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Nederlog

Jan 22, 2017
Crisis: On Trump, The Inauguration, The Press, American Carnage, Trump & Media
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction   

1.
Anything at All Can Happen in the Age of Trump
2. WATCH: Inauguration 2017 Special Coverage w/ Angela Davis,
     Naomi Klein, Ralph Nader & More

3. On First Full Day as President, Trump Attacks the Press

4. American Carnage: The Obscenity of Trump's Inauguration

5. Trump and the Media: The Ins and Outs of a Complex
     Relationship

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of January 22, 2017. (It may be that there will be no Nederlog tomorrow, because I have troubles with my teeth again.)

Summary: This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links. It is all about Trump's election as president of the USA, but I should add that I have a - sort of - principle that cast out several articles I might have reviewed otherwise: I will not review articles which quote a lot of tweets, for that is not real journalism. I am sorry, but I don't tweet either and I very much dislke this extra-ordinarily stupid limitation to 140 characters.

Item 1 is about Jon Schwarz on Trump (I mostly but not fully agree); item 2 is about a long report by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on the inauguration; item 3 is about the very worrying possibility that Trump may attempt to forbid or destroy what remains of the real free press in the USA; item 4 is about an article by William Rivers Pitt; and item 5 is about an article by Craig Murray.

As for today (January 22, 2017): I have meanwhile attached a message to the openings of both of my sites which points out that for somehing like a year now both of my sites more or less systematically, but unpredictably, show the wrong date and the wrong files, indeed going so far back as 2015, and as if I did not write anything since then.

Today, the Danish site is correct, but the Dutch site still shows it is January 18 while it has been properly uploaded four times in more than 96 hours.

Someone really wants that my sites are not being read.

More about this later.
1. Anything at All Can Happen in the Age of Trump

The first item is by Jon Schwarz on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

Welcome to the Age of Trump, where no one has any idea what the policies of the President of the United States are, including the President of the United States.

There has never before been a U.S. president whose stated goals were as simultaneously vague, preposterous, and contradictory.

Nor has there ever been a president who has intermittently taken strong stances that were so directly at odds with his own party’s most fervent dogma and his own appointees.

Nor has there been a president who was as completely uninterested in the basics of politics. It’s as though America is playing in the World Series with a manager who truly doesn’t care about baseball.

I mostly agree, although I believe Donald Trump - whom I think is both mad (and I am a psychologist) and a neofascist (according to my definition) - does care about politics. What he doesn't care about, and doesn't seem to do, although much of this is a guess of mine, is reading books (which he thinks - it seems - is not necessary for him, since Donald Trump Is - According To Donald Trump - The Greatest In Everything That Matters).

Here is some more:

But while nothing is certain, some alarming things are more likely than others. The path the new administration hopes to take may be discernible in a 2016 report by the conservative Heritage Foundation. According to The Hill on Thursday, Trump transition staffers – including a vice president at Heritage’s grassroots arm Action for America – are using the Heritage document as the basis for Trump’s first proposed budget.

The Trump transition staff did not respond to questions about whether they are in fact doing this, and understandably so — the Heritage plan treats social spending like Lizzie Borden treated her parents, axing $10.5 trillion, or 20 percent, from the $51.4 trillion that the Congressional Budget Office projects the federal government would otherwise spend over the next ten years.

This is not certain (as indicated by Schwarz) but I agree it is probable, indeed in part because of the people Trump selected for his cabinet, and also because I think the ideological background to Trump's opinions is considerably more consistent than Trump's opinions (which seem to depend a lot on his explosive temperament and personal irritations): I think he is a neofascist, according to my definition, and indeed that definition describes rather a lot of what seems to be Trump's program quite well.

Here is more (some of which has happened already):

Non-defense discretionary spending would also be eviscerated. Heritage would slice expenditures on clean energy, environmental programs, and veterans’ health, as well as funding for the Departments of Commerce, Transportation, Justice, and State. The National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be totally eliminated.

While all this is happening, one part of the government would see its budget protected and even increased: the Pentagon.

Yes. And it seems to me as if one of things Trump is preparing for (and may initiate) is a major war. Here is some more on Heritage and the Republicans:

And we know that Republicans are generally on board with the Heritage vision. In fact, today’s Republican Party is more ideologically extreme than it has been in the memory of almost all living Americans. Most importantly, it now rejects the post-World War II bipartisan consensus that the New Deal was a good thing. The Republicans’ long term plan is to roll it back as far as possible, ideally returning the U.S. to a time without Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, or much regulation of business. The fact that this kind of brutal capitalism in the past was accompanied by the rise of communism and fascism and two cataclysmic wars doesn’t seem to worry them.

Yes. I agree that Trump and a part of the Republicans want to move the USA back, in legal terms, to the time between 1890 and 1920, which were quite brutish and poor for large segments of the American working population, which in turn delivered enormous profits in the hands of the rich few.

This ends as follows (and I skipped a lot):

So here we are, wandering in the post-truth, post-fact, post-everything Trump fog. We can just make out a few hazy, ominous shapes coming towards us, and no one knows what else is out there beyond our sight. But most frightening of all is that the President of the United States is somewhere around here too, and he’s just as lost as we are.

No, I think that is mostly mistaken. Here is my judgement, sentence by sentence:

The first statement seems to give too much credit to "post-truth" and "post-fact" notions, for it seems to present these (implicitly here) as being more than plain lies and plain propaganda (for the more intelligent), which is what they are.

The second statement seems to miss the distinction I made between Trump's insane temperament, which I agree is quite contradictory, and Trump's more considered ideology, which is neofascism - that I (once again) define here:

Neofascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that propounds an ethics which has profit as its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist, anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are stronger than a national government or stateb. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.

I think all the definiting points are (also) Trump's central political points (except perhaps for the bold part about multi-national corporations, though I believe - in considerable part because Trump has been running a multi-national corporation for years - this applies in fact as well).

And the third statement misses a similar distinction: Trump is quite confused about the realities of everyday politics, indeed in considerable part because he confuses his politics and his personal irritations and seems to believe his own current fantasies as truths, but I think he is far less confused about his neofascistic program, defined above.

But this is a recommended article (which contains a lot more than I quoted).

2. WATCH: Inauguration 2017 Special Coverage w/ Angela Davis, Naomi Klein, Ralph Nader & More

The second item is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
Watch six hours of Democracy Now!’s inauguration day special, featuring reports from the streets and interviews with Naomi Klein, Ralph Nader, Angela Davis, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Alicia Garza, Lee Fang, Allan Nairn, Sen. Cory Booker, Sonia Sanchez and others.
I did read through all of the transcript that Democracy Now! gives (which is a considerable read) but indeed missed most of the people that start with Angela Davis (in the above listing), apparently because the transcript is partial. Also, I saw none
of the inauguration: Too slow, too boring, too ugly.

Here are some selected bits, from a whole lot more. I start with Naomi Klein (<-Wikipedia):
NAOMI KLEIN: The issue is that they see opportunities to profit. And the issue is that they’ve made decisions to put corporate profits ahead of the need for climate action. So, whether they, you know, on some days admit it’s happening, on other days deny that it’s happening, is a complete distraction. What unifies them is the fact that they’re not worried about it. I think a lot of the people around Trump—and I would put Trump in this category—believe that their tremendous wealth will insulate them from the impacts of climate change.
Yes, I think this may well be correct: The very rich are profit-oriented first and foremost, and they believe - quite probably correctly - that their enormous wealth will keep them alive, even if billions die.

Here is some more:
NAOMI KLEIN: And it’s just this sort of happy acceptance of the fact that, indeed, companies like Exxon have more power than most governments in the world. And this apparently is a qualification to run the government. I mean, I do think that we should see what is happening here as kind of the final stage of the neoliberal project, which has always been about devouring the state and privatizing it in bits and pieces, right?
I mostly agree, although the difference between Exxon and governments is that Exxon does not have legal powers - though with Tillerson (<-Wikipedia) now nominated as secretary of state this is no longer true for the USA.

She is right about "the neoliberal project", though I like to add that (i) the very name "neoliberal" is a propaganda term, while neoliberalism itself refers to either (ii) neoconservatism (that is mostly limited to economics) or else to (iii) neofascism, that extends neoconservatism to politics (and is defined above).

Here is next Allan Nairn:
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, because the U.S. working class had collapsed, started collapsing in the ’70s, and this cycle, for the first time that the shock waves from that reached the shores of politics, the only two candidates who addressed that reality were Sanders and Trump.
(...)
Clinton was denying the reality of what had happened, the fact that the working middle class had collapsed. It so happens even that her own husband’s administration had been a key player in helping to cause that collapse, with the trade deals and the giveaways, the accommodations to Wall Street. So she was up against Trump, who was running as a candidate of change, of revolution. Trump was denouncing corruption, money corruption, saying, "Hey, I’m a corrupter. I give money to the politicians. It’s all dirty." And Hillary’s response to that was to say, "No, it’s not dirty when you take—the money I get doesn’t affect me. In fact, Obama takes even more money from Wall Street than I do." My god, who’s going to win that argument?
Yes, I think that is mostly correct.

Clearly, both Clintons - who presently seem to own between $80 million and $120 million, mostly given by the very rich bankmanagers for their services - are extremely corrupt, and in fact this may have been their main motive to become politicians: As the most plausible step for them - neither was rich - to acquire great riches.

And something very similar may be true of Obama (who probably also will be a multi- millionaire soon).

Here is more by Nairn:
ALLAN NAIRN: Elites—it’s elites running against elites. It’s what Mao did and Mao and his people did in the Cultural Revolution. They mobilized people to attack the party and thereby strengthen Mao and his element of the party. It’s what Wall Street did with the tea party movement, organize people to attack Wall Street and bring in representatives who will strengthen Wall Street. Trump went on the attack against the corporate elites, who have destroyed American jobs, and now has empowered those same corporate elites more than they ever have been.
Yes indeed. Here is some more from Nairn:
ALLAN NAIRN: And now they’re in there, and they have a whole agenda. They want to privatize public assets. They want to lift regulations on corporate excesses and start imposing regulations on public protest, even more than they’re currently regulated. They want to do a series of things that will result in another radical transfer of wealth, probably even bigger than the one that happened after the Reagan years. And, you know, they could never sell that to the public, but they’ve ridden in on Trump’s coattails, and they’re ready to go to work, starting this afternoon.
Yes indeed - and (by far) the most potent threat this poses are the impositions of "regulations on public protest" and the non-mainstream media: If the latter happens, the NUSA will be a dictatorship run by Trump.

And here is Amy Goodman making a quite important point:
AMY GOODMAN: That the Republican Party is in the ascendancy, and the Democrats in this tremendous minority, both not only at the federal legislature, the Congress, but in statehouses and governorships across the country, the Democrats are in complete disarray.
Yes indeed - and there is considerably more on how the outcome of the presidential elections were totally unexpected, for Hillary Clinton seems to have believed that she would win as Trump has turned out to win. [1]

Here is a final bit by Allan Nairn:
ALLAN NAIRN: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, you had a massive privatization of public assets going into the hands of oligarchs. That’s exactly what this Trump Cabinet is about. Also, Putin has used this particular tactic in Russia where he goes after individual oligarchs who he sees as potential opponents, while at the same time strengthening them as a class and weakening democratic institutions in the country. And that’s basically exactly what Trump is about, when he goes after individual corporations, while strengthening corporations as a class.
Yes, that seems also correct. Finally, here is Ralph Nader:
RALPH NADER: But I must say, I was shocked myself by the nominations. These are the worst conceivable Cabinet secretaries and agency heads that he could have picked. They want to dismantle the Labor Department. They want to corporatize Medicare, Medicaid. They want to reduce enforcement in the civil rights area. They want to depress more votes. They want a bigger military budget. They want more surveillance. They want more empire abroad. And there’s just no end. They want to dismantle the public school system. And so, with all the horrors, this could be an opportunity for the majority of the people who disagree to basically turn it into a boomerang opportunity. That is, they may come in so drunk with their power that they fall into pitfalls of corruption, pitfalls of self-enrichment, pitfalls of illegality, pitfalls of overreach.
Yes indeed, and this is also one of the many reasons why I do call Trump and Trump's government neofascists. And Nader seems also correct that Trump and his team are quite likely to overreach themselves.

There is a whole lot more in the article, which is recommended (but a long read).

3. On First Full Day as President, Trump Attacks the Press

The third item is by Nika Knight on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

In a foreboding speech at CIA headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, President Donald Trump attacked press coverage of his inauguration, characterizing reporters as "the most dishonest human beings" and saying that they would "pay."

The president wrongly claimed that the crowd had stretched to the Washington monument, despite photos showing the opposite, and that the press had lied about the size of the event. He repeatedly made these claims despite a multitude of photos that showed a relatively paltry crowd.

Yes indeed, and these are also - for me, at least - two of the most dangerous aspects of Donald Trump: His desire to bridle the free press and free speech, simply because they criticize Him (The Greatest Of The Great), and his complete and utter fantasy-based lies about Himself and everybody else.

Here is the ending (and I skipped too many tweets: I am sorry, but I very strongly dislike to read the opinions of the stupid, who voluntarily stupefied themselves even further by limiting their opinions to 140 characters: That's very close to insanity, for me, given that everyone has e-mail who has Twitter [2]):

During Trump's meandering speech to the CIA, in which the president also spent long tangents bragging about the size of his campaign rallies, he also appeared to hint that his administration may loosen restrictions on torture.

"We haven't used the abilities we’ve got. We've been restrained," Trump said. 

Trump also told the intelligence community crowd "I'm so behind you." 

Trump attacked the CIA throughout his campaign, and it remains to be seen what relationship the agency will have with the Trump administration. 

My own guess is that Trump will rapidly come to cooperate with the CIA and the NSA.
I may be mistaken, both about Trump and about the CIA, but I think this is less likely.

4. American Carnage: The Obscenity of Trump's Inauguration

The fourth item is by William Rivers Pitt on Truth-out:

This starts as follows:

He has the codes now.

Somewhere, perhaps nestled in a coat pocket or negligently tossed on top of a dresser in the White House, President Donald J. Trump has in his possession the ability to unleash the American nuclear arsenal in less time than it takes your average person to read a recipe for biscuits.
I mostly agree, and indeed this is one of my main worries: The fact that an irresponsible idiot like Trump now can decide to blow up everyone by nuclear
arms [3].

Here is some about the inauguration of Trump (that I wholly missed: I have no patience with that manner of TV, and indeed do not have a TV since 47 years):

President Donald J. Trump. That will take some getting used to.

The entire inaugural affair did not at all disappoint, in that it was all disappointing. The coverage before the event was quietly monstrous, with media people in tones of understated splendor trying to coo away the horror in their ongoing mission to normalize catastrophe. They giggled like schoolchildren when the camera found a smirking George W. Bush -- "Well, he looks happy!" -- and giggled again when a wide shot caught Bush and Hillary Clinton laughing it up over the grandeur of it all. "You cannot root against the president of the United States," intoned MSNBC's Joe Scarborough at one point, "without rooting against the country that he or she governs." Pretty subtle there, Joe.

These are mostly Pitt's reactions (that are not mine, but then I also not an American). As to Joe Scarborough: His opinion is precisely equivalent with the statement in 1933 that "You cannot root against the president of Germany" - Adolf Hitler - "without rooting against the country that he or she governs": Scarborough is a totalitarian, indeed - it seems - quite like Trump.

Here is something I did not know:

It could have been worse, apparently. Trump and his team wanted battle tanks and missile launchers included in the inaugural parade, part of Trump's plan to "show the military" whenever he can. To their credit, the military turned him down flat.

I say. This does increase my - anyway considerable - probability that Trump is preparing for war, and probably with China.

And this is the last bit about some the changes Trump brought already:

A fair roadmap of the days and weeks to come can be found on the White House website, which was transformed into a factory for terrible ideas moments after Trump took the oath. All references to climate change, meticulously compiled by the Obama administration over the years, have been scrubbed with no explanation given. An energy plan that received a "Zero" score from the Sierra Club is touted. As for the criminal justice system, the new Trump administration minces no words: "The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it."

I am especially worried about Trump's giving the police far more liberties and of introducing laws that makes protesting a matter of playing with one's life, for Trump seems to be a proponent of the police being free to physically destroy protesters, and
of locking up protesters in jail for a year or more simply for protesting.

We will see what happens, and this is a recommended article.

5. Trump and the Media: The Ins and Outs of a Complex Relationship

The fifth and last item today is by Craig Murray (<-Wikipedia) on Raging Bull-Shit and originally on CraigMurray.org.uk:

This is from near the beginning:

With the happy resignation of Stephen Daisley, a strong contender for worst journalist in the World is now Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian. He takes the irony to an entirely new level. He claims that Trump will destroy the legacy by which smaller nations “long looked to the US to maintain something close to a rules-based international system.” He completely ignores the fact that the greatest single hammer blow against the rules based international system was delivered by Freedland’s idol Tony Blair, when he supported the invasion of Iraq without a Security Council Resolution and in the specific knowledge that, if the matter of force were properly put to the Security Council, it would not merely meet three vetoes but lose a majority vote.

I do not know who Daisley is, but I quite agree with Murray on the qualities of the liar, the Blairite and the propagandist Jonathan Freedland (whom I am not reading anymore since two years at least: I very much dislike being obviously lied to and manipulated).

This is also one of the reasons (from quite a few more) that my opinion of The Guardian has radically fallen.

Here is some more on Freedland:

The UN, and the rule of international law, have never recovered from that hammer blow, which Freedland enthusiastically cheered on. Nor has Freedland apparently noticed that the smaller nations rather detest than worship the USA. It has invaded and bombed them, interfered in their elections, supported right wing coups and armies, run destabilising CIA drug rings in them, and armed and even sometimes led dictatorial death squads.

I think myself that Freedland knows this quite well, but simply chooses to pretend as if this does not matter.

Here is Murray about his opinions about Trump and various press releases:

I am thankfully too clear-headed to like Trump because of the extraordinary campaign of vilification to which he has been subjected. Freedland has no shame about repeating the lie that Trump kept Hitler’s speeches by his bedside. I was in a position to know for sure that the “Russian hacking” elements of the extraordinary “Manchurian candidate” rubbish which the entire establishment threw at Trump was definitively untrue. I had the background and training to see that the Christopher Steele dossier was not only nonsense, but a fake, not in fact produced seriatim on the dates claimed. The involvement of the US security services in spreading lies as intelligence to undermine an incoming President will go down as a crucial moment in US history. We have not yet seen the denouement of that story.

I mostly agree, although I do not know how Murray knows that it is a "lie that Trump kept Hitler’s speeches by his bedside": I also disbelieve this, but not because I have any knowledge about Trump's sleeping arrangements, but because I think it is most unlikely that Trump reads books.

It is similar with "the Christopher Steele dossier": I agree it is nonsense, but not for Murray's reasons but for Binney's reasons, that last were reviewed in Nederlog here.

Here is the political program of the very rich as expounded by Murray:

The very wealthy have succeeded in diverting justified anger at the results of globalisation on to immigrant populations, who are themselves victims of globalisation. By shamelessly tapping in to the deep wells of popular atavism, the elite have managed the extraordinary trick of escaping the wrath their appalling profiteering and extreme levels of wealth should bring.

Yes indeed - and once again I point out that this is possible only because so many "of the working class" [4] are stupid and ignorant (and I am genuinely sorry, for I derive no pleasure from this whatsoever, and repeat it mostly because it seems obviously true to me, while almost no one even discusses these real and important facts).

And this is about Murray's expectations about the Republicans:

It is of course a major question whether the establishment and his own Republican party allow him to do anything too radical at all. My own suspicion is that after all the huffing and puffing, nothing much is going to change.

It is possible, although this seems to involve the assumption that Trump will very soon be made to obey by the CIA and the secret services, more or less like Obama may have done in the first few weeks of his first presidency. [5]

This article ends as follows (with one small correction):

I suppose the reason I can’t join in the “it’s a disaster” screams, is that I thought it was already a disaster. The neo-liberal, warmongering orthodoxies did not have my support, despite Obama’s suave veneer. The pandering to racist populism of Trump is bad, and we must keep a watch on it. He may turn out not really to be different at all. Like all politicians, personal enrichment will doubtless be high on his agenda. But I do not start from the presumption the world is now a wors[e] place than it was last week. I shall wait and see.

I don't quite agree, though I neither liked Clinton nor Trump, because both, quite obviously also, belonged to "[t]he neo-liberal, warmongering orthodoxies". But one major difference between the two sides (which Murray probably is less equipped to see than I am) is that Trump is mad and Clinton is not mad (while both are liars and cheats).

This is what made me favor Clinton, and not because she is any good, but because she isn't mad. But OK, we now have - I strongly believe - a mad president of the USA.

And finally I liked to read that this former English ambassador wrote "(l)ike all politicians, personal enrichment will doubtless be high on his agenda": Yes indeed.
I have seen extremely few honest politicians, and I think the vast majority is not at all the idealists they pretend to be, but has a major personal aim to get richer than the vast majority of the other inhabitants of his or her nation.

Politicians are politicians for money, just like ordinary people work for money, and rarely for ideals or because the work itself is satisfactory.

This is a recommended article.

---------------------------------
Notes
[1] I report it because it is quite true: Around November 4, 2016 Hillary Clinton expected to gain the elections as Trump did in fact, with majorities in Congress and the Senate, and nearly all who studied the polls agreed with her. (After that, there was the FBI's James Comey.)

[2] Again I am saying this not because it will make me popular, but because I think it is true (and no, I know not all people on Facebook are stupid or uneducated). I am much against expressing oneself with a 140 character limit; I think hardly any subtle thought can be well expressed with so few characters; and I seriously consider the possibility that Twitter exists to make people express themselves more stupidly than they would have done in proper emails.

[3] And this is again why I was (and am) so much opposed to Trump as president: He is not sane and he may therefore start a nuclear war. And as I have said before, my own probability is 50/50 that there will not be a nuclear war in the next four years.

[4] In fact, I do not believe myself in the Marxist teachings about classes and class wars, mostly because - while I believe there are the rich and the non-rich, and their interests are in general opposed - I think this suggests the wrong units and does not correspond to the real fact that human societies are made up of various kinds of groups, which are very much smaller than classes, and indeed, if properly defined, presuppose that most members of a single group - families, friends, co-workers - do know each other at least
facially. And I think there is much to be learned about groups and about groupthinking.

Also, while I do not really believe in the objective existence of "the working class" and "the capitalist class" it so happens that my parents were poor proletarians (all their lives), while I did - after a lot of trouble due to ill health and my personal opinions - succeed in getting a brilliant M.A. (and this makes me different from those who never properly studied).

In fact, while there were more proletarians who managed to study in the 1970ies and 1980ies, I still was one of a small minority: Even in he 1970ies and 1980ies, it were mostly the children of the rich or the well-to-do who could and did study, and proportionally far more so than the children of proletarians (= poor people with almost nothing privately owned).

[5] As I said (and as Snowden also said), Obama said all the right things in his 2009 inauguration speech. At that time I did believe him (as did Snowden), but I revised my judgement on Obama by the end of 2009, having come to the decision that he systematically flattered his voters, while often doing the opposite of what he said (as came out most clearly with Obama's covering for Wall Street).

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