Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Hillary’s “Deplorables.”

As Hillary herself has said,

she was definitely mistaken, if not wrong, to have used the expression  “basket of deplorables…. racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic,deplorables to describe one half of the supporters of Donald Trump.

Mistaken (although perhaps not wrong) because the expression, if she were to hold onto it, would not help her campaign to be President of all Americans, including the deplorables.

During the most recent Republican Party primaries, Donald Trump received more votes than any previous candidate, some 16 million. (He also received some 15 million votes against him during those same primaries.) Half of 16 million, that’s a basket of 8 million “…racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic deplorables.

Is that what they mostly are, Trump’s supporters, or at least a good number of them? I don’t know, but is that what we should be afraid of? An army of racist, sexist, homo- and xenophobics? I don’t think so.

In any case how would you ever make from the outside the determination of what they are inside? Are there racist, sexist or other characteristic colors and shapes that would enable us to make that determination? Black or White?

I don’t think that it’s this army of deplorables that we should even be talking about. And if there even were such, that we should be afraid of them. Much more fearful, much more frightening, more serious, is the fact that Trump’s supporters, not just half of them probably, but most of them are ignorant members, if there were still one, of a know-nothing political party.

For they seem to be going along quite contentedly, with Trump himself at their head, ignorant, for example, of the benefits of free trade. These people would no longer trade with the world, that foreign, unfriendly consortium that they are convinced is out to cheat them, to take their jobs, and instead they would put up a wall of tariffs to prevent their imports from ever reaching us (to cheat them back?), much as their leader Trump would put up a wall on our southern border to stop the flow of illegals from Mexico and other Central and South American countries.

That’s trade.  Then there’s immigration, the bête noire of the Know-Noting Party of 1849. Hasn’t our open immigration policy (or policies) throughout the few hundred years or so of its existence always been for us an enormous benefit? Millions of immigrants to our shores, along with the richness of our land and resources, have enabled us to become the leader of the free world, if not the whole world.

And a kind of open immigration, although less open than in years past, is still going on. There is still an endless line of people and families from other lands who come here wanting to have what we have, and for the most part are ready themselves to work to achieve it.  It is immigration (meaning people) and natural resources together that have most of all enabled our country to grow and prosper.

And what’s happening now? Well Donald Trump and Trump’s deplorables, would slow down, if not in certain cases stop the flow of immigrants. This could be lamentable, tragic for the country, for the immigrants are even more important now than earlier given that the natural resources of the land are no longer as plentiful as they once were.

Immigration will help us to go on prospering, replacing diminished supplies of coal, oil, land and water with human resources in the form of immigrants to our shores. Trump himself and his followers, being know-nothings , don’t seem to know this fundamental fact.

So there is much to say about the real deplorables within the party of Donald Trump. And if ever he does win the presidency we’ll hear much more from and about them. That which we trust will never be.

Perhaps the very  greatest lack among Trump’s supporters is a practical knowledge of the world, due probably mostly to their abysmal ignorance of the findings and achievements of modern science.

One might even say that most of all they are deplorable (lamentable, shameful, inexcusable) in that they still hold onto ancient tribal beliefs, to ways and customs of the Middle Ages. The Bible, much as the Koran for their fellow believers, is the book where they go to learn about the world, and worse how to live. From that it follows just how insane is their world.

Can you imagine that? That somehow these millions have remained  ignorant  and unaware of the writings and discoveries of the great men and women of the physical and biological sciences? Have you ever heard them even mention either evolution or global warming? Except to say that neither one is real? And these people, the followers of Trump, still living in the past, would lead our country into the future. That is deplorable.

Roger Cohen, Human Beings are not Skittles.

bowlofsWorst of the Trumps

(with some changes, but still by Roger Cohen,  in the NYT, of Sept. 23, 2016)


Where to begin? With the fact that human beings are not Skittles? A caption accompanying the photograph below of the candy said: “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.” Trump Jr. also tweeted, “This image says it all.”


Where to begin? With the fact that after more than five years of war 4.8 million Syrians are refugees and 6.1 million are internally displaced and Trump Jr., even with his coddled New York existence, can surely make the calculation that this amounts to almost 2.5 million more human beings than live in the five boroughs?

Where to begin? With the fact that you do not flee your home because you have a choice (like choosing between Skittles and M&Ms after a Manhattan dinner party) but because you no longer have one?

trump-jrWhere to begin? With the fact that, according to a Cato Institute study of refugees admitted to the United States between 1975 and 2015, the chance of an American being killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion?

Where to begin? With the fact that Syrians want to work, make a living, put their kids in decent schools, and recover their dignity, just like the rest of us?

Yes, as Cohen implies, let’s begin here, for this image says it all:


The Post-Truth World

The most interesting and for me the most appropriate response to the candidacy of Donald Trump that I’ve read up until now just has to be this briefing, The Post-Truth World, from the Economist Magazine of September 10, parts of which I’ve taken without permission and posted here below.

It’s probably significant that my very first memorable contact with the Donald was not the Trump Tower, the Casinos, Trump University, those and/or other items bearing his name, but it was what happened during the election of 2012 when Trump suddenly appeared as the lead spokesman for the so-called birther movement, speaking out for those who questioned the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate. Why did he do this? Why does he continue to give us un-truths in our “post-truth” world? Well that’s the answer. This is the un-truth world and it’s par excellence his world, certainly where he’s most comfortable uttering his un-truths. Why, as the poet says, truth’s a dog and must to kennel.

At that time during the Romney campaign (Trump supported Romney for President, and now probably the best thing I can say about Romney is that Romney is not supporting Trump) anyway, during the Trump-led birther movement I put Trump aside as an idiot, a “bloviating ignoramus” as in the always well chosen words of George Will.

Yet now, some four years later, in our “post-truth” world Donald Trump couldn’t be more at home. He’s relaxed, and will say just anything that comes to mind to arouse his dear followers. He clearly doesn’t at all care about what his words mean, even less does he care about what they may have meant at an earlier time, let alone whether there be any connection between his words and the truth.

During Trump’s birther period there was some crazy stuff. For example there occurred this exchange between Trump and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer

Wolf Blitzer presented Trump with newspaper announcements of Obama’s birth.

Trump interrupted, “Can you stop defending Obama?”

“Donald, you’re beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you,” Blitzer replied.

“You are, Wolf,” Trump fired back. “Let me tell you something, I think you sound ridiculous.”

Trump then alleged that the practice of filing US birth announcements for an overseas birth was commonplace, though he offered no evidence.

Doesn’t this kind of ring like  a “post truth,” or un-truth time? Also, isn’t it clear, alas! that we still have at the present time the same Donald Trump as then, no longer a Romney supporter, but a candidate himself. Now as he tells us there’s “lying Hillary,” but there’s also a lying Donald (not to mention “lying Ted”). And given that the two realistic candidates for President are lying Hillary and lying Donald, we will be electing a liar as President of the United States, making us the land par excellence of post- or un-truth.

So here’s the Economist briefing I mention above, considerably abridged. While the lack of truth telling is a great problem among our leaders the author doesn’t say we should despair, even when the lying mosquito is infecting millions of us, and thereby eventually perhaps bringing it about that the truth- tellers in the land of un-truth are no more.

 The Post-Truth World, from the Economist Magazine of September 10

Yes, I’d lie to you. Dishonesty in politics is nothing new; but the manner in which some politicians now lie, and the havoc they may wreak by doing so, are worrying.

WHEN Donald Trump, the Republican presidential hopeful, claimed recently that President Barack Obama “is the founder” of Islamic State and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, the “co-founder”, even some of his supporters were perplexed. Surely he did not mean that literally? Perhaps, suggested Hugh Hewitt, a conservative radio host, he meant that the Obama administration’s rapid pull-out from Iraq “created the vacuum” that the terrorists then filled?

“No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS,” replied Mr Trump. “He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”

Mr Hewitt, who detests Mr Obama and has written a book denouncing Mrs Clinton’s “epic ambition”, was not convinced. “But he’s not sympathetic to them. He hates them. He’s trying to kill them,” he pushed back.

Again, Mr Trump did not give an inch: “I don’t care. He was the founder. The way he got out of Iraq was, that, that was the founding of ISIS, OK?”

For many observers, the exchange was yet more proof that the world has entered an era of “post-truth politics”. Mr Trump appears not to care whether his words bear any relation to reality, so long as they fire up voters. PolitiFact, a fact-checking website, has rated more of his statements “pants-on-fire” lies than of any other candidate—for instance his assertion that “inner city crime is reaching record levels”, which plays on unfounded fears that crime rates are rising….

Paul Krugman — Donald Trump’s ‘Big Liar’ Technique
Charles Blow — Donald Trump is Lying in Plain Sight
Michael Tomasky — …Call Out Donald Trump’s Many Lies
Lee Siegel — The Selling of Donald Trump


Post-truth politics is advancing in many parts of the world. In Europe the best example is Poland’s ultranationalist ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS). Among other strange stories, it peddles lurid tales about Poland’s post-communist leaders plotting with the communist regime to rule the country together. In Turkey the protests at Gezi Park in 2013 and a recent attempted coup have given rise to all kinds of conspiracy theories, some touted by government officials: the first was financed by Lufthansa, a German airline (to stop Turkey from building a new airport which would divert flights from Germany), the second was orchestrated by the CIA.

Then there is Russia, [Perhaps this is what accounts for Trump’s being attracted to his “friend” Putin]  Arguably Russia is the country (apart from North Korea) that has moved furthest past truth, both in its foreign policy and internal politics. The Ukraine crisis offers examples aplenty: state-controlled Russian media faked interviews with “witnesses” of alleged atrocities, such as a child being crucified by Ukrainian forces; Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, did not hesitate to say on television that there were no Russian soldiers in Ukraine, despite abundant proof to the contrary.

Such dezinformatsiya may seem like a mere reversion to Soviet form. But at least the Soviets’ lies were meant to be coherent, argues Peter Pomerantsev, a journalist whose memoir of Mr Putin’s Russia is titled “Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible”. In a study in 2014 for the Institute of Modern Russia, a think-tank, he quotes a political consultant for the president saying that in Soviet times, “if they were lying they took care to prove what they were doing was ‘the truth’. Now no one even tries proving ‘the truth’. You can just say anything. Create realities.”

In such creation it helps to keep in mind—as Mr Putin surely does—that humans do not naturally seek truth. In fact, as plenty of research shows, they tend to avoid it. People instinctively accept information to which they are exposed and must work actively to resist believing falsehoods; they tend to think that familiar information is true; and they cherry-pick data to support their existing views. At the root of all these biases seems to be what Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel-prizewinning psychologist and author of a bestselling book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, calls “cognitive ease”: humans have a tendency to steer clear of facts that would force their brains to work harder….

Given the biases of most peoples, it is somewhat surprising that people can ever agree on facts, particularly in politics. But many societies have developed institutions which allow some level of consensus over what is true: schools, science, the legal system, the media. This truth-producing infrastructure, though, is never close to perfect: it can establish as truth things for which there is little or no evidence; it is constantly prey to abuse by those to whom it grants privileges; and, crucially, it is slow to build but may be quick to break.

Post-truth politics is made possible by two threats to this public sphere: a loss of trust in institutions that support its infrastructure and deep changes in the way knowledge of the world reaches the public. Take trust first. Across the Western world it is at an all-time low, which helps explain why many prefer so-called “authentic” politicians, who “tell it how it is” (ie, say what people feel), to the wonkish type. Britons think that hairdressers and the “man in the street” are twice as trustworthy as business leaders, journalists and government ministers, according to a recent poll by Ipsos MORI. When Michael Gove, a leading Brexiteer, said before the referendum that “people in this country have had enough of experts” he may have had a point.

This loss of trust has many roots. In some areas—dietary advice, for example—experts seem to contradict each other more than they used to; governments get things spectacularly wrong, as with their assurances about the wisdom of invading Iraq, trusting in the world financial system and setting up the euro. But it would be a mistake to see the erosion of trust simply as a response to the travails of the world. In some places trust in institutions has been systematically undermined.

Mr Roberts first used the term “post-truth politics” in the context of American climate-change policy. In the 1990s many conservatives became alarmed by the likely economic cost of a serious effort to reduce carbon emissions. Some of the less scrupulous decided to cast doubt on the need for a climate policy by stressing to the point of distortion uncertainties in the underlying science. In a memo Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, argued: “Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.” Challenging—and denigrating—scientists in order to make the truth seem distant and unknowable worked pretty well. One poll found that 43% of Republicans believe climate change is not happening at all, compared to 10% of Democrats.

Continue reading The Post-Truth World

Why the Senator from the great state of Maine cannot support Donald Trump

Susan Collins of Maine Says She Will Not Vote for Donald Trump

And she gives her own reasons. And these are not the usual — Trump is a loose canon; Trump is a bigot; Trump is ignorant, has little knowledge of history, of government, even of economics let alone science that which seems to have totally escaped his notice; he is thin skinned, feels he must reply usually inappropriately, at a press conference or on Twitter, to every perceived slight; he’s a liar, most of all doesn’t tell the truth about himself, let alone the other candidates that were in the race.

The Senator while not just repeating what others have been saying puts into her own powerful words her own conclusions regarding the man’s deficiencies:

I have become increasingly dismayed by Mr. Trump’s constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or apologize. But it was his attacks directed at people who could not respond on an equal footing — either because they do not share his power or stature or because professional responsibility precluded them from engaging at such a level — that revealed Mr. Trump as unworthy of being our president….

And she’s right. Trump is not worthy, he is not a nice man. He doesn’t seem to care about others, so little in fact that this alone ought to disqualify him for the office of President of the United States.

And Ms. Collins goes on to say:

My conclusion about Mr. Trump’s unsuitability for office is based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics. Instead, he opts to mock the vulnerable and inflame prejudices by attacking ethnic and religious minorities….

I had hoped that we would see a “new” Donald Trump as a general-election candidate — one who would focus on jobs and the economy, tone down his rhetoric, develop more thoughtful policies and, yes, apologize for ill-tempered rants. But the unpleasant reality that I have had to accept is that there will be no “new” Donald Trump, just the same candidate who will slash and burn and trample anything and anyone he perceives as being in his way or an easy scapegoat. Regrettably, his essential character appears to be fixed, and he seems incapable of change or growth….

Nationalism and Religiosity, like nothing I have ever seen…

Turkey Chooses Erdogan

Life in Turkey seems to be, even more now than before the recent failed putsch, thoroughly immersed in two “layers,” that of religiosity, of Islam, and that of nationalism, in Turkey’s case nationalism meaning a kind of blind adherence to an all powerful state.

In this country Donald Trump would similarly immerse us in the same two stifling cultural baths, those of religion and patriotism. And this alone explains the much talked about Russian connection between Trump and Putin, both men freely and cynically making use of God and country as the principal means, not for the benefit of their respective nations, but for their own personal enrichment.

Erdogan Supporters Gather In The Streets
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – JULY 18: Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wave flags as they gather in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square on July 18, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by Kursat Bayhan/Getty Images)

Christopher de Bellaignue, in a NYReview of Books article, Turkey Chooses Erdogan, writes: “Since a group of senior military officers, backed by thousands of armed soldiers, came close to toppling him on the night of July 15, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought comfort in the bosom of his angry, exhilarated people. The country has spent the past three weeks in a state of collective hyperventilation. The combination of nationalism and religiosity is like nothing I have seen in twenty years of following Turkish politics.”

The Last Word on Trump?

One would like it to be the last word, one would like it to be all over. Unfortunately it’s only just beginning. In fact, in hasn’t even begun, the presidential election, and won’t begin until the Republican and Democrat Conventions will have made their final choices of presidential candidates in July.

But how did it happen that the man that Roger Cohen and Paul Krugman describe below in two recent NYTimes op ed pieces became the presumptive Republican choice for President of the United States? That it did happen at all tells us a lot about our country, that in many respects we’re not yet that “shining city upon a hill.”

Sadiq Khan vs. Donald Trump

by Roger Cohen

The most important political event of recent weeks was not the emergence of Donald J. Trump as the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party but the election of Sadiq Khan, the Muslim son of a London bus driver, as mayor of London.

Before the election, Khan told my colleague Stephen Castle, “I’m a Londoner, I’m a European, I’m British, I’m English, I’m of Islamic faith, of Asian origin, of Pakistani heritage, a dad, a husband.”

The world of the 21st century is going to be shaped by such elided, many-faceted identities and by the booming cities that celebrate diversity, not by some bullying, brash, bigoted, “America first” white dude who wants to build walls.

It is worth noting that under the ban on Muslim noncitizens entering the country that Trump proposes, Khan would not be allowed to visit the United States. To use one of Trump’s favorite phrases, this would be a “complete and total disaster.” It would make America a foul mockery in the eyes of a world already aghast at the Republican candidate’s rise.

Khan’s election is important because it gives the lie to the facile trope that Europe is being taken over by jihadi Islamists. It underscores the fact that terrorist acts hide a million quiet success stories among European Muslim communities. One of seven children of a Pakistani immigrant family, Khan grew up in public housing and went on to become a human rights lawyer and government minister. He won more than 1.3 million votes in the London election, a personal mandate unsurpassed by any politician in British history.

His election is important because the most effective voices against Islamist terrorism come from Muslims, and Khan has been prepared to speak out. After the Paris attacks last year, he said in a speech that Muslims had a “special role” to play in countering the terrorism, “not because we are more responsible than others, as some have wrongly claimed, but because we can be more effective at tackling extremism than anyone else.”

Khan has also reached out to Britain’s Jewish community, vigorously disavowing the creeping anti-Semitism in Labour ranks that last month saw Ken Livingstone, a former London mayor, suspended from the party.

As George Eaton observed in The New Statesman: “Khan will be a figure of global significance. His election is a rebuke to extremists of all stripes, from Donald Trump to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who assert that religions cannot peacefully coexist.”

Trump as a politician is a product of American fear and anger above all. In the past several weeks, a U.C. Berkeley student has been escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight because he was heard speaking Arabic, and an olive-skinned, curly haired Italian Ivy League economist was taken off an American Airlines flight because he was spotted scribbling mathematical calculations that his seatmate found suspicious.

Trump — described to me by Norm Ornstein, the political scientist, as “the most insecure and ego-driven person in the country” — is the mouthpiece of this frightened America that sees threats everywhere (even in an Italian mathematician).

When Trump declares, “America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration,” the rest of the world hears an angry nation flexing its muscles.

Khan’s rise, by contrast, is a story of victory over the fears engendered by 9/11. His victory is a rebuke to Osama bin Laden, the Islamic State, jihadi ideology of every stripe — and to the hatemongering politicians like Trump who choose to play the Muslim-equals-danger game. Khan has argued that greater integration is essential and “too many British Muslims grow up without really knowing anyone from a different background.”

Sigmund Freud wrote, “It is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built upon a renunciation of instinct.” Donald Trump has written: “I have learned to listen and trust my gut. It’s one of my most valued counselors.” He recently said, “We must, as a nation, be more unpredictable.”


Put together an egotist, a bully, immense power and a taste for gut-driven unpredictability and you have a dangerous brew that could put civilization at risk. Those small fingers would have access to the nuclear codes if Trump was elected.

In this context, Sadiq Khan’s victory is reassuring because he represents currents in the world — toward global identity and integration — that will prove stronger over time than the tribalism and nativism of Trump.

The Making of an Ignoramus

by Paul Krugman

Truly, Donald Trump knows nothing. He is more ignorant about policy than you can possibly imagine, even when you take into account the fact that he is more ignorant than you can possibly imagine. But his ignorance isn’t as unique as it may seem: In many ways, he’s just doing a clumsy job of channeling nonsense widely popular in his party, and to some extent in the chattering classes more generally.

Last week the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — hard to believe, but there it is — finally revealed his plan to make America great again. Basically, it involves running the country like a failing casino: he could, he asserted, “make a deal” with creditors that would reduce the debt burden if his outlandish promises of economic growth don’t work out.

The reaction from everyone who knows anything about finance or economics was a mix of amazed horror and horrified amazement. One does not casually suggest throwing away America’s carefully cultivated reputation as the world’s most scrupulous debtor — a reputation that dates all the way back to Alexander Hamilton.

The Trump solution would, among other things, deprive the world economy of its most crucial safe asset, U.S. debt, at a time when safe assets are already in short supply.

Of course, we can be sure that Mr. Trump knows none of this, and nobody in his entourage is likely to tell him. But before we simply ridicule him — or, actually, at the same time that we’re ridiculing him — let’s ask where his bad ideas really come from.

First of all, Mr. Trump obviously believes that America could easily find itself facing a debt crisis. But why? After all, investors, who are willing to lend to America at incredibly low interest rates, are evidently not worried by our debt. And there’s good reason for their calmness: federal interest payments are only 1.3 percent of G.D.P., or 6 percent of total outlays.

These numbers mean both that the burden of the debt is fairly small and that even complete repudiation of that debt would have only a minor impact on the government’s cash flow.

So why is Mr. Trump even talking about this subject? Well, one possible answer is that lots of supposedly serious people have been hyping the alleged threat posed by federal debt for years. For example, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, has warned repeatedly about a “looming debt crisis.” Indeed, until not long ago the whole Beltway elite seemed to be in the grip of BowlesSimpsonism, with its assertion that debt was the greatest threat facing the nation.

A lot of this debt hysteria was really about trying to bully us into cutting Social Security and Medicare, which is why so many self-proclaimed fiscal hawks were also eager to cut taxes on the rich. But Mr. Trump apparently wasn’t in on that particular con, and takes the phony debt scare seriously. Sad!

Still, even if he misunderstands the fiscal situation, how can he imagine that it would be O.K. for America to default? One answer is that he’s extrapolating from his own business career, in which he has done very well by running up debts, then walking away from them.

But it’s also true that much of the Republican Party shares his insouciance about default. Remember, the party’s congressional wing deliberately set about extracting concessions from President Obama, using the threat of gratuitous default via a refusal to raise the debt ceiling.

And quite a few Republican lawmakers defended that strategy of extortion by arguing that default wouldn’t be that bad, that even with its access to funds cut off the U.S. government could “prioritize” payments, and that the financial disruption would be no big deal.

Given that history, it’s not too hard to understand why candidate Trump thinks not paying debts in full makes sense.

The important thing to realize, then, is that when Mr. Trump talks nonsense, he’s usually just offering a bombastic version of a position that’s widespread in his party. In fact, it’s remarkable how many ridiculous Trumpisms were previously espoused by Mitt Romney in 2012, from his claim that the true unemployment rate vastly exceedsofficial figures to his claim that he can bring prosperity by starting a trade war with China.

None of this should be taken as an excuse for Mr. Trump. He really is frighteningly uninformed; worse, he doesn’t appear to know what he doesn’t know. The point, instead, is that his blithe lack of knowledge largely follows from the know-nothing attitudes of the party he now leads.

Oh, and just for the record: No, it’s not the same on the other side of the aisle. You may dislike Hillary Clinton, you may disagree sharply with her policies, but she and the people around her do know their facts. Nobody has a monopoly on wisdom, but in this election, one party has largely cornered the market in raw ignorance.


Trump Says He’ll Make It Easier To Win Libel Lawsuits Against the Media

What’s wrong with our country? Well here’s a major fault:

That people could hear Donald Trump’s words below, read them as I’ve just done, and then go out and vote for this man. For Trump is no longer speaking to the anger of people fed up with our politicians, fed up with political correctness, things for which I did give him a little credit (although not enough to vote for him). For in fact by his totally reckless words below he is revealing his own abysmal ignorance.

Trump Says He’ll Make It Easier To Win Libel Lawsuits Against Media

FEBRUARY 26, 2016

During a Texas campaign rally on Friday, Donald Trump told voters that if he is elected president, he will change libel laws to make it easier to win lawsuits against media outlets.

The Republican presidential candidate raised the issue while complaining that news networks only show his rallies’ crowds on camera if there is a protester. He then turned his attention to the New York Times, which he said is “totally incompetently run.”

“I think the media is among the most dishonest groups of people I’ve ever met. They’re terrible. The New York Times, which is losing a fortune, which is a failing newspaper, which probably won’t be around that much longer, but probably somebody will buy it as a trophy, keep it going for a little longer — I think the New York Times is one of the most dishonest media outlets I’ve ever seen in my life,” Trump said. “The worst. The worst. The absolute worst.”

And then he complained about the Washington Post.

“I have to tell you I have respect for Jeff Bezos, but he bought the Washington Post to have political influence, and I got to tell you we have a different country than we used to have,” Trump said. “He owns Amazon. He wants political influence so that Amazon will benefit from it.”

“That’s not right, and believe me, if I become president, oh do they have problems. They’re going to have such problems,” Trump continued before launching into his plan to alter libel laws.

He said he’s “going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”

“We’re going to open up those libel laws. So that when the New York Times writes a hit piece, which is a total disgrace, or the Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected,” Trump said.

Trump told the media that “we’re gonna have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”

Current libel law dictates that public figures can only win a lawsuit against a media outlet if they can prove that the paper published a negative piece with the intention of malice.

In today’s New York Times, Trump’s most detested publication, right up there with the Koran, David Brooks in his op ed piece, The Governing Cancer of our Time, sums up well what’s happening in regard to the Donald Trump phenomenon:

And in walks Donald Trump. People say that Trump is an unconventional candidate and that he represents a break from politics as usual. That’s not true. Trump is the culmination of the trends we have been seeing for the last 30 years: the desire for outsiders; the bashing style of rhetoric that makes conversation impossible; the decline of coherent political parties; the declining importance of policy; the tendency to fight cultural battles and identity wars through political means.

Trump represents the path the founders rejected. There is a hint of violence undergirding his campaign….Trump’s supporters aren’t looking for a political process to address their needs. They are looking for a superhero. As the political scientist Matthew MacWilliams found, the one trait that best predicts whether you’re a Trump supporter is how high you score on tests that measure authoritarianism.

This isn’t just an American phenomenon. Politics is in retreat and authoritarianism is on the rise worldwide. The answer to Trump is politics. It’s acknowledging other people exist. It’s taking pleasure in that difference and hammering out workable arrangements. As Harold Laski put it, “We shall make the basis of our state consent to disagreement. Therein shall we ensure its deepest harmony.”

The Trump Phenomenon

Donald Trump is coming off a string of three victories, NH, NC, and just yesterday the Nevada caucuses.

And the pundits are now talking about a more and more likely scenario of the Republicans choosing Trump as their candidate for president in November. Who would ever have thought it? And how has it happened?

The most reasonable explanation for what was earlier an impossible outcome has to be what so many are saying, the voters’ anger. People are angry with the political establishment, both the Democrats who are voting for Sanders, and the Republicans who are voting for Trump. For the establishment has failed to convince us that although they, the power brokers, are in positions of power and authority, they are by and large powerless to initiate, control, let alone determine the outcome of events. This failure of government allows considerable room for both Trump and Sanders, and the two of them are, as it were, the two carriers of the people’s anger.

But it is not at all the policies of the two candidates that the people want, not Sander’s socialism, not Trump’s nonothingism. The voters for Trump and Sanders want by their presidential choices most of all to shake things up. They don’t want things to go on as they have been, a situation when absolutely nothing the government does, when and if they do do something, seems to change anything at all. And Trump and Sanders show, if nothing else, that they are shakers, and once in office perhaps they may also be movers.

Photo by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Although I myself don’t like the enormous growth in government that Sander’s program promises to bring about, nor do I like Trump’s policies of no policy at all, of nothing worthy of the name, —a wall between us and Mexico being about as close as he comes to even having one, I am excited by what the shaking up by either man as president might mean for the country. And like the angry voters I too am angry by how little our government “governs.” how little its actions benefit the people. And it would be great fun to see if radical change is now, as at two or more moments of our past history, even possible.

But as I say that I think that most changes, beneficial or detrimental, have come about by themselves, as it were, in spite of what we may think we’re doing to bring them about. In most instances real change is forced upon us from without or within, for our very survival will depend on our changing and how we respond to what is happening. The threat to our survival may be a non-representative English parliament intent on severely limiting our economic freedom, a slave population from within the country demanding to be free, a dictatorial power from without, bent on extending its dictatorship even to us and our own way of life.

In respect to Sanders we know how he will fail if he were to get elected. Socialism is not going to happen in this country. In respect to Trump we don’t know what would happen if he were to be elected. We don’t think he ever will be, and the betting today is on Hillary. But if it did happen and he were elected the presidency itself, the Oval Office would probably force even Trump to change overnight, becoming what?? Who knows?

The author of the Art of the Deal knows well himself that you have to give in order to get. Give up the wall in exchange for a more reasonable immigration policy. Give up untrammeled expansion of the military in exchange for moderate budget increases. Give up opposition to abortion, same sex marriage, and the other social issues, those that are at the heart of the anger of the Evangelicals, in exchange for more governmental transparency and greater roles for state and local governments in bringing about difficult changes.

In short, it’s not inconceivable that Trump (with no fixed religious or other dogma to protect and promote) might very well do away with the awful distance that now separates the people from their government. He might surprise all of us and begin, as noone ever has before, listening to the people. The one who knows nothing himself, as the Donald, will perhaps best listen to what the others are saying.


A great religion, or a well of terror

We don’t know. Or at least more and more of us are no longer sure. First there was George Bush, following 9/11, who was super careful by his choice of words not to turn the country against the Muslim religion, against Islam. Now there is Barack Obama who is also super careful not to include the Muslims and Islam within his blanket condemnation of ISIS.

Although most of us would probably agree with Presidents 43 and 44 being super careful and not targeting one of the world’s great religions, yet we have a growing suspicion that the words of the two Presidents go too far in the direction of political correctness, and that they don’t speak enough about the Islam-ISIS connection, plain enough for all of us to see.

Now it is the Donald, for the most part a braggart, a demagogue, at best a popularizer and at worst the founder of a new no nothing party who has brought our suspicion into the open by bluntly calling out Islam and Muslims, faulting them for the terror, and even going so far as to recommend that Muslims not be admitted to our country.

So where is, if not the truth, right opinion in all this? Is the Donald right? Should we listen to him? Again most of us would say no, and most of us are probably expecting candidate Trump to fall out of favor with the voting public, in particular with the Republicans who now in their voting majority may very well favor him. And that will probably happen.

For a similar position to mine on the dilemma confronting Muslims read Ross Douthat in the Times of December 13, The Islamic Dilemma.

But there is something else, something not often said, not often talked about. ISIS and Islam are in fact connected, root and branch. Muslims in their vast majority would probably prefer this not to be so. But ISIS flaunts its connection to Islam, and sees itself as the true successor to Muhammad by its efforts to reestablish the Caliphate in today’s Middle East. And throughout what often seems a “reign of terror” led by Muslim fanatics we hear little or nothing substantial from the Muslims themselves.

ISIS may even recognize its tactics of terror, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people, as being no different from the Muslim sword wielders who in the 7th. and 8th. centuries of the modern era forced their religion upon all other peoples in their path to world domination.

The “something else” is this (and this is what explains the many admirers of Donald Trump), that the some two billion or so Muslims of the world are not doing enough to wipe out, root and branch, an evil, a cancer, the terrorism that ISIS has made such a huge and ugly version of what ought to have been a beautiful religion of cooperation and peace among peoples.







Alas, Dick Cheney is still with us, and although George has left the scene, the Donald is there in his place.


Dick Cheney’s new book

Exceptional,cheney'sbk might have been written by Donald Trump (if Trump had had someone who could have done it for him, for he wouldn’t have been able to do it himself). For Cheney’s book is basically saying the very same thing as the Donald’s red trucker’s cap,  “Make America Great Again. “Except Cheney’s line is   Make America Exceptional Again

This is the only persuasive, perhaps even convincing statement to be found in the messages of both men. For to become greater, or better than one was, to restore lost greatness (and greatness is always lost) is always a worthwhile goal.

TruminhatIf Trump is more convincing that Cheney, and he clearly is at this point in time anyway, it’s because his trucker’s cap, embroidered with the catchy phrase, Make America Great Again, is just that, catchy, whereas “Exceptional”? Not so catchy. The truckers will not immediately grasp even what that means, and then they’ll become immediately bored with any explanation.

But a few words about Cheney’s book. In his favor I’ll say for him that he has written a book and had it published, not something I’ve been able to do. And also I agree with him about our country being exceptional, but, and the ‘but” is all important, and what Cheney seems not to want to acknowledge, our country is, and most certainly has been, no less exceptionally wrong than exceptionally right. There are plenty of examples of both, and like individuals, the country has made mistakes that probably outnumber the things it managed to get right.

In any case, both Trump and Cheney are of the party of those who look only at the country’s  past “greatness,”  a time of course like a past Golden Age that never existed.

The two of them have much in common with the lineup of Republican presidential candidates, who would also identify themselves with those great moments and great men and presidents of the past. Such adherence to imaginary great and exceptional land and moments accounts for those out there, now in Iowa and NH, who would give them their electoral support. For we all would flee the real if we could.

And this also accounts for the lack of support, or better the rejection of both Cheney and Trump by the rest of us, a majority of us I would hope, including myself, by those of us who are repulsed and revolted by the blindness of these two men to history.

There is much to be said for restoring greatness, for renewing exceptionalism. But in order to be persuasive whatever is said has to be grounded in reality. Both Cheney and Trump are unreal. And that’s why they both come across as a joke, a cruel joke, but a joke.


Liberté, Égalité, et Fraternité