Media (304)

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Putin is Fine

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

If Donald Trump had not visited Europe this week the dominant story in the news would have been that his administration failed to reunite more than 4 very young children out of 102 with their parents by a court imposed deadline.  But first Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, which pushed the ordeal of refugee children and parents off the front pages.  Kavanaugh’s main qualification for the job, from Trump’s perspective, is his conviction that it should not be possible to subpoena or indict a sitting president, an issue that may very well be decided by SCOTUS.  It puts him in legal left field next to Alan Dershowitz, who argues in a new book that the Supreme Court can overrule a presidential impeachment.  Then Mike Pompeo’s attempts to make North Korea live up to the deal that Trump claims he struck with Kim Jong-un, but that only exists in his imagination, were labeled ‘gangster-like’ negotiating tactics by Kim’s spokespeople.  And at a rally the night before he left for Europe Trump declared that ‘Putin is fine,’ because ‘we’re all people,’ a level of logic that will puzzle philosophers for years.

Upon arriving at the NATO headquarters Trump immediately went on the attack, blasting Germany for a natural gas deal with Russia and member states for not spending enough on their defense.  Although the president could have scored moderate points on both issues Trump squandered the opportunity by claiming that Germany gets 70% of its gas from Russia, which in reality is 9%, and by stating that NATO members’ spending on their military has consistently been going down, while the opposite is true.  To save face on the latter issue Trump demanded an ad hoc meeting where he requested that member states annually spend 4% of their GDP on defense, more than the US spends and in spite of an existing agreement that the states will spend 2% by 2024.  At a press conference Trump proclaimed that everybody agreed to the 4%, which was later politely called untrue by French president Macron.  Then it was off to England for Trump, where he backstabbed Theresa May, whose government is already on life support, by criticizing her Brexit strategy, denying her a trade deal, and praising her two-faced opponent Boris Johnson.

After tea with the Queen, who will probably have put the fear of God in Trump to delight Melania, the president was off to his golf resort in Scotland, where he will prepare for his meeting with Putin by playing 36 holes.  Trump has already essentially waved off Putin’s meddling in the US elections by saying that he can only once again ask the Russian dictator ‘if he did it,’ and, barring a firm denial by Putin that Trump will immediately accept, tell him ‘not to do it again.’  Putin will be shivering.

While Trump did Putin’s bidding in Europe Republicans in Congress did everything they could to discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign by insulting and abusing FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was involved in the probe at its beginning but removed by Mueller for messages sent to his lover.  The congressmen dehumanized themselves, with Louie Gohmert taking the deepest dive into the mud.

Nobody knows yet what gifts Trump will carry to Helsinki for his Russian handler, whom he calls a ‘competitor,’ not an enemy.  In the meantime, his lying to senator Durbin during a previous confirmation hearing creates at least the chance that Kavanaugh’s confirmation will still be derailed, but what is one lie more or less in the Trump era?


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Due Process

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

This week Donald Trump’s America was treated to the outrageous spectacle of toddlers – many not able to speak English – ‘representing’ themselves in immigration court after being taken away from their parents.  There has been little progress in the family reunification process the administration was ordered to facilitate, and parents who have crossed the border illegally are now given two options: they can either leave the US immediately with their children, or they can leave immediately without their children, who then remain in US custody.  It’s not much of a choice, and children are effectively held hostage to deny their parents the constitutional right to request asylum, adding a whole new dimension to Trump’s modern fascism.  In other legal matters, for the first time Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, has given off a signal in a Good Morning America interview that he might be willing to flip, and his choice of Lenny Davis, a Clinton confidant, as his lawyer shows that he’ll go to war with Trump.  In the meantime the president is busy picking a candidate for the Supreme Court from a list conservatives prepared for him.  He demanded a record of ‘good academic writing,’ but added that he would not read it.

On the international front Trump sent a letter to NATO members demanding that they raise their defense budgets.  Coming just before the annual NATO meeting most member states fear that Trump will produce a public scolding, just like he did at the G7 meeting, before he travels on to meet with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.  The big question here is how much the president, who called Putin ‘fine’  at a rally last night, will give away this time.  Estimates range from recognizing Crimea as Russian territory to lifting all sanctions or a combination of both.  Trump intends to meet with Putin one-on-one, without even a note-taker, so that he can freely report about his efforts to destroy the western alliance.  In this context it is relevant that the Senate Intelligence Committee published its conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf, confirming the prior assessment of all US intelligence services.  The report came out on the eve of the 4th of July, with minimal publicity because a delegation of only GOP senators – which is more than unusual – was just visiting the Kremlin.  To save Trump’s ‘deal’ with Kim Jong-un Mike Pompeo had to race to North Korea after it became known that that country’s nuclear testing sites had been expanded, not demolished.

Trump thanked Justice Anthony Kennedy numerous times for resigning during his presidency, bestowing him with the ‘honor’ of selecting a replacement, but it turns out that there is more than honor at stake.  Kennedy’s son was the Deutsche Bank officer who lent the Trump Organization over $1 billion of most likely Russian money that needed to be laundered, so chances are that when Robert Mueller is done Kennedy Jr. needs a presidential pardon in exchange for his father’s gesture.

One of the heroes of the most deplorable part of Trump’s base, Congressman Jim Jordan, may soon not longer be available as a Trump ally.  It turns out that as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State Jordan had to know that a doctor was sexually assaulting team members but did nothing about it, which puts him in the same category as the late Joe Paterno at Penn State.

And after a year and a half of scandals EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, one of Trump’s favorites, was finally forced to resign.  It will take away the good feeling the president had after he reversed Barack Obama’s regulations regarding the application of affirmative action at universities and colleges.


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OPEN BRIEF

aan de Raad van Bestuur van de NPO, de minister van Media, en de Vaste Kamercommissie voor Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap

 Er is geen enkele reden om Andere Tijden, Tegenlicht, Zembla of Brandpunt+ te halveren of te beëindigen. Geld Genoeg. 
Laat de publieke omroep nu eindelijk eens ophouden met a-mu-se-ments-programma's, dus ook met sport, -inclusief de geldverslindende sport-licenties- en zich concentreren op z'n wettelijke kerntaken: nieuws, informatie en achtergronden, kunst, cultuur en educatie. Sport is commercie. Laat commercie aan de commerciëlen.


Dan blijkt er geld genoeg te zijn en het beschikbare budget ruim voldoende. Dan heeft niemand last van bezuinigingen. Dan kan de NPO zelfs zonder reclame-inkomsten. Dan kan er gestopt worden met de kijkcijfer- en marktaandelendrift en gestopt worden met het beconcurreren van de commerciële zenders. En kan de publieke omroep zich -als 'unique selling point'- profileren als 'geheel reclame-vrij'. Wat een rust.

Dan kun je zenders inrichten onder leiding van inhoudelijk onafhankelijke hoofdredacteuren + dito redacties -in plaats van zendercoördinatoren of netmanagers. Laat de publieke omroep zich concentreren op het bereiken van kleinere en grotere doelgroepen. Laat de politiek de publieke omroep die ruimte geven en maak van de omroepverenigingen productiehuizen.
Twee open televisiekanalen voldoen hierbij. Vergroot en stimuleer bereik van de NPO via nieuwe media en nieuw beschikbare technieken, want dat is de nieuwe manier van kijken.

Kosten van zo’n nieuw model: maximaal € 400 miljoen*. 

(* prijspeil 2018. Zie het ook cijfermatig zorgvuldig onderbouwde rapport van de Werkgroep Alternatieve Publieke Omroep (APO), nota bene uit 2010 en nog steeds actueel)

Ad 's Gravesande, 

Adeline van Lier, 

Bob Fosko,  

Hanneke Groenteman, 

Fieneke Diamand, 

Gerard Hulshof, 

Jan Haasbroek, 

Kees Slager,  

Michal Citroen,  

Nico Haasbroek, 

Ronald van den Boogaard,

Theo Uittenbogaard

 

 

 

Justice Pirro

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
It’s probably not going to happen, but if Donald Trump had his way he would appoint his favorite Fox News commentator, former judge Jeanine Pirro, to the Supreme Court.  However, chances are that that would be too much even for the GOP senators who are paving the way for Trump’s modern fascism, although you never know.  Thanks to Mitch McConnell’s bottomless hypocrisy the US is now facing a situation where a president who is a suspect in what might be a conspiracy case laced with obstruction of justice gets to shape the Supreme Court that may eventually judge him.  Issues like ‘can the president be subpoenaed and indicted,’ and ‘can he pardon himself’ might very well make it to SCOTUS, as well as the question if co-conspirators pardoned by the president can be re-tried in state courts, or if that would be double jeopardy.  Other issues that are hanging in the balance are Roe v. Wade, political gerrymandering, same sex marriage, affirmative action and the death penalty for minors and mentally disabled.  Republicans expect their base to be energized for the midterm elections by a speedy appointment, while Democrats are taking inventory of their limited means to obstruct it.

Justice Kennedy’s resignation was a happy ending to a week that didn’t start too well for Trump.  A judge ruled that all children who have been separated from their parents have to be reunited with them in 15-30 days, depending on the age of the child, something the Department of Health and Human Services is very unlikely to accomplish.  Some children are lost, others know only their own name but not their family name, and many parents have already been deported.  Exhibiting his ignorance of and disdain for the Constitution Trump argued that people crossing the border illegally should be summarily deported without due process.  At a South Carolina rally he produced a tirade against the presence of a BMW plant that confused even his staunchest local followers, because it is common knowledge that BMW saved the state’s economy.  Claiming to have powers that no president has ever had Trump declared that Harley Davidson, an American icon, should not be allowed to move some of its production to Europe to avoid retaliatory tariffs caused by Trump’s own tariff policies, and threatened the company with serious repercussions if the move would effectively take place.

Internationally Trump continues to do Putin’s bidding.  At the G7 meeting he had already called NATO as bad as Nafta, and other members fear that he will use the upcoming meeting of the alliance to scold NATO before he travels off to meet Putin and give something important away.  Apparently at the G7 meeting Trump tried to persuade French president Macron to leave the EU, and he seems now also ready to leave the WTO, which was created at the US’s intiative to protect American interests.

In today’s unstable political climate the Mueller probe is the wildcard.  A review of Michael Cohen’s files and recordings has to be finished by July 5th, when the bulk of them will be turned over to prosecutors, which may prompt Trump’s fixer to flip.  In DC Republicans tried to railroad Rod Rosenstein in a hearing, attempting to set up his and Mueller’s firing, but he gave back better than they had and they left bloodied.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s ban of entries from seven countries, five of them primarily Muslim, for national security reasons.  It’s not a stretch that Trump might try to install a similar ban for entries from Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, giving Sarah Sanders and Kirstjen Nielsen even more reasons to do their own cooking.


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