Media (421)

 

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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Gettysburg


(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

terugblikt.

                   

 

 

 

                           

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Tealeaves


(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

During the football season every Sunday morning on CBS, ESPN and Fox panels of sportswriters, former coaches and former players analyze the upcoming games.  By the time the first games start, at 1 pm, every play has already been made and every touchdown has been scored, so that it’s hardly worth watching them, were it not for the fact that sometimes something happens that the experts have not foreseen.  Something similar is going on with the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  A cable network like MSNBC will spend Sunday evening and all of Monday previewing the debate, and although I don’t regularly watch them I’m pretty sure that CNN and Fox News will do the same.  I’m hesitant to add some thoughts of my own to the choir for fear of redundancy, but since this blog tries to be a full record of the campaign I’ll do so anyway, fresh off reading today’s New York Times, with a column by Frank Bruni telling the readers what Trump has to do to win, and a similar column about Clinton by David Axelrod.  On top of this, Ross Douhat advises us to ‘expect the expected.’
      Everybody seems to agree that Trump won’t lose part of his base of approximately 42% of the voters no matter how he performs in the debate, but that he won’t expand his base either, while Clinton has an opportunity to win back some of the voters who once planned to vote for her but since have become undecided.  The leading theory is that Trump has to come across as restrained to appear ‘presidential,’ because his temperament is what voters have the most doubt about, but avoiding personal attacks on the Clintons, name calling and creating mayhem also contains a huge risk for him.  It would turn the debate into a civilized exchange of ideas about policy, of which Clinton has many and Trump virtually none.  His choice is therefore between coming across as a boor or as an airhead.  Hillary Clinton’s biggest handicap is that she comes across as untrustworthy, largely because of the email ‘scandal,’ and since over a span of twelve months she has demonstrated that she cannot explain that away she should not even try to do that during this debate, but just apologize again if it comes up and try to move on to policy issues.
      There are no clear policy areas where Trump could gain advantage over Clinton, but since he leads in the polls where it comes to handling the economy that is the  area on which Clinton should focus her attacks.  Trump’s tax plan is astoundingly irresponsible and would increase the deficit by trillions, with built in benefits for him and his family.  Clinton will quote many prominent economists to illustrate that, while Trump only has a clown like Larry Kudlow backing him up.
      With the police killings of two black men in Tulsa and Charlotte dominating the news, race relations are certain to be brought up, and since Trump has dubbed himself the ‘Law and Order’ candidate and called for reintroducing ‘stop and frisk’ on a national scale, its merits are going to be discussed.  This is one of those areas where Trump won’t lose but Hillary can win votes.
      After her campaign’s inviting Mark Cuban, who estimates Trump’s wealth at $150 million and has offered him $10 million to release his tax returns, to the debate, Trump has responded with inviting Jennifer Flowers, now an aging courtesan, suggesting that it will be a circus after all.

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