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Nederlog

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

Crisis: Trump's Unknown Terrorist Attacks; Trump, Stalin and Science; Trump and Bannon

Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
'Coordinated Strategy-Du-Jour'? Trump Claims Media Not
     Reporting Terror Attacks

2. Comparing Trump to Stalin, Australia's Chief Scientist Warns
     Against Censorship

3.
Trump and Bannon Pursue a Vision of Autocracy
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tue
sday, February 7, 2017.

Summary: This is a crisis log with 3 files and 3 dotted links: Item 1 is about a thoroughly crazy idea of Trump: The media - everywhere, any - are not reporting
terrorist attacks (like 9/11!) although (according to Trump) they are "rampant across Europe"; item 2 is about Trump's anti-science stances; and item 3 is about Spiegel, that identified Trump as an autocrat (I more or less agree, but found the article again pretty weak). O, in case you say that three articles isn't much: I agree but I simply couldn't find more today that I wish to review [1] (and meanwhile wrote at least 1484 articles on the crisis).
As for today (February 7, 2017): I have changed my site on February 1, 2017 to make it easier that it might be read, because it now happened for most of last year that both of my sites are not uploaded properly:

On xs4all.nl it may be days, weeks or months behind to show the proper last date and the proper last files (in the last 4 years always on the date it was that day) and of course it was yesterday already not uploading; on one.com it may be shown as December 31, 2015 (and often was!!!) and it was still February 3 (four days ago); and indeed I am sick of being systematically made unreadable and therefore changed the site to allow most readers to find it more easily.

For more explanations, see
here - and no: with two different sites in two different countries with two different providers, where this has been happening for a year (and not for over 20 and over 12 years before) now I'm absolutely certain that this happens and that it's not due to me.
1. 'Coordinated Strategy-Du-Jour'? Trump Claims Media Not Reporting Terror Attacks

The first item today is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Whether it is the "coordinated strategy-du-jour" or just more "alternative facts," U.S. President Donald Trump's claim Monday that the media is conspiring not to report on terror attacks has left many observers "speechless."
I say! And let me repeat part of this with three boldings by me: "the media is conspiring not to report on terror attacks" and see what this means:

First, it's "the media" who refuse to report terror attacks. That is, not just a few; not just those who are opposed to Trump; and indeed not only the American media:  It is "the media" - according to Trump - who all over the world (see the next quote) refuse to write
the-truth-according-to-Trump.

How Trump is supposed to know this, speaking only American English, and apparently getting all his news from the media is a complete riddle (but according to professor Allen Frances Trump is not mad [2]).

Second, it are "the media" who are conspiring, according-to-Trump. Presumably Trump has secret information (not from his secret services, for he disdains them and refuses to listen to them) that "the media" and their editors, world wide also, are in secret refusing to write the truth(-according-to-Trump) about terrorism, presumably to upset Trump(-according-to-Trump) (and according to professor Allen Frances Trump is not mad [2]).

And third, "the media" - all over the world, again, according-to-Trump - do NOT report many terrror attacks by terrorists (but
according to professor Allen Frances Trump is not mad, o no [2]):

Speaking to military leaders at the U.S. Central Command and Special Operations Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, Trump expounded on the threats posed by the Islamic State, or ISIS.

"ISIS is on a campaign of genocide, committing atrocities across the world. Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland," the president said. According to the Washington Post, Trump then listed a series of terrorist attacks in the United States—including 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.—and added that such attacks are rampant across Europe.

"All over Europe, it's happening. It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported," Trump said. "And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that."

As I said, "all over Europe" there are terrorist "attacks (...) rampant across Europe", according-to-Trump (who is NOT mad according to professor Allen Frances [2]).

It so happens that I live in Europe and I don't know anything about rampant attacks of terrorists here, but then of course I must be making this up or else I must be taken in as well by all the European media, for Trump assures me and everybody else - without any evidence, but the president of the USA never lies, of course -  that all these media have conspired to lie about very many terrorist attacks (says Trump, who is NOT mad according to professor Allen Frances [2]).

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

Philip Rucker, White House bureau chief for the Washington Post, pushed back against those claims. "I don't know where he gets his information," Rucker told MSNBC. "In his speech, we should note, he did not mention any examples. There was no evidence that the media is somehow ignoring terrorist attacks in an effort to collude with ISIS or whatever he's imagining. We do cover terrorist attacks."

Though this is far from the first time the president has made disparaging remarks about the media, for many, Monday's statement is particularly troubling given that he framed it as a coordinated effort to suppress information, which he could use to justify calls for increased military action and tighter restrictions on immigration.

As to the first paragraph quoted above: Philip Rucker is very careful, but he is correct in what he says. Then again, he doesn't say that - rather obviously - Trump's source of Trump's "information" (that all European and American media lie about many major terror attacks that they refuse to report so as to upset Trump, it seems) can only be Trump's fantasy, but then again he also doesn't say it "pains" or "hurts" him to write that Trump is "a pathological liar" [3], but then again he also doesn't say that Trump lies.

And about the second paragraph: Yes - but who can believe a worldwide media effort to suppress all information about major terrorist "attacks (..) rampant across Europe"?!

I certainly can't, since I believe it is far more probable that the president lies. And it would seem to me that the media also can't believe these - it would seem to me: rather sadistic - lies either, but then again I must admit that many current "journalists" seem to find it far more easy (and better paying!) to simply repeat the presidential propaganda while refusing to speak of his lies, even if he is slandering the media worldwide, including themselves. [4]

We shall see what will emerge from this attack on the credibility of all the media by the proven mass liar Trump. And this is a recommended article.

2. Comparing Trump to Stalin, Australia's Chief Scientist Warns Against Censorship

The second item is by Nika Knight on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

American scientists are facing censorship on par with that imposed in the USSR under Josef Stalin, Australia's chief scientist Alan Finkel said during a scientific roundtable in Canberra, Australia, on Monday.

"Science is literally under attack," Finkel warned, describing the Trump administration's crackdown on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, which requires political appointees to review scientific research before it is published. Congressional Republicans have also set their sights on gutting the regulatory agency.

Yes, I think Finkel is quite right, and yes: it also seems as if - starting with Trump - science can produce their scientific findings on the environment only if these finding agree with Trump's prejudices (who insists there is no warming, and that the environment is quite OK).

There is also this on Trump's political censorship on climate scientists:

"It defies logic. It certainly does longterm harm," Finkel said, and compared the administration's policy to the USSR under Stalin:

It's reminiscent of the censorship exerted by political officers in the old Soviet Union. Every military commander there had a political officer second-guessing his decisions.

Soviet agricultural science was held back for decades because of the ideology of Trofim Lysenko, who was a proponent of LamarckismStalin loved Lysenko's conflation of science and Soviet philosophy, and used his limitless power to ensure that Lysenko’s unscientific ideas prevailed. 

Lysenko believed that successive generations of crops could be improved by exposing them to the right environment, and so too could successive generations of Soviet citizens be improved by exposing them to the right ideology.

So while Western scientists embraced evolution and genetics, Russian scientists who thought the same were sent to the gulag. Western crops flourished. Russian crops failed.

"Today, the catch-cry of scientists must be frank and fearless advice," Finkel said, "no matter the opinion of political commissars stationed at the U.S. EPA."

In case you want to know more about Trofim Lysenko (<-Wikipedia) this is a link and the article is quite correct in claiming that "Russian scientists" who did not agree with Lysenko "were sent to the gulag".

This article ends as follows:

Trump's actions in his first two weeks in office—not to mention his usual rhetoric—have also provoked comparisons with other infamous dictators, such as Adolf Hitler and Kim Jung-un.

I think that might overstate the case against Trump, indeed not because Trump may not aspire to a dictatorship, but because if he does, he has not succeeded in becoming a dictator, at least as yet.

3. Trump and Bannon Pursue a Vision of Autocracy

The third
and last item today is by Spiegel Staff on Spiegel International:

This starts as follows:

Those hoping to understand what the world might currently be up against should know how Stephen Bannon thinks. A corpulent man with a full head of hair at age 62, his gaze is clear and alert and he often pinches his mouth together until his lips become invisible, not unlike a street fighter. Now that he works in the White House, he has begun wearing a suit coat. Previously, though, he was fond of showing his disdain for refined Washington by wearing baggy cargo pants through the streets of the capital, shaggy and unshaven.

In November 2013, the historian Ronald Radosh visited multimillionaire Bannon in his townhouse, located in Capitol Hill. The two stood in front of a photo of Bannon's daughter Maureen, an elite soldier with a machine gun in her lap posing on what had once been Saddam Hussein's gold throne. At the time, Bannon was the head of the right-wing propaganda website Breitbart and the two were discussing his political goals. Then Bannon proudly proclaimed, "I'm a Leninist."

The historian reacted with shock, asking him what he meant. "Lenin," he answered, "wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment." By that, he meant the Democratic Party, the media, but also the Republicans.

I agree with the title of this article, but the above quotation is a bit tendentious (although indeed I do not like either Trump or Bannon myself either), and my main reasons are that (i) I can't quite believe that Bannon was speaking really seriously, and
(ii) even if he was, his position at that time was very different from what it is now.

Here is more on Bannon's mind:

"Steve is a strong militarist, he's in love with war -- it's almost poetry to him," his longtime Hollywood writing partner Julia Jones told the website. She said books about war lay all over the place in his home. "He's studied it down through the ages, from Greece, through Rome ... every battle, every war. Never back down, never apologize, never show weakness. He lives in a world where it's always high noon at the O.K. Corral."

Hm. This also seems a bit one-sided, but I suppose she is right that Bannon likes war (which suggests to me that he never faught in one [5], and indeed he didn't, although he did spend 7 years in the U.S. Navy).

Here's more on Bannon's recent career:

Last Monday, Donald Trump promoted Bannon once again. The ex-Breitbart editor had started as his campaign manager before becoming Trump's chief political strategist in the White House. Now, though, Bannon has also been named a permanent member of the National Security Council. "That's the worst thing that has ever happened," says one former Bannon confidant. In addition to other aspects of national security, the group, one of the government's most important, also addresses matters pertaining to war and peace.

Yes, and in fact it also seems as if Bannon's appointment also kicked out the intelligence service and the Joint Chief of Staffs of the military, that were in the National Security Council.

Then there is this on what Spiegel thinks Trump and Bannon are trying to do:

Since Jan. 20, Trump and Bannon have together mounted an attack against the institutions of democracy. Surrounding by a tiny circle of confidants, Trump has started a revolution. The aim is to make America great again, as it once was, when there were more borders, women were obedient and the country was strong and feared -- at least as Bannon sees it.

This new old America has taken shape in an alarmingly clear way during the past two weeks. The contours of the presidency are clearer and the methods more visible. Trump is neither seeking to promote his initiatives nor is he trying to persuade people of his political course. Rather, he is governing by decree and ruling like an autocrat.
I mostly agree (apart from "there were more borders": it doesn't seem as if there were other borders than with Canada and Mexico since 1866, to the best of my knowledge, at least in the USA, though maybe that wasn't meant): Trump and Bannon do govern like autocrats (<-Wikipedia), and what they did does amount to "an attack against the institutions of democracy" (especially against the independent judiciary and the independence of the media).

Then there is this on Trump's recent actions and sayings:
The president said he "absolutely" feels that torture "works." He threatened to send U.S. troops into Mexico in a telephone call with the country's president if he didn't finally take drastic measures to stop the "bad hombres" there. He fought with the Australian prime minister over refugee policy. It appears he wants to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and he seems to be picking a fight with China. His people have also attacked the European Union in general and Germany in particular.
Yes, but the point is not whether "the president said he "absolutely" feels that torture "works"" (and indeed I think he is right everybody may be thoroughly destroyed by sufficiently cruel tortures): the point is that torture is a crime in international law.

Then there is this on what the Spiegel calls "Trumpists":

The power centers are fighting against each other, including Bannon and Miller and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who some consider to be a moderating influence. His previous spokesperson and current special adviser Kellyanne Conway -- the inventor of the term "alternative facts" -- is also part of the cabal. And then there's the former head of the military intelligence service DIA, Trump's security adviser General Michael Flynn, who is pleading for reconciliation with Russia.

Such is the composition of the Trump White House, a chaotic place, but also one with a clear mission: that of radically transforming the United States. These aren't Republicans, they are Trumpists.
Actually, there are quite a few more in Trump's cabinet, but OK. I more or less agree that at least Trump and a few more in his cabinet are "Trumpists" rather than (rich) Republicans, but I also say it is early days yet, and this may change.

Then there is this:
It's a Faustian bargain, with Bannon in the role of Mephistopheles and Trump as Dr. Faust. Bannon made Trump big and helped guide him to the White House. Now Trump is fulfilling Bannon's plan. Trump is a "blunt instrument for us," Bannon told Vanity Fair last summer. "I don't know whether he really gets it or not." By "us," Bannon meant America's new right, supporters of a Tea Party movement that is much further to the right than the majority of Republicans.
Hm. This sounds a bit too much like purple prose to me. For one thing, I have seen no evidence that "Bannon made Trump big", and I have been reading 35 magazines and papers daily and for over 3 1/2 years now.

Then there is this, that also sounds too much like purple prose to me:
An international alliance of populists united in their hatred of the elite, appealing to the workers and brought together by a common enemy -- only with the Muslims replacing the Jews this time. It all makes Bannon, and Trump along with him, sound like a fascist. But are they?
For one thing: who are the "international alliance of populists"? (I can make guesses, but I much rather see Spiegel articulate its euphemisms.) And why "fascist"? For one
thing there are at least 22 different definitions of "fascism". (See here for more.)

Then there is this precisification of "
illiberal democracy", which indeed is required [6] because it sounds much like a square circle:
What people like to call "illiberal democracy" is making a comeback in many parts of the world. The idea represents an authoritarian democracy in which the leader is more or less freely elected, but in which people's basic civil rights are curtailed, transition of power is made more difficult, freedom of expression and the press come under pressure, minorities lose their equal protection and the division of power is either partially or entirely eliminated.
It is a precisification but "illiberal democracy" still seems a contradictory term like "square circle" to me, and my reasons are that the only thing that is faintly "democratic" is that "the leader" - "Der Führer" in German - "is more or less freely elected", while "people's basic civil rights are curtailed", "freedom of expression and the press come under pressure", "minorities lose their equal protection", and "the division of power is either partially or entirely eliminated". That is not "a democracy", in my sense of that term.

So for me, at least, this seems much like saying circles are really squares, because they are regular closed forms.

This is the last bit that I'll quote and comment:

Society as a whole and the country's youth are becoming politicized again to a degree not seen since the 1960s and '70s. And the question is quickly becoming who will have the greatest endurance -- the defenders of liberal values on the streets or the nationalist revolutionaries in the White House? The battle between these two camps could define America in the coming years, but it is difficult to predict how a narcissistic president such as Donald Trump might ultimately react to lasting demonstrations targeting his leadership.
I more or less agree, but with two remarks.

The first is that since I recall "
the 1960s and '70s" quite well (having been born in 1950), I am quite certain that - as yet, at least - it is not much like "the 1960s and '70s" were. I agree it may become like these years again, but the USA isn't there yet.

And the second is that I agree that Trump is "
a narcissistic president" and that being a narcissist like Trump is, is a personality disorder (but according to professor Allen Frances Trump is not mad [2]).

---------------------------------
Notes
[1] For in fact two things are required before I review an article in Nederlog: First, I must know the article and it should interest me, positively or negatively, and second,
I must have something to say about the article that the article itself does not say.

It is today as it always was, but it is true I awoke very early, and did not find much that satisfies the above two rules.

[2] In case you don't know Allen Frances (<-Wikipedia), see yesterday or this series on the DSM 5:

He is a leading American psychiatrist who was involved with the DSM-III, who designed the DSM-IV, and who opposed the DSM 5. I very much dislike him because I think he is very dishonest, which in my case is strong because I am one of the circa 17 million people with M.E. that are supposed to be insane by psychiatrists simply because we say that we are physically ill with an unknown and ill understood disease, and we are not mentally ill (which should be at least a little bit more credible in the case of my ex and myself, for we both fell ill in the first year of our studies, in 1979, but we both got very good M.A.'s in psychology while we were ill, but could not do anything with it - such as earning money, which we both could have done very well - because we both are and were ill with M.E., in both of our cases now for the 38th year).

But not according to psychiatrists: If you claim any illness and the medical doctors can't find it, this is sufficient reason
(!!!) (i) to claim that you are insane, I suppose because medical men know everything there is to know about diseases, and (ii) to deny you any individual hearing simply because you belong to a group of insane people.

And Frances was seen yesterday to engage in psychiatric utter bullshit in denying that Trump is mad, although he does fit Frances' own definition of a narcissist to a t. And Trump can't be mad, according to Frances, because - an utterly new criterion - Trump feels well (?!?!), and because he hasn't been seen by a psychiatrist who wanted to diagnose him.

I am sorry, but a man who write like that writes
bullshit. Knowingly.

[3] As did Spiegel's chief editor Klaus
Brinkbäumer (see here), which I simply cannot believe.

[4] These simply seem to be the facts about much of the mainstream media, though indeed not the non-mainstream media (that I mostly but not only follow and comment on in Nederlog)

[5] My reason to assume Bannon never faught in a real war is that I do know most who have been in a real war and survived it seem to think rather differently about war than they did before surviving a real war. (And my assumption was correct.)

[6] And namely because Spiegel's own chief editor used the phrase before, and without any clarification.


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