Media (413)

 

Con Men


(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

The most inflated words in the media the last days were ‘unify the party’ and ‘encouraging,’ both repeated ad nauseam by Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, after his meeting with Donald Trump, presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.  It was a meeting of two con men, moderated by an awkward gofer who is a circus act in his own right as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee.   During his seventeen years in Congress Ryan has been posing as a fiscal conservative policy wonk who, first as a member and then as the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, developed Ayn Rand inspired fantasy budgets that never added up, while at the same time voting for the tax cuts and military adventures that put the US in the fiscal hole where it is today.  Across the table from him sat the self-financing non-politician who was going to build an awesome wall on the southern border and make Mexico pay for it, deport eleven million undocumented aliens, and ban all foreign Muslims from entering the country.  Together they had to come to an agreement about the platform with which the GOP will enter the general election.

According to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell the bulk of the meeting must have been spent on Ryan explaining to Trump that most of the things he has been campaigning on can only be done with the consent of Congress, and that nothing will come to the floor of the House without the approval of the Speaker.  It must have been a hard pill to swallow for Trump, who for the first time in his life was instructed on basic constitutional issues like the separation of powers, and it had an emasculating effect on the Donald, who stopped talking about ‘the wall’ and deportations and said that his demand that foreign Muslims be disallowed to enter the US had merely been ‘a suggestion.’  Trump’s etch a sketch moment confirmed earlier sounds out of his campaign that he only said outrageous things to satisfy his racist and xenophobic base, but it creates a problem for him in the general.  If he cannot run on what he promised his voters so far, what can he still run on?  He and Ryan don’t see eye to eye with regards to entitlement programs, which Ryan wants to cut and Trump wants to preserve, and his tax plan doesn’t jive with Ryan’s fiscal policies.

There appear to be two options for Trump: either he disregards his differences with Ryan and continues to run on his main issues, risking that Ryan doesn’t endorse him and that the GOP goes into the general as a split party, or he yields to Ryan and runs on a platform he doesn’t believe in, risking that he loses his main asset, a motivated base of disgruntled loonies.  In either case, but particularly in the latter, it is hard to see how he survives upcoming debates with Hillary Clinton.

Even Trump’s ability to attack Hillary as the ‘enabler’ of her husband’s infidelities has hit a snag, now that his own history of abusive behavior towards women is getting scrutinized, as well as his antics moonlighting as his own spokesperson to brag about it.  When it comes to personal issues, Trump has more to fear from the file on him in Hillary’s war room than vice versa.

Last night Bill Maher observed that the Donald’s acting as a fictitious Mr. Miller or Mr. Barron would be equivalent to Hillary Clinton calling journalists in the early 1990s to tell them that Lenny Kravitz wanted to fuck her.  The difference is that he did and she didn’t.

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Triest & zielig


Het blijft treurig, dat NOS-Sport weer tot zaterdag wacht om live een uitzending te maken van de GIRO. Zielig ook.
     
Maar het is beleid. Al jarenlang.
Als de Ronde Van Italië (Giro) of de Ronde van Spanje (Vuelta) in Nederland start, wordt alles uit de kast gehaald. Urenlange uitzendingen, die vaak uitmunten door saaiheid. Nationalistisch sentiment nietwaar.
      Maar als de renners naar het organiserend land vertrekken, zenden wij het niet meer uit. Dat wil zeggen: op werkdagen. In het weekend krijgen we dan weer wel rechtstreekse uitzendingen. Met journalistiek heeft dit natuurlijk niets te maken.

Aan de verslaggevers ligt het niet, Die willen niets liever dan zo’n evenement in zijn geheel volgen. Nee: het zit in de leiding. Bij de NOS zijn mensen, die dit beleid voorstaan. Al jarenlang. En ze blijven het volhouden ook. Het is een tunnelvisie.

Het gevolg is dat wielerliefhebbers gewoon naar ‘’De Belg’’ kijken. Die zenden het natuurlijk wel allemaal uit. (Peter Post deed dat vele vele jaren geleden ook al; hij vond het commentaar beter).  
     
Gisteren reed Tom Dumoulin zich weer in het roze. Steven Kruijswijk werd derde in de etappe.
NOS-Sport was er niet bij. 

Goedemorgen!

 

 

Trump’s Personality


(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Greenberg and Baron’s textbook ‘Behavior in Organizations’ defines personality as ‘the unique and relatively stable pattern of behavior, thoughts and emotions shown by individuals.’  Psychologists don’t agree on exactly how and when a person’s personality is formed.   In the famous ‘nature-nurture’ controversy two schools of thought are opposing each other, one that believes that personality is genetically inherited, and one that believes that it is formed by an individual’s environment, primarily during the early childhood.  It is one of those frustrating problems where researchers know how to find a definite answer but cannot do the appropriate research for both practical and ethical reasons, because it would involve separating a large sample of identical twins at birth, having them grow up in very different environments, and subject them to personality tests over a long period of time.  But while there is disagreement about the origins of personality, there is full agreement that someone’s personality doesn’t change during that person’s lifetime and that the behavioral pattern is stable and repetitive.

The dominant traits of Donald Trump’s personality appear to be narcissism and megalomania, each at a psycho-pathological level.  Narcissism is defined as ‘extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration,’ and megalomania as ‘a delusional mental disorder that is marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur.’ It is obvious that the two traits enforce each other and Trump has displayed them all through the presidential campaign: the bragging about wealth and properties (“I have built a great business,” “I own the world’s best golf courses,” “I’m very rich”), the need to be adored by the crowds and to exaggerate their size, and the habit to enlarge himself by diminishing others (‘low-energy Jeb,’ ‘sleepy Ben Carson,’ ‘little Marco’ and ‘lyin’ Ted’).  Additionally, every narcissist considers him- or herself perfect and cannot accept any feedback that would suggest otherwise.  When Marco Rubio joked about Trump’s undersized hands he felt compelled to brag about the length of his penis, and kept showing the crowds his hands long after Rubio dropped out of the race.

It is the latter aspect of Trump’s personality, his absolute conviction that he’s perfect, that will ultimately doom his presidential bid and until then cause major headaches for the leadership of the Republican Party.  It is amusing to hear Paul Ryan talk about how much Trump will have to change before he can endorse him, and John McCain about how he sees it as his task to guide the nominee through the intricacies of GOP policies.  They have no clue what they’re dealing with.

Every psychologist knows that behavioral modification almost never works on a narcissist, because it all starts with the recognition that there is a problem and therefore something imperfect.  And why would Trump change, even if he could?  He has just crushed a field of alleged heavyweights for the Republican nomination, so he must be on the right track.

As Robert Costa of the Washington Post correctly observes, Trump doesn’t want to be changed by the GOP but he wants to remake the party in his image. The only ones who understand that are the Republicans who are defecting in droves by declaring that they cannot support him.

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Yankees and Politics


(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

It’s hard to tell who is in bigger trouble, the New York Yankees or the Republican Party.  In the 16 games they have played so far this season the Yankees have left 120 runners on base and accumulated a record of 7 wins and 9 losses, putting them nearly at the bottom of the American League East.  Since the team’s pitching is acceptable and the opponents have not outscored the Yankees by much, it is evident that the hitters are not getting the job done.  Desperate to score a run Friday night center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole home, together with the inside-the-park homerun the most spectacular play in baseball, which tied the score against the Tampa Bay Rays and ultimately led to a 6-3 victory.  Hopefully this will turn the team’s fortunes around, and the Yankees still have 146 games to get where they belong: on top of their league.  The management of the GOP, also known as the Republican National Committee or simply the establishment, has a more daunting task ahead.  After the New York primary Donald Trump’s chances of winning the nomination outright have improved, and therefore the party leadership is in total disarray.

In spite, or maybe because, of the fact that Trump has been blasting the RNC for allowing a primary process that is fundamentally undemocratic, since in a number of states conventions, and not the voters, elect the delegates who will choose the GOP nominee at the party’s convention, RNC chairman Reince Priebus is trying to placate the Donald by urging delegates not to change the convention rules, which would exclude anybody but Trump and Ted Cruz from being nominated.  To convince the RNC members that they can live with Trump as their nominee Trump’s new campaign manager, Paul Manafort, told them that everything the Donald has done in the campaign so far, insulting Hispanics and women, calling for Mexico to pay for a wall on the southern border and for a complete ban of Muslims from entering the US, suggesting that the use of nuclear arms in the Middle East and Europe is an option and that maybe South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear arsenals, just to mention a few highlights, has all been an act, and that in the general election we’ll see a different Trump: polite, balanced and presidential.

While the RNC is chewing on the idea that Donald Trump’s behavior in the forty five years he has been in the public eye only had the intention to hide his real personality, which he saved for his presidential bid, Ted Cruz is executing his own version of stealing home, or the nomination, by getting as many delegates that will support him as possible elected at state conventions, and by ensuring that delegates who are bound to vote for Trump in the first round will vote for him in the second.

The dilemma for the GOP leadership is clear: if the rules don’t change, they’ll end up with either Trump or Cruz as their nominee, in which case Trump has a better chance of unifying what’s left of the party, because his followers simply won’t vote for Cruz.  If they change the rules and other candidates can still be nominated the party will break up and their nominee won’t have a chance.

Donald Trump may not be God’s gift to women, but he might be God’s gift to Hillary.  On the Democratic side Bernie now has to decide whether he wants to enter Ralph Nader territory, by hurting Hillary without having a chance to be nominated himself, or not, and hopefully wisdom will prevail.

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Walking with Ghosts


(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Nothing shows the senselessness, the insanity, the cruelty and the criminality of the Iraq war better than Michael Ware’s documentary ‘Only the Dead See the End of War.’ George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and all their neo-con cronies should be forced to watch it every single day of the rest of their lives.  Ware lived in Iraq from 2003 to 2010 and filmed the war on both sides, embedded with the US forces and as an eyewitness of the actions of the emerging insurgency, the precursor of ISIS.  The film consists of four parts.  In the first part Ware is in Baghdad right after the American invasion.  There is hope, even excitement, until the US starts handing the government over to the Shiites and the first suicide bomber strikes, under orders from Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, a butcher who was even too barbaric for Al Qaeda.  The second part shows the US effort to retake Falluja, where the insurgents make a stance, a surreal battle for an empty city.  The third part takes place in an American army outpost in Ramadi, and the fourth part again in Baghdad, when the US finally realizes that it has totally messed up in Iraq.
      The film evokes raw emotions, and many of the images are gruesome.  Innumerable mutilated corpses, of US soldiers, insurgents and Iraqi civilians, are shown in close-ups, and I had to turn my head away when the insurgents decapitated a hostage and when the US military watched a critically wounded insurgent die without providing any medical assistance, a scene that lasted at least five minutes.  The battle for Falluja could have taken place on a distant planet, between armies of clones and zombies, and the total emptiness of life in the Ramadi ‘hotel,’ where the American presence didn’t seem to serve any other purpose than to emphasize that they were still there and the massively outnumbered troops were engaged in a daily routine for survival, makes a profound impression. Ware did not only tape nightly incursions by the Americans, but also terrorist actions by the insurgents.  At Zarqawi’s instruction he was given DVDs with videos of suicide attacks that show how carefully the insurgents recorded their own operations, both for training and propaganda purposes, providing shots of explosions and the following carnage.
      If the movie exposes anything, it is the total horseshit of the US government propaganda about Iraq during the Bush years, when Pentagon spokespeople constantly trumpeted that progress was being made, while in fact ISIS was emerging.  It also shows that you cannot look at these kinds of events through a military lens, because it completely distorts reality, not only of civilian life, but also of the military operations themselves.  The US army has this down to a fine point.
      In retrospect, Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ was just as delusional as the current Republican narrative that Obama lost the war because he halted the surge. The film justifies the president’s unwillingness to send any more troops into an Iraqi quagmire, and it strongly illustrates why soldiers who were not sick already could not escape this war zone without acquiring PTSD.
     
In a recent interview Michael Ware said that he walks with ghosts every day, but that he can finally sleep again and has come to consider it a privilege.  It’s a privilege he now shares with all of us, no matter how hard it is to unwrap the precious gift.

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