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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

To pro Israel voters: I get it

I understand why you resent President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. True, Obama has given Israel billions in military aid, protected Israel in the United Nations, and validated the country’s founding narrative. But he has been prickly in his approach to its leaders, fanatic in his opposition to settlements and unable to understand that Israelis respond better to love-love than tough love. I disagree when you call either of them “anti-Israel”: I reserve that term for people like Max “It’s a Mitzva” Blumenthal and Palestinian delegitimizers.

Still, Obama – and Clinton – often seem far angrier about housing starts by civilians in Israel than lives ended violently by terrorists in Israel, Syria and elsewhere.

And yes, I fear that president Hillary Clinton will come in with the same blame-Israel-first, settlement obsessed, tired peace processors who have failed for 20 years. I worry about the lurking influence of George Soros and Sidney Blumenthal. Moreover, I am distressed that the Democratic Party, while still overwhelmingly pro-Israel, has become the home to the radical anti-Israel forces in America – and that no Democrat of stature has had the nerve to confront them, saying: “Get out! Your anti-Zionism which masks antisemitism does not belong in my party.”

Still, I start with some assumptions before voting.

First, a patriot shouldn’t vote based on a single issue but on an overall assessment of the candidate’s policy and ideology. Second, character counts. The president combines the role of king (or queen) and prime minister; we need a good role model in the office. And third, regarding Israel, the old saying is correct: if America has the sniffles Israel catches a cold, or, more positively, what’s good for America is good for Israel.

Beyond Obama’s Israel churlishness, he has been disastrous for Israel because his farcical foreign policy has weakened America, the West and Israel. The weakness he broadcasts, his cowardice and incompetence regarding China, Syria, Islamic State, Iran and Russia have undermined Israel’s strategic strength as America’s loyal friend, more than any anti-housing or anti-Netanyahu temper tantrums.

Given those understandings, here are three groups of questions you should ask yourself before voting for Donald Trump. First, what policies actually will define this man with no governing experience, who contradicts himself mid-sentence, who treats facts and principles like silly putty to twist to satisfy the needs of the moment? He’s a twice-divorced darling of the Evangelicals, someone who was pro-choice until it was convenient to be pro-life, an unpredictable, showboating real estate gambler who has won big and lost big.

Every campaign appearance of his has been drive-by performance art suited to the age of bluster and Twitter, lacking thoughtful analysis or anchoring principles.

And how do you even know this self-absorbed deal-maker won’t decide he knows how to impose the right solution on the Israelis and the Palestinians? Second, and related, do you think this impulsive, egotistical narcissist has the temperament to be the most powerful person in the world and the character to represent an America that is now 78 percent white and 50% female? My issue is not with the offensive private banter he – and Bill Clinton and many other boors – indulge in. No, I fear his public statements. How could a president Trump earn respect from Mexican-Americans, from Muslim-Americans, from immigrants, from the disabled, when he has denigrated them so? Trump has lowered the rhetorical bar in American politics, pitted groups against others, stirring a nastiness that appalls and terrifies.

Obama’s election in 2008 offered a healing moment, allowing all Americans, black and white, Republican and Democrat, to appreciate that the country that once enslaved blacks could elect one president; a Trump election victory would be a traumatic moment demonstrating that ugliness, not character, counts – and inviting boorish imitators in future campaigns.

Finally, Hillary Clinton, for all her flaws, is a part of the system, for all its flaws. I understand the desire to shake things up but aren’t the stakes too high to fire so blindly? How can Trump translate his bluff and bluster into effective strategies against America’s enemies? In the debates, when pressed, he only repeats himself and uses words like “tremendous” – that’s posturing, not a strategy.

Last week, I moderated a debate between a Trump representative and a Clinton representative at the Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem. During the Q&A, these smart, idealistic Israeli high school students asked hard-hitting questions about both candidates which left me feeling depressed about both choices. But two questions, about Trump’s “racism” and ugly rhetoric, were truly devastating. I tried to be a fair moderator, asking the kinds of normal questions one asks about presidential candidates’ biographies and stands. I realized that, especially since Trump’s nomination, we have normalized his monstrosities, we have mainstreamed his deviance.

An Israeli newspaper or column shouldn’t endorse one candidate or another, but those of us who love America and Israel, who champion democratic and Jewish values, must point out just how outrageous Trump’s behavior has been – and how dangerous it could be in the Oval Office. Good luck to us all in choosing.

The author, professor of history at McGill University, is the author of The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s, published by St. Martin’s Press. His next book will update Arthur Hertzberg’s The Zionist Idea. Follow on Twitter @GilTroy.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Neuroscientist Explains Why Some People support Trump

Mayor Giuliani: "Donald don't pay No taxes Because he's smart, lots of rich people don't pay taxes"

Senator John McCain has a simple explanation for trump's unwavering support. “What he did was he fired up the crazies.”

While the former Republican presidential nominee may be on to something, he doesn’t exactly provide a very satisfying scientific explanation.  So how exactly are Trump loyalists psychologically or neurologically different from everyone else? What is going on in their brains that makes them so blindly devoted?

The Dunning-Kruger Effect:
Some believe that many of those who support Donald Trump do so because 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 seemingly obvious solution would be to try to reach those people through political ads, expert opinions, and logical arguments that educate with facts. Except none of those things seem to be swaying any Trump supporters from his side, despite great efforts to deliver this information to them directly.

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. This 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.” Essentially, they’re not smart enough to realize they’re dumb.

And if one is under the illusion that they have sufficient or even superior knowledge, then they have no reason to defer to anyone else’s judgment. This helps explain why even nonpartisan experts — like military generals and Independent former Mayor of New York/billionaire CEO Michael Bloomberg — as well as some respected Republican politicians, don’t seem to be able to say anything that can change the minds of loyal Trump followers.

Out of immense frustration, some of us may feel the urge to shake a Trump supporter and say, “Hey! Don’t you realize that he’s an idiot?!” No. They don’t. That may be hard to fathom, but that’s the nature of the Dunning-Kruger effect — one’s ignorance is completely invisible to them.

Hypersensitivity 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 classic 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.

So how does this help explain the unbridled loyalty of Trump supporters? 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 Mexican 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 remarks that would normally be seen as highly offensive.

Terror Management Theory
A well-supported theory from social psychology, called Terror Management Theory, explains why Trump’s fear mongering is doubly effective.

The theory is based on the fact that humans have a unique awareness of their own mortality. The inevitably of one’s death creates existential terror and anxiety that is always residing below the surface. In order to manage this terror, humans adopt cultural worldviews — like religions, political ideologies, and national identities — that act as a buffer by instilling life with meaning and value.

Terror Management Theory predicts that when people are reminded of their own mortality, which happens with fear mongering, they will more strongly defend those who share their worldviews and national or ethnic identity, and act out more aggressively towards those who do not. Hundreds of studies have confirmed this hypothesis, and some have specifically shown that triggering thoughts of death tends to shift people towards the right.

Not only do death reminders increase nationalism, they influence actual voting habits in favor of more conservative presidential candidates. And more disturbingly, in a study with American students, scientists found that making mortality salient increased support for extreme military interventions by American forces that could kill thousands of civilians overseas. Interestingly, the effect was present only in conservatives, which can likely be attributed to their heightened fear response.

By constantly emphasizing existential threat, Trump creates a psychological condition that makes the brain respond positively rather than negatively to bigoted statements and divisive rhetoric. Liberals and Independents who have been puzzled over why Trump hasn’t lost supporters after such highly offensive comments need look no further than Terror Management Theory.

High Attentional Engagement
According to a recent 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 messages clearly resonate at a visceral level.

Essentially, the loyalty of Trump supporters may in part be explained by America’s addiction with entertainment and reality TV. To some, it doesn’t matter what Trump actually says because he’s so amusing to watch. With 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.

Of course these explanations do not apply to all Trump supporters. In fact, some are likely intelligent people who know better, but are supporting Trump to be rebellious or to introduce chaos into the system. They may have such distaste for the establishment and Hillary Clinton that their vote for Trump is a symbolic middle finger directed at Washington.

So what can we do to potentially change the minds of Trump loyalists before voting day in November? As a cognitive neuroscientist, it grieves me to say that there may be nothing we can do. The overwhelming majority of these people may be beyond reach, at least in the short term. The best we can do is to motivate everyone else to get out to the booths and check the box that doesn’t belong to a narcissistic nationalist who has the potential to damage the nation beyond repair.
By Bobby Azarian

Bobby Azarian is a neuroscientist affiliated with George Mason University and a science writer. His research has been published in journals such as Cognition & Emotion and Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, and he has written for The New York Times, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Slate, The Daily Beast, and The Huffington Post. He also runs the website Science Is Sexy. Follow him @BobbyAzarian.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ex-Convicts Shot In Tulsa and N.Carolina had long History of Violent Crimes

Terence Crutcher was shot and killed on Sept. 16 in an officer-involved shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Since then, the media have tried to push a false narrative that Crutcher had his hands up when he was shot — but video evidence, as it often does in these cases, disproved the media’s theory.

There’s also more information that the mainstream media conveniently left out.

Crutcher had a hefty criminal record before he was shot. In fact, he had just been released in May after nine years in prison for drug trafficking, He also had a history of resisting arrest. Behold the rap sheet:

1996 Shooting with intent to kill — Dismissed
2001 Petit larceny — Conviction
2004 Driving while suspended — Conviction
2005 Driving while suspended, resisting officer — Conviction
2006 Driving while suspended — Conviction
Driving with open container — Dismissed
2006 Trafficking in illegal drugs — Conviction. (He was also charged in that incident with assault on a police officer and resisting, but that was dismissed.)
2011 Public intoxication (while in prison for drug trafficking) — Conviction
2012 Public intoxication — Conviction
Obstructing an officer — Conviction
2013 DUI — Conviction
Resisting officer — Conviction
Open Container — Conviction
Failure to wear seatbelt — Conviction
Speeding — Conviction

But even all of that was not all.

Take a look at the numerous open warrants for Crutcher. There were 30 warrants active at the time of his death.

They included things like DUI, resisting, drug trafficking and public intoxication.

The media are actively pushing the narrative that Crutcher had his hands up and that the police shot him anyway.

We’ve heard this lie peddled by the media before, in the Michael Brown case, and clearly the obtuse media didn’t learn a thing.
Now, you watch that video and listen to the commentary. Did it look to you like Crutcher was following commands? You can hear an officer say that Crutcher was “still walking” and that he wasn’t “following commands.” Another officer said that he “could be on something.”

As you can see, Crutcher was not shot with his hands up. He was clearly flouting officer orders, and at the time of his shooting he lowered his right hand toward his waistband.

Oh, and by the way, the media have run with the story that Crutcher was unarmed, but didn’t seem too interested in the PCP that was found in his car and that the Tulsa Police Department officer who shot Crutcher, Betty Shelby, was trained to spot PCP abuse, according to Bearing Arms.

In any of these cases, the legal system should be given time to do its job, but the media have decided to run false narratives that fit their agenda without all the facts and, in some cases, despite the facts.

As you can see above, there’s clearly more to the story.

Keith Scott is was also an Ex-Con with a violent criminal past.

Report: Charlotte’s Keith Scott Had History of Violence Including Arrest for Shooting At Police…

According to a story in The Christian Times, who they claim verified with The Charlotte Observer, Keith Lamont Scott had a two decades long history of gun violence, including an arrest/conviction for shooting at police officers in Texas.   The New York Times has previously reported on his troubled past but not the 2005 shooting at police incident:
(Via NYT) […] According to court records, Mr. Scott was born in South Carolina, was about six feet tall and weighed 230 to 250 pounds. While living in South Carolina in the 1990s, he was charged with a number of offenses including check fraud, aggravated assault and carrying a concealed weapon. Later, he moved to Texas where he shot and wounded a man in San Antonio in 2002, for which he was convicted and sentenced, in 2005, to seven years in prison. He was released in 2011. (link)
The Charlotte Observer also reported on Scott’s extensive criminal career –SEE HERE– and we did independently identify a criminal record in Texas – SEE HERE – which aligns with all of these reports.
nc-riot-19-keith-scott(Via Christian Times) Keith Scott had a long police record that included gun violations. Christian Times Newspaper has learned,and it has been confirmed by the Charlotte Observer, that Scott was convicted in April 2004 of a misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon charge in Mecklenburg County, and other charges were dismissed: including felony assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, assault on a female, and communicating threats.  Scott was also charged with assault with intent to kill in 1995.  
The most shocking find in Scott’s record, however, is what occurred in Bexar County, Texas in 2005.  In March of that year, Scott was sentenced to 15 months in state prison for evading arrest, and in July, he was consecutively sentenced to seven years on a conviction of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Sources are now coming forward and alleging that those two separate convictions are in fact related, and they both have to do with a confrontation between Scott and Bexar County Police in early 2005.
One source, who asked CTN to refrain from using her name to protect her identity, told reporters that Scott fired a handgun at San Antonio police officers when they attempted to detain him in February 2005 after noticing that he was driving erratically.  (Scott had a history of drunk driving, according to court records).
Allegedly, as the officers approached Scott’s black Ford sedan, he fired two rounds from the driver’s seat and then sped away.  Neither of the officers was hit, and they proceeded to give chase and detain Scott several blocks away.
While Scott did leave the gun in his passenger’s seat when he attempted to run on-foot, he did, according to our source, assault one officer by punching him in the face.
Scott was released from Texas state prison in 2011. In April 2015 in Gaston County Court, Scott was found guilty of driving while intoxicated.
In 1992, Scott was charged in Charleston County, S.C., with several different crimes on different dates, including carrying a concealed weapon (not a gun), simple assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He pleaded guilty to all charges.
Scott also was charged with aggravated assault in 1992 and assault with intent to kill in 1995. Both charges were reduced, but the disposition of the cases is unclear.
According to Bexar County, Texas, records, Scott was sentenced in March 2005 to 15 months in a state jail for evading arrest. In July of that year, records show, he was sentenced to seven years in prison on a conviction of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman said Scott completed his sentence and was released from prison in 2011.  (more)
An initial sentence of 15 months (March 2005) that gained an additional sentence of 7 more years (July 2005), that took until 2011 to complete, definitely aligns with a much more serious set of charges.
A long history of gun violence – HERE and HERE – including shooting at police?
If accurate, those reports when combined with the eye witness who took pictures of the handgun dropped by Keith Scott when shot by police officers (see above and below), the account of the Charlotte police department appears to be validated..


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why Does The Left Hate Israel?

Respectable opinion knows which side wears the black hats in this conflict.
What is it about Israel that arouses so much anger? Is it because it’s a theocratic state, committed to destroying its neighbour, which uses civilians as human shields, tortures and kills its political opponents, persecutes homosexuals, and holds freedom of speech and the rule of law in contempt?

No, hang on, that’s Hamas. No matter how appallingly they treat their own people and how many innocents they blow up, shoot or kidnap, nothing can damage their image in the left's eye.
 Israel can’t even protect its own people without drawing criticism. Israel is like the older brother who is expected to know better. His younger siblings can run riot, because they’re held to different standards, but big bro should sit there quietly, no matter how many times he takes a kicking.

Not that the media does much reporting on the kicking Israel receives. It would much rather lament the significantly higher Palestinian losses, as if they automatically put Israel in the wrong and let Hamas off the hook for striking the first blow. Israel, it seems, should show restraint that no one would realistically expect of Hamas if it possessed the same military might. The relativists who see no moral difference between a liberal democracy and a terrorist regime have no problem expecting the two sides to behave differently.

One thing’s for sure, if it was just another flyblown Islamic hellhole, Israel would get a much easier ride on the world stage. More blood is typically shed each year in Somalia, Pakistan and Nigeria than in Gaza, but outrage at those horrors pales beside the indignation Israel’s actions provoke. Heads are buried, standards doubled and blind eyes turned to provide an excuse for bashing the country everybody loves to hate.

So is this just about anti-Semitism? It is certainly rife in the Arab world, and long-standing critics of Israel probably pick up a little Jew-hatred along the way. But I don’t think it’s at the heart of Western, liberal antipathy. If anti-Semitism were to blame, it would be directed at Israel wherever it was in the world. Yet it’s hard to imagine it having as much trouble with its neighbours, or attracting as much hatred, if it were a European state. The chances are it would be another Switzerland, and would arouse the same amount of ill-feeling.

The fact is that when it comes to Israel, nobody seems to be interested in the truth. No one cares that it gave up the lands it seized during the Yom Kippur War, in the hope of securing peace. Nor that it gifted the Palestinians 3,000 greenhouses, opened border crossings and encouraged trade. Nor that the Gazans responded by destroying the greenhouses and electing a government committed to eradicating the Jews, which has fired thousands of rockets into Israel, and digs tunnels under Israeli territory from which to launch surprise attacks.

No one cares that Israel gives Gazans advance warning of raids, while Hamas deliberately targets Israeli civilians. Nor that Hamas places its weapons in schools, mosques, hospitals and private homes, to maximise the chance of civilian casualties. Nor that Israel arrested those guilty of murdering a Palestinian youth, and offered reparations to the victim’s family, while Hamas did nothing to capture or punish the killers of three Israeli teenagers. Nor that no Israeli soldiers are actually based in Gaza, despite talk of an ‘occupying force’ by Hamas apologists

No one takes these facts into account because they are unhelpful to the narrative propagated by the pro-Palestinian Left – namely, that this is a battle between a strong, macho oppressor and a weak, downtrodden underdog, which leftists can feel virtuous about supporting.

Israel is a distillation of everything leftists hate about Western nations: capitalist, conservative and fiercely patriotic. It is a projection of their own prejudices about the supposed injustices of societies that cherish the ‘wrong’ values and the ‘wrong’ people. They don’t share the Palestinians’ spiritual beliefs, but they share a common enemy. Indeed, if Israel was removed from the equation, its critics would have little good to say about Gaza or Hamas. Theirs is a marriage of convenience.

The Left’s use of the Israeli-Arab situation as a platform for moral preening, and as a metaphor for its own hang-ups, blinds it to the evils of Hamas and the rest of the Muslim Brotherhood. It seems oblivious to the ideological conflict between Islamic fundamentalists and Western progressives, because it persists in regarding the former as pet victims of the latter. It may discover the hard way that it is giving comfort to an enemy that makes no distinction between liberal hand-wringers and any other infidels.                  

By Russell Taylor

The Left Hate Israel Because It Is Everything They Despise: Capitalist, Conservative and Patriotic

Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel

Never Again!

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