Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Russia Teaches America the "Ugly Truth"

Facing Facts About Trump Voters
No, they're not Russians.
But then...what are they?

Plenty of things have been "concluded" as the Russia - Trump connections have gradually "drip, drip, dripped" into the light of American understanding. Most of this "material" has been about just how nasty the Russians have been and just how much treasonous "collusion" has gone on between Vladimir Putin and his orange skinned, Kremlin "asset" now ensconced in the Oval Office.

All of these revelations are important.

However, there is an even uglier demographic "causality" lurking in the shadows behind all these outrages. To get a clear picture of that, we'll need to set aside our grisly fascination with Trump's treachery and Putin's geopolitical avarice. We will need to turn our attention to the [Clinton: 65,844,610 (48.2%), Trump: 62,979,636 (46.1%), Others: 7,804,213 (5.7%) source/DailyWire63 million Americans who voted for him. 

Who are these people? Why did they do this?

That, of course, may represent little more than a conveniently academic question at this point. However, there emerges an even more important question now that the damage has been done. Although the election results are in, and the new President is now seated, the Trump supporting voters who shocked the world are still there -- still grumbling about in the beer halls and trailer parks all across "forgotten America."

But...what are they grumbling about?

This question presents the point of this post.

The First Ugly Truth

What Trump Supporters "Wanted"
and What Trump Supporters "Got"
For some reason their election victory still leaves
 them far short of the delirious joy they were expecting.

A little "ancient history" will probably help to clarify the "edges of the mystery." MeanMesa is old enough to have been quite active during the disastrous Vietnam War. That war looked endless during the 60s, and politics -- driven largely by massive, continuous protests -- became directly focused on the positions held by politicians concerning what to do with this endless, brutal conflict.

Importantly, the anti-war political sentiment very clearly centered the politics contemporary to the time on this "burning question of the day." Political candidates were supported or opposed based on their respective positions about the war. Among MeanMesa's anti-war peers political candidates were supported because they, too, were against continuing the war. A political victory would have been the result of an election which resulted in ending the war.

Unhappily, although this outcome finally materialized years later, there was no "hammer breaking the anvil" moment when a candidate was elected who would quickly change the nation's course on the issue.

Now, returning to the demographic of Trump supporters, we see a fascinating, historical dissimilarity. The Trump supporters, unlike the highly focused anti-war movement of the 60s, didn't seem to want anything in particular. There didn't seem to be any particularly discernible result they were seeking by casting ballots for the President. There was not anything the newly elected President could have done to satisfy the "will of the people" or "meet the needs" of these supporters as a repayment for their votes.

Instead, there was very little of any substance at all beyond the lumbering series of talking points Donald Trump very artfully employed during his campaign rallies. The historically common question after his election might -- during more normal times -- have been "When will he deliver on his promises?" But in this case those campaign "promises" were so elusively immaterial and gaseous that no one in Trump's base of voters even seems particularly able to answer this question now that he's been elected.

The first ugly fact is becoming clear. It is evidence of a shocking nihilism.

Even if Trump had turned out to be a somewhat competent politician, he would have still been unable to deliver something -- anything -- which could have even begun to satisfy what seemed to be the "demands" of his voter base -- "demands" which fired so much passion among them during the campaign.

The Second Ugly Truth

"Disgruntled and Alienated"
Is Not Enough Of An Answer
The political analysis is frighteningly shallow.

Although the political analysis of "what happened" has been intense, there remains an "elephant in the living room" which has remained mysteriously absent from all the theories. The questions driving these various analyses focused on the "reasons" that so many wouldn't vote for Hillary or the "reasons" so many stayed home in November. 

These analyses took a "second, more penetrating look" when these simple explanations seemed to be falling flat. The ficus shifted to specific features of "life in the red states," "life in the fly over states," and "life in the rust belt states." The addition of these further details seemed to fill in the gaps of the more generalized models, but there still seemed to be something missing in the equation.

Then the first credible news of the Russians' involvement began to develop. The analysts breathed a sigh of relief. 

The beginning of the explanations of the impact of Russian involvement in the process focused on hacking and revealing "testy" emails held in Democratic Party computers, but the sheer inertia of American electoral politics had survived such embarrassments in fairly good order a number of times prior to this instance. The domestic American media had been carrying stories of the release of embarrassing emails for years -- since the first appearance of factors such as Anonymous and WikiLeaks.

To many of those watching this story become struggling to become more complete, the "abundant foliage in the forest of reasons" began to, once again, look a little forlorn. MeanMesa couldn't agree more. The story still seemed to lack any "cute photos" of the elephant.

Oh Golly! Should there be an investigation?  [MeanMesa]
It turns out that that "elephant" is, actually, the unavoidable harbinger of The Second Ugly Truth.

Sure, the US communications technology offered the Russians a standing vulnerability. Additionally, the US infatuation with social media [This blog is posted on BLOGGER -- a social media.] offered open access to a monstrously huge potential audience for the Russians. The Russians have always been propaganda opportunists, putting a masterful finish on the art during the Cold War which, clearly, remains today.

MeanMesa even supposes that it's quite fair to even denounce the oligarchs who own the Russian Federation as a thoroughly wicked, maleficent gang with the wild ambition to spread their autocracy as far and wide as possible.

However, the narrative falls apart when we try to "blame" what happened in the last disastrous election on Russian maleficence. It's probably better to think of this as rats penetrating one's granary. Although the outcome is very unpleasant, the rats were, well, "just being rats." The Russians were "just being Russians."

This leaves The Second Ugly Truth stranded in an open field for all to see.

The Russian Federation provided the resources and the perpetrators, but our own US social culture provided the demographic vulnerability.

Finally arriving at this realization even left MeanMesa in a momentary daze. This old American had greatly underestimated the size of this demographic quietly nestled in the darker corners of the American population. What "demographic" is this?

Uninformed: This is a demographic which has consistently isolated itself from any -- even mildly -- objective news. The members of this demographic have no idea what is actually happening all around them.

Alienated: This demographic has a constant mind set that it is being victimized, even if the details are as cloudy as its perception of the reality around it.

Uneducated: This demographic lacks sufficient education to be able to skeptically identify what is being presented as fact or as "news."

Trump, probably under the proffered tutelage of the same Russians, capitalized on this artificially developed psychology of those in this demographic during his campaign. 

They didn't have good jobs, but they also couldn't do much. A high school diploma isn't much of a career foundation in the 21st Century.

They, generally, didn't know why they had health care. They had no understanding -- or interest -- in the details of the legislation which had been provided them with whatever coverage they had. Many of them have difficulty reading, a fact which explains their frustration with the ACA. The details required by the policy seemed to insult them at every turn.

They had been groomed by decades of incendiary media which provided them with a bizarre perception of reality and an infuriating explanation of why their lives were so difficult.

As is usually the case with people in this situation they were dangerously racist and xenophobic -- and they were maintained in that state of mind because it was useful for the politicians who wanted to exploit it. This was useful to Trump while he was campaigning, and, thinking of the superfluous "rallies" he's conducting after election, it remains critical necessary for him now that he's in office.

The President has a voter base of around 1/3 of the population of the electors in the country.

This Is NOT a "Russia Problem"
OR a "Technology Problem"
This problem is much broader than mere technology.
We probably can't keep the Russians out,
 so we must become much less vulnerable to propaganda. 
The actual problem is a lack of interest.

There has already been plenty said about "reaching voters," "motivating voters," or about "getting people to the polls." These are, most likely, reasonable avenues of consideration, but the mere fact that such "reasons" need be considered reveals much more of an explanation of why our democracy is faltering.

MeanMesa really doesn't care if a voter is disgusted with the current politics or has lost faith in the current state of the democratic system. What's needed here is a little perspective -- unhappily, that means perspective made possible by even the smallest amount of education about what's actually going on here. Perhaps a little geography so that American voters know what's going on elsewhere would assist one of these tantrum soaked "not for me" voters in being slightly more interested. Perhaps a little history might present a more convincing picture of exactly how remarkable the US experiment in democracy really was.

Does anyone know who this guy is? [image]
The simple existence of 63 million voters naive enough to swallow the twisted media narrative -- with or without the further augmentation provided by the Russians is "driving the nail of a final verdict" through the wide spread pretension that American public education is actually producing something which might possibly serve as a population of interested and informed voters.

Trump is not a surprising "twist of politics." Trump is the result of a population with a frightening large percentage of voters who are dumber than a bag of hammers.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Holding Trump Accountable - Can Anything Stop Him?

Finding the Joy
Perhaps the "hair shirt" phase of America's horror is passing.
As usual.

In the bizarre, "other worldly" ecosystem of Trump's Washington the traditional institutions of democracy are The Donald's "natural predators."

It's easy to become overwhelmed by the President's efforts to systematically destroy every facet of institutional democracy which might possibly impede the construction of his smelly autocracy, but the "inertial impulse" which is the legacy of all these years of democratic process may be more durable than we thought.

Granted, we have to look very carefully to see the "trembling surge" of Trump's terror ridden display of self hatred and uncertainty quaver as the Administration's public "non-wins" keep rolling in, but they are there -- and there will be more and more of them as these painful days proceed. This New York Times article by Jack Goldsmith may lift your spirits. [Read the original article   here - NYTimes. Links remain enabled.]

Yes, Trump Is Being Held Accountable
Jack Goldsmith 
March 15, 2017

It may look pretty clunky, but it's definitely happening.
Many critics of President Trump, including a sizable number of Democrats in the Republican-controlled Congress, are wary about the incipient congressional investigations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and the possibly related Russian entanglements with the Trump administration and campaign. They suspect that an independent investigation from outside the government is the only hope for checking a president who seems oblivious to press criticism, whose party controls Congress and who has the executive branch under his thumb.

These worries are understandable but misplaced. There might be a time when an independent investigation becomes necessary, but we are not nearly there yet. For now, our constitutional system is working well to ferret out the truth and to hold Mr. Trump and his subordinates accountable.

The most important checks on the Trump presidency come from inside it. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is reportedly conducting at least three investigations related to Russia, the election and the administration. Whatever one thinks about his pre-election maneuvers, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey (a former colleague of mine at the Justice Department), has proved to be an independent actor, and he has every interest in pursuing the cases wherever they lead.

Mr. Trump could fire Mr. Comey on a whim, but that would not kill the F.B.I. investigation. Rather, just as President Richard Nixon hastened his impeachment with the Watergate-related firings known as the “Saturday Night Massacre,” canning Mr. Comey would only heighten the public’s and Congress’s suspicions about Mr. Trump’s guilt and increase pressure on the F.B.I. and others to get to the bottom of the Russia matter.

Another reason to think the existing process is working to keep the president in check are the plentiful leaks from the executive branch that have revealed a great deal about the Russian imbroglio. Leaks of this sort are a predicable response to a perception of illegitimacy or overreach inside the executive branch. It is hard to know at this point which leaks are justified and which are illegitimate. But overall they function as a significant constraint on this presidency.

The leaks have also shown the strength of the press, belying worries that journalists would be chilled by President Barack Obama’s crackdown on leaks and Mr. Trump’s unusual attacks on the news media. The Fourth Estate is covering the Trump presidency with unusual critical vigor, reporting concrete and damning details as if it had a seat inside the Oval Office.

Finally, there are the investigations by Congress. Prominent Republicans such as Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have questioned the president’s honesty on the Russia matter. The Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting an “independent review” and has already been briefed by Mr. Comey. The House Intelligence Committee will begin hearings next week. A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee is also investigating the matter and has pledged “to ensure that the F.B.I.’s work is free of all political influence.”

While there is no doubt that partisan politics will inform what many in both congressional parties do in this matter, one should not overlook what is truly remarkable here: In the second month of a new presidency, several bodies in a Congress controlled by the president’s party are conducting high-profile, politically fraught and hard-to-control investigations that potentially implicate current and former administration officials and former campaign officials.

All of these actors and institutions are holding the Trump presidency to account. They are endeavoring to uncover the truth about the manifold Russian mysteries. And they can, if they see fit, take action with effects ranging from publicity and embarrassment to political damage with electoral consequences to criminal prosecution to impeachment if appropriate.

It’s true that the process of accountability is halting and frustratingly slow. But this is as it should be. The stakes could not be higher for our democracy. Ascertaining the truth is vital, and respect for the innocent is as important as identification of wrongdoing. It is thus crucial that the complex and elusive facts be sorted out in a fair and procedurally rigorous manner, and that the law be applied with deliberation and good judgment.

Justice seems elusive here because it is so plodding. But plodding justice is our best chance for a legitimate resolution to this mess.

An Impeachment Reader

While there is "talk" in Congress of stripping Trump's war making powers and -- in even darker corners -- of raw treason based on raw security breaches and other shocking possibilities, the tried and true mechanisms of parts of the government remain in tact. Here are a few of Mr. Trump's "more traditional" problems.

Sooner or later the FBI, CIA, NSA and DNI will have to "pony up" what they have. This can't happen until there is a political structure capable of "receiving" it, and while this "void of receivership" has served to protect Trump -- so far -- it looks like most of this "protection" is now getting a little "frayed" around the hems. 

The following  links will help bring you up to date on the impeachment -- and possibly, the prosecution -- process.

The Guarantee Clause in the Constitution

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Republicans, Russians, and the End of Trump

Waiting For the Storm
Better get the cattle into the barn.

Just to "set the record straight," there is already much more evidence than necessary for the Republican Congress to successfully impeach Donald Trump. The pace at which contemporary geopolitical realities unfold makes the Congressional "drip, drip, drip -- wait and see" response far too hazardous for the Republic.

While the un-elected President storms through one day after the next destabilizing every aspect of the American culture he can successfully hit with a TWEET, there are, actually, some far more "material" changes patiently maturing in the background. The fact that a large majority of Americans are now -- officially -- terrified by this relentless surge of seemingly arbitrary "interruptions" in the normal flow of the democracy provides the explosive volatility which will, in the end, present the motive power needed for the upcoming violent "correction."

Where am I? Where's the bathroom?
Who are YOU?  [image]
The Republican Party, even when considered as a separate demographic from the majority of terrified Americans, is rapidly closing on its own "sober morning" after a few weeks of being embarrassingly inebriated with its new found power following the Trump election victory. All of us know that there "hangovers," but then there are also "HANGOVERS," and for the Republican looters this one promises to be a doozy -- that is to say, what's rapidly approaching the Grand Old Party is not going to be simply another "awkward" political moment.

No. We're talking "projectile vomiting," here.

Finally, we have to spend just a moment speculating about the identity of the "players" who are already fussing about the prospects of "straightening this out" before it gets any worse. At the moment there are simply no Democrats who can get involved -- meaning that there are simply no Democrats whom might be targeted for blame. All of the usual "Whose fault is this?" questions have evaporated into a politically irrelevant gas cloud after election night 2016. Not even the highly polished, professional "mouth junk" experts on the rancid right wing "news" outlets can thread together a "blame narrative" simple enough for the average Trumpkin to somehow find credible  -- or, in most cases, even comprehensible.

A GOP "Toothache" Inventory
The nearest syringe of Republican Novocaine is locked up
 in the Kremlin's basement poison pharmacy --
 you know, with the polonium.

At this point we pretty much know what series of events will encompass our nation as the Trump nightmare slowly -- "drip, drip, drip" -- floats painfully into America's nerve blocked memory. While the precise order of this sequence of events may remain a bit obscure, we can still have a look at the "list."

The Republican Party

The Republicans have already sealed their fate in terms of the 2018 mid term election. That is now scheduled for a little more than a year from now. 

What we have seen in Republican town hall meetings has been the political response to the GOP's obsession with turning Medicaid into tax cuts. When the additional "agonizers" of Republican ambitions to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits have had a chance to "grow their own field of weeds," those 2017, ACA town halls will look like Candy Land.

The billionaires have spent decades developing the voting demographic which "elected" Trump. Their think tanks have toiled mightily to slowly weave biblical religion into Republican ideology as they prepared the evangelicals' political role as dependable, stalwart supporters. The now thoroughly rancid, right wing media has managed to "round up" the stragglers.

But where does this leave the GOP future? The GOP has been relying on two, disparate  voter demographics. 

Although plenty of these fickle evangelical, beer hall "GOP dependables" are going to feel wounded by Trump's domestic economy, perhaps the most threatening development will be occurring on the Democratic side. If the deep bench of mindless Republican repeat voters is fading, the voting block of the 55% who wouldn't bother to vote is literally evaporating. By 2018 most of that 55% will have also been wounded, but more importantly, almost all of that 55% will have been terrified.

The non-voters in 2018 will be an astonishing small percentage. By far most of the voters with this "revitalized" interest whose faces will be appearing around the polling stations will be Democrats.

That will be "death on wheels" for the Congressional Republicans, the think tankers and the billionaires.

The Republican Party will have trouble "sobering up" after being drunk on power. At some point the GOP will have to abandon the Trump supporters and begin to attempt to rehabilitate the GOP Party brand with other, possibly more stable voters. The legislative legacy of this Congressional "binge" will have to be vacated -- if possible -- in hopes of re-establishing some form of politically viable voter base.

War and Foreign Relations

Even if it takes quite a while for President Trump to "get around" to packing the State Department with throw back toadies sympathetic to his authoritarian xenophobia, MeanMesa suspects that there will still be a shocking lack of bother experience and expertise. An alarming number of the "desks" [i.e. The Africa desk, etc.] are now occupied by "administrative fillers" relocated from very low echelon staff instead of the usual cadre of well educated, well traveled and well informed professionals. 

With the foreign ministries of "competing" world powers constantly "probing" the US policy [State Department policy...] for diplomatic and other vulnerabilities which could be developed into an advantage, we can assume that it will only be a matter of time until the US starts destructively colliding with a legacy of foreign policy accomplishments which have taken years to establish.

All of this turmoil will be conducted in the absence of most of the actually relevant experience of seasoned intelligence branch staffers. Trump never understood how this worked, what was its necessity and much less value of the "quiet" inheritance of years of experience at the trade. His delusional insistence that such matters "just had to be simple" will inevitably explode over some theatrical. international, political ploy sooner or later.

History might still reward Republicans if they move to truncate this disaster before it becomes nuclear.

Mad Dog Trump Supporters, Mad Dog Russians and Mad Dog Billionaires

If the United States manages to re-establish its government, there will almost certainly be plenty of sentiment to "punish" the Russian Federation for what Russian players have done to destroy the American democracy. This "discipline session" could be significantly more aggressive than, for example, the sanctions imposed after the Russian invasion of Crimea.

It's mine! Everything's MINE! [image]
One of Vladimir Putin's "wet dreams" has been the destruction of NATO. The Russian Federation can't compete with NATO and the EU -- especially not when the United States is squarely on the European side. However, Putin has managed to split off the United Kingdom with his propaganda support for the BREXIT program. We should expect to see similar interference in any EU country which might become vulnerable to the same style of grumbling nationalism. Current Russian Federation efforts are underway in France, Austria and the Netherlands with mixed results.

Likewise, the US billionaires who have invested so heavily in propping up the Republican Party are likely to run into their own version of such a "discipline session." This bunch has had a suspiciously "free reign" in US domestic political matters as they have methodically prepared the country to become an oligarchy, and as they have methodically positioned themselves to become the oligarchs.

The point here is that when the Russians see themselves slowly drifting into the frozen wilderness of the Laptev Sea, when the billionaires see themselves politically and socially ostracized after this coup attempt and when the Republican politicians see themselves being abandoned by their own voter base, we will encounter the "cornered bear" situation. None of these democracy hating, overly ambitious, "autocrat wanna-be's" will simply fold up shop and go home.

In terms of stability remaining in the current political structure of the Russian Federation there are simply not enough truly corrupt, blindly ideological enough oligarchs to "hold the line" for Putin much longer. NeitheRussian Federation meddling nor Russian ambitions have ended -- or even moderated --  with Trump's election.  Russian oligarchs and Putin want a "return on their investment."

The Body Count
There will be plenty of American blood
 between where we are and where we are going.

MeanMesa can, at this point, slip into an unusually cynical prediction. So far all the "policies" issued by the Trump Administration AND all of the "veiled threats" to depose him arising from the ranks of Democrats still willing to voice such "heresy" have been, essentially, theoretical. Both these warnings and the vicious possibilities of these "policies" have remained academic and, therefore, comfortably prophetic.

However, at some point which, far from theoretical, is now rushing toward us, all of these so far "future unpleasantries" will "come home to roost." There is scant possibility that any of them will fail to materialize. MeanMesa sees no available "organizational scheme" which might deliver the less painful outcome of "dodging the bullet."

As Americans we should now prepare for a bullet wound.

Further, in this dance with reality, we can even identify those social/cultural demographics most likely to wind up as serious casualties from the "Trump experiment" before it can be terminated. Here, MeanMesa will provide an abbreviated list of seven developments we can probably expect.

The Seven "Sticks of Wet Dynamite"
 in the Trunk of Trump's Pinto

Everything seems to be going GREAT, so far! [image]

1. Ryan's - Trump"s "Health Insurance" Scheme

The GOP health care investment scheme will produce thousands of dead Americans from lack of basic health care. The "mega-death" phase of this will occur later, but the casualty count will begin surprisingly quickly. During the preparation of this post, this GOP "health insurance" law cratered in the House, but MeanMesa suspects that after a few "fine tuning," legislative adjustments, the Koch brothers will release their Freedom Caucus Representatives and allow the thing to pass.

At that point it will be a contest between how many succumb by reason of no care and how many are simply forced into bankruptcy as they try to stay alive.

2. Sharing War Profits Among GOP Players

As Trump's political alternatives will steadily decrease, and he will be faced with a constantly more urgent to initiate a war for political cover. Here, the Republican looters presently controlling the Congress will present themselves in "eager complicity" because the Pentagon procurement contracts -- standing to profit from the adventure -- will be "greasing their wheels" with generous campaign donations and other bribes. Entering a war, no matter how gaseous the justification, will sell well with a base of Trump voters who will, by this time, be infuriated for all sorts of reasons. Although the most likely "targets" of this soon to be launched "conflict of necessity" seem to be Iran, North Korea or Syria, there is simply no telling where the unstable soul int he Oval Office might "point his bile" when the time arrives.

3. Which Republicans Will Get to be the "Head Crooks?"

Congressional Republicans and establishment oligarchs still hiding in the image of the traditional Republican brand's image will be forced into a corner as they face the hard choice of continuing to support the President in hopes of accumulating even more wealth from the General Fund or dumping him because he is a more potent looter than even they are, and he's not leaving many scraps on the "tax revenue" table for them or sharing deregulation "Thank You" gifts from billionaires and corporations.

4. Climate Change is "Politically Independent"

Notwithstanding Trump's obsessive and continuous denial of climate change, this country and the world may easily begin to feel more than just "the nip of the wringer" while Trump's Presidency is collapsing into chaos. This is a very material item on the Defense Department's "threat assessment list" already.

We're no longer talking "distant future," here.

5. If Trump Doesn't Repay the Russians, They'll "Repay" Themselves

Putin and his oligarchic crime family have taken risks and invested heavily in "assisting" Trump's unusual ascendance to power in the US. Naturally, under their direction the Russian Federation military is now eager to "reap the benefits." However, Trump may not be able to deliver the promised disruption in NATO and the new American policy of "tolerating" Russian military incursions into the old Soviet satellite nations which have now adopted forms of more or less normal democracy -- along with a disturbingly, friendly affinity for the EU and NATO.

After receiving such valuable "favors," Trump will not fight the Russians, but even the greediest Republicans in the Congress [both House and Senate] are leery of Putin -- possibly the only violent looter on the planet more avaricious and deadly than they are.

There is already more than a truckload of Russian corpses of people who dared stand in the way.

6. How High Will the Casualty Count Go for Trump's War?

This unstable, un-elected President will take the "war course book" from the last unstable, un-elected Republican President, George W. Bush. Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were, respectively, initiated for craven domestic political advantage and as a money making seizure thinly disguised as an "oil procurement adventure."

They lasted for decades -- thanks primarily to utterly failed political leadership -- and cost trillions. Compared to what Trump will likely attempt, Bush W. will look like a military genius.

7. "Country Style" Civil War at the Hands of the Disillusioned Trumpkins

Trump supporters already felt disillusioned -- that is why they voted for Trump. After the sold out heavy weights in the Congress frustrate Trump's "big plans for the forgotten Americans" and Trump, himself, continuously contradicts his "promises" of relief for the "deplorables," these Trump voters will become even more alienated, frustrated and disillusioned.

Trump supporters' response to impeachment will be violent, but civil war requires regionality and territorial organization to become active. Current Trump supporters' xenophobic episodes of specific violence will increase but remain as laughably, impotently pathetic as has been the case thus far.

Many of them, however, will become dangerously violent.

Although these disgruntled "victims" may imagine that they are initiating another civil war, the actual outcome of these outbursts will, most likely, amount only to pathetic instances of crime -- not particularly similar to events in the 1860s.

This said, the violence will still be palpably real and wide spread.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Stitching Up The Trump Russia Connection

Clearing Up The Fog
Trump has intentionally confused the voters.
Don't be confused.

We are familiar with the "drip, drip, drip" process of revealing complicated government maneuvers which emerge on a day by day time schedule. The labyrinthine opacity of the hyper active Trump Presidency as it careens through one Constitutional scandal after another produces a chaotic image which -- although apparently necessary to constantly confound the Trump base -- presents an image of drag racing through an exploding fireworks factory to everyone else.

Among all the daily outrages we must remember that Donald Trump is now engulfed in the process of reimbursing the Russians for all the great work they did to get him elected. The bill has become due and payable.

All the rest of this "stuff" amounts to nothing more than a series of high speed distractions to delay the inevitable, final, crushing revelations about his Russia ties long enough for him to make good on his debt. Russian oligarchs such as Vladimir Putin can be, well, quite demanding.

So, maintaining a clear understanding of just what final product all these "threads" are being "woven" into is critically important if we are to somehow resurrect the democracy. In this matter the work of the Democratic Congressman from the 15th District of California can really help clear up the confusion.

Eric Swalwell sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committee. [He has previously been a member of the Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. You can visit the original article on his Congressional web site at]

A Recap Of Trump's Russian Connection

Despite Russia’s harmful national interests against the U.S., and its human rights violations around the world, President Trump and his team are directly and indirectly tied to Russia.

Throughout the 2016 presidential election, President Trump not only refused to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin, but was even friendly and accommodating in his remarks. In his own words, President Trump called President Putin “highly respected." More recently, President Trump put the U.S. on equal moral footing with Russia when responding to Bill O’Reilly’s question about Putin being a "killer," saying "We've got a lot of killers... you think our country's so innocent?" This is absolutely false moral equivalence, and unheard of for the President of the United States to insult and demean the country he leads.

President Trump has harshly criticized NATO, and exclaimed that only the NATO allies that paid equally to the alliance deserved protection from the United States. Though these remarks were softened by British Prime Minister Theresa May, who claims that President Trump fully supports the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), it's still unclear how supportive he will be of NATO allies like the Baltic states in light of his relationship with Russia.

President Trump has also surrounded himself with people who do business with and are sympathetic to Russia. The New York Times reported that members of Trump’s 2016 campaign and other Trump associates had frequent contact with senior Russian intelligence officials throughout the campaign. In addition to these questionable communications, here are a few other associates with ties to Moscow:

  • Michael Flynn: President Trump’s former National Security Advisor, was asked to resign just weeks after he was sworn in. His resignation came after it leaked that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with Russian officials, specifically Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, before President Trump’s inauguration. In these communications, Flynn discussed sanctions imposed by the Obama administration on Russia – while President Obama was still in office. Earlier last year, he stated that the U.S. needs to respect that “Russia has its own national security strategy, and we have to try to figure out: How do we combine the United States’ national security strategy along with Russia’s national security strategy,” raising troubling questions. In 2015, Flynn delivered remarks at a Moscow gala honoring RT, Russia’s propaganda arm, where he was seated next to Putin. Flynn was paid for this speech by RT, and did not correctly reportthe payment, thus concealing payment from a foreign government, and possibly violating the law in the meantime. Flynn continued to appear on RT as a foreign policy analyst. 
  • Jeff Sessions: Sessions, President Trump’s Attorney General, had two conversations with Ambassador Kislyak during the 2016 presidential election. However, during later confirmation hearings, he claimed that he “did not have communications with the Russians” when prompted by Senator Al Franken. Once reports of his meetings with Kislyak surfaced, Sessions recused himself from any investigation into Russia’s interference in our 2016 presidential election. Many officials are continuing to call for his resignation.
  • Rex Tillerson: Tillerson, President Trump’s Secretary of State, worked on energy projects in Russia for two decades during his career at Exxon. He has publicly described his “very close relationship” with President Putin and was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship in 2013, the highest state honor possible for a foreigner.
  • Jared Kushner: Along with Michael Flynn, Kushner met with Ambassador Kislyak during the Presidential transition. Kushner is President Trump’s son-in-law and current Senior Advisor.
  • Donald Trump, Jr.: Trump, Jr., President Trump’s son, met with Fabien Baussart, a leader of a Syrian opposition group backed by the Russian government, and others about how the U.S. could work with Russia on the Syrian conflict weeks before Donald Trump was elected President. He has also been quoted saying that his father’s businesses “see a lot of money pouring in from Russia”, and that he had visited Russia on business over a half-dozen times.
  • Paul Manafort: Manafort, who has business connections to Russia and Ukraine, was hired as Trump’s campaign manager in March 2016. He then resigned in August of the same year, after reports surfaced that suggested he had received $12.7 million from Victor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s pro-Russia former president. 
  • Carter Page: Page, hired as a foreign policy advisor to Trump’s 2016 campaign, was known to have deep ties to Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas company. In a speech delivered in Moscow in July 2016, he criticized American foreign policy as being hypocritical – remarks which ultimately led to his resignation from Trump’s campaign. Before joining the campaign, he was a businessman “of no particular renown” working in the Moscow branch of Merrill Lynch before creating his own consulting agency. Previously, Trump identified Page as one of a small group of advisors helping to craft his foreign policy platform during the campaign. However, President Trump’s staff now claims that “Carter Page is an individual who the [then] president-elect does not know.”
  • Tevfik Arif: Arif, who founded Bayrock, a real estate group known to have many deals with Trump, had a 17-year career in the Soviet Ministry of Commerce and Trade.
  • Roger Stone: Stone, a former advisor to Trump, had back channel conversations with Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, which is the organization that published the DNC leaks and Podesta emails during the 2016 elections.
  • Felix Sater: Sater, formerly a senior advisor to the Trump Organization, is a Russian-born Bayrock associate with extensive involvement in organized crime.
  • Alex Shnaider: Born in Russia, Shnaider co-financed a real estate project with Trump. Shnaider’s father-in-law, Boris J. Birshtein, was a close business associate of Sergei Mikhaylov, the head of one of the largest branches of the Russian mob.
In addition to these ties, it appears that Trump and his team are conscious of their guilt. In late February 2017, CNN reported that “the FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign.” This request may be a violation of procedures that limits communications between the White House and FBI on pending investigations.

Why is America’s leader and his team so close to Russia? This is either due to poor judgement or a deeper personal, financial, or political link between President Trump and Russia. It is not normal for the leader of our country to be so extensively tied to a foreign government that has sought to undermine democracies across the globe, and connections like these should be concerning to American citizens everywhere.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Red State God Bubble

The Forgotten Logic of "Existential Falsification"
Even when common sense is set aside, one must remain tolerant -- or else.

Any discussion of this topic might have been strained and academic in better times. However, we have just finished with a Presidential election which turned catastrophically damaging, and -- sooner or later -- we will really need to comprehend the scope of the terrible outcome, the "extra political influences" which became entangled in the election decision making process and the motivation of the players who made the results what they were.

Although the "news actors" toiling away at the industrial domestic media continue to endlessly banter forth "explanations" based on "who did what," there remains a solid, yet obscure, body of fact which can no longer be ignored or down played. All of those "suspiciously avoided" speculations intentionally neglect the inclusion of an obvious -- and certainly not hidden -- dark force which flows "below the radar" of analysts still intimidated with the prospect of "kissing the girl friend."

[MeanMesa has visited this issue in the past, but any further extension of that "polite silence" is no longer an option. You can read that MeanMesa article at this link: Has the Republican Party Destroyed Christianity?/MeanMesa]

While the tendency may be simply a mindless presumption that "everybody knows," it also may well be the painful modern vestige of far more intentional. arrogant violence and cruelty. American Christians have managed to permanently transform their prehistoric tribal mythology into a living, political and ideological monstrosity.

This is a long ALTERNET article, but it offers the reader a thought provoking opportunity to "clear the air." Have a look.

In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king. [Graphics MeanMesa]
By Forsetti's Justice / AlterNet  March 8, 2017

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: "Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete BS. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to draw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn’t East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don't understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of the choices they’ve made and the horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

I grew up in rural Christian white America. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area of the country with a higher percentage of Christians or whites. I spent most of the first 24 years of my life deeply embedded in this culture. I religiously (pun intended) attended their Christian services. I worked off and on on their rural farms. I dated their calico-skirted daughters. I camped, hunted and fished with their sons. I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop. I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epithets that were said more out of ignorance than animosity. I have watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure to a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes and a broken-down infrastructure over the past 30 years. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people. The problem is they don’t understand themselves or the reasons for their anger and frustration.

In deep-red America, the white Christian god is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, or change. When you have a belief system built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t that coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans. The problem is that rural America doesn’t understand itself and will never listen to anyone outside its bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views will be automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they will not even entertain the possibility that it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact that I’m the enemy because I’m an educated liberal.

At some point during the discussion, they will say, “That’s your education talking,” derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly believe this is a legitimate response, because to them education is not to be trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts. The fundamentalists I grew up around aren’t anti-education. They want their kids to know how to read and write. They are against quality, in-depth, broad, specialized education. Learning is only valued up to a certain point. Once it reaches the level where what you learn contradicts doctrine and fundamentalist arguments, it becomes dangerous. I watched a lot of my fellow students who were smart, stop their education the day they graduated high school. For most of the young ladies, getting married and having kids was more important than continuing their learning. For many of the young men, getting a college education was seen as unnecessary and a waste of time. For the few who did go to college, what they learned was still filtered through their fundamentalist belief systems. If something they were taught didn’t support a preconception, it would be ignored and forgotten the second it was no longer needed to pass an exam.

Knowing this about their belief system and their view of outside information that doesn’t support it, telling me that the problem is coastal elites not understanding them completely misses the point.

Another problem with rural Christian white Americans is they are racists. I’m not talking about white hood-wearing, cross-burning, lynching racists (though some are). I’m talking about people who deep down in their heart of hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Their white god made them in his image and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version, flawed and cursed.

The religion in which I was raised taught this. Even though they’ve backtracked on some of their more racist declarations, many still believe the original claims. Non-whites are the color they are because of their sins, or at least the sins of their ancestors. Blacks don’t have dark skin because of where they lived and evolution; they have dark skin because they are cursed. God cursed them for a reason. If god cursed them, treating them as equals would be going against god’s will. It is really easy to justify treating people differently if they are cursed by god and will never be as good as you no matter what they do because of some predetermined status.

Once you have this view, it is easy to lower the outside group’s standing and acceptable level of treatment. Again, there are varying levels of racism at play in rural Christian white America. I know people who are ardent racists. I know a lot more whose racism is much more subtle but nonetheless racist. It wouldn’t take sodium pentothal to get most of these people to admit they believe they are fundamentally better and superior to minorities. They are white supremacists who dress up in white dress shirts, ties and gingham dresses. They carry a bible and tell you, “everyone’s a child of god” but forget to mention that some of god’s children are more favored than others and skin tone is the criterion by which we know who is and isn’t at the top of god’s list of most favored children.

For us “coastal elites” who understand evolution, genetics and science, nothing we say to those in flyover country is going to be listened to because not only are we fighting against an anti-education belief system, we are arguing against god. You aren’t winning a battle of beliefs with these people if you are on one side of the argument and god is on the other. No degree of understanding this is going to suddenly make them less racist, more open to reason and facts. Telling “urban elites” they need to understand rural Americans isn’t going to lead to a damn thing because it misses the causes of the problem.

Because rural Christian white Americans will not listen to educated arguments, supported by facts that go against their fundamentalist belief systems from “outsiders,” any change must come from within. Internal change in these systems does happen, but it happens infrequently and always lags far behind reality. This is why they fear change so much. They aren’t used to it. Of course, it really doesn’t matter whether they like it or not, it, like evolution and climate change even though they don’t believe it, it is going to happen whether they believe in it or not.

Another major problem with closed-off fundamentalist belief systems is they are very susceptible to propaganda. All belief systems are to some extent, but fundamentalist systems even more so because there are no checks and balances. If bad information gets in, it doesn’t get out and because there are no internal mechanisms to guard against it, it usually ends up very damaging to the whole. A closed-off belief system is like spinal fluid—it is great as long as nothing infectious gets into it. If bacteria gets into your spinal fluid, it causes unbelievable damage because there are no white blood cells to fend off invaders and protect the system. Without the protective services of white blood cells in the spinal column, infection spreads like wildfire and does significant damage in a short period of time. Once inside the closed-off spinal system, bacteria are free to destroy whatever they want.

The same is true with closed-off belief systems. Without built-in protective functions like critical analysis, self-reflection, openness to counter-evidence, and willingness to re-evaluate any and all beliefs, bad information in a closed-off system ends up doing massive damage in a short period of time. What has happened to too many fundamentalist belief systems is damaging information has been allowed in from people who have been granted “expert status.” If someone is allowed into a closed-off system and their information is deemed acceptable, anything they say will be readily accepted and become gospel.

Rural Christian white Americans have let anti-intellectual, anti-science, bigoted racists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, the Stepford wives of Fox, and every evangelical preacher on television into their systems because these people tell them what they want to hear and because they sell themselves as being like them. The truth is none of these people give a rat’s ass about rural Christian white Americans except how they can exploit them for attention and money. None of them have anything in common with the people who have let them into their belief systems with the exception that they are white and they speak the language of white superiority.

Gays being allowed to marry are a threat. Blacks protesting the killing of their unarmed friends and family are a threat. Hispanics doing the cheap labor on their farms are somehow viewed a threat. The black president is a threat. Two billion Muslims are a threat. The Chinese are a threat. Women wanting to be autonomous are a threat. The college educated are a threat. Godless scientists are a threat. Everyone who isn’t just like them has been sold to them as a threat and they’ve bought it hook, line and grifting sinker. Since there are no self-regulating mechanisms in their belief systems, these threats only grow over time. Since facts and reality don’t matter, nothing you say to them will alter their beliefs. "President Obama was born in Kenya, is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood who hates white Americans and is going to take away their guns." I feel ridiculous even writing this, it is so absurd, but it is gospel across large swaths of rural America. Are rural Christian white Americans scared? Damn right they are. Are their fears rational and justified? Hell no. The problem isn’t understanding their fears. The problem is how to assuage fears based on lies in closed-off fundamentalist belief systems that don’t have the necessary tools for properly evaluating the fears.

I don’t have a good answer to this question. When a child has an irrational fear, you can deal with it because they trust you and are open to possibilities. When someone doesn’t trust you and isn’t open to anything not already accepted as true in their belief system, there really isn’t much, if anything, you can do. This is why I think the idea that "Democrats have to understand and find common ground with rural America," is misguided and a complete waste of time. When a 2,700-year-old book that was written by uneducated, pre-scientific people, subject to translation innumerable times, and edited with political and economic pressures from popes and kings, is given higher intellectual authority than facts arrived at from a rigorous, self-critical, constantly re-evaluating system that can and does correct mistakes, no amount of understanding, respect or evidence is going to change their minds and assuage their fears.

Do you know what does change the beliefs of fundamentalists, sometimes? When something becomes personal. Many a fundamentalist has changed his mind about the LGBT community once his loved ones started coming out of the closet. Many have not. But those who did, did so because their personal experience came into direct conflict with what they believe.

My father is a good example of this. For years I had long, heated discussions with him about gay rights. Being the good religious fundamentalist he is, he could not even entertain the possibility he was wrong. The church said it was wrong, so therefore it was wrong. No questions asked. No analysis needed. This changed when one of his adored stepchildren came out of the closet. He didn’t do a complete 180. He has a view that tries to accept gay rights while at the same time viewing being gay as a mortal sin because his need to have his belief system be right outweighs everything else.

This isn’t uncommon. Deeply held beliefs are usually only altered, replaced under catastrophic circumstances that are personal. This belief system alteration works both ways. I know diehard, open-minded progressives who became ardent fundamentalists due to a traumatic event in their lives. A good example of this is the comedian Dennis Miller. I’ve seen Miller in concert four different times during the 1990s. His humor was complex, riddled with references and leaned pretty left on almost all issues. Then 9/11 happened. For whatever reasons, the trauma of 9/11 caused a seismic shift in Miller’s belief system. Now he is a mainstay on conservative talk radio. His humor was replaced with anger and frustration. 9/11 changed his belief system because it was a catastrophic event that was personal to him.

The catastrophe of the Great Depression along with FDR's progressive remedies helped create a generation of Democrats out of previously diehard Republicans. People who had up until that point believed only the free market could help the economy, not the government, changed their minds when the brutal reality of the Great Depression affected them directly and personally.

I thought the financial crisis in 2008 would have a similar, though lesser impact on many Republicans. It didn’t. The systems that were put in place after the Great Recession to deal with economic crises, the quick, smart response by Congress and the administration helped turn what could have been a catastrophic event into merely a really bad one. People suffered, but they didn’t suffer enough to become open to questioning their deeply held beliefs. Because this questioning didn’t take place, the Great Recession didn’t lead to any meaningful political shifts away from poorly regulated markets, supply side economics or how to respond to a financial crisis. This is why, even though rural Christian white Americans were hit hard by the Great Recession, they not only didn’t blame the political party they’ve aligned themselves with for years, they rewarded them two years later by voting them into a record number of state legislatures and taking over the U.S. House.

Of course, it didn’t help matters that there were scapegoats available toward whom they could direct their fears, anger and white supremacy. A significant number of rural Americans believe President Obama was in charge when the financial crisis started. An even higher number believe the mortgage crisis was the result of the government forcing banks to give loans to unqualified minorities. It doesn’t matter how untrue both of these things are, they are gospel in rural America. Why reevaluate your beliefs and voting patterns when scapegoats are available?

How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only god can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient to men by god’s command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not threatening to people who don’t live around minorities and have never interacted with them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they’ve voted for such policies for decades? I don’t think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic, yet a large swath of the South believed—and still believes—they were right and had the moral high ground. They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.

“Rural white America needs to be better understood,” is not one of the dots. “Rural white America needs to be better understood,” is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as too upsetting, too mean, too arrogant, too elite, too snobbish. Pointing out that Aunt Bea’s views of Mexicans, blacks and gays is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about Aunt Bea's views. It’s the classic, “You’re a racist for calling me a racist,” ploy.

I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they’ve earned, but the key point here is “earned.” I’ll gladly sit down with Aunt Bea and have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about "the gays, the blacks and the illegals," and I'll do so without calling her a bigot and a racist. But this doesn’t mean she isn’t a bigot and a racist, and if I’m asked to describe her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. Just because the media, pundits on all sides and some Democratic leaders don’t want to call the actions of many rural white Christian Americans racist and bigoted doesn’t make them not so.

Avoiding the obvious only prolongs getting the necessary treatment. America has always had a race problem. The country was built on racism and bigotry. This didn’t miraculously go away in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It didn’t go away with the election of Barack Obama. If anything, these events pulled back the curtain exposing the dark, racist underbelly of America that white America likes to pretend doesn’t exist because we are the reason it exists. From the white nationalists to the white suburban soccer moms who voted for Donald Trump, to the far-left progressives who didn’t vote at all, racism exists and has once again been legitimized and normalized by white America.

Here are the honest truths that rural Christian white Americans don’t want to accept; until they accept these truths, nothing is going to change:

 1. Their economic situation is largely the result of voting for supply-side economic policies that have been the largest redistribution of wealth from the bottom/middle to the top in U.S. history.

 2. Immigrants haven’t taken their jobs. If all immigrants, legal or otherwise, were removed from the U.S., our economy would come to a screeching halt and food prices would soar.

 3. Immigrants are not responsible for companies moving their plants overseas. The almost exclusively white business owners are responsible, because they care more about their shareholders (who are also mostly white) than about American workers.

 4. No one is coming for their guns. All that has been proposed during the entire Obama administration is having better background checks.

 5. Gay people getting married is not a threat to their freedom to believe in whatever white god they want to. No one is going to make their church marry gays, have a gay pastor or accept gays for membership.

 6. Women having access to birth control doesn’t affect their lives either, especially women they complain about being teenage single mothers.

 7. Blacks are not “lazy moochers living off their hard-earned tax dollars” any more than many of their fellow rural neighbors. People in need are people in need. People who can’t find jobs because of their circumstances, a changing economy or outsourcing overseas belong to all races.

 8. They get a tremendous amount of help from the government they complain does nothing for them. From the roads and utility grids they use to farm subsidies, crop insurance and commodities protections, they benefit greatly from government assistance. The Farm Bill is one of the largest financial expenditures by the U.S. government. Without government assistance, their lives would be considerably worse.

 9. They get the largest share of Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.   They complain about globalization, yet line up like everyone else to get the latest Apple products. They have no problem buying foreign-made guns, scopes and hunting equipment.

10. They don’t think twice about driving trucks whose engines were made in Canada, tires made in Japan, radios made in Korea, and computer parts made in Malaysia.

11. They use illicit drugs as much as any other group. But when other people do it is a “moral failing” and they should be severely punished, legally. When they do it, it is a “health crisis” that needs sympathy and attention.

12. When jobs dry up for whatever reason, they refuse to relocate but lecture the poor in places like Flint for staying in failing towns.

13. They are quick to judge minorities for being “welfare moochers,” but don’t think twice about cashing their welfare checks every month.

14. They complain about coastal liberals, but taxes from California and New York cover their farm subsidies, help maintain their highways and keep the hospitals in their sparsely populated rural areas open for business.

15. They complain about “the little man being run out of business,” and then turn around and shop at big-box stores.

16. They make sure outsiders are not welcome, deny businesses permits to build, then complain about businesses, plants opening up in less rural areas.

17. Government has not done enough to help them in many cases, but their local and state governments are almost completely Republican and so are their representatives and senators. Instead of holding them accountable, they vote them into office over and over and over again.

All the economic policies and ideas that could help rural America belong to the Democratic Party: raising the minimum wage, strengthening unions, spending on infrastructure, renewable energy growth, slowing down the damage done by climate change, and healthcare reform. All of these and more would really help a lot of rural white Americans.

What I understand is that rural Christian white Americans are entrenched in fundamentalist belief systems; don’t trust people outside their tribe; have been force-fed a diet of misinformation and lies for decades; are unwilling to understand their own situations; and truly believe whites are superior to all races. No amount of understanding is going to change these things or what they believe. No amount of niceties will get them to be introspective. No economic policy put forth by someone outside their tribe is going to be listened to no matter how beneficial it would be for them. I understand rural Christian white America all too well. I understand their fears are based on myths and lies. I understand they feel left behind by a world they don’t understand and don’t really care to. They are willing to vote against their own interests if they can be convinced it will make sure minorities are harmed more. Their Christian beliefs and morals are only extended to fellow white Christians. They are the problem with progress and always will be, because their belief systems are constructed against it.

The problem isn’t a lack of understanding by coastal elites. The problem is a lack of understanding of why rural Christian white America believes, votes, behaves the ways it does by rural Christian white America.