?”

Conducting an impeachment trial of Donald Trump

Even though every House Democrat and 10 Republicans voted to impeach Trump on Jan. 13 for his role in inciting his followers to storm the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York believes that if Biden wants unity, he must ensure his predecessor does not face any consequences for his actions.

Tweeting a list of “3 ways @POTUS can reach across the aisle for healing & unity,” Zeldin insisted, “The Senate impeachment trial should be shut down.”

Scrutinizing Trump’s botched vaccination plans

The Trump administration badly missed its target for vaccinations against the coronavirus in December 2020 and reportedly left the Biden administration no plans to build on in responding to the pandemic.

Some GOP lawmakers believe that even pointing this out undermines national unity.

“Yesterday, Pres. Biden said unity was his focus,” Michigan Rep. Lisa McClain tweeted on Thursday. “Today, he spreads lies about #OperationWarpSpeed.”

You can’t work with these Trump cultist white supremacist authoritarian assholes so why waste time let’s get to work without them

edited from the American independent

The authoritarian cult of Trump explained

The Brain’s Attention System Is More Strongly Engaged by Trump
According to a study that monitored brain activity while participants watched 40 minutes of political ads and debate clips from the presidential candidates, Donald Trump is unique in his ability to keep the brain engaged. While Hillary Clinton could only hold attention for so long, Trump kept both attention and emotional arousal high throughout the viewing session. This pattern of activity was seen even when Trump made remarks that individuals didn’t necessarily agree with. His showmanship and simple language clearly resonate with some at a visceral level.

America’s Obsession with Entertainment and Celebrities

Essentially, the loyalty of Trump supporters may in part be explained by America’s addiction to entertainment and reality TV. To some, it doesn’t matter what Trump actually says because he’s so amusing to watch. With the Donald, you are always left wondering what outrageous thing he is going to say or do next. He keeps us on the edge of our seat, and for that reason, some Trump supporters will forgive anything he says. They are happy as long as they are kept entertained.

“Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn.”

Some intelligent people who know better are supporting Trump simply to be rebellious or to introduce chaos into the political system. They may have such distaste for the establishment and Democrats like Hillary Clinton that their support for Trump is a symbolic middle finger directed at Washington. These people do not have their priorities straight and perhaps have other issues, like an innate desire to troll others, or a deranged obsession with schadenfreude.

The Fear-Factor: Conservatives Are More Sensitive to Threat

Science has unequivocally shown that the conservative brain has an exaggerated fear response when faced with stimuli that may be perceived as threatening. A 2008 study in the journal Science found that conservatives have a stronger physiological reaction to startling noises and graphic images compared to liberals. A brain-imaging study published in Current Biology revealed that those who lean right politically tend to have a larger amygdala — a structure that is electrically active during states of fear and anxiety. And a 2014 fMRI study found that it is possible to predict whether someone is a liberal or conservative simply by looking at their brain activity while they view threatening or disgusting images, such as mutilated bodies. Specifically, the brains of self-identified conservatives generated more activity overall in response to the disturbing images.

These brain responses are automatic, and not influenced by logic or reason. As long as Trump continues his fear mongering by constantly portraying Muslims and Hispanic immigrants as imminent dangers, many conservative brains will involuntarily light up like light bulbs being controlled by a switch. Fear keeps his followers energized and focused on safety. And when you think you’ve found your protector, you become less concerned with offensive and divisive remarks.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Humans Often Overestimate Their Political Expertise

Some support Donald Trump do so out of ignorance — basically, they are under-informed or misinformed about the issues at hand. When Trump tells them that crime is skyrocketing in the United States, or that the economy is the worst it’s ever been, they simply take his word for it.

The Dunning-Kruger effect explains that the problem isn’t just that they are misinformed; it’s that they are completely unaware that they are misinformed, which creates a double burden.

Studies have shown that people who lack expertise in some area of knowledge often have a cognitive bias that prevents them from realizing that they lack expertise. As psychologist David Dunning puts it in an op-ed for Politico, “The knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at that task — and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at the task. This includes political judgment.” These people cannot be reached because they mistakenly believe they are the ones who should be reaching others.

Lack of Exposure to Dissimilar Others

Intergroup contact refers to contact with members of groups that are outside one’s own, which has been experimentally shown to reduce prejudice. As such, it’s important to note that there is growing evidence that Trump’s white supporters have experienced significantly less contact with minorities than other Americans. For example, a 2016 study found that “…the racial and ethnic isolation of Whites at the zip-code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.” This correlation persisted while controlling for dozens of other variables. In agreement with this finding, the same researchers found that support for Trump increased with the voters’ physical distance from the Mexican border.

Trump’s Conspiracy Theories Target the Mentally Vulnerable

While the conspiracy theory crowd — who predominantly support Donald Trump and crackpot allies like Alex Jones and the shadowy QAnon — may appear to just be an odd quirk of modern society, the truth is that many of them suffer from psychological illnesses that involve paranoia and delusions, such as schizophrenia, or are at least vulnerable to them, like those with schizotypy personalities.

The link between schizotypy and belief in conspiracy theories is well-established, and a recent study published in the journal Psychiatry Research has demonstrated that it is still very prevalent in the population. The researchers found that those who were more likely to believe in outlandish conspiracy theories, such as the idea that the U.S. government created the AIDs epidemic, consistently scored high on measures of “odd beliefs and magical thinking.” One feature of magical thinking is a tendency to make connections between things that are actually unrelated in reality.

Donald Trump and his media allies target these people directly. All one has to do is visit alt-right websites and discussion boards to see the evidence for such manipulation.

A study published last year in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found a direct link between national collective narcissism and support for Donald Trump. This correlation was discovered by researchers at the University of Warsaw, who surveyed over 400 Americans with a series of questionnaires about political and social beliefs. Where individual narcissism causes aggressiveness toward other individuals, collective narcissism involves negative attitudes and aggression toward ‘outsider’ groups (outgroups), who are perceived as threats.

Donald Trump exacerbates collective narcissism with his anti-immigrant, anti-elitist, and strongly nationalistic rhetoric. By referring to his supporters, an overwhelmingly white group, as being “true patriots” or “real Americans,” he promotes a brand of populism that is the epitome of “identity politics,” a term that is usually associated with the political left. Left-wing identity politics, as misguided as they may sometimes be, are generally aimed at achieving equality, while the right-wing brand is based on a belief that one nationality and race is superior or entitled to success and wealth for no other reason than identity.

The Desire to Want to Dominate Others

Social dominance orientation (SDO) — which is distinct but related to authoritarian personality syndrome (#13) — refers to people who have a preference for the societal hierarchy of groups, specifically with a structure in which the high-status groups have dominance over the low-status ones. Those with SDO are typically dominant, tough-minded, and driven by self-interest.

In Trump’s speeches, he appeals to those with SDO by repeatedly making a clear distinction between groups that have a generally higher status in society (White), and those groups that are typically thought of as belonging to a lower status (immigrants and minorities). A study published last year in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that those who scored high on both SDO and authoritarianism were those who intended to vote for Trump in the election.

Authoritarian Personality Syndrome

Authoritarianism refers to the advocacy or enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom and is commonly associated with a lack of concern for the opinions or needs of others. Authoritarian personality syndrome —  a well-studied and globally-prevalent condition — is a state of mind that is characterized by belief in total and complete obedience to one’s authority. Those with the syndrome often display aggression toward outgroup members, submissiveness to authority, resistance to new experiences, and a rigid hierarchical view of society. The syndrome is often triggered by fear, making it easy for leaders who exaggerate threat or fear monger to gain their allegiance.

Although authoritarian personality is found among liberals, it is more common among the right-wing around the world. Trump’s speeches, which are laced with absolutist terms like “losers” and “complete disasters,” are naturally appealing to those with the syndrome.

While research showed that Republican voters in the U.S. scored higher than Democrats on measures of authoritarianism before Trump emerged on the political scene, a 2016 Politico survey found that high authoritarians greatly favored Trump

 

Edited from Raw Story by Bobby Azarian is a neuroscientist affiliated with George Mason University and a freelance journalist.

A web of totalitarian control which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined

George Soros Launched a Scathing Attack On Google And Facebook

Sean Gallup Getty Images

“They claim they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are near- monopoly distributors makes them public utilities,” the philanthropist said at a dinner on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Soros also denounced President Donald Trump, whom he accused of trying to establish a “mafia state.”

 

DAVOS, Switzerland — The financier and philanthropist George Soros joined the rising attacks on Facebook and Google Thursday night, calling for “more stringent regulations” on the tech giants.

Soros referred to the companies as a “menace” and denounced “the rise and monopolistic behavior of the giant IT platform companies,” which he described as “ever more powerful monopolies,” hurting competitors and societies alike.

Soros — one of the world’s largest philanthropists — adds a key voice to a growing set of calls to rein in the giant tech companies, which are struggling to respond to a rising tide of public criticism.

“They claim they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are near- monopoly distributors makes them public utilities and should subject them to more stringent regulations, aimed at preserving competition, innovation, and fair and open universal access,” he said.

Soros also compared the companies to casinos, saying they “deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide.”

Soros warned that these companies would likely “compromise themselves” to enter the Chinese market.

“There could be an alliance between authoritarian states and these large, data-rich IT monopolies that would bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance,” he said. “This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined.”

Soros also denounced President Donald Trump, whom he accused of trying to establish a “mafia state.”

BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief – Davos, Switzerland Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Ben Smith is the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed