I can totally get why people are confused about my position on Trump.
The thing is, I completely agree with Trump's rants against the mainstream media while still rejecting him as an "America's solution" in any other way.
Negative sentiments against the mainstream legacy media were really felt by many others long before he became a candidate. Each cause or perspective respectively beheld by all that were not "status quo" were seen as marginalized by a profit corporatized media agenda. Trump just tapped into the angry white American version of that angst and, further, personalized it making it seem that the point of it all is his persecution.
Trump has hijacked the valid concept of inauthentic news media.
Trump doesn't even articulate the argument against the media well. He calls the legacy media the generators of "fake news" but that's not really accurate. The "news" is real enough, it's more often than not that they are weavers of arbitrary if not contrary focus -- focusing on stories and narratives that have nothing to do with what day to day people are actually caring about. The Russian influence of American elections is one example.
Of course it's a bad thing that the Russians try, but it's been well known enough that Russia has been interferring with our elections, and we, their elections, for as long as we have been rivals. Over 50 years.
From the linked New York Times article:
Loch K. Johnson, the dean of American intelligence scholars, who began his career in the 1970s investigating the C.I.A. as a staff member of the Senate’s Church Committee, says Russia’s 2016 operation was simply the cyber-age version of standard United States practice for decades, whenever American officials were worried about a foreign vote.
“We’ve been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947,” said Mr. Johnson, now at the University of Georgia. “We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners — you name it. We’ve planted false information in foreign newspapers. We’ve used what the British call ‘King George’s cavalry’: suitcases of cash.”
The "fakeness" Trump bellows on about is that for no apparent reason (he would say because it is part of an effort to de-legitimize his election) the news media is pretending this long running game suddenly matters. Or, if it's always mattered, they get to hide through this sudden focus on it their negiligence in not making it a story sooner.
None of this changes my assertion that Trump is a ruinous president. It's great that the corporations have ended their protest against Obama policies and direction by opening up their cash flows to the public economy, by default crediting Trump's watch. But really, they would have done that for anyone even Hillary. That's because 12 years of hoard-pouting money would be just too long to keep it up. Eventually those companies not so resistant to more regulation would have found their economic strength and begun to eclipse those that did. Trump's election unfortunately interrupted that.
As I've mentioned before too, I also support his tweeting habits. It's a brilliant interfacing effort between the top office of the land and regular people in real time. A natural advance of the fireside chats conducted by Franklin Roosevelt back in the day, but in today's digital context. However crazy his tweets may seem, they ring authentic and people really feel connected to them. Supporters in particular. I know future presidents will probably keep it up, but I am betting only in that dry "PR" voice that will sound like a run of taglines from a company product brochure. Trump knows enough at least to make this tool, and social media in general, count.
Okay I totally get that there was "no collusion" announced between Russia and the Trump administration when the FBI indicted 13 of them for influencing the election. Maybe they'll announce some finding of direct collusion later as the result of a different investigative thread but for now, nothing about the FBI's work presented today bears any such thing. Fine.
But running and clinging to a point nobody was making in the first place is in my opinion a way to avoid the real questions about what was discovered. Simply put the question really is and remains what did and does Russia see in Donald Trump to make him worth funding a million dollar effort to buzz into office any way they might-could?
I believe analysts within each of our own intelligence agencies figure the tactics to undermine our country are part and parcel of a more dire enemy perspective. My bet is they understand something else about them and are too embarrassed (for the country and perhaps for counter-strategic reasons) to fess up. They may even be too afraid.
Afraid because I suspect that what they and the Russians, and any foreign adversary/competitor can objectively explore and in turn seek to exploit, is a decline in both an educated American populace if not merely a less intellectual one, and a common platform of ideology and principle that is beginning to buckle under America's "only me" or "only the 'right' people" mentality. Trump is just a convenient caricature for both.
He is a strong blustery man, but in the broader sense, the one that counts in the game of competing civilizations, he is a weak one. Or more precisely, a naive one. Yet probably an inconsequential one to the aim of undermining the United States. Russia doesn't want him so much as they want his followers . It is his followers that they want to reproduce ideologically. With Trump as a sitting president he is a great growth agent for the thinking style the Russians would love to strangle us with.
Our intelligence agencies most certainly assess this or something darn close along these lines. But what can they do? Their insights and suspicions cannot insult the very people they serve; the very country they protect. I would guess that they tailor a response in kind in as little a directly documented process as possible, whatever such a response could be. For now, they seem to be resorting to warning against falling for the discourse rather than openly examining how people might have gotten so susceptible to it in the first place.
Trump and the rest of the country can bury the deeper questions by satisfying everyone that no polls were directly manipulated (though, make no mistake, the psy-op nonetheless most certainly affected tens of thousands of free-will executions at them) or that the Russians also fostered discord against Trump after the election, either loosely by interpretation or in my suspicion, as a way to obfuscate the actual and more potent goal of Trump-ifying America, as some kind of an insurance action. They did not fail to account for the possibility they would be "caught".
After all they don't think our CIA or FBI are stupid, they just count on the idea that we are.
Make no mistake, I appreciate Haley's remarks to the UN and her style of delivery of them. Sharp and competent, this one (and I am not being sarcastic). It's incredible she takes the career hit risk that she does having anything to do with Trump.
But her statement makes it sound like the important thing is the perceived persecution of the United States, not the question of security. What does what the US does or doesn't do for the UN have to do with whether or not it is more or less secure for Trump to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel's capital?
It sounds like by Haley's own remarks that the US only regards the UN as a vector to financially influence the world. If that's what the UN is all about to us, that's a huge revelation.
I am not even judging the merit of Trump's decision. It might or might not be a good idea, time will tell. I'm more in angst over the bothersome idea that the UN can't debate a point and express an opinion contrary to US policy without us crying how persecuted we are and then more or less threatening to hit back with money.
Now the mentality is above board. Trump's core motivation has only been to repeal Obamacare, period. That is one reason there has been so little care for form or consequences in the effort to overhaul healthcare in the first place. It's never been about the frustration of complicated math, it's only been about erasing the work of a previous administration.
This is just another telltale marker for the executive inadequacies of our commander in chief. He's a fine man, probably, in person, a great showman for sure, a refreshing kicker of the media which we can all appreciate, and effective in the framework of his business - at least half the time. But, he is not suited for governing the affairs of people.
Honestly I could almost care less whether we live in nation controlled by Republicans or Democrats. I'm so fundamentally disgusted by our cultural assumptions and practices as they relate to social justice and what true freedom really is, I understand that neither party is actually out for either principle in any big way.
Let's face it, both parties are contorting to let corporations master over the affairs and fates of individuals, so why get too jimmied up over the nature of the whip if we aren't going to act over the notion of one.
As an independent I favor at least the hot air of the Democrats who are kinder and find no shame in striving for idealism in the outcomes of human affairs, while appreciating the strong social policies, particularly the "law and order" mantra, of the Republicans. In the best world Dems and progressives would set the agenda, while Republicans would budget and run them.
Where the presidency is concerned, I solely rate the man. I oppose Trump - resist if you will - because he is a bad spirit who thinks nothing of channeling the worst of human sentiments through his political waterwheel for sake of power. Will he make America "great" again? Sure he will. Sociopaths don't weigh themselves down with moral contemplation. Regulations without meaning, which is to say, taking the time to contemplate what those meanings are, are just regulations to be scrapped. I cannot imagine decision making being any easier.
Yet as an executive, as the choice of so many naive Americans, I've been consistently pragmatic about him. Let fools suffer the consequences of not valuing intelligence and diplomacy in their elected leader, yes, but, elected he is .
What I have real trouble dealing with is the half-and-half ongoing nature of our political order that means nothing is getting done. At the end of the day I can adjust to the worldview of any strong winner (again, on the foundation of ceding to its general corruptness). But hoping for true technological and social advances in a country where only half the country can be for them at any given time, is futile and exhausting.
Looks like the rest of the civilized world will have to take up the slack while America stumbles through its two-year flirtation with the Dark Ages. I say two years because that's the soonest Trump can be voted out of power during the mid-terms.
I am not a Trump voter or any clear supporter of him. But I am also not invested heavily in "Trump Won Anger" and really hold no objection in what is basically a third party independent candidate moving ahead and doing his job until he screws it up, which all indicators are that he will.
No, it isn't tidy to be in a mess before one begins to hate full-on throttle, but we have a system and it has spoken. I can't be angry at he or a system that put him into place when it's the same one I counted on to not if he had lost.
So, for the time being he is a colorful distraction in politics that maybe will shut right-wingers up for a while and drain talk radio of angry listeners (though note, the strategy of talk radio in response is to turn "liberalism" into a sustained threat, justifying their voice despite "owning everything" in Washington now).
This kind of rapport is great!
Where he is most colorful of course is in his tweeting, which I support. I support it because Twitter came to be a monumental communication instrument in this new digital age that fixes the problem of authentic and initimate contact in real-time between leaders and the people.
You can argue it is not "presidential" for a president to be that close to the people but that borders on arguing that people should not have individual personalities and perspectives. Or if they do, some should share them while others should not. That to me is the very antithesis of the free Internet. Boring, rotten, happy, pithy - whatever, a voice counts, as does its right to take advantage of new technology to disseminate itself. If certain people are uncomfortable, and in Trump's case I'm assuming "certain people" are the established media who he is able to bypass with all kinds of social media today, they don't have to tune in.
This philosophy can be controversial. Do I believe terrorists should have unfettered access to our youth and vulnerable for recruitment purposes? No, but, I would question just where the actual problem lies in a chain that starts with a terrorist with a Twitter account in Yemen, and ends with Johnny blowing himself up for Allah in Idaho. Because we can't create a system with good education and mental health systems means we have to make communication the enemy?
Trump has a right to tweet and should continue doing so. His tweets are unnerving and perhaps a window to his soul, but his actual merit as president will be judged in his policies and outcomes. Leave the concept of tweeting and by extension free authentic communication to the republic alone.
It's not that I disagree with liberal objectives, and certainly not worldviews. However, I find that I cannot join in on imprecise criticism.
Imprecise criticism is dangerous to anyone's cause because it reduces traction and gives fodder to the opposition who senses and interprets it to mean the argument as a whole is wrong. A good example is discussing immigration issues. Countless political commentary pieces, politician speeches, and even the news headlines themselves, use the one-word term "immigrants" when they really mean "illegal immigrants".
Trump is another example. It's probable, even if he "fixes" the economy, that he will be destructive in other, larger ways, if only due to his lack of government and political experience. He himself is one issue but the people he has stocked around him are like a sitting coalition of every nutty right wing commentator picked from the comments section of a news site. This probably isn't going to end well even as we happily sit mesmerized by money moving again.
Yet we can only reasonably criticize outcomes, all other factors being what they are. There is today's unemployment rate, number of people insured, today's crime rate, today's commitment of troops to policy wars, and so on, all of which currently read well. When these dials tank, if they tank, then will be time for real criticism. Conservatives tend to "re-factor" the argument rather than abide by the simple reality that Trump must maintain Obama's high standard of progress to be considered successful, following him.
There are things along the way that despite those metrics will also be credible points of criticism. Getting behind or failing to stop policies that facilitate the conversion of the open web to cable-TV-like, for example. Staging us for unnecessary wars, or sinking the standard of reason and principle so low that every adversarial nation will smile with friendship as they sink their knives in. Witness the Trump/Russia "alliance against America" as one example. But all of these are only hints, not yet materializations, of a declined US by Trump's hands. Criticizing by emotion is never as handy as criticizing by data. Give the policies and the man a chance to actually fail before muddying up the water with hyperbole, and be precise with any and all arguments that apply now and (most certainly) then.
It got me thinking, what if Trump isn't actually avoiding journalists? What if social media is the actual way that Trump intends to connect with the public, like, forever? And if that is true then it is fair to say that he's not really "avoiding" the media -- after all, the TV networks and newspapers are all free to report on his tweets and You Tube videos right? He's just not directly relying on them to dispense himself.
Who needs the traditional networks when you can broadcast yourself?
I think we are experiencing an interesting change in the relationship between politicians and the traditional press with Trump leading the way. Trump so far has been quite content and clearly effective at producing authentic communication between himself and the public on Twitter.
And when I say authentic I mean authentic . Many politicians are using social media to get their messages out but most of those I know of rely on posi-spin miniaturized "press release" formats. Carefully crafted communication that is contorted smoothly to avoid offending or making the office holder somehow vulnerable.
Trump's tweets, however ill-advised, are like one-on-one declarations. If imperfect in original form, they can be corrected in a follow up. The impulsive nature of his Twitter posts make it feel like he's talking to you directly.
As near as I can tell Trump can sail the next four years without ever having to meet a journalist in person. I suspect there is a bevy of reasons this is not a good idea for him or anyone of high public office to take advantage of, but it would be interesting for him to try by lark so that we could see how effective it is and to find out what some of the bad reasons actually wind up being. Maybe they aren't so bad whatever they are.
I am still compelled to tail my posts on Trump with a reminder I did not vote for him over his threats to repeal Obamacare, and because I did not like a certain faction of his followers. But I do appreciate his embrace of social media and his dare to self-manage his outward presence in a way that leaves the "old press" on the sidelines.
I just got asked in Facebook if I'm happy with our new president. My response is a great summary response for this platform.
My straightforward answer is no, we could have had a better kinder change agent. But, I am not opposed to giving him a chance, or, at least, acknowledging that he has clear appeal and that those to whom he appeals voted legitimately. It's difficult for me to "protest" as long as what brought us here is the same system that I would have counted on to keep him away.
Whether we acknowledge it or not the previous "establishment" was in fact working on the very same problems and mitigating the trappings of perfect execution (cost, political push back, international considerations). Trump will face and have to contend with the same constraints and somehow be a genius, or perhaps phenomenally reckless, at overcoming them just as much.
Ultimately his term in office will be the judge.
Right now I'm looking to harvest his time in office for anything positive that aligns with my worldview. Just this morning I tweeted out to my "rail" Twitter accounts about the hope his promise to focus on infrastructure could mean the advancement of high speed rail and local projects for instance. I have also always liked his rhetoric about rescuing good people and families from the danger of inner city living with a "law and order" stance. If that happens, that's good too.
I, we, will just have to grit our teeth and hope that the elimination of "abstract value principles" which Trump and very few of his followers take as serious business or perhaps don't have the capacity to appreciate, from all policy development, does not wind back the intellectual and military strength of the nation far enough to incur permanent damage. If he runs away unchecked, a real possibility, he will either directly or indirectly put us all on the path of nuclear war. I think we can bear just about anything else and call it a fair outcome of a democratic process, but if we're flattened or flatten others capciriously because it's cheaper than getting along, it could be said looking back on this entry that I was too pragmatic.