Media (396)


The Donny Horror Show

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

The images come when you least expect them, walking down a street, waiting for a bus, or at night in a dream that suddenly turns into a nightmare.  The worst are the pictures of the inauguration, when the Obamas have to hand over the keys to the White House and sit through the bombastic acceptance speech of the new president, aware that he’ll destroy everything they worked for the last eight years, including the vegetable garden.  You know that they’ll have to leave through the back door, like a couple of slaves that has become too old and weak to work in the fields and therefore is kicked off the plantation.  Of course they cannot expect the same class as they exhibited when they walked the Bushes to their waiting helicopter in 2009.  And if it’s not the inauguration you’ll see the orange buffoon with his Germanic features, who would have been a perfect Nazi Feldwebel in any war movie, walk into the US House of Representatives to give his first State of the Union address, declaring that America is decrepit but that he’ll make it great again, by cutting taxes for the rich, banning Muslims and building a border wall. He doesn’t have any other policies so it’s a short speech, for which everybody but the Alt-Right is grateful.
      Then there is Putin’s first official state visit, when you can see the short rat-faced ex-KGB colonel smile joylessly while he shakes hands with his puppet and congratulates himself for having gotten that idiot into the Oval Office.  Of course Trump wants to make a grand deal, and Putin has exactly what he’s looking for: if the US and its allies stop supporting the Syrian rebels and let Assad stay on as president the Russians and the Syrian army will focus all their efforts on defeating ISIS, coordinating their actions with US Special Forces.  Trump will take the offer because he secretly admires Assad for his survival skills and what does he care about Syrian civilians, who are Muslims after all?  His next project will be the nuclear disarmament of North Korea, and for that he has a nifty plan: he’ll challenge Kim Jong-un to a game of golf, referring to the fact that the young man’s father had five holes-in-one on his very first round, on a course with only three par-three holes, and that the son must have inherited that exceptional talent.  If Trump wins North Korea will dismantle its nuclear arms, if Kim wins the US will stop assisting South Korea and Japan militarily.  They’ll play on a course in China, where Trump has $900 million in debt so he knows they’ll be nice to him for fear of getting stiffed.
      The day in the White House starts with a breakfast for part of the family.  While Melania and young Barron eat in the kitchen, sometimes in the company of Tiffany when she’s visiting and not sleeping in, Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric have scrambled eggs, bacon and orange juice with their father in the dining room, reporting on the state of the family business and discussing steps to increase revenue and profits.  The interests of foreign investors in Trump’s empire and its own investments in foreign business ventures are the main topics.
      From the very first day of his presidency Trump has insisted to have this meeting before the daily briefing by his national security team, of which the members obviously don’t understand the world as well as he does, and may not have appropriate appreciation for the international projects his children are undertaking.  As long as he knows their plans he can adjust US foreign policy to meet their daily needs.
      We are not there yet, but it could happen, and that is the scariest thought of all.  These days I find myself occasionally thinking about Menno ter Braak, a Dutch intellectual who warned for Adolf Hitler in his publications during the 1930s and committed suicide after the German invasion of the Netherlands.  There may be such cases in the US sometime soon.

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FBI Trick (or Treat)

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Last Friday the presidential campaigns were respectively surprised and shocked by the news that James Comey, Director of the FBI, had sent a letter to members of Congress informing them that the FBI had discovered a trove of emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin on the laptop of her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.  Weiner is a sad case of sexually frustrated narcissism, who cannot stop tweeting lewd pictures of himself to women he doesn’t know, and usually pays a high price for it.  The first time he got caught it cost him his job as a US Representative, the second time it blew his minimal chances of becoming New York City’s mayor, and the third time it cost him his marriage.  The FBI was investigating Weiner’s laptop because he had tweeted pictures of his dick to a 15 year old girl and apparently hoped to start a relationship, a federal offense.  Abedin’s emails were thus discovered by accident, but Comey felt that he had to inform Congress after having testified earlier that Clinton had committed no crime by operating a private email server.
      After the initial news broke, it became clear that Comey had no idea if Abedin’s emails contained any classified or otherwise incriminating information, because the FBI had not yet obtained a warrant to review them.  Subsequently, it turned out that the FBI had known for weeks that the laptop contained these emails, making it a mystery why a warrant was not obtained and why Comey waited until eleven days before the election to inform Congress.  The most plausible explanation is that Comey knew or suspected that some of his underlings would leak the information to the press, which explains why Comey sent an email to FBI personnel informing them that he had contacted Congress, where his letter was leaked immediately. The whole affair shows at least that Comey doesn’t have a grip on the organization he’s supposed to be in charge of, but it may be a lot worse.  He should never have sent his letter without first having established if the emails changed his earlier conclusion, and if they didn’t he was under no obligation to inform Congress at all.
      If it turns out that Abedin’s emails were already known to the FBI and/or don’t contain incriminating information, Comey has violated a rule that prohibits disseminating information that may affect the outcome of an election within 60 days of the election date. It is an inexplicable blunder for a civil servant who is highly regarded on both sides of the aisle, and Comey, who is tenured in his position, will have a lot of explaining to do.
      Today the FBI has suddenly acquired the warrant that allows agents to review the emails, and it is reasonable to assume that they are already working overtime to provide the answers that everybody, but mostly Democrats, are demanding.  Comey may still be able to reduce the damage he has done if he can elaborate on or withdraw his letter tomorrow.
      Of course the Trump campaign is jumping on the news like a fly on a pile of shit.  Without any new facts Hillary Clinton’s handling of her emails is declared worse than Watergate.  By a different token, Comey can now be considered worse than Wikileaks.

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(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

On June 23rd, 1863, General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia crossed the Potomac River and entered Pennsylvania.  On July 1st, it engaged in battle with the Unionist Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General George C. Meade, which had set up defensive positions on McPherson’s Ridge in Gettysburg.   Initially the battle went well for the Confederates, who broke through enemy lines but allowed the Unionists to fall back on Cemetery Ridge.  The next afternoon the Confederates attacked the Unionists’ positions again, almost breaking through on both the left and the right flank, but eventually the Unionist line held and the Confederates retreated at nightfall.  Two days in a row Lee had smelled victory, and now he decided to finish the battle with a frontal assault on the centre of the Unionists’ position, which was held by General Winfield S. Hancock’s corps.  Against the advice of his second in command, Lieutenant General James Longstreet, Lee ordered Major General George E. Pickett to march on Hancock’s position with his division of 13,000 infantrymen.
On the third day of the battle Pickett’s men marched in formation across open grounds towards Cemetery Ridge, into a wall of fire from Unionist infantrymen and artillery.  Thousands were killed, and only a handful reached the enemy lines, where they were easily captured.  The next day Lee’s army withdrew to Virginia and it never invaded the North again.  The books that have been written about ‘Pickett’s Charge’ can fill a small library, and the question they all try to answer is why Robert E. Lee, arguably the most accomplished commander in either the North or the South, had made such a fatal mistake, sending 13,000 men out on what was essentially a suicide mission.  The answers fall in two categories, optimistic and pessimistic.  Answers of the first kind claim that Lee was confident that after two days of fighting the Union army would be so demoralized that it could be overrun even by an attack that defied all military wisdom, while answers of the second kind suggest that Lee realized that the South could not win the war, and that in a moment of self-destructive clarity he decided to make a major contribution to its ending.
      There are no conclusive records of what Lee was thinking, but undeniably Pickett’s charge was a desperate move, and that brings me to Donald J. Trump.  Quoting Abraham Lincoln’s famous ‘Gettysburg Address’ Trump gave a speech in Gettysburg, in which he unfolded the policies he would implement during the first 100 days of his presidency.  If Lee thought he would eventually lose the war, Donald Trump must have thought the same about this election.
      His despair was evident both from the content of his speech and from the style in which it was delivered.  Trump seemed as exhausted as Lee may have been when he sent Pickett’s men to their death, and his words were about as effective as those men’s rifled muskets.  He basically summarized everything he has proposed the last 12 months, without any passion or conviction.
      The clearest sign that Trump sees his demise coming could be found in the opening lines of his otherwise entirely scripted speech, where he announced that all the women who had accused him of sexual assault would be sued.  Not the words of someone who expects to be in the White House soon.

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Turning Point?

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Apart from his facial expressions, his sniffing, and his total lack of preparedness, Donald Trump made three big mistakes in last Monday’s debate: He called it good business to hope for a collapse in the housing market in 2007, he called himself smart because in at least a couple of years he didn’t pay taxes, and he walked straight into the trap Hillary Clinton set for him when she mentioned his sexist, racist and abusive behavior towards a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado.  Since the debate, Trump has not been able to let go of Ms. Machado, calling in to ‘Fox and Friends’ on Tuesday morning to discuss her weight gain, and at 3 am on Friday advising his followers to watch a sex tape Ms. Machado was supposed to have appeared in.  During the days in between Trump and his surrogates accused Ms. Machado of having assisted in an attempted murder by her boyfriend.  Ms. Machado, however, was never charged, and it turned out that the sex tape didn’t exist.  It is mind-boggling why Donald Trump thinks that bringing up his fat-shaming of a woman will help him with the female vote, where he’s lacking, but it appears that he does.
Although Trump’s personality makes him prone to not only take any bait but devour it, there may be another, more ‘rational’ reason for his behavior.  As long as the media devote all their attention to Trump and Ms. Machado in 1996 they don’t focus on his business dealings, his taxes and his foundation.  A first article in Newsweek about the ‘Trump Organization’ showed how easily President Trump could be blackmailed by foreign actors, and a second article showed that Trump violated the Cuba embargo by spending a significant amount of money on the island in 1998.  In between those articles the Washington Post revealed that since 2007 Trump operated his foundation entirely with other people’s money, which he used to buy a portrait of himself and a football helmet, and to settle legal cases brought against two of his companies.  All of this is perfectly illegal, and to make things worse it turns out that the foundation was not certified to solicit charitable donations to begin with.  Trump can run, but he cannot hide.  The New York Attorney General is investigating his foundation, and soon the FBI will too.
      Next for Trump is an attack on Hillary Clinton for the way she behaved towards her husband’s mistresses, which, implicitly, reminds the nation of Bill’s philandering.  This effort is led by Trump, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, who were all conducting public affairs with mistresses while married.  Newt told one of his ex-wives of his intention to divorce her while she was recovering from cancer surgery, and Giuliani was thrown out of Gracie Mansion by his second wife.
      Before he invests too much energy into this effort someone should tell Trump that women don’t have a lot of sympathy for their husband’s mistresses, and that this attack will probably help Hillary more with female voters than it will hurt her.  Revelations that came out after the debate were that Trump has been accused of rape three times, once of a 13-year-old girl, and that he himself played a small part in a Playboy sex-video.
So Trump didn’t have a good week, to put it mildly, and it’s showing in the polls, but it may be too early to speak of a meltdown.  In the press he is sometimes compared to Grigori Rasputin, who was poisoned and then shot before being thrown in the Neva River, but took a long time
dying.  We may see something similar taking place in Manhattan.

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De eerste Televisierel in 1957

Het zal niemand ontgaan zijn, dat de televisie in dit land 65 jaar bestaat. Geen bijzonder rond getal, maar toch rond genoeg om mensen van de televisie voor de televisie te laten ondervragen door weer andere mensen van de televisie. Veel nostalgisch terugblikken, minder vooruit. Want de toekomst van de televisie is nogal ongewis en de oudere programmamakers, die menen dat de televisie in Nederland de 100 jaar haalt worden quasi welwillend getolereerd.
      Ik was 15 jaar geleden al eens in de archieven van de VPRO gedoken om na te gaan wat de eerste T.V.-rel was. Welnu. Dat was ‘’DAG  KONINGINNEDAG" op 31 augustus 1957, toen de V.P.R.O. toestemming kreeg om een avondprogramma te maken naar aanleiding van de 77ste verjaardag van prinses Wilhelmina. De V.P.R.O. (met puntjes) was toen nog een keurige vrijzinnige domineesomroep en de bazen van de N.T.S. (Nederlandse Televisie Stichting) hadden er wel vertrouwen in dat er een uitgebalanceerd koninkrijksgezind programma gemaakt zou worden.  

      De T.V. directeur van de V.P.R.O. Jan van Nieuwenhuyzen had Jan Vrijman gevraagd om het programma samen te stellen. Samen met regisseur Joes Odufré. Het werd DAG KONINGINNEDAG, ‘’een programma met veel vreugde en een tikkeltje weemoed’’.

      In Vrije Geluiden (De VPRO-gids in die dagen) schrijft Jan Vrijman op een wat cryptische manier over zijn programma. Een beetje kritische lezer had toen al gewaarschuwd kunnen zijn. Dit werd geen omhoog likkend programma, geen ode aan het koninkrijk, geen nationaal programma om onze oranjegezinde harten sneller te laten kloppen.



      In het programma werd Nederlandse geschiedenis beschreven en geschreven. Vrijman had voor een primeur gezorgd. Wim Kan verscheen voor het eerst op de Nederlandse televisie. Hij haalde herinneringen op aan Koninginnedag 1943 toen hij in Birma in naam van de keizer van Japan aan de Birmaspoorweg moest werken. Maar er was meer. Veel meer. Kritiek bijvoorbeeld op de koloniale Atjeh-oorlog die Nederland voerde. Een oud-strijder sprak over het ‘’over de kling jagen van zwarten’’. En voerde aan, dat Nederland die oorlog alleen voerde omdat het ‘’ping-ping’’ nodig had.

      En dan was er een interview met Maud Boshart, een voormalig muiter van het oorlogsschip de Zeven Provinciën. Dat gebeurde in februari 1933, omdat een aantal bemanningsleden protesteerde tegen de slechte arbeidsomstandigheden en salariskortingen. De regering Colijn reageerde fel. Het schip werd gebombardeerd. Er vielen 17 doden en 11 zwaargewonden, waarvan er nog eens vier overleden.
      De reacties op de uitzending in vrijwel alle Nederlandse kranten (met uitzondering van Het Parool) waren rabiaat. Oneervol, schofterig, eenzijdig, onwaardig, anti-nationaal, barbaars, grove laster. Dat soort typeringen.   

      Het VPRO-bestuur ging zeer diep door het stof. Er volgden een maand lang verontschuldigingen en spijtbetuigingen. Deze verklaring ‘’FOUTEN GEMAAKT” kwam in De Gids, overigens zonder dat T.V.-directeur Jan van Nieuwenhuyzen daarvan op de hoogte werd gesteld. Hij was ook één van de weinigen, die -tegen alle hetzes in- het programma verdedigde. Hij sprak over ‘’een eerlijke openhartige benadering’’.


      Na al die kritiek zegden VPRO-leden hun lidmaatschap op. Dat waren er volgens de annalen zo’n 2.500. Vrijwel niemand had de uitzending gezien, maar dat deed er niet toe.
(Dat is trouwens van alle tijden, zoals wij laatst nog zagen, toen een VPRO-lid notabene in de Volkskrant opriep om het lidmaatschap op te zeggen, omdat Dyab Abou Jahjah zomergast was. Let wel; nog voordat die uitzending had plaatsgevonden. Overigens kan ik uit eigen ervaring meedelen, dat er bij dit soort gelegenheden altijd mensen zijn die aankondigen hun lidmaatschap op te zeggen, terwijl zij niet eens lid zijn).

Het VPRO-bestuur stelde een commissie in, die maatregelen moest voorstellen ‘’ter voorkoming van dergelijke fouten in de toekomst’’.  


De commissie kwam op 5 oktober met deze verklaring.


Wat is er bewaard gebleven van al deze commotie?

       Van het programma DAG KONINGINNEDAG bestaat alleen de bijdrage van Wim Kan nog.


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En dan is er een column van Jan van Nieuwenhuyzen die er in het radioprogramma OVT op