Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Gush Vs. Bore In Singapore

I am certainly no fan of Donald Trump, but he actually comes across as a lot more reasonable than some of the media-political complex minions who are throwing cold war on this whole precious thing called peace.

The neocon and liberal interventionists of Cold War 2.0 are variously calling the Trump-Kim public relations effort to at least give peace a chance a sham, too lacking in "details," and an open door to Chinese dominance in Asia.

The New York Times editorial board, among most others in consolidated corporate media world, complains that Trump offered Kim the unthinkable "concession" of ending the annual US-South Korea "war games" spectacle without getting anything in return.... as though the North Korean dictator's gesture of stopping nuclear testing and provocative launches was not itself the concession which paved the way for the historic Singapore summit.

The Times was mightily offended about how gauchely Trump "gushed" over Kim, who has been miraculously transformed from Rocket Man into a great guy, if not Donald's new BFF. It was also miffed that Trump made nice with such a violent oppressive leader, ignoring the fact that Trump (and all his immediate predecessors) just recently made nice with the Saudis, who are engaged in outright genocide of Yemenis via another port blockade of food shipments.
Mr. Kim’s wins were obvious. He got what his father and grandfather never did — a meeting with an American president, the legitimacy of being treated as an equal as a nuclear power on the world stage, country flags standing side by side. And while American sanctions remain in place, Mr. Trump has delayed imposing new ones and other countries are expected to begin easing theirs.
Mr. Trump insisted he secured concessions from Mr. Kim, including a nuclear and missile test suspension that is already in its seventh month, and the destruction of a missile test site and an engine test site. The latter two will have to be independently verified. But what about the main goal, denuclearization? “We’re starting that process very quickly — very, very quickly — absolutely,” Mr. Trump said.
The latest litmus test for bipartisans of the extreme center is how vociferously they can ridicule the Singapore Summit - from its weird tasting menu, all the way to the weird travel propaganda video with which Trump regaled Kim. Liberals are desperately trying to bore into the public mind the same message that they used to denigrate the Occupy movement: there are not details and no specific demands! 

This messaging promises to get even more boring as mega-mergers among already consolidated media content and delivery providers become the new normal in how we citizen-consumers get the preferred misinformation drilled into our heads.

My published comment to the Times editorial:
Only time will tell who is the better con artist: the dictator or the wannabe dictator.

Trump assumes that his self-proclaimed business savvy ( his "touch and feel"), which veers between making threats and making nice as a means of reeling in his prey will work in the case of diplomacy, with which he has zero experience.

Only time will determine the outcome. Nobody should be rooting for his attempt, or pretense at one, to fail. There's always the serendipity factor, when even the most bumbling operators can do the right thing by sheer accident and for all the wrong reasons (re-election campaign for him, midterms for the cult which still insists upon calling itself the Republican Party.)

As for Trump discontinuing the war games, which he views as a wasteful romp rather than training exercises, he does have a habit of announcing grandiose initiatives on Twitter without first notifying the people who are actually in charge. This is similar, to name just one example, to his unilateral banning of gay people from the military, which has since been walked back.

He's all about saving his own face and getting whatever booty he can for his personal empire.. Maybe he'll simply rename the war games something else, like the Trump Air Show for the high-ratings entertainment of the people of the Korean peninsula.

Besides saving face, it's also all about the marketing.

But with any luck, peace on earth will have a chance despite us being stuck with the most venal president in US history.

(On second thought, I'd better revise that to "perhaps the most venal," or even more accurately, "one of the most venal" presidents. They've all been doozies and liars and cheats in their own unique ways. It is, after all, part of the job description.)

The Korean War, which was never approved by Congress, has never officially ended. Think of the Singapore Summit as a continuation of the truce, with the added incentive of North Korea now having nuclear capability.

It is ironic, meanwhile, that Trump was the protégé of Roy Cohn, the ultra-right attorney who successfully prosecuted Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. 
On top of espionage for the Russians, they were also widely blamed for starting the Korean War. While they sat in prison awaiting their executions, the United States went on its mad spree of killing millions of North Koreans. At a  few points, Harry Truman seriously contemplated the nuclear annihilation of  the entire population, as a sort of follow-up act to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. See what I mean about a ratings system for presidential dooziness? For example, Trump threw paper towels at Puerto Ricans and Truman threw bombs at them, not long before he considered nuking North Koreans.

It's certainly been a long  -- but far from winding -- road from Sing Sing, where the Rosenbergs were killed in the electric chair in June 1953, to Singapore in June 2018.

Never mind Trump. America has always been a tad on the insane side.


Burt Topper said...

Anything that moves us closer to peace and establishes a dialogue is a plus. The saber rattling on the peninsula has at least been paused and that offers hope. While we are suffering from the Trump administration's many assaults on the people here and abroad, we should not discount this little bit of progress on the Korean issue any more than we should have objected to Nixon's initiative with China in 1972.

Karen gets it right, as usual.

Anna Radicalova said...

I'm loving this and actually cheering for Bad Boy Trump. I wish the media would just STFU! Of course now that genius Bill Clinton's disastrous signing of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has born the full fruit of media monopolies, we'll rarely hear the truth anymore.

It's always about MONEY. Here's my take:

Part of the negotiation will be for North Korea to allow the US to install military bases (colonies) there, ostensibly part of guaranteeing 'their' security but actually to make North Korea safe for capitalist plunder by Empire AND to horn in on China and Russia. Trump is serving two masters but he's not one to keep that dual track going for long. The more experience and confidence he gets, the more he's going to become the Boss and follow his own instinct$. Markets, baby!

Instead of the Military-Industrial Complex continuing to enjoy a monopoly on profits from the war machine stuck in overdrive, Trump will want to shift gears and open doors to new markets and let everyone in for the ride. His own philosophy seems to be to spread the wealth (among the rich of course). He just made a public comment about how much money canceling the war games will save and we remember when he blew minds admitting the wasted trillions in the Middle East that could have been used for projects at home. Those are positive indicators.

My bet is that Ka-Ching! sounds a lot better than Ka-Boom! to Trump despite all his bluster. That should be cause for cheering, not jeering. He's a developer and that's how he sees the world - build things to make money. It's a creative rather than destructive instinct. Btw, the female digit ratio in his fingers says more than he'd like to admit - he's actually a pussycat! That ratio indicates the influence of female hormones, or males hormones in Hillary's case. Shhh, don't tell Trump, but he could actually be our First Female President just as Bill Clinton was the First Black President and Barack Obama the First CIA President. Don't ever make fun of his small hands again - they might save the world, unlike Hillary who has the more masculine digit ratio.

If the Democrat moneygrubbers are pretending they don't see the potential in opening up North Korea for plunder and supercheap labor, they're just posturing to please their MIC donors and pretending to care about human rights, etc., not money. Ha! The only thing they're debating is how to jump off the War Horse and ride Trump's new Race Horse without making him look like a winner.

Barack Obama is going to mess his pants when Trump deservedly wins the Nobel Peace Prize for having the courage to meet President Kim and at least trying to make a deal. And Trump didn't even BOW like Obama obsequiously did while handing billions in military aid to Saudi dictators.

"Two Norwegian lawmakers representing the populist party in the country’s legislature have nominated President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The lawmakers told their local media that Trump has “taken a huge and important step in the direction of the disarmament, peace and reconciliation between North and South Korea.”

Anna Radicalova said...

Had to add this from George Manbiot piece in the Guardian titled 'Donald Trump Was Right. The Rest of the G7 Were Wrong' which applies to the North Korea negotiations as well:

"Trump was right to spike the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He is right to demand a sunset clause for Nafta. When this devious, hollow, self-interested man offers a better approximation of the people’s champion than any other leader, you know democracy is in trouble."

Jay–Ottawa said...

I'm all for Trump––he who increased the Pentagon's budget in fiscal 2018 by $54 billion or so (the accounting is impossible to pin down)––getting the Peace Prize. Such an absurdity would provide the world with perspective on the Nobel, just in case we hadn't recalibrated its merit when it was awarded in 2009.

The playpen of discussion in the high press and around lowly water coolers has been narrowed considerably since Bill Clinton came to power with the New (or Centrist) Democrats. Sure, hard Lefties and true Progressives continue to jeer at the hypocrisy and senselessness of neolibs and neocons, but haven't we radically lowered our standards and expectations along the way? Have we lost all sense of what is really good, if not ideal? Why must I keep trying to meet crooks and hawks halfway, and more than halfway, instead of demanding more before extending my thanks?

Crumbs that fall from the tables of the powerful are examined under a microscope by recipients. Wow! One nuke power has begun to walk back from the nuclear brink. A big deal. A big crumb, considering the yellow cake still on the table. What of the other eight trigger-happy nations in the nuclear club? Perspective alert! The joker who continues to make these weapons more deadly, continuing Obama's expenditure of one trillion $ over the next decade, is getting all kinds of good press. Deservedly [cough].

We compare Trump's deeds to those that Hillary might, or might not, have wrought. We hold neither of them to a high standard. Wishful thinking and style, especially a flashy style, is what it's all about. Having been surrounded by neolibs, neocons and neojournalists for a few decades, we've forgotten our original expectations and become more accepting of their low-slung standards, which means more lies, more injustice, more waste and more death to come.

Justice, the broad concept developed by the ancients, was a significant advancement in civilized thought. Today, that kind of thinking and expectation is viewed as unrealistic. Universities are dropping PHILO 101 as a core requirement. We've come to accept the standards of hell as the new normal.

Good people, where? Good people in charge? Ha! More naive and unrealistic expectations. If you want a hearing in this world, if you want to get ahead, don't hold anyone, including yourself, to a high abstract standard, one that really benefits humanity.

Fewer and fewer people believe in humanity. Humans have such high potential. Americans, like people everywhere, have the power to become creators; but they spend more than half their discretionary budget on perfecting the power to destroy.

We know of a few admirable historical figures––and maybe even a few characters with admirable qualities in our families or right down the street––who have measured up to the full potential of humanity; but they are routinely dismissed as the exceptions. It's not that we do or don't believe in Plato or the gods. The problem is that we don't believe in humans.

Realists tell us not to let the perfect edge out the good, or even the acceptably corrupt. Always look at the bright side. Stay positive, even if you have to twist your brain into a pretzel to keep from saying Trump disgusts you.

With apologies to James Agee, Let Us Now Praise (in)Famous Men, as most reasonable people have been quick to do since Air Force One took off from Singapore.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Very enlightened essay and comments. Kudos all around.

Anna Radicalova said...


To paraphrase another one of my 'heroes', Donald Rumsfeld, *cough*cough, you deal with the Hell you have, not the Heaven you might want or wish to have at a later time.

I haven't lost my ideals, I'm just acknowledging the world as it is. Remember that the Democratic 'good guys' like Clinton and Obama didn't just let us down, they made things worse with NAFTA, repeal of Glass-Steagall, TeleCom Act, the Crime Bill, free passes for bankster criminals, massive expansion of global arms sales and the war machine, etc. It's Capitalism, baby.

So sue me for looking for some inadvertent positive side effect of evil Capitalism, like avoiding nuclear catastrophe by making deals with North Korea which I suspect is about acquiring cheap labor and expanding markets without the devastation of dropping bombs first - other than the millions already bombed and killed 60 years ago.

If I may so impose, here is a comment I recently wrote to the NYT which relates to the suicide epidemic. I don't believe in adjusting to a sick society by going along with the program as the frickin' Democratic Party and the rest of militarized America has, but I do believe we need to look for crumbs that may someday turn into loaves of bread.

A 'public health crisis'? More like the spiritual death that MLK warned about over 50 years ago in his 'Beyond Vietnam' speech. He was assassinated but we must not let his words also die despite corporate efforts to bury THESE words:

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” MLK

50 years later we're way Beyond Vietnam and up to our eyeballs in the Big Muddy of endless corporate war profiteering in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Niger, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen while building up expensive nuclear 'defenses' for wars against Iran, Russia, and North Korea, all the while running secret special ops everywhere in our global military EMPIRE of upwards of 1000 bases in 100's of countries - while our own country falls apart.

RIP, America. The suicide epidemic is a symptom of a profoundly sick society. The triplets of evil that MLK warned about - militarism, materialism, and racism - are killing us. There are many truth-tellers like Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, et al, but the handful of corporate owners who control 90% of all media keep them silenced, blacked out, and blackballed so that only the Gospel of Prosperity is preached. It's time for some real soul searching.

'It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.' Jiddu Krishnamurti

After 50 years of committed but ultimately futile anti-war, environmental, and union activism, I admit that eating crumbs is all I have left. At least it's keeping me alive spiritually even if not well-adjusted mentally. Yes, I cheer Peace for Profits over War for Profits, as pathetic as that is.

Pass the crumbs, please.