Will Ireland Leave the European Union Next?

There is increasing dissatisfaction with the European Union government in Brussels among member states.  Its no secret that Italy, Greece, and a large segment of the population of France and Germany are fed up with the European Union telling them how to run their own countries. The latest government to complain about the alleged highhandedness of the European Union is that of Ireland.

As you have probably read, the European Commission has found that Ireland has been collecting far too few taxes from Apple, and it has ordered the Irish government to collect 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in back taxes from the company. The Irish government does not want the money and has vowed to fight the European Commission in court.

You would think that any government would be delighted at this large tax windfall, but it is not. The European Commission has accused Ireland of giving Apple preferential tax treatment, which appears to be true. It did so to create jobs. The Irish government feels that it has a sovereign right to set its own tax policy and that the European Union should keep its nose out of the matter. The Irish government also fears that if it collects the back taxes from Apple, its action will have a chilling effect on other companies that might want to locate in Ireland and provide good jobs for Irish men and women.

There is more at stake than this particular tax matter. The Irish government fears that it if gives in on this case, it may entirely lose its sovereignty over its own tax policy to Brussels. The feeling is so strong that if Ireland loses its appeal in court and must submit its tax policy to European Union oversight, some Irish politicians believe that Ireland should follow Britain out of the European Union.

What will we call it? Brexit and Grexit roll naturally off the tongue. Irxit does not.

Racism & Conservatism Linked to Lower IQ

It is no secret that racists tend to be less educated than non-racists, although there are some notable exceptions. Trump supporters, for example, tend to be lesser-educated whites, and it is difficult to argue that Donald Trump does not appeal to white racist instincts.

A study published in Psychological Science reveals that racist and social conservatives also tend to have lower IQs than the population in general. In other words, the lower a person’s cognitive ability, the more likely that person is to be prejudiced and to harbor racist and socially conservative opinions.

 The study was conducted in the United Kingdom and “found that lower general intelligence in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology.” A related study conducted in the USA found that low IQs had “a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact.” Translated into simpler language, those who scored lower on intelligence tests in childhood had a propensity to develop prejudices as adults against people who were not like them. They also tended to be more attracted to authoritarian figures like Donald Trump.

Of course, whether or not IQ is a genuine measure of intelligence is open for debate. My IQ tests in the upper one percent of the US population, and yet I am often in awe at the mental power of people who strike me as being much more intelligent than I am. I think my IQ score grossly overstates my actual intelligence.

The theory behind the link between low IQ and prejudice is that prejudice simplifies thinking to bring it within reach of the cognitively-deficient brain. It is much easier to understand the world if a person divides it into “us” versus “them.” Dealing with the true complexities of human behavior requires more brain power.

Of course, we should be careful about classifying all conservatives as dumb. Basically the studies deal with people who have conservative ideas of group identity, but there are other types of conservatism. If I tend to identify with people of my skin color, educational level, and political opinions, my cognitive abilities may be below average. If I am intellectually curious and interested in other cultures, languages, and well-reasoned political views, my brain has to work at a higher level.

What about economic conservatives? I could find no study that showed a link between intelligence and economic ideology, except that less intelligent people are more likely to blindly to follow such an ideology and be less open to opposing theories. Obviously, some conservative economists are highly intelligent. On the other hand, very few racists come across as intelligent.

Before you go, I hope you’ll take a look at one or more of the books I have written by checking on the book cover in the left sidebar of this blog.

Trump Tones Down Racism to Appeal to Educated Whites

Donald Trump has publicly invited African-Americans to vote for him, and in a meeting with prominent Hispanics last week, he hinted that he might be willing to soften his stand on Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and those people who are in the country illegally. Left unsaid is some sort of apology to Muslim-Americans for his insults to them.

Does Donald Trump believe that his hints at a possible future softer stance toward Hispanics and Blacks is going to win him their votes? Of course not. He has so alienated these groups that there is no possibility of persuading them to vote for him. His support among Hispanics according to polls is less than 20 percent, and among African-Americans, it is less than one percent. I haven’t seen any polling on Muslim-Americans, but you can bet that almost any Muslim citizen of the United States who votes in November will vote to keep Donald Trump for being elected president.

 No, Donald Trump’s target audience for his mildly conciliatory remarks consists of educated white Republicans, a group that can normally be counted on to vote for the Republican presidential contender but many of whose members have been put off this election cycle by Donald Trump’s overtly racist remarks. If you are a college-educated Republican, you may live in a white suburb or gated community surrounded by people who look and think as you do, in other words, you may be subtly racist, but you cannot allow yourself to be seen supporting someone who is openly racist.

Donald Trump’s advisers, to whom he has finally started paying some attention, are not proposing that all of us of various races and religions happily live side by side the way we do here in the older Phoenix neighborhoods. All they are proposing is that Donald Trump stop making overtly racist remarks. As far as reconciling with the racial, ethnic, and religious groups that he has denigrated, Donald Trump does not have to do that. All that he has to do is hint that he might be open to such a reconciliation to ease the conscience of educated white Republicans and permit them to mark their ballots for Donald Trump in November.

You may have noticed that Donald Trump has made his recent appeals to Blacks and Hispanics in campaign appearances in lily-white communities. If he wanted to appeal to Black and Hispanic voters, he could do so in Detroit, Chicago, or New Orleans. But no, his audience consists of white voters to whom he wants to send the message, “You can vote for me with a clean conscience. I am not the racist you once believed me to be,” all the while quietly remaining the same old racist as always.

Educated white Republicans as a group have nothing against racism in a presidential campaign, it just has to be subtle enough that they can pretend it is not there. Mitt Romney claimed repeatedly during his campaign that President Obama was taking benefits away from the elderly and putting the savings into welfare. “Welfare recipients” is a code phrase among racist-leaning people for Blacks and Hispanics, and “the elderly” are, of course, the white elderly. Mitt Romney won the white vote including the college-educated Republican vote, although enough non-whites saw through his racist appeal to cost him the election.

It is no secret that the Republican party is mainly a party of white people, and about one-fourth of those white Republicans hold college degrees. This is a sizable group of voters to lose, a group that in the past has voted overwhelmingly for the Republican presidential candidate. It is not a large enough group to swing the election in Trump’s favor in most states, but if Donald Trump, or rather his advisers, can persuade enough educated white Republicans to vote for their party’s nominee, perhaps his defeat will not be as ignominious as it might otherwise have been.

Before you leave, please take a look at one of the books I have for sale on Amazon. You can do so by clicking on the book’s cover image in the left sidebar. Kindle unlimited subscribers can read Running for President and A Senior Citizen Walks the Camino de Santiago for free. Running for President is available in both Kindle and paperback editions.

Is Trump Going Soft on Immigration?

There are indications that Donald Trump may be preparing a drastic change in his immigration policy. As almost everyone has heard, Trump has called illegal border crossers  “rapists” and “criminals.” If elected, he has promised to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

The Spanish-language TV network Univisión reports that Donald Trump may be planning an about face. He had a meeting with prominent Hispanics yesterday, August 20, during which he reportedly suggested that he will present a plan this week to regularize the situation of millions of people who are in the United States illegally. The plan supposedly would not give these people a path to US citizenship but would allow them to remain in this country without fear of deportation.

The Trump campaign itself has refused to give any details about the proposed new immigration plan, but it has also not denied that such a plan is in the works.

Most surveys put Donald Trump’s support among likely Hispanic voters at around 20 percent and that of African-Americans at close to zero percent. No candidate in recent history has managed to be elected president with such low support among Hispanic voters, and no candidate has ever had such low support among African-Americans.

The question is, will Donald Trump’s new plan attract enough minority votes to elect him president? No matter how good the plan is, that is unlikely. The negative opinion of Donald Trump among ethnic minorities is very firmly entrenched. Perhaps the goal is to swing the votes of educated white voters who normally vote for the Republican candidate but are repulsed by Donald Trump’s racist and jingoistic remarks.

Trump’s reported change in immigration policy seems to follow his softer attitude this week in his campaign appearances. Instead of running off at the mouth with all sorts of destructive insults that get him negative headlines around the globe, he has been reading his speeches from a TelePrompter and sticking to the prepared text. He also made a tentative apology this past week to those whom he might have offended by his intemperate remarks without specifying exactly to which groups he was extending the apology or which intemperate remarks he might like to retract.

We will have to see what the  details of the new immigration policy are, assuming there really is a new policy. If Donald Trump insists on designing the policy himself, it is almost certain to be a disaster. If he lets more reasonable people write it for him, it may be a policy that many Americans can accept.

The other question is, if Donald Trump does soften his attitude on illegal immigration, will his traditional supporters abandon him? What will those who feel wronged by the presence of non-European immigrants in the United States do on Election Day if Donald Trump stops giving voice to their anger? They certainly will not vote for Hillary Clinton, but perhaps they will lose their enthusiasm for Donald Trump and stay home on Election Day. His new immigration policy could end up further diminishing the number of his supporters instead of attracting new ones.

Is Donald Trump’s Makeover Enough to Let Him Win?

In recent weeks, Donald Trump has been undergoing a makeover of sorts. For one thing, he has been more consistently reading speeches from a TelePrompter that more intelligent people have written for him rather than spouting off outrageous insults to minority groups. He has even issued an apology of sorts. Well, the following statement probably counts as an apology by Trumpian standards.

Sometimes in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it. And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.

 He did not say for which of the many insults that he has hurled at almost every group except white men that he was apologizing. Was he apologizing for all of them? He has insulted women. Latinos, war veterans, the handicapped, and Muslims, and Republicans. One of his real estate companies was sued multiple times for refusing to rent to blacks. Was he apologizing to all of these groups?

Uncharacteristically, Donald Trump pulled off a publicity coup this week by visiting flood-ravaged Baton Rouge, Louisiana before Hillary Clinton or even Barack Obama did. The old Donald Trump would have spent a few minutes in a photo op before helicoptering off after having tied up security personnel who would have been better employed in flood-relief efforts. However, this time Donald Trump brought an 18-wheeler full of supplies with him, which parked in Saint Amant between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and passed out such items as bottled water and diapers to hard-hit residents. In total, Donald Trump’s visit to Louisiana lasted three hours, an eternity for a man with such a short attention span.

Someone has apparently finally persuaded Donald Trump that he cannot win the election with the support mainly of lesser-educated whites, and that someone seems to be his new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway. The question is, will his halfhearted makeover win him enough votes among blacks, Latinos, educated women, and Muslims to win the election, and will Ms Conway be able to keep the fake Donald Trump on script until election day before the real Donald Trump reemerges? I suspect the answer to both questions is no.

France — Covering too Much Skin Can Spell Trouble

In some French towns and cities, not showing enough skin at the beach can get you in trouble with the law. At the heart of the controversy is a type of swimwear called a birkini that is preferred by some Muslim women. The birkini covers a woman’s body completely except for her face, hands, and feet and sometimes daringly allowing her ankles and wrists to show. Calais is the best-know French city to have banned it.

birkini

Several beach-side towns and cities in France have banned the birkini in the name of laïcité or secularism, claiming that the birkini is a religious symbol. France has a strict law separating church and state, which paradoxically is often interpreted in such a way as to discriminate against certain religions, especially Islam. Secularism extends to the banning of religious symbols in certain contexts, although you are unlikely to be arrested for wearing a cross.

In many public places including numerous schools, women and girls have been banned from wearing a headscarf. When I was a kid in Western Pennsylvania, many women and girls wore headscarves, but we called it by its Russian name, babushka. We had no idea that they were committing a grave moral offense by covering their hair in this manner.

Strangely, for the rest of us, the French ban of the birkini means that the more skin a woman shows on the beach, the better. Until pictures started going viral on Facebook and the spread of American moral values, many French women sunbathed on the beach in a monokini, a bikini lacking the top, freely exhibiting their nipples to public view. Some French women still sunbath topless, and it is not viewed as a problem. In a TV interview, a Muslim woman defending the birkini protested that people even sunbathe naked on the beach.

Just how common is the birkini in France? Although I’ve seen women sunbathing topless there, I’ve never seen a birkini, and the mayors of some of the towns that have banned them admit that they have never seen one either. Nevertheless, they believe that they should stop this sinful behavior of covering too much skin before it becomes a trend, claiming that the Birkini interferes with public order, hygiene, and good morals as well as secularism. Many of us raised in other cultures have a hard time understanding why a woman is considered immoral if she covers too much of her body on the beach.

French prime minister Manuel Valls, otherwise a reasonably sensible politician, has called the birkina a political project to enslave women. Apparently Mr. Valls believes that the less clothing a woman wears, the less likely she is to be enslaved. Even if you accept Mr. Valls’ assertion that the birkini is a political statement, when did making a political statement in France become a crime? He also did not explain why prohibiting a woman from wearing a birkini makes her less likely to be enslaved.

What happens if you’re caught with too much clothing on at one of the French beaches that ban the birkini? Typically the police will write you a ticket, and you will have to pay a fine.

There are no birkinis or monokinis in the books I have written, but you can check some of them out by clicking on one of the cover images in the left sidebar. The few bucks that I receive from the sale of the books help to support this blog.

 

Donald Trump’s Medical Disclosure is a Real Hoot

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump released what purport to be letters from their doctors testifying to their good health. Hillary Clinton’s is the normal sort of letter, showing her to be in general good health with the types of minor problems one would expect to find in a person over 60. There is nothing unusual about it, so I will not bore you by analyzing it here.

Donald Trump’s letter, on the other hand, is a real hoot. It is definitely not the type of letter that one would expect a doctor to write. It appears to have been written by Donald Trump himself. I’ve inserted a copy of the letter below this paragraph.

donaldtrumpdoctorletter

The first thing that stands out is the typo in the salutation: My instead of May. However, let’s give that one a pass. I make many typos in my posts, and I concede that a doctor could do the same.

The first sentence that really jumps out occurs in the first paragraph: “Mr. Trump has had a recent complete medical examination that showed only positive results.” Either that sentence was not written by a doctor or Donald Trump is very, very sick. When a doctor runs a series of tests on you, you hope that all of the results turn out negative, meaning that there is nothing wrong with you. If the sentence is to be believed, Trump tested positive for every malady that the doctor checked. HIV? Positive! Advanced dementia? Positive! Head lice? Positive! Scabies? Positive! I don’t really know what conditions the doctor tested for, but if the letter were authentic, Donald Trump would have all of them.

The last sentence of the first paragraph states that his blood pressure and test results “were astonishingly excellent.” “Astonishingly excellent” is not doctor-speak. However, it is the type of expression that Donald Trump uses ad nauseum.

Trump-speak shows up again at the end of the second paragraph: “His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.” Unless he were examining the gold medal winner in the Olympic weight lifting contest, “extraordinary” is not a word that a doctor would use in that context. Donald Trump, however, would use it, even though he is no Samson.

The real kicker comes in the final sentence: “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” How would the doctor know that? Did he examine George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln? It seems very obvious that no doctor wrote that sentence. Again, that is the type of unsubstantiated claim that Donald Trump himself would make.

The extraordinary thing is not that Donald Trump seems to have faked the letter, it is that he had no one familiar with medical terminology look it over and tell him how ridiculous it is. Donald Trump trusts no one but himself to criticize his statements, which means that we can expect to see this sort of bizarre incident throughout the campaign.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out my books by clicking on one of the cover images in the left sidebar.

Republican — The Party for Lesser Educated Whites?

In presidential races, the Republican Party has long been dominated by white voters, whereas most non-whites cast their ballots for the Democratic candidate. This year things are different, however. It is no secret that Donald Trump has caused many Republicans to declare to pollsters that this year they will vote for the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll of registered voters conducted by Langer Research Associates, on August 4, Hillary Clinton was shown leading Donald Trump by 45 to 37 percent with eight percent planning to vote for Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson and four percent for the Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Among men, Donald Trump leads 51 to 41 percent, while Hillary Clinton leads among women by a much wider margin, 58 to 35 percent.

The polling data become more interesting when one analyzes the white vote by educational level. Even college graduates have traditionally favored the Republican candidate, but not this year. Among white college graduates overall, Hillary Clinton leads by 50 to 44 percent. Among those whites with no college degree, Donald Trump leads 50 to 42 percent.

Breaking it down by gender, Trump leads among male white college grads 50 to 42 percent and among those with no college degree by a much larger 67 to 25 percent. Unsurprisingly, Hillary Clinton does much better among white women. She leads by a whopping 57 to 38 percent among college-educated women, but Trump leads a narrower 51 to 40 percent among women with no college degree.

 What the numbers show is that if you are white, you educational level and gender determine the likelihood of your voting for one candidate or another. The less education you have, the more likely you are to vote for Trump, although it must be said that Trump does still have a small lead among college-educated white men. Males of all educational levels still favor the Republican candidate, but college-educated males favor Trump by a smaller margin than this group has favored the Republican candidate in past presidential elections.

Is the Republican Party becoming the party of lesser-educated whites? It is too early to say. It certainly looks that way in this presidential cycle, but perhaps after the election is over and Donald Trump is safely defeated, more educated white voters will again vote in larger numbers for Republican candidates.

By the way, if you would like to look at the poll numbers in much more detail, they are available by clicking here.

Incidentally, the cover images of some of the books I have written are shown in the left sidebar. Clicking on one of them will take you to a Website with more information.

Most Americans Tied Tightly to Their Political Party

Of Americans who vote, the majority are tied tightly to the candidates of their political party. The days when my Dad and some of his friends used to split their tickets are almost gone.

Almost anyone who takes a realistic view of Donald Trump knows that he would be a disaster for the United States if he were to be elected our president. Nevertheless, only about 20 percent of Republicans plan to vote against him, which means that around 80 percent of Republicans still support him, despite all the evidence pointing to the foolhardiness of such a vote. Why? Most voting Americans support their party’s candidates no matter what defects those candidates have.

Moving across parties, Donald Trump has reached a floor of about 40 percent in most polls. Despite the candidate’s own best efforts to drive his support lower, it appears that nothing that Donald Trump can do or say will drive his support below this number.

Donald Trump stands for all of the qualities that most Americans and especially most Republicans find abhorrent in normal times. However, he is the Republican candidate, and therefore, he is going to receive about 40 percent of the popular vote no matter how unworthy he proves himself of holding our nation’s highest office. If the Republicans would nominate Lassie as their presidential candidate, close to 40 percent of Americans would vote for her.

By the way, I write this blog mainly as a way to draw attention to my books, which are featured in the left sidebar. Running for President, my first novel, has received nothing but praise from readers having received 100% four- or five-star reviews. You can check out the books and perhaps even read a sample section b

What Happened to Trump’s Missing Campaign Funds?

Donald Trump’s Campaign reports that he had $20 million in campaign funds in June and raised $80 Million in July. But early in August, the campaign reports having on $37 million on hand. According to my calculations (20+80-37=63), that means that the campaign spent $63 million in July. Where did the money go? No one can account for it.

It did not go for TV advertising. Trump is not buying ads. Some of it probably went for such campaign expenses as travel, but that could only account for a few million of the missing dollars, even if Trump is renting his private plane to his campaign at some outrageous fee.

As to campaign staff, Trump has only deployed a token number of campaign workers. For example, his campaign office in Columbus, Ohio has four paid staff members. Add up all of the money that Trump could be spending on campaign expenses, and it doesn’t total $20 million let alone $63 million. Even making the most generous assumption, somewhat more that $40 million are unaccounted for.

More than likely, the missing money went into Donald Trump’s own bank accounts. According to papers that the Trump campaign filed with the Federal Election Commission in June, Trump has lent his campaign $50 million, a loan that he has promised to forgive. However, he has not filed the paperwork to do that. The most likely scenario is that Donald Trump repaid himself $50 million, leaving very little money to run his campaign. That’s the only logical explanation as to why so much campaign money has disappeared with very little to show for it.

Why is Donald Trump cutting his personal financial losses at the expense of his campaign? Likely because he knows he will lose the election no matter how much money his campaign spends, so he wants to recoup his personal investment, thereby starving his campaign of cash.