Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

More Hannah Arendt [Again]

January 5, 2021

[This is a Newark News Analysis re-post  from 6-22-17. Given the events of these first weeks of 2021, the writing and insights are even more appropriate]

Although Hannah Arendt writes about events from 70 to 200 years ago in The Origins Of Totalitarianism (1951, 1958, 1966), something of today jumps out with almost every page. Contemporary political savants argue endlessly over how the party system is faring, who is winning/losing, why, and what the results of this spell out for the American people (as well as people of the world). In a paragraph referencing utilitarianism and governance (pg 347) she ends with:  ““Scientism” in politics still presupposes that human welfare is its object, a concept which is utterly alien to totalitarianism.” She footnotes this with: “William Ebenstein, The Nazi State, New York, 1943, in discussing the “Permanent War Economy” of the Nazi state is almost the only critic who has realized that “the endless discussion . . . as to the socialist or capitalist nature of the German economy under the Nazi regime is largely artificial . . . [because it] tends to overlook the vital fact that capitalism and socialism are categories which relate to Western welfare economics” (p.239)” She begins the next paragraph with: “It is precisely because the utilitarian core of ideologies was taken for granted that the anti-utilitarian behavior of totalitarian governments, their complete indifference to mass interest, has been such a shock.” On page 350 she writes “Totalitarian movements use socialism and racism by emptying them of their utilitarian content, the interest of a class or nation. The form of infallible prediction in which these concepts were presented has become more important than their content. The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error.” She elaborates this. On page 350 she writes “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such.” Which she footnotes with “Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s Rise to Power, Boston, 1944, underlines Hitler’s “phenomenal untruthfulness,” “the lack of demonstrable reality in nearly all his utterances,” his “indifference to facts which he does not regard as vitally important” (pp. 368, 374). –In almost identical terms, Khrushchev describes “Stalin’s reluctance to consider life’s realities” and his indifference to “the real state of affairs,” op. cit. Stalin’s opinion of the importance of facts is best expressed in his periodic revisions of Russian history.” She concludes this small foray into utilitarianism and objective interests in “traditional” Western forms of governance and what she believes occurs with totalitarian forms: “For masses, in contrast to classes, want victory and success as such, in their most abstract form; they are not bound together by those special collective interests which they feel to be essential to their survival as a group and which they therefore may assert even in the face of overwhelming odds. More important to them than the cause that may be victorious, or the particular enterprise that may be a success, is the victory of no matter what cause, and success in no matter what enterprise.” Tonight’s nightly national news covered the crowds lining up overnight for the apprentice president’s Iowa rally, very much like they used to do outside stores for Black Friday Sales. The camera panned to a little girl who yelled out “Build a wall!” No matter that at the recent (6-14-17) Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum Dr. Jim Johnson, in his talk on the Browning and Greying of America and its impact on business and the economy, carefully pointed out that the median age for whites is early forties, for immigrants and people of color upper twenties and early thirties. Who will help populate the workforce and consumer economy of tomorrow? No matter that the GAO, as well as others, describe self inflicted damage from much social legislation and executive action. (to paraphrase Arendt’s pg. 350 quote from the Nazi Primer “We shape the life of our people and our legislation according to the verdicts of economics” [original “genetics”]). No matter that “the jobs are never coming back,” and that the coal mining museum in Kentucky has solar panels on its roof. “More important . . . is the victory of no matter what cause, and success in no matter what enterprise.”

Solipsism

December 1, 2020

            The news seems to be that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Indeed. No, not the Covid 19 news, which is the real news, though there is a vaccine on the horizon (along with a hidden army of anti-vaxxers just over the ridge). Rather, the presidential election of 2020 appears to be reaching some sort of definitive finality. Unhidden is Dear Loser, er, Leader who can’t bear the thought of the spotlight not being on him, and him alone (he feels so naked without it). The pesky winners justifiably shine the light on the enormous turnout. 75% of registered Columbus Ohio voters did so. Unheralded is that, save for the top of the ticket, voting trends maintained the status quo, if not grew it nationwide. The party that hopes to be in the White House in 2021 actually lost traction with their other candidates on the exact same ballot. Like with the corona virus, the nation, and pundits, seem to be so fatigued that the only worthwhile news is something that projects a different future. But the well has been poisoned, and because of the fatigue, no one dares speak of holding anyone accountable for the devastating vandalism. GOP representatives and leaders who previously enabled and capitalized on Dear Leader’s lies (they are actually called lies in the vast majority of press coverage today. Finally) today are trying to distance themselves from the embarrassment. The Washington Post interviewed and found only 2 of the 53 GOP senators would admit Biden was the president elect the week immediately after the polls closed. Ohio Governor Dewine, who leads from behind a facemask, is now struggling with the state’s hospitals filling to capacity, not allowing space or staff for other medical conditions to be addressed (the normal function of a hospital). All because the well has been poisoned and the state’s constituents believe mask wearing and pandemic precautions are a matter of personal choice (conveniently referred to as a “political statement”). Who will be held accountable? But wait, the poisoning extends well beyond the alternate “personal choice” attitude as to what is science, and whose (as well as what is speculation, real or fancied). It hits at more nitty-gritty things such as relying on our institutions when the needs arise (established institutions which exist precisely to fill that need). The 2020 Census, upon which so many official decisions and policies rely, has been put in jeopardy (not the Alex Trebek kind). The EPA is no longer a source of clean water and air. The Dept of Ag can no longer be relied on for food security, whether the growing or distribution to those without (SNAP). Ditto Homeland Security, Dept of Justice, FBI, etc. ad nauseam. Even the courts role as arbiter of final resort is subject to personal interpretation. The poison seems to be that if all is in doubt then anything can be believed. And who is to be held accountable? Has culpability also succumbed to the solipsism of personal choice/interpretation?

The Question Of Secret Service Protection Entitlement

November 6, 2020

            The dominant news of the past week has been, regrettably, overshadowed by lesser affairs. The Covid 19 coronavirus has come roaring back, pretty much throughout the US. Most residents of Newark, Ohio and America have set their attention on the recent presidential election. This is unfortunate. Virus spread is unaffected by willfulness, the very essence of democratic process. True, true, true, mindful activity (like wearing a mask, etc.) does have a profound effect on the spread of viruses. But you don’t need Jon Kabat-Zinn to tell you that willfulness is not the same as mindfulness. Analysis finds the mixed bag of news from the past week to be full of little caveats of insight. Mike Dewine’s early success (and kudos) with regard to his handling of the coronavirus in Ohio went south with his caving to the political pressure of Trumpers following the resignation of Amy Acton. Now he’s in over his head without a clue, or a handle, on how to deal with the pandemic. Infections have sky rocketed 5 fold state wide from the previous weeks. But the economy is open which makes the Trumpers glad. Analogous to the virus, the Trumpers will not go away, no matter the election outcome. Much as Bernie (with Jimmy Fallon) accurately predicted the election week just past, so Bernie bros forecast the ineffectualness of the Biden candidacy. True, true, true, normal, calm and decency are valuable, especially now. But what was the first thing Mitch McConnell said after the Obama Biden win of 08? The number one priority is to get rid of Obama. McConnell, like the Trumpers, isn’t going to just disappear because there is a new administration. The national news coverage, along with some GOP politicians, is suddenly shocked at what a blatantly mendacious person Dear Leader is. What took you so long? Or rather, where have you been? The continuous lying will not cease because he is out of office. Analysis can only conclude that decent Americans have 4 years, and only 4 years, to get  Donald Trump imprisoned, on whatever charges – tax evasion, sexual assault, genocide (the pandemic deaths), corruption, whatever. After that, like the coronavirus, he will come roaring back full of lies, misinformation, disinformation, overt corruption and criminality. The question, not asked by the national news outlets, is whether a former president of the US is entitled to Secret Service protection while sitting in jail. Analysis finds supreme irony in all this. A Bernie Sanders welfare state legitimizes entitlement while a fascist Trumpist state denigrates entitlement, valorizing personal responsibility and self reliance in all matters.

Supremely Disingenuous

October 27, 2020

            10-26-20 The SCOTUS issued a decision disallowing the counting of mail-in ballots in Wisconsin arriving after the Tuesday election deadline. Unusual with the decision was the inclusion of a written concurrence by Justice Bret Kavanaugh. He writes “For important reasons, most States, including Wisconsin, require absentee ballots to be received by election day, not just mailed by election day. Those States want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election. And those States also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter. Moreover, particularly in a Presidential election, counting all the votes quickly can help the State promptly resolve any disputes, address any need for recounts, and begin the process of canvassing and certifying the election results in an expeditious manner.” It is no coincidence that the lines “And those States also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night,” and “counting all the votes quickly can help the State…” sound like they could have been said by the very same Chief Executive that appointed Bret Kavanaugh to be one of the Supremes. As recently as the glut of rallies this run up week to the election, Dear Leader has been emphasizing just that. Indeed, in an AP fact check from 10-26-20, Calvin Woodward cites: “TRUMP: “It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on November third, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate and I don’t believe that that’s by our laws.” — remarks to reporters Tuesday. TRUMP: “Big problems and discrepancies with Mail In Ballots all over the USA. Must have final total on November 3rd.” — tweet Monday.” In the follow up check Woodward notes: “And “our laws” don’t require the immediate reporting of all election results in the country; delayed counting is unavoidable.” “As for his demand for a “final vote total” on election night, that flies in the face of how votes are counted and reported. Apart from the usual lags in rounding up and reporting totals from every precinct in the country, the U.S. is seeing unprecedented numbers of early votes, and some battleground states won’t even start counting them until Election Day votes have been tallied.” “Earlier in the campaign, Trump asserted that the winner should be declared on election night, another outcome no one can guarantee and one that may elude the country in a week. There is no requirement that the winner be determined Election Day.” Analysis wonders whether “our laws” are the same laws that Justice Kavanaugh decides on. After a week of pontification on the sanctity and gravitas of originalist interpretation, Analysis finds it supremely disingenuous to try and have the American people believe that, in the days before railroads, telegraph or telephone and heavily reliant on original horsepower for speedy travel, the originators of the US Constitution intended for comprehensive and complete election results to be available throughout the 13 original states on election night itself. “Time is of the essence” is nowhere to be found in their delineations of the results of the electoral process. However, it is found in almost all contemporary contract law regarding real estate, something Dear Leader is quite intimate with.

First Impressions

September 29, 2020

            Psychologists and personality gurus tell us that immediate first impressions are what set up lasting relationships, lasting biases, lasting affinities. Sometimes these first impressions can be 180 degrees off, and then it is a struggle to reset the acquaintance. But first impressions do have an indelible effect. What is hardest is to catch the first impressions as they occur, to catch the auto pilot mind as it is operating in order to create the space for more sustainable reflection. Dream catchers are of little help. So it was with tonight’s first 2020 presidential debate. No room here for Analysis to dissect the oxymoron “presidential debate.” First impression, it was more like moronic presidential debate. But the first impression, the very first appearance on stage that the camera focused on was the entrance of America’s commander in chief, our incumbent Dear Leader. What did Trump do with his hair? His current do was coifed markedly different from his previous appearances. Either he is losing hair or his budgeted $70,000 stylist was instructed to make a more political statement for the sake of his base. The usually contrived comb over (which Rosie O’Donnell made so famous) was only half there. Normally the haircut favors the right side springing the heaviest, thickest strands from the back left over to the right, and then back in the direction of the left again. This time the thinner hair favored the right with the thicker locks cascading off the left. Significant? Doubtful, but neither was anything that came out of the maw located south of the hairline. Not even complete sentences, Just bytes and whistles, like twitter incarnate. Old tapes of Trump rallies would be indiscernible from what was called a “presidential debate” for our Dear Leader. For the most part his opponent stayed civil, though a bit mousy. He seemed to “roar” (if it could be called that) only when invoking the lives of his sons. Analysis came away with three takeaways; If the polls go down for Dear Leader directly after the first “presidential debate,” there won’t be any second or third debate (see Dear Leader’s rationale for accepting the outcome of the election for that one). The first “presidential debate” displayed this country’s current state of malignant normalcy in all its fetid offal-ness (every pun intended). The final takeaway differed little from the initial impression of the first “presidential debate.” It left one totally exhausted.

How The Lie Tells The Truth

September 9, 2020

            During this final stretch of the presidential election campaign, the enthusiasm factor definitely favors Dear Leader. Both the folks who own the boats (and ATV’s, RV’s, in home theatre TV’s, etc.), as well as the folks who make this ownership possible through their low wage labor, wear their hearts on their sleeves (as well as flag poles, truck beds, motorcycle sissy bars, etc.). And Dear Leader feeds off this adulation, offering up whatever sound bytes, dis info or mis info which may get a rise out of his reality show audience. The truth value of all this exchange is now, finally, immediately and continuously being challenged by media fact checkers. This, in turn, is swiftly transferred into sound bytes of actual and factual information by the opposition. The latest front in the battle to secure Mt. Parnassus, the abode of Apollo the god of truth, has been conjoined by the likes of investigative journalists (an endangered species on anyone’s list) writing for The Atlantic, Rolling Stone or Salon, as well as this year’s crop of tell all books from the likes of Bob Woodward, Michael Cohen or Mary L. Trump. The GOP’s official position during the Obama years was pretty much straight forward and embarrassingly honest: top priority was to get rid of Obama. Seemed politically viable enough. Obama’s flaws and untruths were readily enough pointed out and embellished. But that only worked as long as there was an assumed baseline, ground of truth (which could be verified like the great “keep your own doctor” of the ACA). Today’s lies are fast, furious and continuous, at a speed challenging the most adept of fact checkers (over 20,000 in 4 years for Dear Leader alone according to the Washington Post). The truth revealed by all this is that the lie promoted for whatever given decision or policy is preferred by the boat owners and those working for them in their marinas. This, that Dear Leader enthusiasts prefer and seek out the lie intentionally and knowingly, is a particularly hard truth to swallow, let alone digest. But then, Apollo was known to be a particularly cruel god.

What Will Newark Do If Trump Doesn’t Leave?

September 6, 2020

            David Brooks is a writer. He has written several books as well as a weekly op-ed column for the New York Times, part of the Times “both side-ism” approach to covering the news. On a political spectrum he would be somewhere around conservative/centrist/moderate. He also appears as a foil to the liberal Mark Shields on the PBS Friday Newshour commentary (as well as on election coverage, etc.). So it came as a bit of a surprise to read the title of his 9-3-20 Times’ op-ed: What Will You Do If Trump Doesn’t Leave? Sure, Bernie Sanders can broach the same topic eliciting “That’s Bernie” yawns. But Brooks? In his essay, Brooks assumes his paper’s both side-ism coverage of the various street demonstrations around the country and that they are increasingly actively involving both sides (the truth being that the Proud Boys and Prayer Patriots have been actively agitating in Portland for years, not just the past 100 days). White supremacy aside, and the affinity of these groups to side with and be embraced by law enforcement (after all, like the police, they are carrying firearms), none of this will go away with the election of a new president. Brooks’ point is will you choose a side? His response was to point to the outrage and mass street gatherings in Belarus (as well as Ukraine, Chile, etc.). Would you be willing to go to the streets for the sake of democracy, the Constitution and country (and not just one side)? What is striking about Brooks, and Sanders, and so many others recent concern about what will occur if our Dear Leader questions the legitimacy of the outcome (which he has been continuously laying the groundwork for just such a response), relies on his paramilitary (which he has continuously been instigating and affirming), and decides to change the Constitutional interpretation of what is the legitimate transfer of power (which he has been collaborating with his attorney general to reset what was previously assumed as lawful) is that most Americans are totally oblivious of this evolution, this development in American history. It has only been recently, in the last half year, that the media will immediately call out misinformation, disinformation as a lie, untrue, not backed up by facts and actuality. The word “fascist” still elides the lexicon. Speaking of fascism, what will Newark do if Trump doesn’t leave?

Invasives

July 20, 2020

Early 2014 witnessed the Ukrainian Revolution with a change of central government in Kyiv and the subsequent separation of the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions by pro Russian paramilitary. This was quickly followed by the Russian occupation of Crimea, and its eventual annexation. Originally Russia denied any involvement in the military activities. Local reports at the time centered on the presence of “little green men”, armed and dressed in military camou without insignias as to rank or allegiance. Americans primarily associate the entire episode with Donald Trump’s “thing” about Ukraine with its desire to undermine Joe Biden and eventual impeachment outcome. But what happened to the “little green men”? Apparently now, after 6 years (the last 4 of which are under the Trump administration), they have migrated to the northwestern part of the continental US. Little green men, armed and dressed in military camou without insignia as to rank or allegiance, have been active and spotted in the cities of Portland Oregon and Seattle Washington. And they’ve brought their unmarked vehicles with them too! Akin to Ukraine 2014, both cities are currently embroiled in ongoing Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Analysis wonders when the American people will finally make the real connection of Donald Trump, his “thing” about Ukraine, and what went on there in 2014.

Official Apology From The Ministry Of Information

June 14, 2020

There is a need for context with today’s blog posting. Autocratic governments around the world have historically, as well as currently, maintained official news outlets where the official government interpretation of what is considered official reality is asserted. The rest is dismissed as, officially and literally, fake news. Some of these news outlets are run through official government offices of information, etc. Others are government franchise “autonomous” enterprises whose primary existence is to be the government mouth piece. Most in the US don’t approach news in that manner. Between a mix of freedom of the press and Walter Cronkite, with a dash of radical marginalized outlets, the news is treated as a work in progress of contemporary history, a fact checkable reality. What could be official? The contemporary autocracy in America rearranges that outlook. With its emphasis on privatizing anything and everything official that it can, the current administration eschews an “official” line, preferring instead for a popular origin located and affirmed through private news sources (a Wall Street Cronkite nightly report, of sorts). Many sources have reported what was originally uncovered by the Seattle Times. June 13, 2020, Jesse Drucker headlines for the NY Times that “Fox News Removes a Digitally Altered Image of Seattle Protests Fox News acknowledged that one photo was a combination of several images, and a second was taken in a different city.” Notable in the report of what The Seattle Times had scooped: “On Friday, Fox posted on its site a photo of a man armed with a rifle standing in front of the shattered glass of a storefront. The Seattle Times noted that it was a combination of several different photos from Getty Images taken over nearly two weeks. Also on the website, Fox also posted a nighttime photo of a burning storefront and car, accompanied by the headline “Crazy Town” and a list of articles on the unrest in Seattle. But that image was taken in St. Paul, Minn.” Drucker also gave the official response: “In an editor’s note now accompanying the articles, Fox said the now-deleted image was a “collage” that “did not clearly delineate between these images, and has since been replaced. In addition, a recent slide show depicting scenes from Seattle mistakenly included a picture from St. Paul, Minnesota. Fox News regrets these errors.”” Since 2016 Fox News has been functioning as the de facto ministry of information for the Trump regime; privatized, of course. The protesters may chant “What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like.” Well, Fox News is what privatization looks like for an official ministry of information. In the 5-28-20 post entitled “Decision 2020” Analysis referenced Latour’s Iconoclash and “Why do Images Trigger so Much Furor?” The original meaning of collage is given as “a piece of art made by sticking various different materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric onto a backing.” The origin of the word “propaganda” is given as “Italian, from modern Latin congregatio de propaganda fide ‘congregation for propagation of the faith’” Propaganda? Art? Or both? Fox news: We report, you decide.

Decision 2020

May 28, 2020

5-25-20 AFP headlined: India yogi who claimed to live without food or water dies aged 90. “An Indian yogi [Prahlad Jani] whose claims he spent decades without food or water earned him a band of devotees and the scepticism of doctors died Tuesday, his neighbour told AFP.” “He told AFP in 2003 he got the “elixir of life from the hole in my palate, which enables me to go without food and water”. There was no way of verifying Jani’s claims, but doctors have said a person cannot go for long periods without food or water without organ damage and the body breaking down.” Who would you vote for, Jani or the doctors? Think carefully, decide wisely as this will be the foundations of the 2020 presidential election in 5 months. Back in 2002 European scholar and curator Bruno Latour organized an extensive investigation in what he entitled Iconoclash. It considered topics such as “Why do images Trigger so Much Furor?” and “What is Iconoclash? Or is There a World Beyond the Image Wars?” Etc. One of his prime examples centers on the Reformation, a period when there were wars fought over the appropriateness of statues, paintings, relics and other iconic images within the churches of Christianity specifically as well as within the religion generally. Writing at the time of these actual events Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) offers one description (amongst many): “To speak frankly, there seems to be great self-love and presumption in granting your opinions such esteem that you can justify disrupting the public peace in order to establish them.” Returning to present time, Analysis finds an analogous Iconoclash unfolding before our weary eyes. It may not be a disruption centered on imagery, but it certainly does involve a destruction of the previous regime that values science, research, statistical data, factual analysis and intellectual conclusions. Montaigne seems to speak to the present reformation when “there seems to be great self-love and presumption in granting your opinions such esteem that you can justify disrupting the public peace in order to establish them.” The evidence is overabundant with Dear Leader’s Twitter usurpation, extortion of North Carolina’s pandemic response for mass gatherings by moving the upcoming GOP convention (after promoting individual state response), disdain for following his administration’s own CDC guidelines and recommendations with regard to masks, forcing people to unsafe work in the midst of an “invisible enemy,” championing the ingesting of hydroxychloroquine proactively as well as injecting bleach prescriptively, etc. Analysis finds that in November of 2020 the choice will not be about an economy, or racism, or security (personal, national or international). The choice for America will be between Prahlad Jani or the doctors. Who will you vote for?