Media (293)


(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA) 

The week didn’t start well for Trump.  Fresh off speeches by George W. Bush and Obama, who blasted the brand of vulgarity he brought to the presidency, on Monday he got into a Twitter argument with the grieving, pregnant widow of a sergeant who was buried last Saturday.  It’s hard to imagine how a Commander in Chief can sink lower than that.  In later interviews Trump absolved himself from responsibility for the mistakes that got four servicemen killed because he had delegated all decisions to ‘his’ generals.  On Tuesday senator Corker continued his criticism of Trump, and senator Flake elegantly echoed the former presidents in a speech on the senate floor, in which he announced that he would leave the senate rather than run in 2018.  But then Trump’s fortunes seemed to change.  At a luncheon with Republican senators on Wednesday he received by his own accounting three standing ovations, and at an impromptu press conference that followed he declared himself to be a ‘very intelligent person,’ in possession of ‘one of the great memories of all times.’  It appeared that the president was peaking in his manic cycle.

In order to counter allegations of Trump’s campaign colluding with the Russians his media henchmen like Limbaugh and Hannity were blowing up a story about the seven year old sale of a company with control over 20% of US uranium to a Russian bidder, claiming that this is the real Russia scandal because it happened on Hillary Clinton’s watch as Secretary of State.  They got new ammo when it came out that the Clinton campaign had partly paid for the investigation that led to the Steele-dossier.  Trump used those stories to obfuscate his own vulnerabilities, until it turned out that the Trump campaign had asked Wikileaks’ Julian Assange to help them find Hillary Clinton’s emails, which was confirmed by Assange himself.  The Trump family was already under investigation for their willingness to receive information from the Russian government, and this only adds to their predicament.  By getting some Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee to start investigating the uranium deal Trump is trying to get ‘even’ with Clinton, apparently forgetting that he already has Robert Mueller on his case.

In the meantime Corker’s and Flake’s announcements that they’ll be leaving the senate are seen as a victory for Trump, which may still turn into a defeat if the most likely Republican candidates, Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee and Kelli Ward in Arizona, lose the election to their Democratic opponents.  If elected, Blackburn and Ward would measurably lower the level of debate in the senate by acting as the female counterparts of Blackburn’s former colleagues Louis Gohmert and Steve King.

Yesterday Trump declared the opioid crisis a ‘public health emergency,’ and succeeded in making it all about himself, not so much by invoking his late brother Fred’s alcoholism as by announcing that he had thought of something.  If we can convince people that they should not start taking drugs there is no problem, he said proudly, looking for applause for his brilliance.

In the meantime House and Senate passed a budget that paves the way for the swindle called ‘tax reform’ that will fork over enormous amounts of money to corporations and the ultra-rich, while cutting Medicaid by a trillion dollar, Medicare by $550 billion and significantly increasing the national debt.


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General Kelly Speaks

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
It was another eventful week in DC. Donald Trump paraded Mitch McConnell out into the Rose Garden and said that he and the senate leader are closer than ever, not long after he called Steve Bannon, who is dead set on destroying McConnell, ‘a friend.’  John McCain, looking very frail, gave a speech about American values, which Trump took as an attack on him.  Therefore the president threatened to ‘hit back’ at an old man who is dying of brain cancer.  His intended drug czar, Marino, had to withdraw his candidacy because ’60 Minutes’ exposed him as a facilitator of massive opioid distribution, and it was revealed that Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security, was in a key White House position when hurricane Katrina hit and at the heart of the screw-up that followed.  The president signed an executive order to end the Obamacare subsidies for low-income Americans, and subsequently endorsed the bi-partisan Alexander-Murray bill that would allow those subsidies to continue.  Later he changed his mind again, alledgedly because the insurance companies would benefit from the subsidies, and at this point his position on the bill is unclear.

But all that excitement was overshadowed by the events that followed the deaths of four Green Berets in Niger.  Asked why he had not yet contacted the families of the dead servicemen Trump suggested that he was the first president to make phone calls to the relatives, something that almost immediately proved to be untrue, and all hell broke loose after the president finally made a call to the widow of one of the deceased.  A Democratic congresswoman and friend of the family who listened in on the call mentioned publicly that Trump had said ‘he knew what he signed up for, although I guess it still hurts,’ which was considered insensitive and hurtful by both the widow and the mother of the soldier.  In his attempt to disparage the way Obama handled these situations Trump had dragged his Chief of Staff, John Kelly, whose son died in 2010 in Afghanistan, into the mud, and now Kelly had to absolve the president at a White House press briefing by remembering the words that were used when he was informed about his son’s death, and relaying how he had suggested to the president to use those very same words in his phone call to the widow.

As George Will puts it, Donald Trump is not on friendly footing with the English language, and the president garbled Kelly’s ‘he died doing what he loved to do, and was surrounded by the best people on earth, his friends’ into a sentence that could easily be misunderstood.  Unfortunately Kelly didn’t limit himself to his own experience and the good intentions of the president, but he also attacked the congresswoman for her behavior at an unrelated event, misstating facts that could easily be verified.

Next to his impressive personal story, his defense of Trump and his unwarranted attack on the congresswoman that had racist undertones, Kelly also made clear that he firmly believes the myth that every American soldier is serving out of the most noble motives, disregarding that many have enlisted because it is the only way they can make a living, buy a house or eventually go to college.

During this whole episode Trump’s pathological narcissism was on full display.  He succeeded in making the deaths of the servicemen about himself, by complaining that it is so ‘difficult’ for him to make these calls, and showed once again his inability to rate his own behavior as less than perfect.

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One Busy Week

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
In the early nineteenth century Frank Gilbreth developed the Therbligs, an alphabet of human motions, with which he could visualize every operation that needed to be performed in industrial workplaces and train a workforce that at the time was mostly illiterate and didn’t speak English.  Something similar is going on with Trump.  His advisors have to visualize all the information they want to convey to him, because the president is too lazy to read.  In July Trump’s military advisors produced a slide that showed the decline in the number of US nuclear warheads since the height of the cold war.   When Trump saw the slide in a situation room meeting he was very upset, and told the attendees that he wanted to have at least ten times as many nuclear bombs at his disposal as he had now.  It had to be explained to him that the reductions were the result of treaties the US had entered into over time, and that carpet-bombing North Korea with nukes was not really an option.  For full disclosure Trump was also told that the world can be destroyed only once.  After the president left the meeting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson famously called him a fucking moron, for those still in the room to hear.

The news of Trump’s total lack of understanding of the size and the use of the nuclear arsenal broke just before a week in which the question whether he is too crazy for his job was frequently asked.  Senator Corker said in an interview that Defense Secretary Mattis, Chief of Staff Kelly and Tillerson kept the US from descending into chaos by engaging in a daily struggle to contain the president, and that if it wasn’t for them Trump could easily start WWIII.  When the president subsequently disparaged Corker with a series of tweets the senator was prepared, and responded how sad it is that the White House has become an adult day care center ‘where somebody has missed their shift.’ To create a distraction Trump sent his lapdog Pence to a football game in Indianapolis with the assignment to leave if only one player would not stand for the national anthem, something that was certain to happen.  Pence left the stadium within five minutes, at a $1 million cost to the US taxpayers.  Somewhat surprisingly Steve Bannon entered the conversation, stating that Trump had only a 30% chance to finish his first term because cabinet members might invoke the 25th amendment.

If it was Bannon’s intention to get Trump back to the level of insanity he had reached before Kelly kicked the Chief Strategist out of the White House he was successful.  Trump declared that Puerto Rico was already a mess before hurricane Maria hit, that financial aid would be provided in the form of loans, not grants, and that FEMA and the military could not stay on the island forever.  Images of Puerto Ricans clearing their own roads were deliberately cut out of a  propaganda video, with FEMA taking credit for the clean-up.

Now on a roll, Trump, who had apparently forgotten that he took an oath to defend the Constitution, including the first amendment, called the production of ‘fake news’ by the media ‘disgusting’ and said that ‘somebody’ should look into it and that licenses possibly should be revoked.  Unsurprisingly the president did not know that only stations, not broadcasting corporations, are licensed.

Capping off a busy week, today Trump signed an executive order further undermining Obamacare by eliminating subsidies that guarantee affordable premiums, making healthcare unreachable for at least one million low income Americans, and decertified the Iran deal while Iran is in compliance, turning the US into an unreliable international outcast and passing that problem on to congress.

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Herinneringen aan een marathon-interview

Het zal u waarschijnlijk niet ontgaan zijn, maar vooruit: volgende week donderdag 19 oktober verschijnt de biografie van Jan Wolkers geschreven door Onno Blom. Titel: Het litteken van de dood.
      Die datum is geen toeval, want het is de tiende sterfdag van de schrijver. Blom was toen overigens al met die biografie bezig, want daar was hij in het najaar van 2006 mee begonnen. Hij had toen vooral telefonisch contact met Jan Wolkers, die hem vrijwel dgelijks belde.
      Daarna had hij onder meer veel contact met Karina, Jan's vrouw en kreeg hij inzicht in alle nog niet gepubliceerde dagboeken. In de Volkskrant verschenen met grote regelmaat een soort voorpublicaties.

Op 19 december 1986 hield ik voor de VPRO-Radio een marathon-interview van vijf uur met Jan Wolkers. Ik had mij goed voorbereid. Al zijn boeken nog eens gelezen en een voorgesprek gehad in De Lakenhal te Leiden waar op dat moment een tentoonstelling was van zijn beeldhouwwerken.
      Het werd een zeer geanimeerd gesprek. Op 2 augustus 2000 sprak ik voor de microfoon nog eens een uur met Jan Wolkers, waarin hij diverse malen dat marathon-interview ter sprake bracht. (Foto)

Toen hij de P.C. Hooftprijs in 1989 weigerde sprak hij niet met journalisten. Maar hij maakte een uitzondering voor de VPRO-Radio alweer vanwege dat interview.
      Wim Brands luisterde er in augustus 2009 naar samen met Onno Blom. Zij gaven er commentaar op.

HIER te beluisteren.

En toen verscheen ook deze recensie van Anne Frid de Vries, een Nederlander, die in Israël woont en daar veel naar Nederlandse podcasts luistert.

Ik begon al bijna te denken dat 5 uur, in alle gevallen teveel van het goede is, maar toen begon ik aan het interview dat Ronald van den Boogaard in 1986 had met Jan Wolkers. Dat begint niet alleen goed, dat wordt ook steeds beter. Zo onvoorstelbaar goed zelfs, dat Cor Galis bij de aankondiging van een volgend uur de heren vraagt of het niet wat minder kan. Waarom zo'n oproep, dat snap ik niet helemaal, maar het is, hoe krom ook, wel een sterke indicatie hoe dit sprankelende radio is, die je aan je oordopjes gekluisterd houdt.

Wat mij geweldig bekoort in het interview is het onverstoorbare zelfbewustzijn van Wolkers. Hij stelt dat hij zich niet voorbereid heeft en zo komt het ook over. En zo gedraagt hij zich impromptu en zo vers van de lever is hij geweldig authentiek en authentiek geweldig. Voeg daarbij dat de interviewer zich uitstekend ingelezen heeft en Wolkers waardeert, zonder te vervallen in ademloze bewondering en de twee heren gaan geanimeerd op pad en laten elkaar niet meer los. Op zeker moment laten ook de radiopauzes (nieuws op het hele uur een een kleine storing) de heren niet meer van hun a propos brengen. Je zit er als stille deelnemer aan het intieme gesprek bij. Wat een delicaat genoegen.

Op de site van de VPRO zijn om stompzinnige redenen alle marathon-interviews verdwenen.
      Maar u kunt wel de podcasts van het betreffende interview tevoorschijn halen.
Ga HIER (16 sept.2009) naar toe.  




A Fucking Moron

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Early this week two Trumps were on display.  On Monday Trump read a prepared text from the teleprompter, meant to express compassion with the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.  The problem with that format is that Trump’s voice becomes flat and without any emotion, next to the fact that his voice is so tainted by the vulgarities he has produced over time that it is hardly a believable vehicle for genuine sorrow.  On Tuesday Trump visited Puerto Rico and made spontaneous remarks, which brought some color back in his voice, but on those occasions what he says usually ranges from nasty to insane.   In an attempt to be humorous he blamed the Puerto Ricans for ‘throwing the United States’ budget a little out of whack’ with their need for financial support in the wake of hurricane Maria, and more seriously compared the number of certified deaths in Puerto Rico, sixteen, with the ‘hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of deaths’ from a ‘real catastrophe’ like Katrina.  At the time large parts of Puerto Rico had not yet been reached by FEMA or other agencies, so the death toll was totally premature and certain to rise.

Trump made those gaffes in a meeting where the participants were expected to praise the federal aid efforts and Trump’s role in particular, giving Trump the opportunity to exhibit his usual self-congratulatory pompousness.  Meeting with a few victims who had lost everything they owned Trump advised them ‘to have a good time,’ and he ended his visit by throwing paper towels into a crowd – something nobody on Puerto Rico had asked for – before he left an hour ahead of schedule because he had run out of empathy.   On Wednesday, while Trump visited Las Vegas without any noticeable incidents, in Washington all hell broke loose because of a report that Rex Tillerson had called Trump a ‘fucking moron.’  The Secretary of State gave a highly unusual press conference in which he expressed his devotion to Trump, but failed to deny having used those terms.  From Las Vegas Trump declared that he was ‘honored’ by Tillerson’s remarks, but according to White House sources he was livid.  Even John Kelly won’t be able to patch up the relationship between Trump and Tillerson, but to avoid total chaos the latter will stay on for a while.

To make things worse, Senator Bob Corker, who has announced that he won’t  run for re-election, said that Defense Secretary Mattis’s, Kelly’s and Tillerson’s presence in the administration is the only hope to keep US foreign policy sane, a direct hit on Trump, who had already undermined Tillerson’s attempt to open a diplomatic channel with North Korea and was about to decertify the Iran nuclear agreement, about which Mattis had said that it was in the US national interest.

Intensifying his ongoing war with the press, on Thursday Trump tweeted that Congress should investigate the media’s ‘fake news’ production, basically asking for a violation of the first amendment.  The tweet was probably inspired by news reports about Ivanka’s and Don Jr.’s fraudulent business practices in New York and Ivanka’s and Jared’s continuing use of private email accounts and servers.

What worries Trump the most, however, are the investigations into the connections between his campaign and Russia.   Yesterday it was revealed that Robert Mueller has interviewed former British spy Christopher Steele, who put a damning dossier together that gives Trump every reason to be scared.

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