Today, I have got three very good pieces for you, and it is still all about the man about continues to poison the hearts and minds of far too many Americans, Donald Trump.
Yes, this man is still relevant, because if he succeeds, which is still possible, then the USA will truly become a different country. Also, he is already changing the political landscape, as he proves that authoritarian politicians can have success in the USA, if they only push hard enough.
First, there is the German magazine "Der Spiegel." It is the most important news magazine in Germany, founded in 1947. The magazine has become famous in Germany for brutally honest reporting especially about politicians. Now Donald Trump receives the "Spiegel treatment", and the cover story from last week really was in finest journalistic tradition of this truly invaluable magazine.
Fortunately, the article has been translated into English, so it is my pleasure to present some excerpts here.
On the cover the Spiegel calls Trump "America's rabble rouser Donald Trump", and the article itself pulls no punches and is very informational at the same time - excerpts:
Former Obama campaign manager David Axelrod wrote recently that Trump's success is based on the same principle as the campaign victories of his former boss. In fact, he added, he had explained this recipe for success to Obama himself when he first ran for president: When a president leaves office after eight years, voters tend to prefer a candidate who is as different as possible from the incumbent, in terms of politics, character and habits.
By that logic, Obama the integrator, who fought against discrimination against blacks and gays, would be followed by a President Trump who stirs up hatred against minorities and claims that "political correctness" is the greatest threat to the United States. While Obama sought to explain complex problems, often sounding like an intellectual in the process, studies have shown that Trump speaks at a fourth-grade reading level. Problems, according to Trump, are "totally easy" to solve. And while Obama appealed to the common "we" in his campaign slogan "Yes, we can!" Trump's version reads "Yes, I can!" -- the solution of a strong leader.
Currently, America is running the risk of falling for a self-proclaimed leader with a low opinion of fundamental democratic values. Shortly before the Iowa Caucuses on Monday, all national polls showed Trump as the leading Republican candidate by a wide margin. He is also polling at the top of the Republican field in almost every state in the country. In Iowa itself, with its large religious population, the race could end up being a close contest between Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a Christian hardliner.
Trump announced his candidacy just over seven months ago. Since then, much has been written and said about his hairstyle. His plain and sometimes embarrassing statements, his muddled speeches and his incomprehensible narcissism have been a source of amusement. There are lists of the most outrageous statements Trump has made in the past, such as this one about women: "You know, it doesn't really matter what (the media) write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass."
But his candidacy ceased to be amusing long ago. Trump's demands are too extreme for that, and his view of the world and humanity too dangerous. And the chances are too great that he will be named as the Republican presidential candidate. Some polls show that Trump even stands a realistic chance of winning the White House in a possible face-off with Hillary Clinton. The combination of his views and the possibility that he could soon hold the planet's most powerful office make him the most dangerous man in the world at the moment.
For a long time, neither Republican Party officials nor the media recognized the true dimensions of the movement that Trump was forming. They continued to poke fun at him, even as he was creating a revolutionary mood on the right margin of society. Now it could be too late, and Trump could be the one getting the last laugh.
Like it or not, it is time to take Donald John Trump seriously. So what can be said about the character of this man who is determined to capture the White House? And what could America and the rest of the world expect if he truly became the 45th president of the United States?
It's no accident that Trump expresses great admiration for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, who seems to impress him far more than politicians seeking to champion the values of democracy with their painstaking and often vain search for compromises.
"He is a nicer person than I am," Trump said of the Russian president. "In terms of leadership, he's getting an A." The reason, according to Trump, is that Putin is "making mincemeat out of our president."
Putin returned the compliment in December, when he said: "He's a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt. He is the absolute front-runner in the presidential race." Trump, who judges people purely by whether or not they praise him, promptly shot back: "When people call you brilliant, it's always good, especially when the person heads up Russia."
While politicians like Le Pen and Orbán inveigh against "Brussels," Trump rails against "Washington" as the symbol of a degenerate political system "that doesn't get things done anymore." Just like his European counterparts, Trump is calling for isolation in the form of protective tariffs, entry bans and border walls. He inflames tensions against ethnic minorities and offers anxious citizens the authoritarian vision of a strongman who will solve all problems on his own -- while ignoring democratic conventions. Trump is presumably only the shrillest and most prominent embodiment of a trend that is becoming pervasive throughout the Western world.
Packer sees the 2008 financial crisis, which caused parts of the US economy to unravel and deprived millions of Americans of their economic foundation, as the main reason many Americans are receptive to a man like Trump. The economy has been growing again since then, but in absurdly unfair ways, says Packer, as inequality becomes more and more glaring. According to Packer, many Americans feel they have been left alone with their concerns, and they feel disconnected and betrayed.
The current primary race underscores how much this frustration has already changed the country. It has enabled Bernie Sanders, an extreme leftist by American standards, to become a serious threat to Hillary Clinton. And it is preparing the ground for Trump's campaign against all the elites, even though Trump himself has spent his entire life as a member of the country's economic elite.
Many Americans, especially whites and those with relatively little education, are now more receptive than ever to audacious promises and simplistic solutions. But they are also receptive to a form of politics that blames immigrants and minorities for their own fate, and for the race-baiting that has been part of every authoritarian movement to date. Trump offers all of these things, and he offers them more skillfully, professionally and self-confidently than all other candidates.
During an appearance two weeks at a Toyota dealership in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a young woman in the crowd said she had two questions for Trump. The first one was about the college financing system. Trump's reply contained the word "college," at any rate. This was her second question: "Can I take a selfie with you?" The owner of the dealership felt that the question was inappropriate and quickly said that perhaps she could do it later. But Trump was already saying "Of course! Of course!" and waved the woman onto the stage.
His biographer talks about the dark sides of Trump's self-absorption. "Trump lacks any self-irony, any form of critical self-perception." The entire family is like that, he explains. When he tried to joke with Trump's children about their father's penchant for gold and glitter in his buildings, none of them understood what he was getting at. "They don't notice when something is ridiculous," says D'Antonio. "This is the most telling characteristic of the entire Trump clan: the persistent denial of reflection."
But what worried him the most, says D'Antonio, is Trump's belief that he is genetically superior to most people in the world. In all of their conversations, he notes, Trump kept returning to the notion that by virtue of his birth, he is simply better than other people in many areas -- from playing golf to being a businessman. "I'm a big believer in natural ability," Trump said.
His son, Donald Trump Jr., shares his father's conviction. He said he was a firm believer in the concept of breeding, in "race-horse theory." Then he pointed at the ceiling with his finger, in the direction of his father's office. "He's an incredibly accomplished guy, my mother's incredibly accomplished, she's an Olympian, so I'd like to believe genetically I'm predisposed to (be) better than average."
Apparently this sort of belief also helps Trump portray himself to voters as a strong man, as the person who will save the country. It makes sense that Trump doesn't seem to care much about freedom of religion or other cornerstones of democracy. In his rhetoric, he could hardly be more contemptuous of the Congress in Washington. Freedom of the press also seems to annoy him. And before every event, he has his announcer point out that he respects free speech "almost as much" as the right to bear arms.
On some evenings, Trump even has potential audience members questioned about their views. Before his appearance in Burlington, Vermont, a security official dressed in black stood in the lobby and asked every visitor: "Are you a supporter of Mr. Trump?" Those who said no or were undecided were turned away, even if they had tickets to the event. In a democracy, an election campaign is supposed to be an opinion-forming process. But in Trump's case, people are either for him or they are thrown out.
Trump uses the term "the lying press," now famous in Germany, in many of his appearances. "The journalists are miserable people," he says to his supporters, pointing to the corner where the cameras are. At his events, journalists are herded together into a fenced area, under the watchful eyes of zealous guards. The biggest paradox of this campaign is that Trump, while sharply berating the media, is the one who benefits the most from the coverage it provides him. The major TV networks devote more airtime to him to Trump than to all his rivals combined. He is the only Republican candidate who provides the networks with the ratings they crave, and yet he is also the one who mocks them for that very mechanism.
His last-minute refusal to participate in a televised debate hosted by the right-wing Fox News network last week, because he felt unfairly treated by Megyn Kelly, one of the moderators, is not only a first in the history of American election campaigns. It is also the latest climax in the game Trump is playing with the media.
But many democrats aren't panicking yet. They're betting on Clinton's campaign coming around and gaining momentum once she secures the nomination. At the same time, they are anxious that this could become the dirtiest duel in the history of American presidential campaigns.
If it does, Roger Stone will be the man to blame. The unscrupulousness that has come to define Trump's campaign is largely Stone's doing. He learned the tricks of the trade from Richard Nixon in the 1970s, and later helped Ronald Reagan get into the White House. By the end of the 1980s, Stone was already trying to convince his friend Trump to run for president. Almost everything Trump knows about politics and power, he learned from Stone -- including the art of manipulation. Stone is considered a master of defamatory rumors.
Stone also helped Trump lay the foundations for his campaign last spring. Then in summer, he was abruptly fired. Trump's people cited a disagreement between the two, but observers now believe the split could have been staged, a trick.
"I remain an unabashed Trump supporter and Trump enthusiast," Stone said when reached on the phone last autumn. "I just finally made a decision that I could have a greater impact on the outside. Trump is still a very close friend." As before, the two talk regularly and Stone obviously gives Trump important advice. And just like old times, Stone spends nearly every evening on TV touting Trump and his "movement."
Since he is no longer an official member of Trump's campaign team, Stone has the freedom to be even more ruthless in his derision of Trump's opponents, without the risk of the mud-slinging coming back to haunt the candidate. Trump biographer D'Antonio describes Stone as "pure evil." He is a "deeply disgusting person," someone who doesn't understand anything but "brute force."
Read much more the the link.
The second piece is from the UK, a documentary created by one of the main TV-stations in Britain, Channel 4, called "The Mad World of Donald Trump." It is truly excellent, and also provides deep insights into his "base", the confused and manipulated part of the US population.
Finally, many thanks to our friend Nomad for finding this amazing, "must-listen" report about conservative, Christian talk show host Tony Beam who is thoroughly disgusted when he suddenly finds out the a large part of his listeners support Donald Trump.
I have hardly seen another report which hits so "close to home" - CLICK TO LISTEN.
When I said above that Donald Trump already changed the political landscape in the USA, this is exactly what I am talking about, and this talk show host finds it out the hard way.
Have a nice weekend, everybody!