Trump and the impact of social media

In her excellent summary of the lessons of Donald Trump’s victory in the US election that morning, on 9th November 2016, Judith Curry wrote:

Apart from the obvious political/policy implications of the election, there are massive social implications:

•  a triumph for U.S. democracy, in spite of those that have tried to break it …

•  a triumph for social media versus the mainstream media.  Remember all of those big endorsements for Clinton from the major newspapers?  People want a lot of information, they want to decide what is important and believable, and the [sic] want to make up their own minds. Social media enables this.

Second ‘massive social implication’ listed by the climate professor turned blogger. Agreeing with Dr Curry that social media was key to Trump’s success I felt it might be interesting to consider on this fairly new addition to the climate blogosphere.

Facebook has reportedly been agonising about its role in enabling a Trump victory, with this key paragaph in the New York Times four days ago:

Some employees are worried about the spread of racist and so-called alt-right memes across the network, according to interviews with 10 current and former Facebook employees. Others are asking whether they contributed to a “filter bubble” among users who largely interact with people who share the same beliefs.

So for filter bubble read echo chamber and confirmation bias in old money. It isn’t just Trump supporters of course. As The Onion had it on 9th:

“This just isn’t the America I know,” said Garlock, adding that the broad national support for a candidate who openly expresses misogynistic, racist, and authoritarian views had caused him to call into question everything he thought he knew about his spectacularly unrealistic, wholly imaginary conception of the nation he calls home. “I just can’t believe that almost 60 million people would vote for someone who called immigrants rapists and attacked women and disabled people. The America [selectively constructed from my own experiences and personal values, and which only exists in my mind] that I love would never do that.” At press time, Garlock’s sentiments were reportedly echoed by all 1,273 of his Facebook friends.

Although Facebook is no doubt an important piece of the puzzle, like many I’ve been most aware of Donald Trump as a particularly active user of Twitter. This of course cuts many different ways:

which elicited this comment, among many others:

It seems a reasonable question, given Trump’s apparent propensity to scapegoat others when he comes in for criticism. Unchecked by wiser heads that could turn nasty in the ‘leader of the free world’. And there are of course plenty of hostages to fortune out there as real policies now need to be worked out:

Going back further there’s a series of hard-hitting tweets about Edward Snowden:

Which haven’t escaped the attention of one ex-Tory MP:

Lastly we will not be allowed to forget this one from four years ago:

Robin Guenier’s comments on that at The Conversation four days ago are well worth taking in. And on Sunday Judy Curry did an admirable summary of all Trump’s output on climate, energy and the environment, without neglecting the ‘hoax’ meme. There are plenty of ways greens should be able to work with the new President, she suggests. Will they be able to stomach it?

‘Populism’ and the Hitler analogy

Changing tack, here’s another tweet from Sunday:

For the experience of one well-known comedian in California see The Election Has Emboldened Racist Behavior on Storify (a glorified list of tweets). I believe Kumail that this has never happened to him before. Lastly this seemed particularly nasty as a way of celebrating the result:

What are we to make of this darker side of the Trump movement and its online expressions? Some go straight to comparing the president-elect with Hitler. The historian Niall Ferguson had a useful disagreement with ex-Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis on that on Channel 4 last week.

There are at least two similarities to Hitler that I think are worth highlighting: the populism and the use of the latest technology. By populism I mean primarily the way Trump spoke directly and without normal restraints to ordinary US voters. That’s a good thing – though it can be used for evil, like everything else. And strongly linked with that, in my mind, is the use of Twitter by the candidate himself to address hot issues, often late at night, without the tweets being mediated by his staff. Just as Andrew Roberts has drawn attention to Hitler’s use of the modern of his day, almost all of which was copied by future political hopefuls of 20th century. Again, a good thing – but sadly in the hands in that case of the monster who ultimately presided over the Holocaust.

In which context this passage, which I only read a couple of days ago, was bound to have impact:

Breitbart came along as promoter and ringmaster. When I spoke with him afterward, he described Bannon, with sincere admiration, as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement.

That’s from Bloomberg‘s excellent portrait in October last year of Steve Bannon, the man who has just been rewarded for his early support by becoming Trump’s chief of strategy in the White House. Not all liberals are delighted.

Finding a middle way?

This guy seemed to be talking sense on Twitter the other day – but then doesn’t he always?

There is legitimate hopefulness about what Trump may do in climate and energy policy, best captured for me by Holman Jenkins Jr in the Wall Street Journal today (thanks GWPF).

What a Trump election will do is mostly dismantle a green gravy train powered by moral vanity that contributes nothing to the public welfare.

A phenomenon like Trump, whatever its antecedents, is an opportunity—in this case to purge a rottenness that begins at the commanding heights. The New York Times last year published a feature entitled “short answers to the hard questions about climate change” that was notable solely for ignoring the hardest question of all: How much are human activities actually affecting the climate?

This is the hardest question. It’s why we spend tens of billions collecting climate data and building computerized climate models. It’s why “climate sensitivity” remains the central problem of climate science, as lively and unresolved as it was 35 years ago.

Happily, it only takes a crude, blunderbussy kind of instrument to shatter such a fragile smugness—and if Mr. Trump and the phenomenon he represents are anything, it’s crude and blunderbussy.

So let’s trust, in the main area of CliScep concern, but verify. On broader issues Laura Perrins’ article in The Conservative Woman today, Trump’s women are not all bimbos, is also well worth a look. Perrins is certainly right to say this:

The fight now for team Trump will be to make clear the distinction between illegal and legal immigration as well containing and sidelining the racist minority that no doubt exists within it.

There is a racist minority that needs to be shown the door as real policy-making begins. On where racism itself begins and ends I strongly recommend Jonathan Haidt’s When and Why Nationalism Beats Globalism from The American Interest in July.


  1. RD, I mainly hang out over at Judiths. Many technical guest posts she has graciously hosted. But you have reached into a deeper truth here. The US election is perhaps a surprise, a riddle wrapped in an enigma as WC would have said. When we finally unpack it, we will be much wiser. I am certain Obama’s China climate deal will be front and center. US commits to economic seppuku; China commits to nothing. As Trumpt would say, NOT.


  2. Thanks for being so thoughtful. I and many others have been rather thoughtless, though not speechless. Here’s a couple of thoughts though.

    Obama has apparently deported 2.5 million illegal immigrants in eight years. I find it difficult to imagine how this is done, physically. Trains? Buses? Boats across the Rio Grande? There’s a distinct lack of footage on CNN International. (I’ve no opinion on whether that 2.5 million is too many or not enough, by the way.)

    Given that a country of hundreds of miillions will contain hundreds of thousands of mad, nasty people, the fact that the number of racial attacks, scrawled swastikas etc has gone up is absolutely inevitable, as were the xenophobic outbursts in the UK after the Brexit vote.
    On the other side, the protests by disappointed Democrats were nothing out of the ordinary either. If there’s an earthquake, it remains political, institutional, and not any kind of popular social uprising, on either side. No-one got shot for the way they voted. That should be the main headline of the week.


  3. Rud, thank you. I’ve learned a lot from your writings. There is something mysterious at this point about Trump, at least for me. This post was incomplete but I felt it might help me, if not others, to clarify my own thoughts, if necessary here below the line. I agree that the relationship with China – and their two-faced attitude to climate, well highlighted by Robin Guenier – is really central. Will Trump be as radical in practice as climate sceptics are hoping? We’ll have to see.

    Geoff, thanks also. I dispute that you haven’t been thoughtful. I think you may find quite a lot you agree with (as I do) in a blog post yesterday called You Are Still Crying Wolf, addressed to those Trump critics who have declared him to be a racist, indeed an “open racist”. The author opposed Trump for all sorts of other reasons but makes a strong case in his defence on this.

    Also yesterday, Thomas Sowell suggested Trump should make Ted Cruz the replacement for Antonin Scalia in the Supreme Court. It can’t help but remind me of that terrible slur Trump aimed at Cruz’s father that he had been involved in the JFK assassination. That was all done on Twitter of course. The coarseness of some of the ‘real-world’ debate seems to me to have been influenced by the worst sewers of social media. But the blog post I’ve just linked to shows well what Judith Curry was saying: we have a much wider choice of opinion from which to make up our mind, replete in that case with copious stats, and this spells the end of the dominance of the MSM. Colour me confused, or at least conflicted, of New Eltham – where I happen to be typing this, on my birthday. No flowers please.


  4. For more on Steve Bannon, I’m indebted to Paul (by email) for a link to an interview this morning on the BBC Today programme between Justin Webb in London and Breitbart’s Joel Pollak in California. The attempt to make a charge of anti-semitism stick against Bannon was made harder by the fact Pollak’s worked closely with him for five years and is an orthodox Jew himself. But worth a try I suppose.


  5. The Beeb’s car-crash attempt to portray Bannon as an anti-semite is up at Guido’s.
    Beeb’s Bannon Bashing Backfires.
    I felt a bit sorry for Justin Webb. He’d clearly been fed this simplistic line by the Today Programme’s editors or producers and didn’t seem well prepared. On twitter he noted the strong reaction to the interview.

    Maybe this little incident – showing how the left thinks it can win with a simple smear, but then getting burned – is a microcosm of the whole Trump thing.

    And here’s another tweet this morning, which as somebody pointed out, also shows why the left is losing:


  6. Maybe this little incident – showing how the left thinks it can win with a simple smear, but then getting burned – is a microcosm of the whole Trump thing.

    But my point earlier is that Trump himself used an outrageous smear against Ted Cruz’s father, that he had been involved in the JFK assassination. It was horrible to see the ardent supporters of the man justifying and even cheering this kind of thing. So it isn’t just the left, it’s the President-elect.


  7. I find it curious that institutions like Facebook have been very slow to react to organisations like ISIS with a catalogue of known atrocities using their sites and yet they’re really on the ball with Trump and his supporters. It’s a damaging double standard and not remotely the first.

    The massive number of cases recently in the UK where adult Asian men targeted and abused teenage white girls is another example where an attitude designed to prevent racism, actually accelerates it. The police first ignored the problem because they didn’t want to be accused of racism and then the authorities tried to keep it keep it quiet so as not to make the public think all Asian men were like that. These two acts (on many occasions) make the public feel that they’re second class citizens and thus resent the very people the authorities wanted to protect. The public is suffering from something like second child jealousy, where the parents are overly absorbed with their new child and lets it get away with behaviour that they would instantly pounce upon with the older child. Which with a baby is absolutely understandable, but these aren’t babies or even kids for the most part. Following the rules and laws of the land should be front and centre of their obligation in return for the great generosity of being allowed to stay.

    What they should not be allowed, let alone encouraged to do is maintain all their previous culture. Apart from the divisive nature of behaving differently, some of those cultural norms range from repulsive to illegal. The excuse for the softly, softly approach to foreigners if often ‘they’re disadvantaged’.

    And that’s part of what’s at the heart of the problem. A certain sector of the elite suffer from guilt. Guilt for the Empire, guilt for the slave trade, guilt for Iraq, guilt for CO2… the list is endless. They don’t balance that with pride in what we’ve done positively for the World, let alone the good intentions. But even if they did and we were in deficit, it’s not for them to demand the rest of us pay a debt we’ve never agreed to be responsible for. If they feel guilty, pay up. They’ve almost certainly had the lion’s share of ‘our’ success. We won’t stop them. But it’s not their sacrifice they had in mind, it’s ours. They don’t travel on public transport or live in some poor estate. It’s not their kids they plan to bus into schools that have a white child deficit.

    Donald Trump is the national equivalent of buying a big dog because you no longer have any faith the police will protect you

    Liked by 2 people

  8. In what way can Trump’s election be called a triumph for democracy? That by telling enough lies and making enough outrageous provocations can get you elected hardly seems a triumph for the system.

    Also, Curry says of the election:

    “impetus for the objectives and values of heterodox, challenging the overwhelming Democratic orientation of university faculty members”

    What do you think this means? Surely not that political orientation might be a condition for faculty appointments?


  9. Triumph for democracy? no, it’s not that. It’s a slap in the face for those who have lied with more subtlty but lied just the same.


  10. It was Curry who described Trump’s win as “a triumph for U.S. democracy”. So why don’t you go to her blog and ask her what she meant by it?

    Perhaps she meant that he came out of nowhere, not being part of the mainstream political establishment, and won against all expectations of the so-called experts (recall that Nate Silver said Trump had a 2% chance of winning the the nomination, while another polling ‘expert’ Sam Wang said that Clinton had a 99% chance of victory, based on his sophisticated mathematical model, and that he would “eat a bug” if Trump got more than 240 EVs).

    As for the heterodox academy thing, where I am a member, I think she just means what she says, the Trump win challenges the leftist mindset that is so dominant in universities, which is what HA is concerned about.


  11. Trump and science (both social and hard) are getting some interesting discussion at the Conversation in two articles which propose some soulsearching in the liberal and scientific establishments.

    The usual right-on lefty commentariat are noticeably absent, their place being taken by a few eccentrics.


  12. Nino says: 17 Nov 16 at 6:16 pm

    “In what way can Trump’s election be called a triumph for democracy? That by telling enough lies and making enough outrageous provocations can get you elected hardly seems a triumph for the system.”

    The Donald, like any skilled ‘salesman’, closed the sale by letting each individual decide what is best based on individual knowledge and feeling; not on brainwashing and alleged group support. The Donald made not one error in ‘his’ quest to WIN ‘the US presidential election 2016!’

    “Also, Curry says of the election:
    (“impetus for the objectives and values of heterodox, challenging the overwhelming Democratic orientation of university faculty members”)”

    “What do you think this means? Surely not that political orientation might be a condition for faculty appointments?”

    The arrogant academia attempt to feel safe within the clan of! What is much more obvious is the overwhelming determination of academia members to retain the right to remain ignorant\never-learn, thus be complicit! Sir Humphery Appleby claims this has a ‘certain dignity’!

    TinyCO2 says: 17 Nov 16 at 6:50 pm

    “Triumph for democracy? no, it’s not that. It’s a slap in the face for those who have lied with more subtlety but lied just the same.”

    IT is obvious that Trump is for ‘only’ Trump; be that for the individual or family, never some external imposed political concept! What can be more ‘democratic’? If ‘make America Great Again’ is good for, Trump we all benefit! Democracy is not “the flock”, it is the chickens individually! If the flock rules such is but mob rule, and the skinny guy has no feathers at all.


  13. “So why don’t you go to her blog and ask her what she meant by it?”

    Richard specifically noted the “triumph for U.S. democracy” quote as part of an “excellent summary” of Trump’s victory. So I assume he agrees with that sentiment. I was asking him why he thought that. Curry links (on the triumph line) to an article that is largely about gerrymandering (mainly Republican) and voter suppression (by Republicans). They might be Republican triumphs, but not for democracy.

    I didn’t realize that the heterodox academy existed (Curry named As you claim that

    “I will support viewpoint diversity in my academic field, my university, my department, and my classroom.”

    perhaps you could outline how you do this. How do you or would you go about determining the political views of prospective faculty members and what use is made of that information to ensure “viewpoint diversity”? If selecting faculty, do you value political alignment above academic qualifications? And how do you protect the university from accusations of political discrimination?

    Am I the only one here who thinks such discrimination would be an abuse of power?


  14. Richard specifically noted the “triumph for U.S. democracy” quote as part of an “excellent summary” of Trump’s victory. So I assume he agrees with that sentiment.

    Your assumption is wrong. My currrent view is that there is a high probability that the election was a disaster for U.S. democracy. But that is not yet certain and I willingly pray for Mr Trump and his administration. I will leave you to grapple with my description of Dr Curry’s post and our difference of emphasis on this. My quoting from her first point was to highlight that her phrase “a triumph for social media versus the mainstream media” came second. That’s where I wanted to begin. Thanks for your interest.


  15. To add to the curiosity and complexity I was much impressed earlier today when I read this about Tom Hanks:

    Then Hanks said something that would probably be career suicide for a less established actor: “This is the United States of America. We’ll go on. There’s great like-minded people out there who are Americans first and Republicans or Democrats second,” Hanks told THR. “I hope the president-elect does such a great job that I vote for his re-election in four years.”

    PJ Media goes on to comment:

    Hanks’ real world is a bit more…real. He lives in the same place and works in the same industry as Sorkin and the others, but has somehow managed to notice the America beyond the Hollywood bubble.

    I guess I like anyone who manages to prick their particular bubble. For climate sceptics it’s too easy to take a wholly positive view of Trump, because of his derisive statements about an utterly dumb climate consensus, and ignore other warning signs of his gross immaturity and unsuitability to be president. On this thread I’m partly trying to find some explanation for the bad stuff in the medium he was using – very effectively, it turns out – and the grotty culture that often goes with it.

    Others may not be troubled by the questions raised for me and that of course is their right.


  16. Tiny:

    I find it curious that institutions like Facebook have been very slow to react to organisations like ISIS with a catalogue of known atrocities using their sites and yet they’re really on the ball with Trump and his supporters. It’s a damaging double standard …

    Thanks for raising the issue not just of social media double standards but the damage done by applying ‘racism’ to asking searching questions of certain effects of Muslim immigration, including UK rape gangs.

    Big subject that we haven’t really tried to tackle in this blog, perhaps because of our name. But it was this kind of thing that made me point to Jonathan Haidt’s article at the end of my original post. I won’t delve further now, except to point out that Steve Bannon also has strong views in this area. It doesn’t necessarily make him a racist, although of course he is called that. We need to be smarter at least than that.


  17. As for Foxgoose, the headline “NASA Climate Scientist Threatens To Resign If Trump Cuts Funding” followed by the extraordinary words “NASA’s top climate scientist … Dr. Gavin Schmidt” does take the breath away. Can Christmas really come this early this year? 🙂

    But again, I urge caution, to wait and see what Trump actually does. Up till now he was trying to win votes and he knew there was a large constituency of climate scepticism in the USA, especially scepticism about climate policies. In the next four years we find out what really matters to him. Ah well.


  18. Richard, Twitter is for preaching to the converted – seems unlikely to have broader influence. Other social media – how can one know what influence they had?

    Am I the only one here who thinks such discrimination would be an abuse of power?

    Perhaps so. But can it really be right to select people for academia based upon their politics in order to enhance diversity of views? And if that is not what apolitical Paul is supporting, then what?


  19. Richard, climate is a key area where western citizens are being sacrified on the altar of western guilt. Because our countries became relatively peaceful and productive, we managed to have that industrial revolution that has caused all the CO2 hysteria. Our representatives are eager to sign away our future rights to pay for a crime nobody knew existed. We are being punished for being good. Meanwhile the naughty kids are being promised unlimited time to catch up. The fundamental premise is that western countries have been greedy somehow. Well sure, some have but then every country has people who have more than… what? where is the greedy/non greedy line? Note how vague they are about what an individual can have. That’s because they know that each and every one of them is well over the line. How far they don’t care to examine. Far more comfortable to lump everyone togther and blame industry. Yeah, let’s get rid of nasty old industry and their massive CO2 emissions. And if the poorest lose their jobs, well, they should become computer programers or film stars or climate scientists.

    I can see the ludicrous situation of billionaires setting up their homes and businesses in the poorerst parts of the world, not to help the locals but because they get unlimited CO2 footprints. The inhabitants of the British Virgin Islands will look a bit sick when they discover Richard Branson has personally used their entire allowence until the next millenium. And what of the poor shmucks who moved to the UK. They’ll discover the land of milk and honey has been put on bread and water… and I’m not sure we’ll be allowed the bread.

    The Democrat states have been sucking up to Cuba, Mexico and beyond but kicking sand in the eyes of Middle America. If the Middle states were hotbeds of drug production and communist antagonism, the coastal states would be fawning all over them to help them progress. Basically they’ll be your best friend until you’re no longer a trouble and then they’ll drop you like a stone. It’s why any ‘special relationship’ has sucked because we’re taken for granted.

    Our position in the EU has been much the same. Despite all the things we’ve contributed to it and the member states, they will be tempted to treat us worse than the worse rogue state. It’s a good job I’m not PM because I’d be tempted to drop a massive bomb on the EU headquarters and say ‘consider that our article 50.’


  20. A more useful analogy is between Trump and Teddy Roosevelt. The Hitler analogy is surely fear mongering. The anecdotal meme about “increased incidents of violence and Anti-Semitism” is almost certainly fraudulent, just like the “violence” at Trump rallies that was actually incited by Hillary supporters and her campaign. The violent reaction to the election among paid protesters however is well documented. You must bear in mind that through Soros and Steyer’s billions there is a lot of bought and paid for political activity and violence.


  21. Watching a YouTube video last night, which I was of course pointed to on Twitter, I was reminded of this from Ian Woolley on CliScep’s first Trump thread:

    The left only has itself to blame. As many climate sceptics have argued, allowing fears about climate change (and other things) to dominate left-wing politics has hollowed-out politics over the last 30 years leaving vast swathes of people turned off and disenfranchised – people who now have put Trump in the Whitehouse. The philosopher Slavoj Zizek recently argued in a Channel 4 News interview that Trump winning would be a necessary jolt to the system, allowing, or forcing, the priorities of the left to reconfigure. It can’t do anything else. We are gonna have a left so great, so beautiful, it’ll be a left like you’ve never seen before. Truly. And by the way, tremendous potential will be unleashed.

    I don’t even know who the speaker is but he does swear a lot and doesn’t mention climate, except in using ‘climate change denying’ in his initial tirade against Trump and a nice comment about retweeting Greenpeace near the end. But, trigger warnings aside, it strikes me as an fascinating initial blow against the stupid left from the slightly less stupid. (He needs to face up to the utterly moronic nature of most climate activism to emerge into something truly resembling sanity by my lights.)

    Meanwhile, David Young, I hope a careful reading of my words will reveal that, like Niall Ferguson, I’m not myself in the “Trump is Hitler” camp. Having said which I do have reservations about the apparent gross immaturity of the next POTUS. But hey, reality TV is influencing the world more than I realised (another key cultural input to this year’s election not yet mentioned). I accept meanwhile that some of the increased-racism-and-violence meme is fabricated. But not all – and it’s the same with Brexit. That’s what makes the current ferment complex, for me. It’s much simpler if one writes off all the bad stuff as paid for by George Soros. Job done, filter bubble applied!

    Which brings me to this from Nino:

    Richard, Twitter is for preaching to the converted – seems unlikely to have broader influence. Other social media – how can one know what influence they had?

    Two assertions and a question. I disagree with both assertions while accepting them as fair comment. I think we can also probably find ways to decide what influences were most powerful, though it will take time.

    Twitter is strange and quite unlike other social media. It does influence people. A certain segment of the population, certainly, but significant. There are of course plenty of filter bubbles present, created by many users only following those with whom they agree. But there is also a surprising amount of challenge and disagreement cross-tribe. It all depends on one’s own choices. I am a paragon of even-handedness in who I follow (haha) and thus I get a lot of the “Trump is Hitler” crowd in my timeline at the moment. In fact I may well do another post about bursting the filter bubble in the near future. So thanks for this comment.


  22. “It does influence people.”

    Have you ever changed your mind because of an exchange on Twitter?


  23. Definitely. But influence is more than that. I have been deeply influenced by Ben Griffiths’ account of what happened at the bus stop in SE London, with his two kids, a day or two after Brexit. You don’t know Ben? I used to work with him, on my first Ruby and Rails project. It was a horrible bit of racism he had to confront, and then explain how wrong it was to his kids, which was explicitly tied by the perpetrator to the Brexit vote. But blaming everyone who had voted leave, as he seemed to do, wasn’t right either. I don’t buy Ben’s belief in “no borders” as practical come to that. But he still influenced me by telling this story. I totally trust him about what happened. You get the idea I’m sure.


  24. Here’s another example at a rather different level, from this morning. I’ve been following the historian Adam Tooze for a while, who I’ve read on big business and the rise of Hitler, since I realised he was on Twitter. He’s obviously been involved in a dialogue with other scholars on the question of whether it’s right to count Trump as a fascist. So this morning he pointed to this piece on Facebook. I’m sure it will influence me more once I understand it better (which will require further context)!


  25. Influence is not the same as interest. If there is no change in your mind (understanding) or behavior, there was no influence. You may be among those who follow people with whom they disagree in order to learn more and with an openness to changing your mind, but I doubt that is widespread.


  26. Nino my dear chap (and my deepest apologies if you’re really a Nina or even una niña pocita) here’s why I couldn’t care less what you say in such portentous terms on CliScep: we know nothing about you. You’ve said absolutely nothing about what has ever changed your mind about anything. Even if you did I’d assume it was made up until I could associate such claims with a real person with a real name and associated CV. I have that much faith in those like you who appear so ‘reasonable’ in their use of tiny pseudonyms on climate blogs, you see. My views on this haven’t really changed since 2001. You are surpremely unlikely to do so. But the baleful influence of pseudonymity combined with utter irresponsibility on the Internet generally is part, in my view, of what led to such a dreadfully low standard of primary debates and election debates. We are influencing culture! Wow! Isn’t that grand?!


  27. Your choice not to reveal anything about yourself, after I had told you, and the world, about the very expensive matter of what Ben Griffiths tweeted post-Brexit – expensive to my reputation in quarters with a direct bearing on my ability to earn a decent wage or even a crust – was the giveaway you see. Your lack of empathy is absolute, as with all consensus enforcers hiding behind pseudonymity. It has to be, that’s part of how the whole dirty system works.

    Without them realising quite why, such deceitfulness enrages decent people and that rage then finds its ‘salvation’ in a demagogue like Donald Trump, who has used exactly the same underhandedness (ie anonymous accusations) in his undermining of Republican rivals. Colour me slightly less than overjoyed about the whole thing. But, despite all this, I do still pray for Mr Trump and all those he appoints to be part of his administration.


  28. James Delingpole’s article in The Spectator yesterday entitled It’s tough being the only British journalist who’s right about everything and subtitled “The Donald’s disbelief in global warming is not some wind-up stunt: it’s going to be a core part of his programme” gives further useful background on Steve Bannon, James’s “petrifying” former boss at Breitbart. I have some questions about how Bannon may have had to compromise his ideals to back Trump but for now I’m happy to publicise the hopeful part of the message. As stated earlier, I’m conflicted. Too much evidence in both directions. And that’s OK.


  29. If you had the right to vote in the US election, you probably had the duty to choose between two eminently unsatisfactory candidates. I would have thought most people would have had to compromise some ideals to back either of them. How glad I am I had no vote!


  30. Yes, both candidates had baggage that turned a lot of people off. In the end, however, this election was about rejection of the elite in the United States. I personally believe that things have grown more corrupt than at any time since the Gilded Age (late 19th Century). Things were simply not working for ordinary people and there was active elite denial of bad economic conditions for those not in the wealthy and ruling classes. Worse, the media has actively chosen sides and participates in the denial.


  31. Richard, what on earth are you talking about?

    “Your choice not to reveal anything about yourself, after I had told you, and the world, about the very expensive matter of what Ben Griffiths tweeted post-Brexit – expensive to my reputation in quarters with a direct bearing on my ability to earn a decent wage or even a crust – was the giveaway you see. Your lack of empathy is absolute, …”

    I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. I don’t know, or even know of, Mr G, why I should empathize with you or him or why what was said to him at a bus stop might have anything to do with you or your employment prospects. You make no sense.

    As to pseudonymity, get over it. And as for Delingpole and Breitbart, they are a septic swamp into which it is best not to wade.

    David, a lot of the corruption is down to gerrymandering and voter suppression largely by the Republicans. That the elections were a success for the same party, even if Trump does not obviously belong there, says to me that people aren’t too bothered about corruption if it fits their purposes. And rejection of an ‘elite’ by electing a billionaire who hasn’t paid any tax for decades is ironic indeed.


  32. Nino, Where have you been for the last 16 years with the internet bubble, the subprime housing crisis, the collusion between malefactors of great wealth and politicians. Soros, Steyer, Zuckerberg are all open borders globalization types and politicians are only too happy to oblige just as in the 19th Century. Do you know anything about Teddy Roosevelt? “Voter suppression” is largely a lefty talking point without any substance. There is also voter fraud of course. Teddy Roosevelt was also wealthy but did destroy the corrupt cartel between business, politicians, and fraudulent science (such as social darwinism).


  33. Benny Peiser has an informative article in Canada’s Financial Post entitled Three (perfectly democratic) reasons Donald Trump will absolutely smother the Paris climate deal, which becomes a vehicle for Myron Ebell’s advice to the President-elect on how to put paid to Paris: get the Senate to ratify it as a treaty, as Obama should have done from a proper constitutional perspective. Ban ki-Moon and others are convinced Trump will change his mind. What happens with Paris and the hoped-for Climate Fund arising from it will surely give us a very early signal of wider intentions.


  34. These I hope are self-explanatory

    Ben Shapiro is convinced the New York Post’s extraordinary exclusive Donald Trump’s media summit was a ‘f—ing firing squad’ can only have come from a Trump leak. The humiliations of the old media are only just beginning.


  35. Richard, came here directly from Twitter.

    You state that Trump is like Hitler because of his use of Twitter.

    Where does one go from here?


  36. “Read carefully.”


    How about writing carefully? Did you really intend to draw parallels between Trump and Hitler?

    “There are at least two similarities to Hitler that I think are worth highlighting: the populism and the use of the latest technology. ”

    Nigel Farage and even Theresa May, as it turns out, are populist. Are they Hitler? Do they have similarities to Hitler?

    What was even the purpose of the Hitler comparison?


  37. Because about half the people in my Twitter timeline are making such comparisons right now. See ‘filter bubble’. I seem to have less of one than some climate sceptics I know. One young software expert I’ve followed for over a year just blocked me for this

    Explained here

    People are going a bit crazy. I just pray that one of those people isn’t the President-elect.


  38. But you made the Hitler comparison in your post before these tweets above.

    Your passage in the post quotes two tweets, each of which narrates some incidents of supposed election-triggered hatred with Nazi overtones. You then say, apart from such incidents (not clear whether you think Donald Trump was to blame), there are at least two other similarities with Hitler, and one of them is Trump’s use of direct communication a la Twitter.

    As we speak, Trump called the press into a meeting in his office where he is supposed to have blasted them, and released a video direct to Twitter and Youtube explaining his policy actions. Here’s we have a President communicating directly via social media – an action you appear to describe as being similar to Hitler.

    I don’t think sending out tweets makes anyone Hitler. Additionally, I don’t think there are any meaningful comparisons to be made between Hitler and Trump. You must be really stretching things to argue otherwise. Is that what you think you have done?


  39. It’s populism. We forget how populist the guy in the 30s was. If he’d used it for good no problem. I agree with Niall Ferguson that the analogy falls down in many other ways. (Worth a look at that video.) But I also see warning signs in Trump’s apparent emotional immaturity, where for example he scapegoats Ted Cruz’s dad and implies he was involved in the JFK assassination. Trust and verify.


  40. Meanwhile I’m delighted to report that Jon Sterling, who is Jewish, has unblocked me. He thought I was a neo-nazi because of my three added parentheses. In fact they symbolise the exact opposite. As I say, people are going a little crazy. Perhaps too much depends on Twitter.


  41. Equating Trump to Hitler because “populism” is a smear. I don’t see how it can be helpful. Plus, you are being extremely ungenerous toward Trump – who has done nothing to deserve such comparisons.


  42. Others have done the equating, not me. If you read the comments you’ll see that I and others are very alert to the attempt to smear Steve Bannon, for instance, as being an anti-semite. But we’re also not glossing over the weaknesses in the President-elect.

    Let’s talk sense about the election. Nothing is to be gained by refusing to face the hard facts. What are those facts?

    First of all, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump has the qualifications, the track record or the personal character to be President of the United States.

    Most of us could probably think of a number of people who would be better in the White House. But here, as elsewhere in life, we can only make our choices among the alternatives actually available.

    Thomas Sowell on the day of the election, before advising his US readers to vote for Trump. Perhaps the situation is better than he thought. But time for bed here. There are some useful links throughout this thread. Nice to see you here.


  43. Time for bed sure, but, the technique is well-wrought. There are enough hacks to cover any opponent or target with a Hitler comparison and the social media connection was drawn by you.


  44. Haha. I hope Shub finds those as funny as I do.

    Forgetting Hitler and small matters like article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, does Donald Trump yet understand the rules governing being President of the United States? When he met with Nigel Farage recently he reportedly urged him to have the offshore wind farms canned that are liable to spoil the view for golfers on his deluxe Scottish course. Originally reported in the Sunday Express the story was picked up yesterday by the New York Times. This morning the liberal historian Simon Schama noticed, even more aghast than he’s been for the last 24 hours (do take a look):

    As someone comments further down “also demonstrates he really has no clue regarding British politics. Farage not big with SNP.” But let’s be generous, as Shub urges. We always said there’d be a learning curve 🙂


  45. Hang on. So Trump met Farage, and encouraged Farage to oppose wind farms.

    Is this is some kind of scandal? Does Farage have any role in windfarms in Scotland? Does Farage need any encouragement with regard his views on windfarms? More QTWTAIN.

    As I have said, I am no Trump supporter, but the hysterical over-reaction of some of the institutional left is just silly.


  46. MIAB: I have read it and I pointed to it further up. I agree with every word. There is a great deal of crying wolf and it’s really damaged the credibility of the left. Did you see the video I also pointed to where a rather sweary leftie says much the same thing? Some of the more sensible people are beginning to realise.

    Paul: The issue is whether Trump has been doing specific lobbying on behalf of his business interests, as President-elect. I think we can all agree that wind farms are a terrible eyesore as well as completely useless in generating electricity at a reasonable price, when all associated costs are taken into account. What the NYT and Schama read into this case, because Scotland was specifically mentioned, is that Trump was being motivated by a business interest. I agree it’s not proven but he needs to be terribly careful. Deutsche Bank is a rather bigger fish coming up:


  47. It’s probably not that relevant what a former Archbishop of Canterbury thinks, but we in England do have a curious habit of attaching significance to the opinions of high ranking members of the clergy.

    Rowan Williams, in stark contrast to Prof Curry, thinks that Trump’s election, rather than being a “triumph for US democracy” is in fact a sign that “mass democracy has failed” and that we should now “seek a humane alternative”.

    Now I’m not sure what he means by “mass democracy” and whether there is a distinction between that and the more urbane ‘democracy’ which appears to have served America, Britain and numerous other countries rather well for centuries. I suspect he is hinting at ‘populism’ in its current left wing incarnation as the process whereby too many ignorant people were swayed into voting (ultimately against their better interests, as superiorly descried by left wing intellectuals and various other ‘experts’) for a candidate (or option, as in the case of the EU referendum) who appeals to their baser instincts – exemplified by nationalism, patriotism, self-preservationism (if that’s a word) etc.; you get the drift.

    Williams doesn’t elaborate on what this “humane alternative” to “mass democracy” (i.e. a democratic process which has elected a candidate or choice which is anathema to the prevailing elitist establishment, but pleaseS the majority of the proles) might be. Or what specific quality will make it “humane”. We kill unwanted dogs and bad or very sick people with lethal injections and call it “humane”, so I do wonder, especially with the Left’s alarming propensity to redefine words and phrases in the English language to accommodate their own mindset. A good example is Rowan William’s statement:

    “Trump’s campaign succeeded in spite of the cast-iron demonstrations of his total indifference to truth (not to mention decency).”

    Which is remarkable in that Trump’s campaign succeeded in SPITE of the main stream media’s total indifference to truth and decency throughout! truth and decency are flexible concepts it would seem.


  48. Fascinating Jaime. It’s hard to believe how quickly some people are willing to abandon the rules of democracy. I don’t know if he’s said anything since but the current Archbishop I thought struck exactly the right note on 9th:

    And this from a church leader in the States who doesn’t buy into the idea of a state church I thought was best of all:

    Thanks very much for bringing this to our attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. I know we all do it, but I dislike the X is like Y because of Z. In parts of our lives we all resemble somebody really bad and somebody really good. It doesn’t make us either. At the moment populism supposedly has a bad name but without populism we’d never vote for anybody. The Germans fear populsm because they think that was what made Hitler rise to power. Was it? Or was it their inherent desire to make everyone do as the Germans wanted them to? A flaw that seems to be more prevalent in their ‘peaceful’ plans for the EU than any kind of popular desire to not be overun by a load of foreigners.

    Is Trump like Hitler because he’s speaking for those who think foreigners have undecut their jobs? Or are foreigners under cutting their jobs, while wealthy people make more money and sneer that those losing their jobs have never had it so good? We have a system that encourages youngsters to turn into useless snowflakes and then invites foreigners raised the old fashioned ways to take the jobs our youth are neither trained for nor interested in? It’s not even as if governments are taking enough tax to support these people they are engineering for the scrap heap, let alone the new ones who are taking their place.

    May and Trump have both said that globalisation must work for everyone but I’m not sure anyone knows how to do that. George Osbourne’s Norther Powerhouse was a recognition that it was necessary but at no point did I hear any plan to make it happen. HS(insert number) is just a plan to widen the commuting circle for London – assuming anyone less than company director will be able to afford the rail fare. What will the rest of the UK be other than a conciege service for the only prosperous people in the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. It is ironic that the best policy available to neutralize developing countries’ CO2 advantage (the advantage that they are not obliged to control CO2 emissions under the Paris agreement) is a carbon tax applied by developed countries internally and at their border, equally on products of any origin.


  51. The following is an attempt to tie up some loose ends on this interesting and always friendly thread 🙂


    May and Trump have both said that globalisation must work for everyone but I’m not sure anyone knows how to do that.

    Me neither. I find it interesting though that in his campaign Trump to a large degree peddled pessimism, just like the left. The facts globally really are otherwise. That doesn’t help everyone of course. Perhaps nobody has the answers for everyone.

    Didn’t stop Hitler of course. (I admit it, I’m incorrigible. More on the hated analogy below.)

    Trump’s tweeting late Monday, US time, was a bit of a gift to this thread, both bypassing the mainstream media with his policy plans for the first 100 days video and that cheeky tweet recommending Farage as the new UK ambassador. I took the trouble to get the BBC’s take, more than usual – and that’s typical of me. Get the other side of the argument when the MSM is under such attack. Sure enough on the World at One yesterday I thought Gary O’Donoghue in Washington, in a very short report, got in a number of very important points. He twice used the word astonishment of the Washington media-policy elite – about the break with all diplomatic propriety in telling one of your closest allies who their ambassador should be and (this I had missed) the fact that there was no mention of the Iran deal at all. Is Trump going back on the promise to undo that? That was meant to be happening right away. Too easy to miss some pretty important things in all the Hitler noise.

    O’Donoghue also made the crucial point that by releasing the video via Twitter Trump avoided having to answer questions, as he would have faced in a more conventional press conference. But of course that didn’t mean you couldn’t get the ‘other side’ just by reading the thread on Twitter:

    That comes up first for me anyway. Surely the canniest reporters from the NYT and the Washington Post couldn’t have done better than that. Or perhaps we are seeing some dumbing down. I leave it to the ever-prescient CliScep reader to decide.

    I don’t think Trump is Hitler. Hitler was a open racist and Trump isn’t. End of story. But the populism, the trampling on normal diplomatic niceties, the pettiness, the vindictiveness … is all good news I’m sure, because he agrees with us about wind farms. Sorry I mentioned it. 🙂

    For a much more nuanced view of Trump and of Brexit I recommend Michael Gove. I always recommend Michael Gove to be honest. (My girlfriend says I want to have his babies. I find the concept problematic both as a scientist and an evangelical Christian.) But Michael was back on the MSM on Monday night in the shape of The Agenda on ITV, with Piers Morgan (who I didn’t realise knows Trump pretty well), Gina Miller (who launched the Brexit legal challenge now going to the Supreme Court), Julia Hartley-Brewer and Owen Smith. It’s a lot of fun and you will gasp as Michael agrees with Gina. Well I didn’t – I just agreed with the both of them. But it also allows Michael to say that he sees Brexit as rather different than the vote for Trump. He didn’t really get time to explain but again, agreed. Interesting times.


  52. Piers Morgan won the first celebrity Apprentice in the US. I suspect that Trump cultivated him as one of the few media types who didn’t run screaming. Morgan wasn’t well liked by the Americans especially the anti gun lobby because he argued for some controls on weapons like semi automatics.

    I think that Trump’s relationship to Farage is similar. I have my doubts that it’s a relationship that will last. A great many establishment MPs made a huge mistake by taking sides and sneering at Trump. I knew it at the time. But Farage has ultimately nothing to offer Trump other than a stick to poke Mrs May.

    Trump’s election is very different from Brexit. Yes, it was a protest vote but a fairly weedy one. Mrs Clinton lost the lection, not the other way round. Brexit might have had a slim majority but voted in by a far larger percentage of the potential electorate. Also, like our elections, there’s always the fall back position of ‘how much damage could he do in 4 years?’ whereas the Brexit vote was forever… proabably. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t a roaring success and get the next term with ease.

    As long as I remember (I don’t remember Ronald and Maggie in any detail) Presidents have muttered about withdrawing from international affairs. They’ve thumbed their noses at the UK and the special relationship only the media beleives in and got cosy with the other EU countries. The next moment, they’re up to their necks in international strife, the EU is playing deaf and the US start waxing lyrical about their oldest buddy. In our favour, the EU was even ruder (and still is) about Trump than our MPs. Trump can’t be in any doubt that the EU pats it’s pockets and says it came out without its wallet whenever military spending/support comes up. Maybe we can benefit from the alien landscape?


  53. Whether they realise it or not, the MSM need Trump more than he needs them over the next 4 or more years. What else can provide them with so many opportunities for clickbait or just venting their-spleens?

    He appears to setting out his stall to prove this. That they had conniptions the other day when he went out for a burger without inviting them along, tells a story. I doubt that he forgot them by accident.


  54. Michael: I think they realise it. Major head-scratching is going on in Washington and New York as we speak. I can enjoy that part like anyone else who’s witnessed such dreadful mediocre treatment of AGW from the same big names for so many years.


    A great many establishment MPs made a huge mistake by taking sides and sneering at Trump … But Farage has ultimately nothing to offer Trump other than a stick to poke Mrs May.

    Tend to agree. What’s a lot more interesting is that the current ambassador, called a ‘fanatical Europhile’ by Farage, may have joined the sneering during the campaign, thinking that Trump was bound to lose, and this may have made his position untenable:

    Boris Johnson is understood to be irritated at Sir Kim’s failure to forge stronger links with Mr Trump during the presidential race. A source said he had ‘left the door open’ for Mr Farage.

    One diplomatic source said Mrs May, who criticised Mr Trump last year, needed to do more herself to foster good relations. ‘She needs to get on the phone or, better still, get on a plane and go and see him, rather than leave the field clear for Farage,’ he said.

    Privately, Whitehall insiders admitted Sir Kim’s stint as US ambassador would quickly become ‘untenable’ if Mr Trump refuses to deal with him.

    Sources told the Daily Mail the Trump camp believes Sir Kim should be replaced. The US tycoon is thought to have been angered by a leaked memo from Sir Kim which suggested he was an inexperienced operator who would be ‘open to outside influence’.

    But ministers fear Mr Trump has also been influenced by Mr Farage, who described Sir Kim this month as a ‘fanatical Europhile’ and called for him to be sacked.

    One well-placed source said it was clear there was an ‘orchestrated plot’ to unseat the British ambassador.

    I’m sure that all of us at CliScep are gutted that yet another Europhile expert has become a victim of his own hubris. I’m weeping into my cappuccino as I write this.


  55. I think the entire civil service is massively europhile.

    I know there’s a procedure to the placement of ambassadors but whimsical idea, I wondered if Daniel Hannan might trump Trump’s Farage.


  56. The transcript of Trump’s on-the-record meeting at the New York Times yesterday (after a private one with senior staff) seems a fitting place to end my thoughts on the President-elect and social media. On his apparent equivocation on climate, including whether he would in fact pull the US out of Paris, The Economist comments today Blowing hot and cold doesn’t begin to cover it. That Google page has lots of other reaction. The GWPF says it’s far too early to know. I always said time would tell.

    This is though I think worth quoting:

    DAVIS: You hired Steve Bannon to be the chief strategist for you in the White House. He is a hero of the alt-right. He’s been described by some as racist and anti-Semitic. I wonder what message you think you have sent by elevating him to that position and what you would say to those who feel like that indicates something about the kind of country you prefer and the government you’ll run.

    TRUMP: Um, I’ve known Steve Bannon a long time. If I thought he was a racist, or alt-right, or any of the things that we can, you know, the terms we can use, I wouldn’t even think about hiring him. First of all, I’m the one that makes the decision, not Steve Bannon or anybody else. And Kellyanne will tell you that.


    KELLYANE CONWAY: 100 percent.

    Kellyanne Conway isn’t the only woman Trump has entrusted with major executive power in his career but it’s looking like she may now have become the most important. I pray for her and all others in Team Trump.


  57. I confess that I really do not understand this thread.

    What did the press say when Reagan was elected? The world is about to end. And then the roll out of cruise missiles into Greenham Common and a few people got very worried. The world survived…and the USSR got scared.

    The press reaction to Trump is very similar. When Obama was elected, no one seemed to care that he was unable to form a coherent sentence – in fact they declared him a supreme orator. I guess I blotted my copy book at a corporate training event when they played a speech and asked us to copy it and I asked whether anyone actually knew what he had said…no replies. It was just vacuous shit…i doubt whether any student will ever have to compare a speech by Cicero against the rambling semi-speech thoughts of Obama.

    Populism…so FDR told lies about Herbert Hoover…he got elected and enacted Hoover’s policies. What we know as the Hoover Dam might have been given another name because FDR was totally against such spending during the election.

    JFK…Bill…Obama…no populism going on there.

    Knee-jerk foreign policy – it wasn’t so long ago that people were talking about cheese-eating surrender monkeys. That worked out well..

    So Obama gives the Queen an ipod. I would class that as disrespectful. He is just thinking ofcl8imate change. because he is an imbecile who became president. Mark Twain should be livvng in this hour.


  58. I found this again the other day. This is the kind of thing that I saw happening, frequently, when one Jewish journalist, ex-Tea Party, and others came out against Trump:

    It led some people, including myself, to wonder about the candidate concerned.

    If you can show that the same thing happened with FDR v Hoover and the rest, fine. But to me, born in 1957, it seemed very new, though harking back to a previous era in another country. And it seemed directly linked to the use of Twitter. Hence we have taken some of the concerns expressed by opponents of Trump more seriously than others.


  59. MIAB, I don’t remember Reagan’s election, but I do remember the narrative of misery and wailing when George W was elected in 2000.

    Here for example is the Guardian in Dec 2000:
    “Mr Bush’s election victory is a disaster for the planet, according to green activists.”

    And here is a web page from the time, portraying Bush as, well, see if you can guess who before clicking.

    And of course I remember the media euphoria at the election of Obama. The thing that sticks in my mind is a cartoon, with a picture of the White House lawn with a pond, and a sign saying “Please do not walk on the water”.


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