Media (421)

 

Dull as Dishwater

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

That is how Malcolm Nance characterized Trump’s commencement speech at West Point, for which over 1000 graduates had to come back to campus and stay in quarantine for two weeks.  Trump only left the teleprompter three times, each time to mention that he had attended the Army-Navy game, redundantly emphasizing that it was all about him.  And at a time when the whole country was crying out for change the president came up with the following reactionary doozy: ‘when times are turbulent and the road is rough, what matters most is that which is permanent, timeless, enduring and eternal.’ So much for change, and that became even clearer when Trump signed an executive order prohibiting chokeholds, unless an officer fears that his life is at risk, which is the biggest loophole since companies like Shake Shack were allowed to receive pandemic relief money meant for small businesses.  After delivering his address Trump had trouble getting down a ramp, prompting speculation about his physical condition, which led him to tweet that the ramp had been slippery but that he broke a world record on the last 10 feet.

The White House event where the president signed the executive order was a bag of mainly bad intentions.  Families of some of the victims of racist police violence had been invited and briefly met with Trump but did not attend the signing, where they would have been out of place among the white law enforcement officials headed by the inevitable Bill Barr.  Only the uninformed attendees wore face masks, as Trump’s cockamamie idea that it’s better to die of COVID-19 than to sacrifice an inch of one’s masculinity appeared to gain traction in his inner circle.  His base will be tested on that same conviction in Tulsa on June 20, when the president intends to have an indoor rally with 19,000 attendees and an additional 40,000 deplorables in an overflow area, in spite of a rapid rise of COVID cases in Oklahoma.  Face masks will be distributed but don’t have to be worn.  Experts fear that the event will be a corona virus ‘superspreader,’ but Trump has not spoken with Dr. Fauci in two weeks and made clear that he has no need for scientists, saying ‘if we’d stop testing now we’d have very few new cases,’ an opinion that was immediately echoed by Mike Pence.

Meanwhile the president who doesn’t read is under attack from the publishing business.  First there is a book about Melania’s art of the deal, describing how she renegotiated her prenuptial with moving into the White House as leverage, then there is an upcoming book by Mary Trump, revealing how she helped the New York Times unravel her uncle’s nefarious financial history and adding some more dirty laundry, and finally there is John Bolton’s ‘tell all’ book about his time as National Security Advisor that Trump is desperately trying to keep out of the bookstores.

The president’s legal action is an exercise in futility, however, because the book has already been leaked to the press, so it’s now common knowledge that Trump asked Xi Jinping to help with his re-election and approved of China’s building concentration camps for Uighurs.  Additionally, the president’s ignorance about Great Britain’s being a nuclear power is matched by his geo-political insight that Finland is part of Russia, and his opinion that some journalists should be executed.

After a week in which there were suggestions that Trump might not even run for re-election because of his tanking poll numbers he showed some surprising flexibility, by calling a SCOTUS decision in favor of the LGBTQIA community ‘very powerful’ and saying that he ‘would love’ to see Colin Kaepernick play football again.  It will be a real shocker if he repeats those things in Tulsa.

 

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An Overtly Racist Campaign

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

 The last two weeks, as the rage about the murder of George Floyd overtook the country, some members of Trump’s inner staff were musing about the possibility that the president would give an all-inclusive speech, acknowledging the pain of the protesters and suggesting first steps towards national healing, as would be expected from the US President in these circumstances. Stephen Miller would write the speech, which was tentatively characterized as a ‘holistic revitalization and recovery,’ and it should have been a piece of cake for him because he only had to make sure that every sentence said something opposite to what he actually believes.  However, the plan faded, not because Miller lacked flexibility but because Trump could never have convincingly read the text off the teleprompter.  After a clumsy and rude attempt to enlist Floyd for his own cause, by claiming that ‘George would be very happy’ about the new unemployment numbers, the president spent most of the time leading up to Floyd’s funeral acting like a crazy old man at the end of a bar, tweeting ‘LAW AND ORDER,’ and ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.’    

On the day of Floyd’s funeral Trump tweeted a conspiracy theory, promoted by the neo-fascist cable channel OANN, that the 75 year old white activist in Buffalo who had been pushed by the local police and made fall backwards, cracking his skull, and who had subsequently been left bleeding on the pavement by the officers, was an ‘antifa provocateur’ who was trying to jam the police scanners.  Of course no other equipment than a cell phone was found at the scene and the whole story itself was a provocation, but the fact that the president jumped at it shows where his head is at, and that is not surprising.  After a lifetime of overt racism, starting with refusing to rent apartments to black tenants, followed by having black employees whisked off the Atlantic City casino floors when Trump, the owner, came visiting, then an aggressive campaign for the death penalty for the ‘Central Park Five’ and his refusal to accept their eventual exoneration by the legal system, and eventually his ‘birtherism,’ meant to undermine the legitimacy of the first black president, it can only be expected that from now on Trump will be more racist than ever.

A first sign is the choice of date and location of his first mass rally after the country ‘opened up,’ June 19th and Tulsa, Oklahoma.  On that same day in 1921 and in that same place some of the worst race riots in US history took place and over 300 black Americans were killed.  The day is known as ‘Juneteenth,’ a holiday to celebrate the end of slavery, which is commemorated as an alternative independence day by the black community.  Trump’s choice of Tulsa and June 19th is a direct provocation that makes clear that from now on for him the 2020 campaign is a race war.

On another front Trump is fighting the military leadership that would be willing to rename forts named for confederate generals but ran into a veto from the president, who tweeted that those names reflect ‘a Great American Heritage, a history of Winning, Victory and Freedom.’  It is not surprising that the president, who doesn’t know more about US history than a kindergartner, is not aware that those generals were primarily losers, but he should at least have known that they were traitors in their days.

As for fighting the COVID pandemic, Trump made a contribution by visiting a swab factory of which that day’s production had to be destroyed because he didn’t wear a mask.  Referring to the fact that he had called himself a ‘wartime president’ one observer noted that Trump’s attitude is equivalent to George Washington taking a long vacation after crossing the Delaware.


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Trump Fans the Flames

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

When historians look back on this week they’ll hopefully say that we saw the final convulsions of Trump’s presidency, mostly due to the president’s unequaled ability to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, as Abba Eban once described Palestinian strategies.  With a black man brutally murdered by the police and millions of Americans having lost their livelihoods almost any politician would have understood that only two interventions had a chance to ward off major social unrest: an immediate expansion of the safety net and drastic measures to reign in police violence.  But Donald Trump didn’t see it that way. He tweeted ‘when the looting starts the shooting starts,’ announced a MAGA night at the White House for which nobody showed up, so that he  and Melania had to hide in the basement, threatened peaceful demonstrators with ‘vicious dogs’ and ‘ominous weapons,’ said that ‘MAGA loves black people,’ in spite of the confederate flags, attacked the DC major and lied that her police didn’t protect him, which had to be denied by his own Secret Service, and called the family of the murdered man without even letting them talk.

In November Trump wants to run on a Law and Order platform, and for that he needs unrest in the streets, but not so much and not so early.  That strategy might have worked  if the president could project firm control over events that threaten the American people, but instead he only attempts to project power over the American people, as was evidenced by his statement that he was going to activate Attorney General Barr ‘very strongly’ and that he was also going to activate the US military.  For the latter move he needs to invoke the 1807 ‘Insurrection Act’ and get cooperation from the governors, who first have to ask for military pressure before Trump’s legions can march in, and whom he therefore literally begged to start ‘dominating’ the citizens of their states.  On this Trump is already backtracking because it doesn’t look like he’ll get a request for military assistance from even the most reactionary governor, and the cooperation from the military is even more wanting.  Former Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Mullen and former Defense Secretary Mattis have criticized Trump, as has current Defense Secretary Esper.

The only military leader Trump has been able to drag into his poisonous web is the current Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff General Milley, who as a good lapdog put on his battle fatigues and marched with the president and Barr to St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House, where Trump, after peaceful demonstrators had been violently removed with teargas, could have a photo-op holding a bible upside down and pretending to be Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments.  Even some Evangelicals may have questioned his sincerity.

Just before the commotion started the president found time to conduct basic foreign policy, from the beginning of his presidency his very strength, and after he had announced the elimination of the special status of Hong Kong as a trade partner he invited G7 leaders for a meeting at Camp David, offering them an opportunity to renew their friendship with Vladimir Putin.  It was too much of an honor for Angela Merckel, who said ‘nein, danke’ and won’t show up.

By now most people have already forgotten that Trump finally revealed the reason for his opposition to voting by mail.  It’s not the adult voters who commit fraud, but their children, who have a habit of stealing the ballots from mail boxes.  Voting Committee Members all over the country can hardly forgive themselves for having overlooked such an obvious illicit scheme.


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Freedom of Speech

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

There are many firsts in the Trump presidency, because there has never been a more dishonest, incompetent and vulgar occupant of the Oval Office, but, as per Maureen Dowd’s observation, a remarkable novelty is that the president has become the leader of the opposition against policies his own clownish administration has implemented.  Every day Trump encourages bands of his deplorables, often armed with assault weapons and flying the confederate flag, to break rules that have been imposed by governors who are following White House directives.  In a desperate gamble that reopening the country will bring back a flourishing economy just in time for him to be re-elected the president is sending his dumbest minions to their potential deaths at a pace that makes D-Day and the Wilderness pale by comparison.  And Trump’s attack on public health doesn’t stop there.  Contrary to official guidelines and the opinion of experts that universal wearing of masks in public settings reduces the spread of the virus by 80% he mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask and demanded that a reporter take his mask off, subsequently sarcastically calling the man’s refusal ‘politically correct.’

Next to politicizing public health the president also found time to attack democracy itself.  In a series of tweets he claimed that widespread voting by mail, a logical solution for problems that will occur if the pandemic persists or there is a second wave in the fall, would inevitably lead to massive voter fraud.  Since vote-by-mail is already an established practice in many states and there are absolutely no data supporting Trump’s prediction, for the first time executives at Twitter felt compelled to fact-check and contextualize two of his tweets.  Furious because his ‘freedom of speech,’ which in his opinion apparently allows the US President to lie about and obstruct the electoral process, had been ‘violated,’ Trump threatened with executive action against the social media platforms, for instance by taking away some of their protections.  Since projection is always the president’s porcupine reaction when criticism is leveled at him it’s not surprising that in defense of his ‘right’ to produce blatant falsehoods that serve both his interests and the GOP, for which voter suppression is an art form, he is willing to attack instruments of freedom of speech.

Trump should be grateful that Twitter didn’t close his account altogether for his outrageous insinuation that MSNBC host and former Congressman Joe Scarborough murdered a female intern – who had a seizure and a deadly fall in his Florida office while Scarborough was in DC – according to the president because the two had an affair.  The husband of the woman asked Twitter to take down Trump’s tweets, writing ‘the president of the United States has taken something that doesn’t belong to him: the memory of my wife,’ but so far Twitter has allowed the lies to stand.

Pretending that everything is becoming normal again Trump played golf twice last weekend and demanded that there be a jam-packed arena for the GOP convention in Charlotte, NC, threatening to otherwise move the event.  In spite of his busy schedule the president found time to feud with Jeff Sessions on Twitter, called Hillary Clinton a ‘skank,’ fatshamed Stacey Abrams and asked reporters if he should start taking insulin, ‘because he has heard that a lot of seniors take it.’

On the day the US death toll passed 100,000 and confronted with his own prediction that the number would remain much lower Trump still bragged about his decision to shut down entries from China, which as is now obvious didn’t have any effect whatsoever, and said that the death toll could have easily been one or two million, effectivey claiming the current number as a huge victory.

 
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More Stupidity Every Day

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Donald Trump’s election prospects are rapidly diminishing and it literally drives him nuts.  Since there is nothing he can do about it other than tweet, rant, lie, insult and seek confrontations with the press he is only making things worse for himself and nobody can stop him, certainly not his campaign manager Brad Parscale, who decided that filling his own pockets is more important than getting Trump re-elected and may not stay in his position until November.  Early this week the president informed the nation that he is taking hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic for the corona virus, probably for fear that it is hanging around in his residence.  Informed about the lack of evidence that the drug offers any protection against becoming infected and told that it could have serious side effects Trump claimed that thousands of first line workers are taking it for the same reason, which turned out to be a blatant lie.  He also produced a statement from his doctor saying  that he had discussed the medication with the president, but not that he had prescribed it.  By the middle of the week Trump announced that he was ending the regimen, presumably sufficiently protected by now.

When Nancy Pelosi commented that she would rather not have the president take a dangerous drug, especially in light of his ‘morbidly obese’ condition, Trump responded by saying that the Speaker has a lot of mental problems.  It was the beginning of a fusillade of insults, the first one directed at the Jury Forewoman in the Roger Stone trial, the second at ‘Morning Joe’ anchor Joe Scarborough, whom the president accused of being responsible for the death of an intern when he was a member of the House, and the third at the governor of Michigan, who was attacked because her state sent out applications for absentee ballots.  Trump mistook the action for an attempt to promote mail-in voting, which would have been perfectly legal as well by the way, and in his comments made clear that he would do anything in his power to suppress the vote in November.  The president went as far as threatening to withhold funding from Michigan if it promoted voting by mail, a federal crime and an impeachable offense, which was even more shameless and disgusting because the state is not only fighting the corona virus but also its worst flooding in 500 years.

Trump’s formally grown up sons followed in his footsteps, and while Don Jr. tweeted that Joe Biden is a pedophile but later claimed that it was a joke, showing that he has not only inherited his father’s bad taste but also his sense of humor, Eric told Jeanine Pirro on Fox News that the corona virus is a ploy to keep the president from having mass rallies, taking away his most powerful campaign tool, and that it will magically disappear after November 3rd.  It’s not clear if this was also a joke but it sure sounded funny, as is to be expected from the family clown.

And although Trump would definitely love to hang Obama he refuses to hang Obama’s portrait in the White House, breaking a long tradition.  The president defended his firing of the State Department’s Inspector General by explaining that he doesn’t want Mike Pompeo to do the dishes ‘because his wife isn’t at home.’  Asked about the mounting number of deaths in meatpacking plants Trump said that ‘the plants are much cleaner now,’ adding that he doesn’t know what that means.

After sending a letter to the WHO in which he lied about the time the corona outbreak was first reported the president was asked if in retrospect he would have done anything differently, and over 1.5 million infections and almost 100,000 deaths later he said ‘no’ and called it ‘a badge of honor’ that the US ranks #1 in the world in controlling the number of deaths, together with Germany.  In reality the US is 131st.

 

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