To hear the ruling establishment whine about this Major Incident in the Oval Office, the refugee prisoners might as well not even exist. The big hang-up is all about a shocking breach of etiquette at the heretofore pristine pinnacle of world power. And so begins the daunting task of scapegoating a scapegoating old goat.
By concentrating on the disastrous manners of Donald Trump and his entire clan, the mainstream media deflects attention from the ravages of Disaster Capitalism itself. It's more convenient to instill hate and fear of the new president than it is to examine the forces that produced him and other right-wing populist demagogues like him.
Entirely lost in the conversation about Trump's serial breaches of protocol is the long-standing breach of the social contract. The media, far from being the champions of social and economic justice, are falling all over themselves to scoop each other in the etiquette sweepstakes.
Establishment mouthpiece The Washington Post leads the Miss Manners pack by informing us that Trump is not only rude, he is unnecessarily rude. After all, the new president should be joyfully reveling in his new power, if not metaphorically chain smoking the post-orgasmic cigarettes of the traditional media honeymoon period.
It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.
Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refugee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.The Post doesn't bother to inform its readers why the refugee crisis has become such a hot-potato issue among staunch and congenial democratic countries. Better for the newspaper and its billionaire owner not to mention that it is the global banking cartel and multinational corporations which have caused so much unprecedented death and injury and disease and famine and infrastructure collapse and despair through endless wars and cruel austerity policies. Millions of people have literally nowhere to go and nowhere to hide because of just one thing: violent American imperialism.
The borderless military-industrial complex, when not letting migrants drown in the oceans or starve to death in flight from their war-torn homes, has been warehousing them in private prisons in such out-of-the-way places as islands off the Australian coast. And the Australian P.M. is in as much of a pickle as Donald Trump, because of all the bad publicity surrounding the subhuman treatment of refugee prisoners by some of the same multinational corporations profiting from wars and austerity and plunder. He wants to play Musical Refugees, offshore some of the human detritus so he won't look so bad to his electorate. His country's cruel private refugee prison system is actually run by Serco, the same multi-tentacled British conglomerate that was awarded $1.25 billion by the Obama administration for the disastrous roll-out of its health insurance marketplace. The company got the contract despite its long history of fraud and incompetence.
But never mind all that pre-Trumpian crony disaster capitalism. Step right up and gaze over here, all you Washington Post consumers - it's Trump, the Rude and Unready!
Trump’s behavior suggests that he is capable of subjecting world leaders, including close allies, to a version of the vitriol he frequently employs against political adversaries and news organizations in speeches and on Twitter.
“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center.Forget the substandard inhumane living conditions endured by Disaster Capitalism's millions of victims. Because the Neoliberal Thought Collective has made them so easy to forget as they concentrate our collective wrath on such a limited man in such an artificially limited fashion.
But just in case you can't forget, please now direct your attention to the Old Goat's wife. Because Melania Trump is committing her own unprecedented breach of etiquette by refusing to move to Washington and play her assigned role as The Good Wife. As New York Times White House correspondent Julie Hirschfeld Davis tells it, things have gotten so bad that thousands of requests for private tours of the People's House have gone ignored. And worst of all etiquette breaches, they haven't even begun planning for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll yet! Professional concern-trollers are extremely concerned. Those dreaded passive-voice "questions are being raised."
“She is far behind the curve compared to where modern first ladies have been by the time their husbands are inaugurated, in a quite unprecedented way,” said Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University who specializes in first ladies. “We are in uncharted territory here.”No mention of the uncharted territory that so many millions of migrants and refugees and myriad other victims of neoliberal policies are finding themselves trapped in all around this burning, drowning planet. (And just as an aside, the whereabouts of Melania Trump immediately pale in comparison to the revelation that First Ladies Studies seems to be an actual academic discipline.)
If you're not sufficiently incensed at Mrs. Old Goat's ineptitude and selfishness, let's move on to First Daughter Ivanka Trump. She is taking a ton of liberal heat for advertising her brand last weekend at the exact same moment that hundreds of refugees were being detained at the nation's airports.
USA Today sniffed,
Timing is everything in politics, as French Queen Marie Antoinette learned two centuries ago, and Ivanka Trump was reminded of over the weekend.It's gotten so bad that Nordstrom's was even forced to discontinue Ivanka's clothing line.
"Let them eat cake!" mocked the tweets and Instagram comments on Trump's accounts, after she posted pictures of herself and husband Jared Kushner dressed to the nines — she in a $5,000 silvery gown by Carolina Herrera — just as chaos and protests erupted at international airports over President Trump's just-signed order barring refugees and travelers from some Muslim countries.
Frank Bruni of the New York Times was especially miffed because Ivanka let her husband Jared Kushner fondle her butt during the photo shoot. "He (adviser Steve Bannon) has a seat on the National Security Council. Kushner has his hand on Ivanka Trump’s seat," Bruni quipped while urging his readership to go ogle the picture.
Last month, feminist writer Jill Filopovic opined in a Times op-ed that Ivanka is practically alone among her wealthy peers and friends (including Chelsea Clinton) for not only being a totally fake feminist, but also a totally dangerous fake feminist. Filopovic, while decrying Ivanka's privilege and her ghost-written parenting advice book for career women, and her disturbing attachment to the Old Goat, also takes a gratuitous neoliberal dig at poorer women, who seem to be reproducing like rabbits without benefit of wedlock:
Unlike in past generations when educated women had a harder time finding partners, today, college-educated women like Ms. Trump are more likely than their working-class counterparts to wed, and also like Ms. Trump, usually delay childbirth until after the wedding. With the fewer financial stressors that come with dual incomes or a single extremely high one these educated couples divorce less often than those with fewer financial resources, despite other findings that both groups have comparable dedication to the marital ideal.Filopovic of course has no problem with the trickle-down feminism of other neoliberal wives and spawn of wealthy men -- such as Hillary Clinton and Chelsea. So I left a published comment on her annoying and hypocritical screed:
This piece could just have easily been written about Ivanka's friend Chelsea Clinton, had her Mom won.
Chelsea wrote a book too, hers aimed at young people. She urges them to travel the world and and take some time out to get to know the poor. Like Ivanka advising women of her own class, or those aspiring to her heights, Chelsea was addressing versions of herself. She lives in as much of a mirror-bubble as Ivanka and other meritocrats with a conscience.
No wonder that even during the height of the nasty bickering between their parents, both women pledged undying friendship to one other. Class transcends the Duopoly.
There are plenty of highly educated young society matrons in New York and Washington and the West Coast, spewing the same neoliberal hucksterism (Be your own Mommy brand! Be your own entrepreneur! Lean In! Sleep Revolution!) as Ivanka Trump -- who, let's remember, couldn't even vote for Daddy in the New York primary because she'd forgotten to divest from her Democratic party affiliation by the deadline.
So it's convenient that Ivanka suddenly becomes just the right hook upon which to hang this critique of "fake feminism." Since her father is such a big creep, she's fair game. If she were a real feminist, she would have disowned him years ago. Right?
Anyway, I guess it'll be fun in a gross kind of way watching her try to play Cordelia to Trump's King Lear. All the world's a political stage and we the audience are, as ever, merely being played.
Of course, the lifestyles and coutures and excesses of the Trumps are not that different from the lifestyles of the Clintons -- or the Obamas, who just moved into a mansion two blocks away from Ivanka and her family. The main difference is in the virtue-signalling.
If you must bomb many countries for many decades, and if you must reward yourself and your plutocratic friends and donors with record gains at the expense of the huddled masses who elected you, you also must maintain the proper decorum and use the proper platitudes. Instead of constantly boasting and consuming way too much way too conspicuously, you utter such phrases as "Women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women's rights" and "When they go low, we go high" and "I am my brother's keeper.org."
When you go on your luxury vacations, you never, but never, post pictures on Instagram. While cavorting on a private island, for example, you discreetly allow the rare casual capture of your cool dad image, complete with flip-flops and a backwards baseball cap. And voila, you will fill the Internet with some of that much-needed joy so seriously lacking in the Trump gene pool.
You have to combine the fakery with folksiness and flattery and finesse. And the Trumps will never in a million years be able to do folksiness and flattery and finesse.
Half the country despises them because they're such rich oafs. The other half loves them, because the Trumps prove that if even clueless oafs like them can be successful, then anybody can be successful. Even you. Better an honest huckster than a phony huckster.