Media (390)


Elvis is in the House

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

On Tuesday Trump launched his re-election campaign at a rally in Florida and it was déjà-vu all over again.  Pundits compared the president’s performance to Elvis Presley’s staggering on stage in 1977 – the year the King died from a drug overdose – trying to sing his greatest hits.  For Trump those were the Wall and Hillary Clinton’s emails.  He lied to his crowd that a beautiful wall, designed by him, was being built, while in reality only 45 miles of already existing wall have been replaced, and if you didn’t know better you’d think that he was still running against Hillary, which begs the question if the president knows better.  Clearly the ‘lock her up’ chants were music to his ears.  The rally also served as a reminder of broken promises Trump didn’t mention, such as a new system of great, affordable health care for all Americans that never materialized, but that didn’t keep the president from launching the slogan ‘Keep America Great,’ with KAG-hats, undoubtedly already copyrighted by the Trump organization, available on-line and soon on the misguided heads of Trump’s favorite, under-educated segment of the American electorate.

During the week Trump was in full denial mode on issues that were leaked out of his campaign and administration.  Three pollsters who had apparently leaked internal polls showing him losing to Democratic candidates in key states were fired, and the president denied that the US had placed malware in the Russian power grid.  The data the pollsters revealed didn’t exist according to Trump, but were later confirmed by multiple sources. The president accused the New York Times of ‘treason’ for publishing the malware story that parts of his administration clearly had wanted in the public domain but without telling Trump about it, for fear that he would axe the project or give the details to Putin.   More negative polls for the president came out during the week, but experts warned that there might be a reversed ‘Bradley-effect,’ where voters who are planning to vote for Trump won’t tell the pollsters and Democrats are lulled into the belief that the president will be a push-over in 2020.  And eventually it’s not beyond Trump to use the current tense situation with Iran in a ‘Wag the Dog’ scenario, with John Bolton in Robert de Niro’s part.

Apart from tasting like three days old micro-waved Chinese food there were also luscious moments at Trump’s rally.  At some point he told his followers that ‘the Democrats want to destroy you,’ and among the attendees was the African-American man to whom the president once shouted out ‘look at my black guy’ at a different rally.  This token of diversity came into the arena with Sean Hannity, who must have figured that it would counterbalance racist statements about the Central Park Five Trump repeated earlier in the day.

In DC acting Defense Secretary Shanahan withdrew his candidacy for the permanent position to spend more time with his family, something he should have done ten years ago, and Sarah Sanders decided to take her lies back to Arkansas.  Hope Hicks testified in the House, but didn’t say much because the White House claimed ‘absolute immunity’ for the period after Trump’s election, a non-existing bullshit concept that will be challenged in court.

Thursday night the US military was ready to strike Iranian targets because of Iran’s shooting down an American drone, but Trump says that he called the attack off when he was told in the last minute that there could be 150 casualties.  If true, this means that the president was kept out of the planning process and that hawks in his administration tried to start a war.

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Trump and the Zodiac Killer

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

On Friday, August 1, 1969, the Zodiac killer announced that 12 people would be killed before the end of the weekend unless certain demands were met.  He or she (the Zodiac killer was never caught) is on a long list of villains who announced their crimes before committing them, to which now Donald J. Trump’s name can be added.  In an ABC News interview the president said ‘if a foreign country offered information on an opponent, I think I’d take it.’  When informed that accepting what Trump called ‘oppo research’ from a foreign entity is illegal, and that FBI Director Wray had said such an offer should be reported to his agency, the president responded ‘the FBI Director is wrong,’  and that he would not consider the offer interference in the election, just ‘information.’  In his report Robert Mueller wrote that he had not been able to establish that the June 9, 2016, Trump tower meeting with Russians had constituted a crime, because he could not prove that the participants knew they were doing something illegal, but by now every American should know that a campaign’s accepting ‘something of value’ from a foreign individual or government is a criminal offense.  Every American except Trump, that is.

The president’s revealing that he’d break a federal law to be re-elected – on the same day that the Department of Justice announced its investigation of CIA agents involved in the early stages of what would become the Mueller probe – signals to Russia, China and other countries (Trump mentioned Norway) that the Trump campaign is open for business.  It was the low point of a week that started with the announcement that tariffs on Mexican imports were suspended because Mexico had met US demands regarding the reduction of the number of asylum seekers at the southern border, something Mexico’s foreign minister immediately denied.  On the South Lawn of the White House the president pulled a single sheet of paper out of his pocket that allegedly contained ‘the agreement,’ but said he could not show the content because Mexico was supposed to announce it first.  Trump watchers were reminded of the pile of manila folders with information about Trump’s business holdings that nobody was allowed to see, or of ‘Trump steaks’ bought at a local butcher store.  The president also proudly mentioned a ‘beautiful love letter’ from North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un he had just received.

Asked about a series of polls, both national and by state (including internal polls from his own campaign), that showed significant weakness for Trump against Democratic candidates, the president said that the internal polls didn’t exist and that the polling numbers were ‘fake news.’ His attacks this week were exclusively directed at Joe Biden, whose mental ability he questioned.  Many pundits saw this as a case of projection, because there is plenty of speculation that Trump is not playing with a full deck anymore, as was evidenced by his mistaking Mueller for Barr in one of his rants.

With regards to impeachment the president appears to be limping upon two opinions:  politically he might benefit from being impeached, because it would allow him to play his favorite part, that of the victim, and after an acquittal in the senate he could claim to be exonerated, but his fragile personality would most likely be hurt beyond repair by being mentioned in one breath with Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton until the end of times.  Since for Trump everything is about ego he will fight impeachment tooth and nail.

Trump’s remarks about oppo research received from a foreign country were triggered by a question about his son Don Jr.’s testimony in Congress.   Political commentators are eagerly awaiting his comments following the testimony of Hope Hicks next week.  After Ivanka she, and not Melania or Stormy, has arguably been the most important woman in the president’s life during the last ten years, and new, shocking statements are expected.

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Een vermakelijk noodinterview 

 Op vrijdag 13 augustus 1993 zou ik voor de VPRO-radio een marathoninterview houden met Gerrit Komrij. De schrijver en dichter was uitgenodigd in mei en zei toen zeer verguld te zijn.
      Sterker: hij was enigszins beledigd, dat hij niet eerder was gevraagd. In juni werd het nog eens bevestigd. Komrij zou uit Portugal worden overgevlogen.

Een week voordat het interview zou plaatsvinden en wij nog een paar dingen wilden doornemen, liet de schrijver weten geen tijd te hebben. Hij was bezig met een nieuwe roman en had de deadline al overschreden.
      Op ons voorstel om - met technici en al- dan maar naar Portugal te komen en van daaruit rechtstreeks uit te zenden ging hij ook niet in. Dat was jammer.
      Voor veel luisteraars, die zich erop verheugd hadden, voor Komrij zelf en voor mij ook, want ik had mij goed voorbereid, met diverse personen gesproken en al zijn boeken en dichtbundels gelezen.
      Ik was bij die gesprekken een paar minder leuke dingen te weten gekomen en heb altijd het hardnekkige vermoeden gehouden, dat hem dat verteld was en hij daarom niet wilde. Maar dat kan ik niet hard maken. 

 Vrijdag de dertiende dus.

 Open & eerlijk 

Als hij open en eerlijk over al dit soort zaken zou willen praten, wilde ik hem wel interviewen, hoewel het natuurlijk een beetje vreemd en in zekere zin ‘not done’ is om zo’n lang interview te hebben met een persoonlijke kennis.

Emotioneel & vermakelijk 

Het interview is inmiddels op de site van de VPRO verschenen.  HIER

Ik heb er zelf nog eens naar geluisterd en ik moet zeggen, dat het een interessant gesprek is. Aanvankelijk is Arie Kleywegt wat gereserveerd over al te persoonlijke vragen, maar gaandeweg komt hij los en wordt het soms emotioneel en vermakelijk.

      Het gaat bijvoorbeeld over Joegoslavië , de tweede wereldoorlog, kernbewapening, de zin van het leven, drie mislukte huwelijken en vele verliefdheden, de koude oorlog, ons omroepbestel, de roerige periode bij de VPRO en de Vara-radio, over zijn bewondering voor de BBC en over die ziekte van Parkinson.

Een aantal jaren later werd ik nog eens ondervraagd over dit interview. Een kort citaat

Op de site van de VPRO besteedt Tom Klaassen -een verwoed luisteraar- er ook ruim aandacht aan: HIER

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God Save the Queen

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Before traveling to Great Britain for an official state visit Trump called Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, wife of Prince Harry and one of the most popular members of the Royal family, ‘nasty,’ and from Air Force One he tweeted that the Mayor of London is a ‘stone cold loser.’  It pretty much set the tone for his second encounter with the British Royals and public, during which the former showed their stiff upper lip and a good sense of humor.   After a previous, unfortunate experience the Queen had Prince Charles inspect the guard with Trump, so that the buffoon would not step in front of her again, and her present for him was a book about WWII, written by Churchill, that is guaranteed to remain unread unless Barron can use it for a term paper.  The public showed its disapproval of Trump with a sign that read ‘Obama’s popularity 72%, Trump’s popularity 27%,’ indicating that the president would not carry London, a projection of the name of the Destroyer USS John S. McCain on Madame Tussauds, and the famous ‘Baby Trump with cell phone’ balloon as well as a balloon of the president sitting on a golden toilet called the ‘Trump Dump’ in the air.

In a failed attempt to match the Royals Trump had brought his whole offspring of grifters minus Barron with him, but the Queen didn’t want to have them around for the night, so unlike Reagan and Obama the Trumps could not sleep at Buckingham Palace, where all 52 bedrooms were said to be under renovation.   Also unlike Reagan and Obama Trump wasn’t allowed to make a speech in parliament, and it was striking that during his dinner speech he didn’t mention his mother once, possibly because she was a poor immigrant from Scotland, a ‘domestic’ who came to the US to make a better life for herself, like the women the president is trying to keep out of the country.  Even Boris Johnson didn’t want to meet with Trump, probably because he figured that it would hurt his chances to become Prime Minister, so the president had to do with Nigel Farage as soul mate.  When asked at a presser if he had noticed the protests Trump answered that he had only seen thousands of people cheering for him but no protesters.  According to reporters those thousands of people didn’t exist and there were 15,000 protesters, so the UK got a taste of Trump’s alternate reality.

During his whole trip the president was pinballing between looking vaguely presidential when he was reading speeches others had written for him – at the state dinner in an ill-fitting white tie and tails outfit that he appeared to have borrowed from three different people and at the D-Day remembrance ceremony in France – and being his old, vulgar self.   At 1:30 am he tweeted from London that Bette Midler is a ‘washed up psycho’ and called Chuck Schumer ‘a creep.’  The next day he denied having called Meghan Markle nasty.

Trump’s multitasking continued in Normandy, where just before the start of the solemn commemoration he said in a Fox News interview, with the American cemetery in the background, that Robert Mueller, a highly decorated ex-Marine and Vietnam veteran, is ‘a fool,’ and called Nancy Pelosi ‘nervous Nancy’ and ‘a disaster.’  Pelosi had enough class not to respond while the president was abroad, but later indicated that he belongs in jail.

Add to all this a number of minor gaffes, like Trump’s suggestion that American health care providers might be allowed to compete with the National Health Service, and the concern about his mental state is understandable.  As one observer said: “He was never able to follow someone else’s train of thought, but now he cannot follow his own anymore.”

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Mueller Speaks

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

This week Trump was supposed to go on the offensive against the deep state traitors in the FBI, the CIA and the Department of Justice who had by now perpetrated the Russia hoax for over two years, undermining the legitimacy of his presidency by suggesting that his campaign had conspired with the Kremlin to get him elected and that he had obstructed the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into that conspiracy.  After Attorney General Barr had publicly concluded that the alleged crimes never occurred the president had given Barr carte blanche to declassify all relevant information that showed how his enemies had been plotting against him, weaponizing the Justice Department and risking international intelligence collaboration.   For weeks Trump went around the country screaming ‘no collusion, no obstruction’ at his rallies, putting all his trust in Barr, in spite of the fact that Mueller showed that there had been plenty of collusion but also explicitly stated that conspiracy could not be proven, before listing ten instances of obstruction of justice by Trump in the second part of his report.

So Trump was in a good mood when he spent Memorial Day weekend in Japan, playing golf with his friend Shinzo Abe but not getting a trade agreement done, dining with the Emperor, handing out a preposterous trophy at a Sumo wrestling match, downplaying the importance of a short range missile test by North Korea and restating his faith in Kim Jong-un, whose assessment of Joe Biden as a ‘low-IQ’ person he shared.  Just so that the party would not be spoiled from beyond the grave the name ‘John S. McCain’ on a US destroyer was covered and the sailors of that ship were not invited for the Memorial Day celebration because Trump wouldn’t want to see their patches.  And then it all started to fall apart.  On Wednesday Mueller decided to speak, and in a nine minute, carefully prepared statement, delivered in a halting way, he told his audience that his boss and onetime friend, the Attorney General, had misrepresented the findings in his report, and that the only reason why he had not been able to determine that the president had committed a crime was that a Department of Justice policy precluded him to do so.

Trump’s initial reaction to Mueller’s presser showed how the Special Counsel had thrown him off his game.  He tweeted that he had nothing to do with Russia helping him to get elected, and it took him some time to realize his mistake and go out on the South Lawn to declare that only he was responsible for his election.  Seizing the moment he called Mueller a highly conflicted never-Trumper and stated that he didn’t see how the courts would allow impeachment, ‘a dirty, filthy, disgusting word’ out of the US Constitution.

While Trump gave evidence that he doesn’t understand that the courts have nothing to do with impeachment William Barr decided to muddy the legal waters a bit more than he had already done by saying that Mueller could have found proof of criminal activity by the president, but that since there was no clear conclusion to that effect in Mueller’s report he and Rod Rosenstein felt compelled to conclude that no crime was committed.

With Trump raging about Mueller’s ‘vendetta’ and Barr continuing to obscure Mueller’s statement that if his team had found that the president had not committed a crime it would have said so, the Democrats are slowly marching towards impeachment.  The idea that Trump wants to be impeached is no longer tenable, it scares the hell out of him.


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