Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sounds, Furies, and Nothing-Burgers

Just hours after publishing my previous post on the media going crazy over the dearth of news coming out of Trump's New Jersey golf club, he obligingly made them even crazier by seeming to threaten a nuclear attack on North Korea. Or, as he colorfully put it, "fire and fury like the world has never seen." That would presumably include Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it definitely surpasses the Mother of All Bombs which he recently dropped on some old CIA tunnels in Afghanistan.

Trump apparently believes mainstream news reports hinting that North Korea already possesses full nuclear capability, which it does not. He should really be more careful about all the news he consumes on CNN, which is going even crazier than usual ginning up the fear and paranoia in its viewing audience.  According to the latest polls, more than half of Americans now believe that a preemptive attack on North Korea would be just fine and dandy.

Propaganda absolutely works. Never underestimate was passes for intelligence in generous chunks of the consuming population, a large sub-chunk of whom don't even know where the Korean peninsula is on the map. Even so, 72% of those questioned in a CBS poll declare themselves to be "uneasy" about the situation after watching the requisite approved programming. This programming includes breathless reporting from Hawaii, complete with nuclear warning siren soundtrack. CNN's Wolf Blitzer acted downright disappointed that officials from the American military base/possession of Guam are so sanguine in the face of North Korean threats. The island's governor seemed more interested in touting Guam's tourism industry than in ducking for cover. Come on over, the water's fine.*

If you were thinking that the press and the Democratic-Republican-Neocon alliance would be condemning outright Trump's inflammatory rhetoric, you would be thinking very wrong. The general consensus is that although The Donald indulged in verbal conduct unbecoming a president, he is nevertheless deserving of praise for bellicosity extremely becoming of the American Empire itself. Trump may be more neon-con artist than ideological neocon, but as long as he gets with the program, some of his harshest critics are suddenly letting bygones be bygones.

Relentless Trump critic Senator Lindsay Graham, for one, is suddenly mellowing out in near-ecstasy at the mere prospect of more American aggression, even if it would cause the deaths of many thousands, perhaps even millions, of people:
 Graham said the president’s remarks are in line with the only reasonable approach to dealing with the Kim regime and that many of those criticizing the president have had previous opportunities to deal with North Korea and failed to do so. A North Korea armed with a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S. is unacceptable, Graham said, because “I don’t believe our missile defense systems are that good.” 

As such, Graham said the U.S. must be prepared to strike North Korea if it obtains such a weapon, a step some believe the Kim regime has already taken, or if it attacks the U.S. or its allies.
“His rhetoric yesterday, I think, is a change that is probably necessary. Everybody who spoke before him failed,” Graham told Hewitt. “Every smart person on TV who talks about what Trump should do, when it was their turn to deal with North Korea, they failed miserably. There’s no place for him to kick the can down the road.”
What philosopher Alain Badiou once wrote about the French right-wing populist Jean-Marie Le Pen applies just as well to the bloviating overreactions to Trump's bombast:
"He is like the hideous spectacle of what one is oneself, but taken to its extreme, or proclaimed rather than hidden.... Do these people really like deprived immigrants, workers, sick Africans, war fraternities and enthusiastic political adventures, that is, everything that stigmatizes their electoral nightmare? There is nothing to warrant believing it. Instead, just as they have always done, moderate profiteers veil the chronic violence that shelters them from the real world, and the vast anonymous masses with proclamations of love. But when someone declares, in all its rawness, the very thing their comfort presupposes, the thing they consent to in silence, or through lies, they cry out that enough is enough, and they won't have any part of it."
This is also true of the liberal outrage over Trump's admittedly cruel immigration policy. Despite his inflammatory rhetoric over "bad hombres" and the like, it was in fact the more debonair and glib Barack Obama who set a deportation record the likes of which the United States has never seen.

As reported in Politico this week, the deportation rate has slowed down under President Trump. 
From Feb. 1 to June 30, ICE officials removed 84,473 people — a rate of roughly 16,900 people per month. If deportations continue at the same clip until the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, federal immigration officials will have removed fewer people than they did during even the slowest years of Barack Obama's presidency.
In fiscal year 2016, ICE removed 240,255 people from the country, a rate of more than 20,000 people per month.
In fiscal year 2012 — the peak year for deportations under Obama — the agency removed an average of roughly 34,000 people per month.
Obama knew when and how to keep his mouth shut about his real agenda and accomplishments (deportations, bombings, arms sales to despots, drone assassinations, corporate giveaways, sweetheart deals with Wall Street criminals) while still talking a good humanitarian game. Trump keeps braying out the inhumanity which has been the de facto policy of the United States all along. It makes the important people feel very uncomfortable, at least until the desired result - war, war, and more war - is achieved to everyone's comfort and complicit satisfaction. 

In other news, (H/T annenigma) the New York Times was forced to issue a correction to its blockbuster front page scoop that Trump might try to block the release of a scary "new" report on climate change. It turns out that the report in question has been available online for the past eight months.  As I wrote the other day, the newspaper weirdly slanted the story around pure speculation into the president's thought-processes. The report itself was just a hook all along, with its actual content achieving only secondary importance. Now we know why. It's not the climate change that they really care about - it's keeping the anti-Trump media hysteria alive. Facts not fitting the prescribed Narrative be damned.

The Times recently got rid of its entire copy-editing desk, which used to go over every story with a fine-tooth comb before publication, looking for errors in both fact and grammar. Oops.

*Update, 8/12: In a phone call with Guam's governor on Friday, Trump also touted the island's tourism industry, much to the pseudo-shock of CNN and the professional indignados of the media-political complex. What, they never heard of disaster capitalism before?


Jay–Ottawa said...

The punk style of the Shallow State under Donald Trump has become much more appealing than the classic style of the Deep State. It's the old style that Trump is most definitely replacing, not so much the Empire's grand plan. The NY Times and The Atlantic may not appreciate his punk style, but enough people above and below the poverty line in America continue to be won over. His base is bigger than you think. The Age of Trump is here. Enough of multiculturalism, safe places for snowflakes and taking shit from North Korea.

We know what's going on now, even though we can't stop it. Never could. Isn't it in the nature of punk bands to smash up the place, including their instruments, before the cheering crowd exits the stadium? All the world happens to be America's stage lately, so brace for the eventual smashing of Iran, or North Korea, or maybe both at the same time any minute now.

Despite what you read in the NYT about the military pushing back, the Pentagon loves presidents who want to blow up stuff. Admirals commanding the Seventh Fleet are outspoken. They don't believe China has any right to claim most favored nation status over the China Sea just because it laps their shores and carries their name.

The generals of the all volunteer army love the idea of testing their skills anew in Iran. By now, they should have it right on how to bring a Middle East country to its knees. Then there's the center ring of the Trump Circus, Ukraine and Russia. That should be interesting.

Can't say we haven't been told, unless you fail to keep up with the tweets. Donald is his own man. No puppeteers behind the curtain where he's concerned––just whimsy, ignorance and the drive of a Hegelian ubermensch who is damn sure god is dead. So, no braking power behind him in the shadows and nothing ahead to stop him.

And here's the best part. Trump turns out to be the lesser evil. As Karen has just shown with numbers, the punks are doing LESS damage, quantitatively, than the refined sneaks who preceded him in the White House. So there's a positive constant under the style shift to the crude.

For the most part, style changes nothing important. Sleep well tonight because the American ship of state sails on. The environment will continue to be exploited as much as those masses of nobodies are being explointed at home and abroad, and wars will regularly happen along somehow to help our economy and those of the little states who wisely follow in America's wake. The sea is a bit more choppy of late, thanks to The Donald, but there is no indication of a change of course.

voice-in-wilderness said...

It was 55 years ago that "The Guns of August" was published about blundering, blustering, and bridging the way from peace to war -- unfortunately Trump and his followers have not only never read the book, they probably don't even know it exists.

The Joker said...

Some lyrics for current times (with apologies to Marvin Gaye):

Father, father
We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
You just need to masturbate...

Seriously, looking at the extent of the political insanity in so many nations, I think that the only hope for the future of mankind is to require that all national political "leadership", such as it is, behave as bonobos.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Nothing-burgers, that's the key. Nothing-burgers served up by we the people, not Trump.

In the latest Harper's the first article is by Naomi Klein. Great, you think. But no, it's just another limning of Donald Trump's character, this time with the W.W.E. connection highlighted. Did you know that Trump went into the ring seven times with the big boys and won each time? That old relationship has earned one of the high-up people in the W.W.E. a cabinet job. Oh dear, more corruption.

The lead article on TruthDig today is by Henry Giroux. It will be read more than half-way through by no more than 46 rock-solid people. Full of gold and lofty aper├žus, as usual, but you'll come to think, after the first paragraph, that you're in the reading comprehension section of a tough SAT exam. I've always maintained that Giroux deserved a PHD for his writing style alone. His sentences really ought to go on a diet.

Then, of course, another day's scanning of the NY Times digital. No change there. Headlines: Trump, Trump, Trump. At the bottom of the page, Gail Collins on the exchange of threats with North Korea. Irony and other light touches she is famous for have failed her today. Trump has a knack for pushing our buttons. He shocks you and makes you shake your head with the rest of the head-shaking herd; and he makes you an insomniac. Collins is scared, but at least readable, English-wise, and she's on to Trump's tactic of simply upping the ante every time his hand is called. How many more antes can he up?

Nader's hopeful, uplifting weekly newsletter encourages, in a positive way, reminds federal civil servants that they pledged allegiance to the Constitution, not a furious Fuhrer. Sigh. This is important, yes, because while we let Trump steal the limelight his agents are busy wrecking the agencies that provide us with clean air and water and a shot at avoiding extinction from nukes or CO2 etc.

What's the use of running to other websites? I'll only bump into the same guy, Trump.

People laugh at the way ostriches escape trouble by tunneling their heads into the sand. That tactic works! Seen any extinct ostriches lately? If we stop reporting and reacting to Trumps nonsense, he'll be performing to an empty theatre. Since he thrives on attention, then ignore him for a day, a week, let's see how long you can keep that up. Perhaps we can begin by pronouncing one day a week here at Sardonicky as a no-mention day about Trump. Nine-tenths of the "news" about Trump is sheer repetition.

Don't impeach him; ignore him when he's silly until he shapes up. Other countries will be relieved. So will we when only two or three journalists––finks1––show up at his press conferences. There really is a world beyond the Oval Office. The papers can talk instead about global warming, trade, travel, sports and the great big Sit-Down Strike across the land without mentioning "his" name.

Civil servants won't jump when his agents order the dismantling of their bureaucracy. Nobody gets pink slips because the personnel office is in on the strike. Generals discover that that they can't find the nuclear codes. And so on.

Is seeing nothing, saying nothing, doing nothing such bad advice in this case?

Bachelard said...

Here's a stellar example of the decline in copy editing and proofreading. It's easy to print a Freudian slip. Congrats for not using "furries" instead of "furies" in your headline, Karen.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Here's an informative article from the London Review that may cause you to recalibrate your views of Kim-Jong-un and North Korea.

Before you read it take this test. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being not at all and 10 being extremely high, how crazy would you rate Kim Jong-un, given the information available in most of the Western press?

Take the same test after you read the article. Any difference?

stranger in a strange land said...

Thanks for the London Review link, Jay. I recently caught a snippet of a promo for an upcoming MSM piece about North Korea (forget which teevee network). It featured a US military hireling talking about being stationed near "the bad guys" (referring to NK).

Not a student of history, evidently.