The suppression of inconvenient information, the bullying and hijacking of public media by the Trumpenführer and his henchmen are gathering pace.
Key federal agencies – who knew they were still open for business?, since there’s been no announcement so far as The Pumpkin has heard about the appointments of new directors to replace those whose terms automatically ended last Friday – have received orders apparently emanating directly from the White House preventing their staff from publishing information. According to BuzzFeed, the orders include the banning of “news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds and social media content.”
Also banned, are over 2,000 scientists working for federal agencies from publishing or delivering research papers at international conferences; a potentially career-damaging restriction I should imagine could be tested in court.
And there’s some suggestion too that these orders may also be being applied to the Defense Department, preventing public discussion of the administration’s military-backed global oil-grab strategy.
This is somewhat disturbing.
As two of the statutory functions of these agencies are to publish information about their activities and to educate the public, we appear to be entering a long, dark tunnel of fake news, alternative facts, rewrites of history, threats against information sources, promotion of ignorance and reliance entirely on subjective personal beliefs, opinions and feelings to create government policy in critical areas of scientific investigation.
To turn off the tap of facts.
The impression given is there appears to be no government, only the absurdly large pieces of paper Trump is signing by the cartload, with similar relish to the nocturnal tweets he’s been spraying around like a sexting teenager; ‘executive orders’ which the TV coverage shows him not reading before signing them. Has he even read them? No democratic debate so far, even in the profoundly and cynically undemocratic, gerrymandered Congress. that tried to abolish its own ethics committee: only the dictatorship of a disassociative, megalomaniacal personality in second infancy.
“L’état, c’est moi”, as the other Sun King, Louis X1V used to say.
Agencies affected include, naturally, the Environment Protection Agency and the US Department of Agriculture, both of which have research departments working on climate change, which the intellectually lazy and unlettered Trump has insisted is merely a “Chinese hoax”, “bullshit”, and has promised to “scale back”, along with NASA’s earth monitoring unit; so we may never know. The wayward President’s current stance on the subject has however been moderated, reportedly on the mildly alarmed advice even of his new Secretary of State appointee, Rex Tillerson, recent CEO of Exxon-Mobil, and the man tipped to take over the EPA, Oklahoma governor Scott Pruitt (previously quoted as saying he would abolish the agency altogether).
Neither is exactly a fan of anthropogenic climate-change modelling, but both at least now agree, things appear to be hotting up, for whatever reason. Not that either of them wants to do anything about it, but both practically realise that denial is not an option, unless you are bonkers. Or the boss.
Trump’s haunted-looking Press Secretary Sean Spicer, purveyor of the “alternative fact”, is reported on CBS as saying of the President’s response to the weird weather: “He’s trying to make sure we use our resources appropriately, that we maximize things to make sure that we don’t do so at the detriment of economic growth and job creation.” Which sounds like a highly scientific, yet curiously inarticulate and unprepared response to a question about 2016 having been globally the warmest year ever recorded.
Yes, let’s “maximise things”.
There is as yet we believe – belief is fact, ask the evangelical VP Mike Pence – no announcement of any FEMA aid for areas of Georgia and Mississippi flattened at the weekend by a succession of 50 powerful tornados, despite urgent pleas from governors and officials, the destruction of over 2,000 homes and more than twenty deaths, with others including a two year-old child still missing. The devastation has been compared to a nuclear bomb going off, which he knows all about. Does Trump take anything seriously, other than his stupid, self-aggrandising 2,000 mile-long Mexican wall, that he “knows how to build”?
(I see that Lego is to start manufacturing in China…)
One national park service, Badlands in South Dakota, is now at the centre of a Twitterstorm, after its Twitter account was “taken down”, following the hasty publication of widely available data on atmospheric and oceanic CO2 concentrations. The information and more is being rapidly retweeted by subversives, after the agency put out an unconvincing statement claiming the original tweets had been the work of a disgruntled former employee. According to Rachel Maddow of MSNBC TV, staffers in federal agencies anticipating closure have been reported desperately downloading scientific data to private media, lest they be lost in a Trump-inspired bonfire of the sanities.
In an amusing (and probably fake) footnote provided in The Guardian report:
“The Department of Defense tweeted on Monday: “Social media postings sometimes provide an important window into a person’s #mentalhealth”, which some pundits considered a reference to Trump’s occasional early morning Twitter rants.”
Meanwhile over in Washington DC, six journalists are facing possible prison terms of up to 10 years for the felonious crime of riot, after being ‘kettled’ by police along with 200 activists and bystanders while covering the unrest that broke out at the Trump inauguration. Prosecutors have presented no specific evidence against the individuals, who have been charged under a catch-all indictment alleging association, criminal damage and assaults on police.
And meanwhile, the President (says he has) ordered a thorough investigation into claims that Hillary Clinton’ 2.8 million votes popular majority was dishonestly engineered by a conspiracy involving five million “illegal immigrants” who were not entitled to vote.
Claims that only he, the President, is making.
Crazy, or what?
Photos: Google Images
Just what the hell is going on? #1
Question: Why does The Guardian website not permit comments on any news stories about Trump or immigration and so swiftly terminates the heavily redacted discussion threads on its Comment is Free section?
Answer: Maybe it’s because the paper lost £69 million last year and is running shit-scared of any controversy that might attract the notice of Messrs Sue, Grabbit and Runne (to lean on an old joke from Private Eye). Maybe a wise decision, as a US court has just given permission for Melania Trump to sue the Daily Mail for repeating a claim that her immigration status might not …. you understand.
A further, less obviously answered question might be why this esteemed organ and last repository in the British media of relatively free, intelligent speech chronically under-reports issues such as the clampdown on distribution of news and research in the US scientific community? The orders were issued three days ago, so where are Messrs Toynbee, Milne, Harris, Jenkins, Freedland, Hyde, Chakraborty… the rest of the North London phone directory …. and their urgent warnings on censorship?
My feeling (as a former news aditor) is that we’re getting a kind of reductionist view of the new administration, where each new outrage – today it’s a trade war with Mexico – is treated entirely on its own merits and in isolation from the cumulative effect of all these gagging orders and banning orders and paranoid tweets emanating from the Oval Office, each preposterous policy initiative blurted out in rambling, nonsensical speeches and infantile soundbites on the campaign trail to excite the Dumbfucks now becoming a terrifying reality nobody imagined in their wildest dreams would come true. Half the worst of what he is doing is getting lost in the fog of comment.
And why is everyone still trying to pretend that now he is President, Donald Trump has miraculously been cured of his delusional, paranoid dementia, his sheer infantile vindictiveness? Thank God for Ed Miliband, who said on Newsnight last night: This is not normal.
Bloody right, Ed. It isn’t.
Just what the hell is going on? #2
And, as expected, last night from the Pirates’ Den came the “Executive orders” to repel boarders.
Muslims (from designated “terrorist countries”, but not from the teeming human warehouses of suburban Paris, Brussels, Dortmund; from the grimy Edwardian terraces of Luton, Bradford and Sheffield, where the actual ‘terrorists’ are breeding? I can see how this is going to work…) to be prevented from entering the US, even to visit Disneyland with their kids. Actual Syrian refugees to be turned back, rather than comprehensively vetted and then welcomed. The Wall – for which he still insists he will “make Mexico pay”.
You’d have to imagine a grown man that can make up these pathetically naive prescriptions for national security is not normal.
But I have a different theory.
Much of the time you can’t see Trump’s eyes. They are hooded by folds of puffy, orange flesh, and deliberately narrowed to make himself look a real mean hombre.
Yesterday though, we caught sight of him glancing up at his henchmen, after he’d added his decisively unreadable squiggle with a big black pen to more of the huge “executive orders”, that are probably just bills and shopping lists and Biblical texts and anything else his desperate Transition team can cobble together for the boss to sign on camera, since he never reads them anyway.
And I noticed that his left eye is conspicuously asymmetrical, aiming off to the left, larger than the right, and slightly protruding. Compare this with earlier images of Trump in this 30s, when his gaze was parallel.
It could of course merely be a mild strabismus, an age-related weakening of the muscle, or a possible sign of raised blood pressure. But it could be a symptom of something more serious.
Does the President maybe have a brain tumor?
(alt-fact alert: the following medical information about a serious condition that may or may not be affecting the President may or may not be factual.)
Might it explain the obsessive irrational behavior and counterfactual statements that often contradict themselves in the next breath; the ponderous re-assertions of empty phrases he imagines to be portentous; the paranoia, the illusory nightmare world of persecution he seems to inhabit?
Interviewed on the BBC today, Trump repeated over and again, how the world is “in a mess”. It’s a slogan he’s been pumping out for months, with himself as the solution and the savior. He seems to relish it, rather than despair along with the rest of us.
We all like to agree, it’s a mess, but actually it isn’t, quite. Over a billion people have been lifted out of poverty by globalization, death rates are down, birth rates are down, murders are down, violent crime is down, endemic diseases are under better control, employment is up, wages are up, food production is keeping up, everyone in the developing world has a mobile phone, a Facebook account and a solar-powered TV, the global economy is recovering strongly now after the 2008 crash, we’re discovering new planets….
Of course there are pockets, exceptions, flashpoints. Thirty million Americans, for instance, living below the poverty line. But that line is rising! By and large, there are fewer wars going on, insurgencies are being driven back, IS is in retreat, Northern Ireland, Colombia more or less at peace, an agreement on Cyprus, some progress on Syria….
While today’s most heartwarming story is that of the Chinese worker who set off in the all-pervading smog to cycle back to his home city only to be stopped by police for riding on a motorway after 30 days’ travelling… 500 km in the wrong direction. Did they fine him? Did they waterboard him? Did they shoot him with his hands up?
No, they had a whip-round at the next toll booth and bought him a rail ticket.
No world is “in a mess” when that can happen.
Where the world might be in a mess is on the environmental front – and that’s where Trump: his policies, his obstinate false beliefs, his unconstitutional cross-shareholdings with energy-related companies and his billionaire, climate-ignoring Transition team with its connections to Big Oil, is himself the cause, the symptom and the continuation of the mess he believes the world is in. (Or does he? Buy my book! Ed.)
The world will soon be in a bigger mess, however, if he continues baiting China over Taiwan, trade barriers and their claim to the Paracels and Spratly islands in the South China Sea.
We recall that in July last year, fifty top security officials published a letter warning that Trump represented a significant danger to the world and was not a fit person to become President. “He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the US Constitution, US laws, and US institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary” they said, refusing to vote for him. And, of course, Mr Trump has succeeded in ticking every one of those boxes in his first week.
But are we all missing something?
An interview for MSNBC with Dr Harold Bornstein, Trump’s personal physician (if it can be believed that the grimy, shambolic old man with an earring, straggly gray hair down to his shoulders, whose rambling attempts at a confession recorded in a scruffy old office were frequently interrupted by his anxious, nagging wife, was really the personal physician of the billionaire Obamacare refusenik and not a Saturday Night Live prankster) suggested heavily that the “Doctor’s note” claiming Trump was “The healthiest individual ever to have run for President” might not have been written by an actual GP with a medical degree.
The choice of boastful, unscientific language rather gives the game away. It sounded bizarrely familiar. Dr Bornstein’s testimony included the claim that he had been contacted to write the letter at very short notice, given “five minutes” while a chauffeur sat outside in a limo with the engine running. Just long enough, one supposes, to slot in the difficult names of some minor medicaments the President-elect was taking – statins, and so forth – and to append a shaky signature.
And Dr Bornstein’s eventual conclusion, voiced to camera? “Well, what can you expect, he’s a seventy year-old man.”
One with a serious underlying physiological condition affecting his cognitive processes, possibly?
‘m not a expert.
Chairman of the Water Board
“Waterboarding absolutely works.” – The Wit and Wisdom of Donald J Trump.
How does he know?
Extensive studies have been carried out into the effectiveness of sublethal “enhanced questioning” techniques by the CIA, the army, etc.
And after reviewing thousands of pages of evidence from actual cases, the experts concluded that torture is, by and large, ineffectual. It doesn’t work. Being nice to prisoners works better. Give them a pack of cigarettes. Get them on your side. This “fact” – the conclusion of experts, who have genuinely waterboarded people, that waterboarding doesn’t work – is well known. Has been for years.
So how does Donald Trump know that “Waterboarding absolutely works.”?
He just imagines it does.
Because he says it does. Someone ‘told him’.
And then he says it doesn’t harm anyone anyway, even the military get waterboarded during training. Sure he did.
He has no personal experience of either torturing, or being tortured. At least, one assumes not, although I expect he might have shoved a few of his fellow pupils’ heads down the toilet at the New York Military Academy. That’s the kind of guy they’re now scared to say he was. A bully.
One assumes – but then, why would one assume it? – that he does not personally waterboard his business victims and associates for information. The only tortures he inflicts are financial and mental: he fires people he thinks are losers. He doesn’t pay his contractors. He threatens to sue ordinary people over personal slights. He crushes his pretty young wife in public, and she’s trying so hard.
Having the morals and manners of a large, orange garden slug – you know, one of those impressive slugs you think is a pile of dogshit until it moves – does not make anyone a security expert. Except that the President is an expert on everything, as we know – torture included.
Promoted sideways at the New York Military Academy after complaints from fellow students, Trump is quoted as saying the school provided him: “More training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.” (That remark reveals almost every damn thing you could ever want to know about Donald J Trump, who managed to avoid actual service in Vietnam while 58 thousand untrained conscripted grunts were dying for him to become Commander-in-Chief. I don’t know how you can be an American and live with this.)
“I did very well under the military system,” Trump said in an interview. “I became one of the top guys at the whole school.” – The Washington Post (No, he didn’t! Ed.)
And therefore – cogito ergo est – waterboarding works.
Waterboarding is good!
Waterboarding is fine, believe me. I know.
Does it matter?
Does it matter that taxpayer-funded sources of scientific information on climate, environmental and geological issues are being deliberately suppressed by the Trump administration?
There are many other sources from which we can monitor the climate, the environment, whatever they don’t want us to know. But shutting down the homeland services could present a serious public danger.
Amusingly, I’m just watching a 1990s made-for-TV docudrama, ‘Supervolcano’. Catch it if you haven’t, it’s on YouTube and it’s quite jolly.
So you’ll be aware then that in the movie, all of the information that streams out into the media about the (at present supposedly negligible, though overdue) possibility of a major eruption at Yellowstone, all of the normal public safety information and educational services, all of the information needed for crisis management, comes from…
The Yellowstone National Park service – part of the National Parks Service, that monitors volcanic activity in the park.
So now, if “29 million” Americans are threatened with flashover death from 500 deg. C. pyroclastic flows moving at 800 kph, inhaling a widening plume of windblown pumice ash (“like liquid concrete in your lungs”, no survivors within 100-mile radius), “nuclear winter” conditions prevailing around the globe for years, followed by starvation, riot and cannibalism, the collapse of civilization, ha ha….
Serves you right.
You’ll be the last to hear about it, suckers.
Now, Supervolcano was mostly fiction. What about the Arctic plume?
The Arctic plume isn’t fiction. Forty-four million Americans have been suffering a lethal ice-storm as we write. Destabilization of the jetstream owing to Arctic ocean warming has brought terrible conditions to the midwest – again.
Where are those Americans in real danger going to get their safety information from? From the Governor’s office. And where does he get his information from, now the NPA too is in comms lockdown?