Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Trump Nastiness Can Run, But It Can't Hide

It seems that attention addict Donald Trump is trying to quit his lifelong publicity habit cold turkey.

The weekend Tweets accusing Barack Obama of bugging him brought him almost universal public disdain and near-zero defense from his own advisers. Backed into a corner to which his lifestyle is sadly not accustomed, the president is suddenly shunning the cameras and the Internet. Usually one to revel in his own righteous xenophobia, he even felt compelled to sign his revised, but still very nasty, Muslim travel ban behind closed doors. His press secretary has not held a televised briefing in many days.

(Update, 1:38 p.m.: I obviously wrote this post prematurely, because Trump has fallen off the wagon. He was just seen bursting out from behind a portrait of Hillary Clinton, his mouth open and his arms outstretched, to "surprise" a group of school children touring the White House. According to the New York Times, the kids shrieked with joy, or something. Oh, and Spicer was also holding a TV Q&A)

The longer that Trump delays declassifying and releasing any evidence of Obama wiretapping, the more it appears that there's nothing much to his allegations. That is a profound disappointment, especially in light of the new WikiLeaks revelations about CIA hacking of smartphones and TVs. Trump could indeed be "caving" to pressure from the so-called intelligence community as well as from relentless gaslighting by the mainstream media.

Naturally, the liberal commentariat are already seizing upon the WikiLeaks dump as just one more indication of a nefarious (and still totally unproven) Trump-Russia conspiracy. (see, for example, readers' comments in the above-linked New York Times article.) Trump's xenophobia is being countered not by tolerance and facts and progressive ideas, but by rabid Russophobia. An unhealthy allegiance to the Spy State is on full display by liberals and neocons alike.

It's one form of ugliness being pitted against other form of ugliness. 

Meanwhile, the establishment media's psychological warfare against Trump seems to be taking its desired toll. He is in Twitter rant retreat, at least for now. This might be a welcome reprieve for those of us suffering from severe Trump fatigue, but it's very bad for democracy.  With a paranoid authoritarian like him in charge, wouldn't you rather know what he is doing and thinking at all times, no matter how much it nauseates you?

If you're a normal human being, probably not. I know that there are many days when my own stomach and nerves can't bear even a glimpse of his tufted comb-over and his flapping tie, when my ears close at the slightest hint of a whisper of his spittle-inflected voice. There are days when I literally have to force myself to turn on the news and go online to learn about the latest depravity.

As regular readers know, I recently called my cable provider to cancel TV, until they offered me a one-third price reduction to keep me tethered to the freak show. When threatened, capitalism does occasionally offer its slaves a crumb here or there to keep its engine thrumming.

  So as we're both eagerly awaiting and dreading Trump's bodily return to the public stage, it's easy enough to discern the essential Trumpian nastiness of his latest legalistic executive order. The written word can be every bit as vile as the spoken word. No matter how much he tries to tone it down and hide it beneath formal legalese, Trump's psychopathology comes through loud and clear.

By bending over backwards to insist that he is not bigoted against Muslims, the president displays all his irrepressible bigotry against Muslims. He clumsily couches this bigotry in language purporting to protect the interests of "minority religions" in locales with a majority Muslim population:
Executive Order 13769 did not provide a basis for discriminating for or against members of any particular religion.  While that order allowed for prioritization of refugee claims from members of persecuted religious minority groups, that priority applied to refugees from every nation, including those in which Islam is a minority religion, and it applied to minority sects within a religion.  That order was not motivated by animus toward any religion, but was instead intended to protect the ability of religious minorities -- whoever they are and wherever they reside -- to avail themselves of the USRAP (United States Refugee Admissions Program) in light of their particular challenges and circumstances.
Trump also has limited the number of refugees granted entry into the US this year to a ridiculously low 50,000. And he will bypass international human rights norms by allowing individual states to reject people based upon whatever criteria they wish. If they want to be racist and xenophobic, they have the full blessing of the Trump administration.

 The misogynistic president further betrays his bigotry by calling for a public database of gender-based offenses against Muslim women... by "foreign nationals"  only. Good ole boys from America are apparently exempt from inclusion in The List. Grab away, guys!

Although he mercifully removed Iraq from the original seven countries subject to his travel ban, Trump made clear that this exception was only the result of the "cooperation" of Iraqi officials in allowing American troops back in to fight the never-ending war in their destroyed country.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer also made it clear in one of those newly-closed "press gaggles" on Monday that the Trump administration's revised order is no admission of fault or correction of error in the original. "Make no mistake, we lost the element of surprise back when the court enjoined this in the Ninth Circuit," he said.

The nastiness just cannot hide itself. Spicer tacitly admitted the utter contempt with which the Trump administration holds the judicial system. He gloated that the only purpose of the "revised" order is to dress the bigotry in just enough concern-trolling fluff to punk the judicial system.

Trump and his minions are trying to become more traditional, adept politicians through the magical use of double-talk. And they're really quite terrible at it.

Victor Klemperer, a German Jew and Enlightenment scholar who kept a diary (I Will Bear Witness) of more than decade's worth of everyday life under Nazism, regularly included critiques of what he called "the language of the Third Reich."

His entry for March 31, 1942:

"The language brings it out into the open. Perhaps someone wants to conceal the truth by speaking. But the language does not lie. Perhaps someone wants to utter the truth. But the language is more true than he is. There is no remedy against the truth of language. Medical researchers can fight a disease as soon as they have recognized its essential properties. Philologists and poets recognize the essential properties of language, but they cannot prevent language from testifying to the truth."

Victor Klemperer: Our Literary Guide to Fascism


annenigma said...

The biggest bunch of crazy, nutjob conspiracy kooks reared their ugly heads today over at the NYT and they are so over the edge, it's scary. I took a quick glance at the top rated comments and NYT Picks (same difference) to the article about Wikileaks's CIA dump, and I can't even follow their wacko logic. The Russians hacked the CIA and stole all their secrets, then gave them to their partner-in-crime Julian Assange to leak in order to hurt Trump? Or to help Trump? What?

Masha Gessen, a critic of Russia, addresses this conspiracy theory comprehensively in 'Russia: the Conspiracy Trap'


and the always clear-headed and reasoned Glenn Greenwald:


We now know from Wikileaks that it's NOT conspiracy theory to warn that 'the walls have ears'. Indeed, Samsung smart TVs don't just have ears, those ears can be changed to a 'Fake Off' setting by the CIA so there is no clue it's on and listening/recording. Does Donald watch tv on a Samsung smart tv? No tap, warrant, or FISA authorization needed! I wonder how many Russian and 5 star hotel rooms around the world have smart Samsung tvs. The CIA probably arranges for them to be sold at a discount.

Shifting gears, there's an article in the Daily Beast that gives an interesting perspective on Trump and Obama. 'Paint or Smear? Barack Obama’s Politically Active Post-Presidency Isn’t Normal, or Good' - 'Just as his limited résumé and celebrity candidacy helped open the door for President Trump’s run, his politicking since leaving office may be setting a dangerous precedent.'

[It could be a lot worse than that if Trump turns out to be correct about Obama's team (CIA?) spying on him.]

"The truth is that Barack Obama bears a lot of responsibility for destroying what had been acceptable standards — the destruction of which ultimately made possible Donald Trump’s ascendancy. While Obama now poses as a defender of decorum, tradition, and protocol, he (in a much subtler way) flouted convention."

"This is a guy who, in not even a single term as a U.S. senator before running for the highest office in the land, accomplished little but did try to filibuster Sam Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and supported a “poison pill” to kill immigration reform. Who ran as a celebrity, helping pave the way for the sort of hero worship that President Trump’s fans now employ."


Meredith NYC said...

Karen, good for you when you called the cable provider---Spectrum?----i'm curious what did you say to them, and how long in the conversation did it take for them to give you a lower offer by 1/3?

Plus, is Glen Greenwald always clearheaded and reasoned? Doesn't he agree with the S. Court's warped, bizarre Citizens United decision that any limits on spending by corporations and the rich on election campaigns is against 1st amendment free speech? While this is the very thing that's poisoning our democracy? And causing the very economic hardship and inequality leading to Trump's win? Greenwald's judgment is weird.

We have the highest, most exploitive election costs as well as health care costs in the world. They are both related but our media doesn't discuss this. Why don't other capitalist democracies copy the American way of elections as investments by the elites? Don't they like profits too? Or are their societies more realistic and also democratic than the US?

A NYT page 1 article: “Small Pool of Rich Donors Dominates Election Giving” said that “fewer than 400 families spend almost half the money raised for 2016—an unprecedented concentration of donors.”
We never see much about this on either cable news or the Times op ed page. They want to avoid it.

Mark Thomason said...

Gaslighting works by stealing attention. As long as the allegation is the subject of attention, there is not need to offer evidence in support. Such evidence if it exists would be wasted.

When attention fades, then "evidence" would be offered. Real or fake, convincing or obviously bogus, it would continue the Gaslighting purpose.

This is a defensive move.

Did it happen? Maybe. Our intelligence state is out of control, and it is rather partisan.

Did Trump just make it up? He would if he had to, and he might have.

It will be a long time before we really know. In the meantime, it will serve is Gaslighting purpose either way.

Karen Garcia said...


I wrote about my adventures in cancelling TV on Feb. 1, in "Having Your Trump and Eating It Too."

Yes, I have Spectrum (no relation - that I know of - to SPECTRE, the 007 spy agency) Anyhow, the first thing you have to do is tell them you want to cancel. If you start off by politely asking for your bill to be reduced, they might not give you a good deal. Act as though you don't care, and they will go to their official "retention of very pissed-off customer" script.


Yes, gaslighting is just a psy-ops weapon, but I was kind of hoping that Trump would declassify a bunch of stuff. It's a bit telling that the WH has thus far had no comment on the latest WikiLeaks trove.


I read in a poll that about 60% of Americans now think that Russia hacked our free and fair democratic election. The opinions have been duly shaped.

Zee said...

"I read in a poll that about 60% of Americans now think that Russia hacked our free and fair democratic election. The opinions have been duly shaped."--Karen Garcia

"No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby."--H. L. Mencken

Jamie said...

Does anyone here honestly think that Obama didn't bug Trump? If you do it shows a glaring lack of understanding regarding the deep state and politics in general.

Zee said...


Do I believe that Obama really "wiretapped" Trump? Well, protestations of the Department of Justice notwithstanding, I believe that he COULD have authorized such illegal activity, as Nixon did with his "Plumbers unit." But alas, what I might believe is not the same as what I can PROVE.

Given the Wikileaks revelations, however, what I believe much more strongly is that the CIA bugged Trump, simply because it COULD, and because Trump had dissed the intelligence community so strongly. Clearly, "they" hate him.

Trump might have mistaken the CIA's actions for those of Obama. But again I have to ask, "Where's the proof positive versus my deep suspicion?"

But be that as it may, "they" seem not to have learned anything of consequence pre-election, because there was no "October surprise" to torpedoe Trump's win.

Either Trump & Company worked in a "cone of silence" or they aren't as nutty as Obama and/or the CIA think them to be.

Zee said...

Oops! Sorry about committing a "Dan Quayle-ism" with my spelling of "torpedo."

Zee said...

From the WSJ, which you all may not be able to read w/o a subscription:

WikiLeaks Reveals CIA Hacking Projects, From Weeping Angel to Hammer Drill

Documents exposed agency projects that allegedly infect CDs, hack Samsung smart TVs and more

By Alan Cullison March 8, 2017 7:03 p.m. ET

Weeping Angel, Hammer Drill and Fine Dining are some of the CIA projects exposed in the WikiLeaks information dump. Photo: saul loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

WikiLeaks’ dump of information this week may be the largest breach of classified information in the CIA’s history. The FBI is probing the leak, which revealed information on approximately 500 CIA projects, each with its own sub-projects, malware and hacker tools. Here are some of the notable CIA initiatives exposed in the trove of documents:

Weeping Angel: A program developed in collaboration with British intelligence that allegedly captures audio—but not video—from peoples’ homes by hacking Samsung smart TVs. According to Wikileaks, the CIA can turn these TVs into bugging devices even when they are turned off, so conversations can be recorded and sent to a covert CIA server.

Hammer Drill: A malware that targets Windows operating systems by infecting software on CDs and DVDs. Wikileaks says the malware has air gap-jumping abilities that allow it to target computers isolated from the internet.

Fine Dining: A suite of 24 decoy applications that, according to Wikileaks, CIA agents can use to infect a computer or collect data while they appear only to be running innocuous programs such as a slide show or computer game.

HarpyEagle: Appears to be a CIA program that has been investigating how to use wireless routers associated with Apple AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule to access the file systems of targeted computers.

HIVE: A suite of malware developed by the CIA that targets Windows, Solaris, Linux and MikroTik internet routers and helps establish communication with infected computer systems, according to Wikileaks.

Umbrage: A library of malicious software components taken from commercial and foreign sources found to have been used in internet hacking attacks. The library appears to give the CIA the ability to deploy hacking tools and techniques that have been known to work in operations by other countries.

stranger in a strange land said...

Wiki - leaks C I A dump is fascinating, interesting times indeed. Reminds me of an old byline employed by Sardonicky commentator The Black Swan -

"The apparatus of our enslavement is the tool of our liberation."

Jay–Ottawa said...

Seems to work the other way around: Computers, the tool of our liberation, are the apparatus of our enslavement.

annenigma said...


I absolutely believe that Obama probably spied on Trump using his good buddy John Brennan and the CIA. We learned that NSA broadly collects data but the CIA is involved in specific targeted spying, hacking, and other dirty, deadly, and dastardly deeds.

When Obama publicly declared Donald Trump "dangerous", I thought that if he wasn't implicitly inviting a wacko to take out Trump, that he was planning something himself IF he was serious and believed his own words. So yes, I think several options were probably planned, but since it was 'Hillary in a Landslide!' to the bitter end, it wasn't necessary to 'go nuclear'. They turned the heat on the alleged Russia-Trump connection and simply kept it simmering on the back burner as long as it was 'Hillary in a Landslide!'

The alleged Russia-Trump connection apparently was of little real concern to national security or democracy since Obama waited until AFTER the election to ask for an intelligence investigation. He even expelled Russian diplomats and their families during the holiday without advance notice before the review was even complete, an investigation that eventually came up with no evidence of Russia hacking or interfering with the election. So the whole Russian thing never has passed the smell test. It was a political ploy all along meant to harm Trump by insinuation and innuendo. The media has dutifully persisted in repeating the lie that 'all 17 intelligence agencies concluded that Russia hacked the election and helped Trump win'.

According to Wikileaks' Vault 7 Part 1 (only 1% of what they will eventually release, yay!), the CIA's Umbrage program collects foreign malware in order to create false fingerprints for false flag operations. So the CIA can set anyone up to take the blame. Isn't it funny that they don't even suspect China anymore of any hacking.

As far as Obama's qualified denial went, he said he never 'ordered' a wiretap. If he had no legitimate justification, and he spied as part of a dirty trick, of course he wouldn't do it under official cover. He's too smart and stealthy for that. Did Obama have to order Clapper to lie to Congress about spying on everyone? Did Obama have to order Brennan to lie to the Senate about torture? The CIA even spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee, but we're supposed to believe they don't operate in this country. The U.S. Senate!

I wrote here, back in the day, that Obama was 'Nixon Without the Flop Sweat' but I think he's actually far worse. Trump might have boasted that he could shoot somebody and not lose voters, but Obama actually did kill people, bragging that he was 'good at killing', and his supporters and the press stood by him faithfully for 8 years. You bet I believe he spied.

Trump dodged a bullet and became President only because the Deep State didn't feel threatened until after it was too late, primarily from being lulled into a false sense of security. That was engendered by polling of voters who were suffering from a version of the Bradley Effect as a result of media bashing of Trump which made it politically incorrect and socially risky to admit support. How it would have gone down if the Deep State truly expected he could win? We're seeing it play out now.

Tonight I was listening to CBS news while cooking dinner and I turned to see former CIA Director Leon Panetta's name, dates and name of offices held, like a glossy resume on the screen. I though he died! So I turned my full attention to the screen and there appears Leon, alive to my great surprise (what a glossy intro), and Scott Pelley asked him if he thought Trump was rational, or something like that. Panetta response sounded like he was declaring Trump certifiably insane.

It's escalating. I don't think the Deep State is going to give up until Trump is gone.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Trump can't hide, and neither can you. News Flash: We're all being bugged. No more privacy. Totalitarian governments want us to know it. They cover everything we say and write and join and listen to and where we are at all times, even if as a defensive maneuver we throw away the smart phones and laptops. Chips are hidden everywhere and report back to the functionaries of the elites. E tu, refrigerator, Chevrolet, Trump Tower itself? In the old days, we scrawled on the walls "Kilroy was here." Cross out the 'Kilroy' and write in the 'CIA,' or NSA, FBI, etc. Those computers we thought were so democratizing turn out to be the best surveillance devices ever for the elites. You’re a fool if you don't begin to self-censor, turn your face into a mask and stop affiliating with protest movements and [cough] subversive blogs like this. You have been warned.

Kat said...

In other theatrical news- looks like some Republicans are doing their part to make sure that they don't have to own the repeal of Obamacare. I like how the AMA and hospital groups are coming out against the Republican plan because it will "hurt the most vulnerable" ( I suppose by "vulnerable" they mean their bottom line which Medicaid expansion has enhanced. If they were really concerned about the most vulnerable they would support single payer.)