31 January 2017

Trump's Soft Holocaust Denial: IOKIYAR

Donald Trump's statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day made it crystal that he is beholden to the Alt Right movement and the real president is the notorious white nationalist Steve Bannon.

This is what Trump said:
It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror. 
Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎ As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent. 
In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.
Do you see any sentence that refers to the systematic anti-Semitism which led to the massacre of six million Jews?

This is known as "soft Holocaust denial." Ask the leading Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt
The de-Judaization of the Holocaust, as exemplified by the White House statement, is what I term softcore Holocaust denial.
She first thought it was a rookie mistake and someone had screwed up. Then she read the defense provided by the White House:
In a clumsy defense Hope Hicks, the White House director of strategic communications, insisted that, the White House, by not referring to Jews, was acting in an “inclusive” manner. It deserved praise not condemnation. Hicks pointed those who inquired to an article which bemoaned the fact that, too often the “other” victims of the Holocaust were forgotten. Underlying this claim is the contention that the Jews are “stealing” the Holocaust for themselves. It is a calumny founded in anti-Semitism.
As Professor Lipstadt explains, there were millions of victims of the Nazi regime and no one is denying their suffering. But that is not what the Holocaust was:
 The Holocaust was something entirely different. It was an organized program with the goal of wiping out a specific people. Jews did not have to do anything to be perceived as worthy of being murdered. Old people who had to be wheeled to the deportation trains and babies who had to be carried were all to be killed.
To claim otherwise is soft Holocaust denial. Remember Mel-The-Passion-of-Christ-Gibson? This is the same argument he used:
 "I have friends and parents of friends who have numbers on their arms. The guy who taught me Spanish was a Holocaust survivor. He worked in a concentration camp in France. Yes, of course. Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps. Many people lost their lives. In the Ukraine, several million starved to death between 1932 and 1933. During the last century, 20 million people died in the Soviet Union." (h/t Atrios)
What is interesting, at least to me, is the subdued reaction to this issue.  

The New York Times did not cover it as a separate piece. It was mentioned bypassingly in an op ed on theocracy.

Most other publications quoted a tweet by the CEO of Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Jonathan Greenblatt. It was fairly tepid criticism.
“@Whitehouse statement on #HolocaustMemorialDay, misses that it was six million Jews who perished, not just 'innocent people',” Greenblatt tweeted.
What about other Jewish groups and leaders?

Well, the head of the World Jewish Congress Ron Lauder defended Trump's statement and slammed not the White House statement but ADL's criticism.

The combative Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer (who campaigned for Mitt Romney and raised money against Obama) gave a speech on the Remembrance Day to argue against the "universalization of the Holocaust" but did not mention the controversial statement.
“After the Holocaust took away so much from the Jews, we must not take the Holocaust itself away from the Jews,” Dermer said.
The Republican Jewish Coalition, heavily funded by Sheldon Adelson stated that not mentioning Jews was an unfortunate omission but they said:
 "As supporters of President Trump, we know that he holds in his heart the memory of the six million victims of the Holocaust, and is committed not just to their memory, but ensuring it never happens again.”
The Zionist Organization of America was also chagrined somewhat but that was the extent of it.

Doesn't that surprise you?

As Atrios put it:
I don't know if Trump has any idea that he signed a holocaust denial proclamation - though not knowing is no excuse - but Bannon surely did. Priebus knows. Spicer knows. This is not secret stuff. If Obama had done this, Republicans, Democrats, and everyone in the US media would have lost their shit until he resigned. It's that bad.
When Trump does it. Nothing.

And this is not the first time this is happening.

Here is a short list of Trump's recent exploits.
Trump was slow to denounced KKK leader David Duke. He deployed a meme that imposed a Star of David and Hillary Clinton’s face on top of a pile of money and was widely perceived as anti-Semitic — then refused to back down or apologize. He adopted the phrase “America First,” associated strongly with anti-Semitic isolationism in the United States before World War II. His son, Donald Trump Jr., said that if Republicans had behaved like Hillary Clinton, the media “would be warming up the gas chambers” — an odd choice of phrase that neo-Nazi websites celebrated
The campaign ad Trump employed to make his closing argument against Hillary Clinton was a collection of anti-Semitic stereotypes, featuring image of George Soros, Janet Yellen, and Goldman Sachs chair Lloyd Blankfein — all Jews — while accusing them of being global special interests who “control the levers of power” and “don’t have your interest in mind.”
 I never thought that anti-Semitism would get a pass in the US.

As I mentioned before, IOKIYAR is now officially the law of the land.

15 January 2017

Trump, Golden Showers and the Dangers of Feuding with Intelligence Agencies

Donald Trump was doing fine.

Just like Sarah Palin a decade earlier he was leading the corporate media by the nose through his early morning tweets. 140 characters at a time.

Since the elections, all his rubbish pronouncements made the headlines with reporters feverishly speculating about the upcoming Twitter Administration.

He criticized the sitting president, belittled his presidential record, sided with foreign powers against him, including with Russia over US sanctions, incited his trolls to make death threats to anyone who criticized him and viciously responded to any negative comments, regardless of the person's stature.

As we all know, if this was a Democratic President-elect, she would have been crucified, excoriated and accused of treason. But with the Republicans and especially with Trump there is the IOKIYAR principle at work and none of it caused any concerns or led to any serious discussions in the corporate media.

They wouldn't even bring up the point.

In any event, all was going swimmingly and the Orange Man began to feel emboldened.

When CIA and NSA went public with their concerns about Russian role in swaying the election to Trump, the thin-skinned buffoon assumed that this was an effort to minimize his electoral victory and went into attack mode.

First he made fun of them as incompetent fools who made serious errors leading to Iraq war. Then he ridiculed their conclusions and their questioning of Russia and worst of all, he made veiled threats about reforming and cutting down these vast bureaucracies.

Next thing we know, we have lurid descriptions of Donald Trump being peed on (which is what a golden shower is) by some Russian prostitutes in a Moscow hotel as an annex to a classified intelligence report submitted to the Gang of Eight.

Which ensured its becoming public in no time.

The corporate media which was treated by Trump not like a watchdog but like a stray dog to be kicked jumped in with glee. The word "kompromat" quickly became an essential part of the pundit lexicon, giving them an air of erudition.

In the ensuing breathless coverage, no one wanted to know the answers to some obvious questions:

1) Is Trump stupid enough to engage in such activities in Moscow hotels when he has access to many properties around the world which he could use much more safely for whatever fetish he might have?

I 'm not even questioning the implausibility of a scenario where a man with the most convoluted combover in history would pay to have it destroyed by warm bodily fluids.

Though, as one article noted, if true, it might explain the strange hue.

2) Secondly, if the allegations were true and the FSB taped him in compromising positions, would Kremlin be stupid enough to reveal their hand days before the inauguration?

Or to put it in terms we all understand: if you or I had material to blackmail the US President would we make it public before we had a chance of using it? And lose all leverage?

These allegations were known for at least six months by everyone in Washington. Every media outlet was approached with the dossier and none would use it or even mention it in their reporting.

If the content of the dossier was too weak to publish for corporate media who deals in falsehoods routinely, why would the intelligence agencies elevate these rumors that originated from opposition research into a classified report and share it with the Gang of Eight?

That is the question.

National Security State in Action

Here is what I think.

Trump may be a racist and misogynist buffoon but he is not stupid. He knows that his business is his brand. I don't believe for a second that he would engage in salacious activities in such a risky setting.

Because if the name goes so does the business.

Moreover, even if FSB managed to videotape him in one of his own hotels doing funny stuff, they would never in a million years talk about it. Especially if Russia was really behind the DNC hack and had a strong desire to see him becoming POTUS.

I don't have inside information, I am just going by Occam's Razor. It just doesn't make sense.

What is much more likely is the possibility that the US intelligence agencies, the cornerstone of the National Security State, (also known as the "Deep State") felt sufficiently threatened by the Orange Man to come out in the open with these innuendoes.

As Robert Parry notes, this was a move right out of Edgar J Hoover playbook. The message to Trump seems to be "look we know these allegations are bogus but we know of other stuff about you and we might have incriminating evidence on those."

They and not the Russians are the ones with the motive and opportunity. After all, they are the ones who attached it to a report and made sure it was leaked.

According to Glenn Greenwald, this is a perfectly plausible operation as CIA and other intelligence agencies were solidly behind the hawkish Hillary Clinton who was planning to let them loose in Syria. Whereas Trump was defending a rather isolationist and perhaps selective (Mafia-style) intervention policy.

There is also the fact that according to many media outlets, the "FBI was Trumpland."

And the non-stop leaks about her mail servers and Comey's double stunt about claiming "excessive carelessness" in handling her email server and announcing a fresh investigation weeks before the elections seem directly related to this animosity.

(In case you are wondering whether his judgement was warranted read my post on Clinton, as the email server story was pure, unadulterated BS from the beginning )

In any event, if, as I suspect, the golden shower story was leaked by the intelligence agencies to damage the President-elect, it points to a troubling trend.

For one thing, it indicates that these supposedly neutral bureaucracies are now quite politicized. There is no other term to describe a situation where the CIA supports one candidate and the FBI stands by her rival.

Also, it shows that they are no longer reticent about intervening directly into the political process and even altering the outcome of elections. While a new investigation was launched to determine whether James Comey the Director of the FBI acted inappropriately, since he was supporting the winner, I can safely predict that he will not be found guilty.

At this point I have two more questions.

What happens if the Donald decides to shrink the CIA and NSA and Homeland Security apparatus, as he has already announced? Will they quietly accept their fate, as they did in the past, or will they retaliate?

Thanks to Edward Snowden we know that these are enormously powerful organizations which acquired far reaching capabilities after 9/11.

And if these shenanigans are any indications, they are not likely to take anything lying down. I don't remember another situation the director of the CIA telling the next President "to watch his tongue."

So if I were the Orange Man, I would make nice with them, as Dixie Chicks put it.

And do so pronto.

Or we will very soon hear many more lurid stories about the Donald and his various proclivities.

As I keep saying, we live in interesting times.