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April 12th 2017 print

Peter Smith

Trumpophobia

There's a whole world of woe out there, a world of persecuted Christians and ISIS, al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, Al-Shabaab, plus Putin, Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping. But that's where the rest of us reside. The chattering classes are different. In their world there is only one peril, Donald J. Trump

trump demonI hadn’t tuned-in before. Dateline London is a weekly BBC news program. There is a presenter and four panellists drawn from foreign correspondents based in the UK. They discuss issues of the day. In the latest program President Trump’s Syrian attack bulked large understandably, with North Korea and China also part of the discussion.

I’m mentioning this program because the panel was evenly balanced between progressive and conservatives, Trump supporters and Trump ridiculers. Just kidding! Of course, the panel comprised one hundred (and ten) per cent progressives and Trump ridiculers. One woman panellist put herself in the position of the Chinese wondering how to deal “with the lunatic in the White House.”

It was business as usual, in other words. I am sorry I didn’t catch any of their names. Does it matter? Pick any four or five appearing on the BBC or from the mainstream media generally and you would likely get the same supercilious pap.

The presenter and panellists to a woman and man (three to two or was it four to one? It hardly matters and was hard to tell) were concerned about Trump acting erratically and plunging the world into turmoil. They alarmingly confessed to having no idea what he would do next. Surprisingly, he hadn’t brought them into his confidence.

Trump’s supposed erratic disposition is a figment. In fact he is doggedly pursing the agenda that he laid out in his campaign. Let’s face it; Trump isn’t the right sort of chap – not like, say, that nice, politically correct, Mr Trudeau. The talking heads want him to fail so badly they can taste it. It is nauseating to watch. One woman panellist revealingly expressed particular concern that some progressives had applauded Trump’s actions in bombing the Syrian airbase. That simply wouldn’t do.

But look, I get it, they don’t like Trump. I wouldn’t mind this so much if the panellists had just occasionally, just occasionally, left off their preoccupation with Trump’s disposition and discussed the unholy alliance between Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Assad in Syria and what it means; or the risks of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, or of North Korea fitting IBCMs with nuclear tips. Oh that’s too hard. Let’s concentrate on Trump’s latest tweet or on an purported dust-up between Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon.

Trump Derangement Syndrome means that the media has become besotted with psychoanalysing Trump, and also his family. Or sensationalising disagreements among his advisers; which, for the information of those who have not worked at senior levels in organisations, is both par for the course and often healthy. A lot healthier than groupthink.

The media have to be dragged into covering real issues. Look, I’m a Trump supporter. This biases my view. I appreciate that. So help me. Where exactly has the man stuffed up since becoming president?

Having an executive order on refugees stayed by hopelessly compromised activist judges does not count for much. Healthcare is notoriously difficult to handle. Trump’s first go failed. It will be time to dance on the grave of this campaign promise if he fails to repeal and replace Obamacare in the next year or two.

In the meantime, Neil Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court. What an outstanding achievement for a Republican president. He may get a chance to pick another one or two from his list of twenty-one conservative judges before his time is up. That would do more to preserve Western civilisation than anything else he could possibly do.

In the meantime, he is tearing down regulations, particularly those which Obama and his job-killing vandals at the EPA put in place; some right at the death of his administration. He has given the go-ahead to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. He has removed a host of other environmental obstacles to mining, including coal mining. He has set in motion the process of the rescinding the Clean Power Plan – designed to strangle the use of coal and other fossil fuels in the forlorn and pointless cause of reducing global CO2 emissions.

In the meantime, he has put forward a budget to increase military spending, build the wall, and cut the size of public service numbers; including, most notably, at the EPA.

In the meantime, his administration is working with congressional Republicans on a tax plan to reinvigorate the US economy and create jobs.

My point, without going on and on, is that Trump is pursuing his agenda. I happen to think it’s a good agenda. That’s by the way. What I don’t spot is cognitive dissonance – except among the media. What we are seeing from most of the media is unsavoury; and it is juvenile in elevating trivia over substance.

There are now two worlds. A phantom world created by the media in which Trump is the arch-villain incarnate. And, then there is the real, threatening world: the world of insidious identity politics, of job-killing environmental despotism, of ‘peaceful Islam’, of creeping sharia law, of worldwide Christian persecution, of ISIS, al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, Al-Shabaab (and many other Islamic terrorist ‘Als’), of Putin, Kim Jong-un, Ayatollah Khamenei and Xi Jinping.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [20]

  1. en passant says:

    Well said Peter,
    These issues are focused on by the talking heads because, umm, well, they are talking heads and the real world is nasty and unpleasant, so it has to be sugar-coated (or saccharined with faux sugar). That way we can describe murderous real attacks on ordinary people as ‘just an irritation’ we should ignore. FGM can be rationalised as a cultural issue, and Orwellian black can be made Big Brother White, just ask the DFAT cultural nonentity our taxes paid for on a trip to see the islamic wonders of the world.
    Surrender Latte is so much better than having to stand with rough men (and women) and fighting back, which is so distasteful and may even cause bloodshed when we should be negotiating and trying to understand the reason why they are psychopaths, particularly from an LGBTIQXYZ point of view.
    That said, Trump has had just two missteps a 37 wins so far, but less focus with laser precision on those missteps, shall we? I think his supporting the Obama-Lite ‘Ryancare’ was a mistake as Ryan is a disease who would be happy to see Trump fail.
    Secondly, the evidence is already mounting that Assad did not do launch a gas attack. He does not need gas to take out civilians when he needs all his weapons to kill bad guys. The simple Americans have fallen for this trick a second time and are picking on the only stabilising influence in Syria – which also happens to be the legitimate government, whether anyone likes it or not.
    How is that meme going that Trump is a Putin stooge?

  2. Bill Martin says:

    Goebbels famously said that if a lie is repeated often enough and long enough, it is eventually accepted as truth, or something similar. Unfortunately​, he was absolutely correct. Such is the case with climate change alarmism, president Trump’s failings, the facts about the religion of peace, the viability of socialism and any number of other seemingly controversial issues. There are enough people out there, not all of them stupid either, who, after hearing something over and over again, think “there must be something to it”. Far easier than looking into the matter to ascertain its veracity.

  3. Warty says:

    Time will tell, Peter, but there seems to be one area (only one) that I can identify, and it seems to be a doosey. Yes, it’s the Sarin gas attack business at the Syrian town Khan Sheikhoun.
    So someone hands the President a number of photos and he is alerted to some video footage of the same attack, with adults frantically hosing down affected children, surrounded by adults with outstretched arms, like so many ham stage actors and actresses. (I’m sorry, that’s what went through mind when I saw them). This was exhibit one, and, oh dear, there was no exhibit two.
    Then I heard our Major General Jim Molan (retired) on Sky I think it was, could have been 2GB, and he was differentiating between ‘strategic’ intel and the other stuff that fools George Bushes, Tony Blairs and John Howards into joining something called a Coalition of the Willing and launching a Desert Storm on Saddam Hussein. Now this cruddy intel, which fooled so many celebrity pollies, was backed up with satellite photos, and barn-storming interviews on Fox News, CNN, all our Aussie channels and your BBC. As you may remember, we all wanted Saddam’s guts on a BBQ skewer, not that I’d personally eaten any of it: I might have done a Malcolm and handed back the sammy with its serving of Saddam gut snag and muscled up to the ensuing media criticism (not that anyone would ever give me any coverage at all).
    So I got to thinking about Jimmy Molan’s account of this infallible strategic form of intel and wondered, well what if this too was wonky stuff? And Trump has launched 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Assad air base (one falling in the sea) based on this intel, and all those Hollywood CIA based conspiracy theory films came flooding in, and I was treacherous enough to say (quietly) to myself (sotto voce) ‘hmm I smell a rat’.
    Now, I love Trump, and I’m not for a moment saying that the bromance is being jeopardised in the slightest (I’m keeping the large picture in mind) but I must admit to having read all those reports that suggest Trumpy babe is using this possibly fake Sarin attack as a tokenistic means to shutting up his critics and demonstrating what a lily livered dud Obama was, in establishing his red line and then allowing Assad to cross it at will. Trump fires the missiles and kills 6 Syrian soldiers ( by one report) none (by another) and Democrats and Republicans become life long buddies. My late mother’s antipathy towards the Yanks comes strongly to mind, and I feel the beginnings of resentment about ‘Making America great again’ half surface. But I keep in mind the need for cleaning out the Washington swamp, hoping to God Trumpy is not taking a dip there with the likes of cuck conservatives Lindsay Graham and John McCain: there is only so much slime I can put up with as a dyed in the wool conservative.

    • Michael Galak says:

      Warty, I just love your cantankerous musings and your ability to smell a rat. Seriously, though, as the immortal Gipper(may he rest in peace) used to say -’if it walks like a duck…..most likely it is a duck’ . Here are my two bob’s worth of a discord , which I’d like to contribute.
      1. Saddam’s WMDs existence were part of the disinformation campaign, which he played out in the hope of convincing the USA and her allies that he is way too dangerous to trifle with, when the opposite was true. Just goes to show that when the big boys call one’s bluff – you better be ready to play ball with something substantial, rather than inflatable toys. Saddam’s got too good in this game of bluff and paid for it with his life.
      2. Let’s assume, that you are correct and there was no sarin gas attack by Bashar Assad airforce. Following your doubts, the suffering of the gas attack victims was played out by the actors, adults and children, which were paid by the hour for their performance. Pretty convincing, especially frothing in the mouths. This frothing , however, is the oldest trick in the book , as any military doctor would attest, designed to imitate an attack of epilepsy with the help of a small piece of soap in the rogue soldier’s mouth. I have seen it personally quite a few times. Therefore, it is possible, that the rat is there. Especially , considering that the airman, who dropped the bomb, was blown up in his car several days after the event and the Russian drone was detected bombing the hospital, where these ‘actors’ were treated. Plus, of course, the consideration that this is not the first time the Assad regime is accused of using the same weaponised poison gas and was protected by the Russians , who did not wish to see Assad bombed by Obama. Let’s agree with you and your sense of the political smell.
      Having said all this, (That’s where the punchline is coming)let me ask you a single question:
      Even accepting that what you say is correct(Which I do not accept) – does Assad not deserve a tincy-wincy Tomahawk to be sent his way as a reward for killing 400 000 (four hundred thousand) of his own people with or without the poison gas?

      • Doc S says:

        I agree, it stretches credulity to buy the Russian explanation that the gas attack was an elaborate set-up by the Islamic opposition and/or Assad’s aerial bombardment hit an Islamic rebel chemical weapons ‘factory’. Examination of the site and/or victims would readily confirm what Trump’s military intelligence told him – Assad dropped a nerve agent, most likely Sarin, on a rebel-held town. Apparently this has also been confirmed by the Turkish Health Service (however reliable they may be) after an autopsy on some of the victims. Fact of the matter is that nobody else in the region save the Assad regime possess such sophisticated chemical weapons like nerve agents Sarin or VX. The Islamic opposition groups particularly ISIL make and use crude chemical weapons like sulphur-based mustard gas and chlorine by packing them into conventional munitions or like IS did in Mosul, setting fire to mounds of sulphur. I note the Russian’s latest move was to veto a UN investigation in the Security Council, so no surprises there.

        To be clear, Assad has used chemical weapons on more than half a dozen occasions since Obama’s empty ‘red-lines’ threat and his claim (made again in December last year) that all of Assad’s chemical weapons capability had been ‘handed in’ (with the Russians supervising that UN mission), making everyone so much safer!

        This is the first time (we know of) that Assad has used a nerve agent (having previously used mainly chlorine which rapidly dissipates leaving little trace signature). Perhaps he judged that it was time to ensure regime survival this way because, well, Obama was such a pussy the Americans probably won’t do anything more than wring their hands (or so the Russians may have told him) – WRONG! Trump is not likely to get involved in the Syrian quagmire but he won’t let monsters like Assad get away with such obvious crimes against humanity either. Much to the chagrin of the legions of Trump-haters.

        Imagine if Obama had acted on his ‘red lines’ the first time Assad crossed them and created an air exclusion zone over Syria (which he had the power to do from the US military bases in Turkey). How many hundreds of thousands of lives might have been saved if that gutless Nobel Peace prize winning President had acted? Assad deserves all the Tomahawks he gets (and then some).

      • Warty says:

        Michael, I have to agree (albeit in good spirit) with your first point. Secondly, one has no idea whether or not the men and women were acting, though the lack of guile on the part of the rosy-cheeked child, who seem incongruously fascinated by the camera, did have me scratching my non-itchy head. But as for your conclusion, then I have to fall back on Tony Abbot’s default position: they are all baddies over there, so taking sides is rather like choosing between Stalin and Mao Zedong as the lesser of two evils: can’t be done.
        I found myself in seriously strange company when writing my response above, with the Greens on the one hand and a semi deranged Andrew Wilkie on the other. I don’t know what our Jacquie thinks about it all, if she thinks at all. Though I thought if I closed my eyes, I might imagine even the Pope agreed with me, but I have been drinking a fair bit of Clare Valley claret of late.

        • Michael Galak says:

          I could not agree more with your fall back Tony Abbott inspired position, Warty. There are no angels in this free for all civil war. The Bard described it even better, as a wish for a pox on both antagonists’ houses. I agree with him – religious/tribal barbarity does not pull my personal heart strings.
          My impression of Trump’s action is not of him taking sides though. Precisely because he is equally unimpressed by both(or as many as there are ) sides , the decision to fire missiles at Assad sends the message to all the baddies – use WMD and you will get clobbered, no matter who you are. As an equal opportunity employer, Donald Trump would impartially dish out his practical opprobrium to anyone who will start gassing people, whether they are combatants or not. That is my take on the situation. Besides, this , strictly speaking, is not a message for Assad – not at all. The actual recipient is Putin anyway.
          As to the ‘seriously strange’ company of yours – do not be alarmed. To restate the obvious – life is stranger than fiction. Now, about the really important stuff – I hope that this claret you’ve mentioned is giving you as much pleasure, as a good wine is supposed to. L’Chayim!

  4. Don A. Veitch says:

    If Trump implements the ‘American system’ economics of Henry Clay (tariffs, infrastructure, banking) and Andrew Jackson as he announced in Kentucky late March, then he has a fighting chance.

    Trump has a solid support base of only about 25%, another 20% is conditional support (waiting for jobs, less handouts for Wall st. Trump has to start winning on the economic populist front NOW. More sausage less sizzle!

  5. exuberan says:

    So refreshing to have an American Administration stand up to the Rogue States

  6. pgang says:

    Does anybody know whether Australia has any defence against missile attacks? Or are our cities basically defenseless in the nuclear age?

    • Doc S says:

      Essentially defenceless. Anti-missile air defence systems are attached to assets like warships or military bases which are scattered across the country mostly outside of our cities.

  7. Doc S says:

    I note former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans has joined the ranks of Trump-haters with an extensive bagging of Trump’s exercise of US foreign policy just reported by Another Bloody Communis… er sorry, ABC. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-13/gareth-evans-blasts-donald-trump-urges-pivot-to-asia/8441444
    Evans describes Trump as ‘most psychologically ill-equipped president in US history… Personally driven by instinct and impulse, unhampered by knowledge or judgment”. I suppose that also goes for all the room full of his military and intelligence advisors and experts present when he made the decision to bomb Assad’s air base. As for ‘psychologically ill-equipped’ and ‘driven by impulse’ as I recall there is testimony to Evan’s notoriously calm temperament and impulse-control with a plaque on the wall of his old office in Parliament underneath an ashtray-sized hole, flung in the direction of a staffer in one of Gareth’s more reflective moments. Pot – kettle – black anyone?

    • Doc S says:

      Evans provided no specific examples of this ‘acting on impulse’ in the article but he seems to suggest that Trump’s Tomahawking of Assad’s chemical weapon air delivery asset (also known as al-Shayrat air base) and his ordering of a carrier group to steam to Korean waters to counter the mad pygmy’s ballistic buffoonery as examples of Trump’s acting on impulse rather than policy. Bullsh*t of course. But that’s Gareth for you.

      If Kim Jong-Un tries firing anything at anything but empty ocean or well, North Korea – watch his missile facilities light up in a way that makes Assad’s airbase look like a fizzer on cracker night. Maybe China will get the message and effect a bit of regime-change before anything gets out of hand. With another 150,000 troops on the North Korean border one can but hope. Perhaps, just perhaps, Trump is exercising US foreign policy effectively for the first time in about eight years (or more).

  8. bullockornis says:

    [quote] unholy alliance between Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Assad in Syria and what it means; [/quote]

    what’s that all about? “unholy alliance” ?

  9. Jody says:

    Doah! Sean Spicer is on the gaff-mobile and represents the pointy end of Trump’s dysfunctional outfit. Americans; geography and history aren’t their strong suits but, please, if you’re the White House press secretary……….(groan).

  10. Keith Kennelly says:

    Naaah Jody the pointy end we saw this morning.

    The MOAB

  11. Keith Kennelly says:

    Look out Jodie your Trumpophobia is showing