Media (402)

 

Bring in the Clowns

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Normally Donald Trump is the main attraction in the DC circus, but this week it was his legal team.  The White House had pulled Ken Starr out of the trash heap of history to let him qualify Trump’s impeachment as too frivolous.  Those who thought that irony is dead stood corrected when they were reminded that Starr investigated Bill Clinton for three years, and after starting with Whitewater via Travelgate eventually had him impeached for lying under oath about a blow job.  But Starr was only the opening act of the legal clownshow.  Next came Alan Dershowitz, who started by stating that a president can only be impeached if a crime has been committed, a thesis resulting from ‘more study’ than he had done during the Clinton impeachment, when he defended the opposite position.  The retired law professor didn’t stop there and proclaimed that if a president believes that his re-election is in the national interest anything he does to get re-elected is acceptable.  In Trump’s case, asking for and accepting foreign help would be fine.  This was puzzling for those senators who are familiar with 52 USC 30121, which makes it unlawful.

Confronted with the fact that Trump had asked Ukraine for an investigation of Joe Biden and thus had committed a crime that would be impeachable Dershowitz came up with the following pretzel: if the president was worried that Biden was corrupt it was his duty in the national interest to have him investigated, because Biden might one day be president and the country cannot afford to have a corrupt occupant of the Oval Office.  The suggestion that the most corrupt US President in history could legally investigate a rival for corruption was breathtaking.  Other lawyers on Trump’s team argued that removing Ambassador Yovanovitch and putting pressure on the Ukrainian government was just a matter of US foreign policy, which the president has the sole responsibility to conduct.  Possibly today the Senate will decide whether to call witnesses and all bets are off, but it is doubtful that four GOP senators will have the courage to incur the wrath of Trump.  The prime candidate to be called would be former NSA John Bolton, whose manuscript with for Trump incriminating information was leaked out of the White House NSC office.

The president, always the very stable genius, publicly made the unbelievable statement that he never spoke with Bolton about Ukraine, effectively waiving executive privilege if he was ever planning to claim that and allowing Bolton to speak freely about their conversations.  Trump called Bolton a ‘warmonger,’ who begged for his position, was fired and then wrote a nasty and untrue book.  The president claimed that if he had listened to Bolton, who told AG Barr he had concerns about Trump’s granting favors to authoritarian leaders, the US would now be fighting WW VI.

As the White House threatened to block the publication of Bolton’s book in March, Trump, helping his friend Netanyahu, unveiled Jared Kushner’s peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians, which for the latter comes down to permanently giving up 30% of their territory and living in a ‘homeland’ with limited autonomy as was pioneered by the South African Apartheid regime, in exchange for $50 billion.  For Trump and Kushner only money matters and they obviously think everything is for sale.

After Mike Bloomberg, who is running for the Democratic nomination, spent $10 million on a Superbowl ad, Trump responded by buying equal time.   It made New York’s former mayor open up about the time the president asked for his counsel after having been elected.  ‘Hire a lot of people who are smarter that you,’ had been Bloomberg’s good advice, but Trump’s respons was ‘nobody is smarter than me.’

 

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''Mediageile massahysterie'''

De man heet Erik Noomen. Hij was vorige week donderdag te horen in Spraakmakers op Radio 1. (KRO/NCRV). Natuurlijk ging het daar over de massale aandacht voor het Corona virus. Noomen noemde de berichtgeving hierover ‘’mediageile massahysterie’’

      Volgens hem zijn er sinds de uitbraak van het virus meer mensen overleden aan het stoten van hun grote teen, die ontstoken is geraakt. ''Maar we gaan toch ook niet zeggen, dat de mensen voortaan werkschoenen aan moeten met stalen neuzen''.

      Noomen introduceert zichzelf op twitter als volgt: ‘’Stamhouder van het geslacht Noomen, journalist, kaasdromer, televisiemaker, fundamentalistisch atheïst en vergeefs kattentrainer’’.

      Niet alleen een kroegprater voor de radio dus, maar ook nog een man met een verkeerd gevoel voor humor.

VPRO’er Leonard Ornstein zat ook in de studio. Hij ging wijselijk genoeg niet tegen Noomen in, maar verwoordde het heel duidelijk  : ‘’ Ik denk dat er ooit een virus komt dat een enorme besmetting gaat veroorzaken waar we niet tegen bestand zijn"". Volgens hem moeten media wel oppassen om een 'massapsychose te veroorzaken. "Individuele mensen zijn vatbaar voor dit soort berichten en denken dat ze het zelf onder de leden hebben."

Presentatrice Ghislaine Plag, die ik overigens goed vind, maakte nog een soort tut-tut-ho-ho opmerking ("Stalen neuzen zijn niet besmettelijk"), maar ook dat weerhield Noomen niet.  
Als u het allemaal niet gelooft luister dan nog eens. HIER.
      Ga naar het onderdeel tusen 10 en 11 uur. Na 7 minuten begint het Corona virus.  

 

 

Greetings from Davos

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Donald Trump went to the World Economic Forum to create a distraction from his impeachment trial, but it looks more like the trial created a distraction from his screw-ups in Davos.  After a book came out that told the story of how the president called ‘his’ generals ‘dopes and babies,’ adding ‘I’m not going to war with you’ – something they knew already because they were all in Vietnam, as Bill Maher observed – and reported that Trump didn’t know what exactly happened at Pearl Harbor and got stuck trying to read the Constitution because ‘it’s written like a foreign language,’ the US President apparently expected to meet with his Iranian counterpart in Davos, something that was never in the works.  Instead he met with the leader of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, whom he mistook for the leader of the Syrian Kurds and thanked for his cooperation after the departure of American troops, adding ‘we kept the oil.’ It was a reminder of the time Trump told India’s Prime Minister Modi that his country doesn’t border on China, and showed how he is struggling with geographic information and thinks all Kurds are the same.

In Davos the president took sole credit for the state of the US economy, which he assessed by just referring to the stock market and the unemployment rate, ignoring the damage his tariffs have done to farmers and how they caused a decline in manufacturing employment, as well as the fact that wages are barely rising and the gap between rich and poor is widening.  Avoiding the topic of climate change directly Trump bragged that America has the cleanest air and water in the world, although research shows the air is becoming more polluted and just this week the administration rolled back clean water protections Obama had put in place.  On the bright side, the president promised to join an effort to plant one trillion trees, which finally gave his audience reason to modestly applaud him.  Trump’s presentation was followed by the usual ludicrous statements: he said that the brain damage US servicemen had suffered during the recent Iranian rocket attacks was not serious enough to be considered an injury and claimed that an American had invented the wheel.  Leaving Davos he announced future cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

Since he had kept an eye on the trial in DC the president could report that his team of lawyers and the ‘I did it, so what’ defense were doing very well, primarily because ‘we have all the documents, they have nothing,’ which once more illustrated the correctness of the second Article of Impeachment.  He added that he would have preferred a long trial with witnesses but that for national security reasons that was unfortunately not possible.  Calling his Democratic accusers ‘sleazebags’ Trump lied that he would have loved to attend the trial and face the House managers.

In spite of his stated satisfaction with the trial, which has to be taken with a grain of salt because his lawyers are not exactly performing up to snuff for a client who prefers actors over experts, the president cannot be all that happy with recent polling.  According to CNN and Pew Research polls a majority of Americans wants him to be removed from office, and a much larger majority – including a sizeable percentage of Republicans – wants a trial with witnesses and documents.

In what he probably still considers a good week Trump set two records that will never be broken:  during the first three years of his presidency he made 16,241 false statements, raising his daily average to 14.83, and on Wednesday alone he released 141 tweets.  And to prove what a spiteful miser he is the president reversed Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunch rules ‘unintentionally’ on her birthday.

 
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Lying On The Fly

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Record keepers at the Washington Post have documented that by December 16, 2019 Trump had made 15,413 false or misleading claims.  For the 1,055 days of his presidency that came down to 14.61 lies per day.  Apparently not satisfied with his performance the president added a considerable number of falsehoods when explaining why Soleimani had been assassinated.  First the general had posed an ‘imminent threat’ to US citizens and military, a legal term that would have justified the action but could not be specified by the White House or the Pentagon.  Second, Trump claimed that Soleimani was planning to blow up the US embassy in Baghdad.  Since one embassy apparently was not enough he added three more to the Iranian’s malicious intentions, but even Defense Secretary Esper could not confirm that information.  Then it was because GOP senators had urged Trump to take the action, followed by the news that the decision to go ahead with the assault was made seven months ago, in case one more US citizen would be killed by Iran’s proxies, and at a rally last week the president said it ‘doesn’t matter’ why he gave the order.

With regards to his impeachment trial in the Senate that starts today Trump has been exhibiting similar flexibility.  Initially he demanded a trial with witnesses like Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Joe & Hunter Biden and the whistleblower, to expose the ‘impeachment hoax,’ but not Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton and others who could testify about the illegal withholding of military aid from Ukraine.  When Bolton threw a wrench in that design by making himself available to testify if subpoenaed the president shifted to a quick trial without any witnesses, but indicated that he would prefer to see the charges summarily dismissed.  With new information that has become available this week neither of those things is likely to happen.  The Russians started hacking into Burisma’s systems, looking for dirt on the Bidens on Trump’s behalf, with exactly the same electronic ‘signature’ they used in 2016, and one of Rudy Giuliani’s goons, Lev Parnas, handed over a trove of incriminating documents to the House Intelligence Committee and in a TV interview accused Trump of having supervised the Ukraine operation.

According to Parnas Giuliani, introducing himself as the lawyer representing the president as a private citizen, ran a gang of hoodlums in Ukraine pressuring President Zelensky to announce an investigation into the Bidens and possibly keeping Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch under surveillance.  And even after this ploy exploded in his face last September Hizzoner was still trying to get on Trump’s defense team for the Senate trial.  When asked about it one of the president’s real lawyers indicated that they wouldn’t let Giuliani argue a traffic ticket.

Conscious of his record, even in these trying times Trump succeeded in adding some more lies to his collection, for instance by claiming that Saudi Arabia paid $1 billion for the troops he sent to that country, something the Pentagon immediately denied because it hates to see US troops reduced to mercenaries.  The president’s reporting on the new China deal exaggerates the benefits to the US, and to visualize his lying he tweeted a picture of Pelosi and Schumer in Muslim garb.

One pundit observed that Trump wants to be the bride at every wedding and the corps at every funeral, but the one place where he doesn’t want to be is at the center of a Senate trial.  In spite of his litigious past the president has never gone to trial but always settled his lawsuits, and in this case that is not an option.  It now depends on the senators how painful this new experience will be for him.

 

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The Dialectics of Trumpism

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Trumpism is full of contradictions, not as the gradual revelation of its Absolute Spirit, like in Hegel’s philosophy, but as a product of dishonesty, incompetence and ignorance.  During the crisis following the assassination of the Iranian general Soleimani Trump praised the excellent work of US intelligence services, whose opinions he often discarded in the past in favor of the misinformation Putin had whispered in his ear.  Subsequently he demanded that NATO play an active role in the upcoming confrontation with Iran in Iraq, after practically having declared the alliance obsolete a couple of years ago.  In 2012 he said that Obama would start a war with Iran in order to get re-elected, a scenario he himself seemed to follow a week ago.  And Trump always criticized Obama for playing too much golf when he was president, something he said he wouldn’t have time for.  By now Trump has played golf 248 times, 2.6 times as often as Obama during the first three years of his presidency.  The president has also spent 33% of his time on Trump properties, wasting and pocketing so much taxpayer money that the Treasury Department is refusing to reveal the exact amounts before next year’s elections.

In his White House address on Wednesday morning, to which Trump emerged from the light like Superman from Krypton, he said that Americans should be ‘extremely grateful and happy’ because nobody had died in the Iranian attack he had provoked with his reckless actions.  Subsequently military leaders, probably already regretting that they had ever presented Trump with the extreme option of liquidating Soleimani, had the impossible task of proving that there had been an ‘immediate threat’ caused by the general’s recent movements in the Middle East, on what knowledgeable commentators called a ‘normal day.’  After the Pentagon failed to make that point, Mike Pompeo and VP Pence picked up the slack and tentatively started broadcasting that the killing had been a reaction to Soleimani’s past transgressions.  With such convoluted messaging it was not surprising that the briefings of Congress by Pompeo, Defense Secretary Esper and CIA Director Haspel were a complete disaster, not convincing anybody except for Trump’s most devoted sychophants.  When on top of this Senators were told ‘not to talk about it’ Republican Mike Lee freaked out and called the whole process ‘insane.’

If the president had hoped that the threat of a war would put his impeachment trial on the backburner he miscalculated, because with the current standoff with Iran the trial is front and center again, not in the least because John Bolton has declared his willingness to testify after having been subpoenaed.  Mitch McConnell is still planning to hold a quick bogus trial, but he will probably not be able to keep four or more GOP senators from wanting to call Bolton and possibly other witnesses, so that Nancy Pelosi can transfer the Articles of Impeachment in due time.

On Wednesday Trump lied that Iranian missiles were paid for by Obama, and during a presser on Thursday he blamed Nancy Pelosi for ‘defending’ Soleimani and emboldening Iran by discussing and holding a vote on a War Powers Resolution.  The president also blabbered that the General Secretary of NATO, Stoltenberg, was ‘excited’ about playing a role in Iraq, and proposed a new name for the alliance, NATOME, with ME standing for Middle East, if only because he is so ‘good at names.’

The delusional content of Trump’s teleprompter address was accompanied by his usual sniffing and a whining delivery, which makes him sound like a toddler who has barely overcome a stammer.  There is widespread speculation that the president is addicted to Adderall, an amphetamine-based medication for ADHD and narcolepsy.  It’s also an aphrodisiac, but that is tough with Melania’s bedroom door locked.


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