Murphy Must be Thrilled
The article at the end of this essay, from an obviously anti-Trump source, still reflects why the mainstream media has absolutely no credibility; I differ with the conclusion that they are finding some now.
In all of my political science classes I included a very brief module on linguistics where I taught about placing positive and negative charges on words in order to alter their emotional impact and consequently, the meaning of statements made. I stressed both the importance of recognizing and eliminating the charges if the quest is for the truth, or of manipulating it if one had gone over to the dark side (please excuse the Star Wars allusion) and were tasked with creating a specific reaction to favor an amoral or immoral patron. I have no doubt that all too many members of the mainstream media are a dark side force in this regard and in many instances much worse, abusing purported speculation and polls to create erroneous perceptions advantageous to their patrons, crossing over from the quest for truth associated with sciences to the creativity associated with art . I am a huge believer in the role of art in politics where changing hearts and souls is vastly more important than merely making cogent arguments, for example, as in changing the social context in the current Colombian peace process, or in general, popular attitudes in favor of bellicosity, but also a huge believer in making clear the difference between fact and fiction (hmmm, the overuse of the word “huge” appears to imply a subliminal Trump influence).
As the article demonstrates, media inaccuracy and hypocrisy is not a new phenomenon and if one studies history objectively (not easy as that study suffers from a related malady), one quickly finds that American “journalism has always suffered from that discrepancy and frequently, as vituperously as it does today (see, e.g., the journal wars between Hamilton, Jefferson-via-Madison and Burr at the beginning of our republic as portrayed in Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton).
That Donald John Trump is an unusual character in the presidency is obvious, seemingly an unlikely combination of Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson and Ulysses Sam Grant, but without their polish (hmmm, polish may be a bit strong in several of the examples), albeit with significantly more real life, non-bellicose experience. I don’t believe he’s a liar I but do believe that he is very careless with facts, frequently mistaken and not all that concerned when he is. His life seems writ in metaphor and had he taken one of my courses, he would have used the module on linguistics in much the same manner the mainstream media does: both proud denizens of the dark side. However, I also note that Mr. Trump enters office beholden to few (if any). With the possible exception of Jimmy Carter, I recall no one more free of obligations to powers-that-be and thus, in a position to avoid traditional political corruption regardless of allegations and accusations that such personal economic independence creates the probability that power will be abused for personal gain (a canard in my opinion, at least for now).
I have very mixed feelings towards President Trump’s policies.
- I wholeheartedly approve of those seeking to deescalate and avoid involvement in bellicose activities, to withdraw from the anachronistic NATO (purportedly defensive) military alliance and to improve relations with Russia. I also wholeheartedly approve of his plans for infrastructure reform and meaningful job creation.
- I utterly oppose his Israeli directed stances on Iran and the Palestinians and related support for Middle Eastern dictators. I oppose his environmental and energy policies. I oppose his deregulation directives although I feel regulatory reform is way past due, albeit in the direction of designing and implementing real regulation rather than just entry level obstacles promotive of monopolies. I oppose his attitudes on personal sexual and reproductive rights. I oppose his adherence to the belief in American exceptionalism (noting, however, that the media appear to have forgotten adherence to such beliefs by former president Obama and Mrs. Clinton).
- I believe in free universal, single payer healthcare in the form available in much if not most of the world and recognize that Obamacare was a success more than anything, as with most aspects of the Obama administration (with which I was admittedly very disillusioned), in mere symbolism, but meaningful symbolism. Since we have no idea what the GOP and the President propose as an alternative to Obamacare, I can neither support nor oppose it (yet) but I do note that Obamacare had to be changed or replaced as it has failed to work as promised.
- As an immigrant myself at a time when legal immigration was much less complicated, I am an avid advocate of immigration rights and of the benefits that immigrants bring to host states. They are almost always highly motivated, hard workers, dedicated to better lives for their offspring and usually, if they do not bring sophisticated skills with them, they assure that through education their offspring acquire them, to the great benefit of the host state. I am thus an advocate of liberal legal immigration which we have not had for many decades. With respect to refugees I possess both memory and morality and understand that the country that creates refugee crises has an unbounded moral, ethical and under international law, legal obligation to care for them. The United States is the world’s overwhelming creator of refugees as it engages in state destruction in the name of state building and regime change and thus most responsible for accepting and caring for refugees. Trump’s bombastic rhetoric on both issues has lent itself to cynical manipulation by the hypocritical mainstream media and Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is no better in its actions during the last two Democratic administrations than is Mr. Trump in his threats. Indeed, as Senators, both Obama and Clinton both voted in favor a wall with Mexico and the idea apparently originated with former president Bill Clinton. As to the purported Muslim ban, President Obama in fact already implemented one. They are peas in a pod, albeit Mr. Trump is at least honest in his admissions. I oppose them both, but, as to date Mr. Trump’s actions are still primarily inchoate, there is at least hope for improvement, albeit as slender as a spider’s thread.
- I am unsure of President Trump’s proposed international trade policies. The president of every state should always place the interests of its citizens first but taking into account short, intermediate and long term consequences of competitive policies. The latter especially requires adherence to win-win, rather than win-lose situations. Trump is frequently difficult to understand, probably deliberately so, but his posture may well be within the foregoing parameters. It is a truism that many states have avoided their responsibilities with respect to reciprocal trade through informal rather than formal means resulting in merely technical compliance with their obligations, and, in the Hobbesian world of international relations, other than the equally inappropriate use of bellicosity (either economic, political, military or clandestine), there are no effective measures to correct the resulting inequities. Examples of the foregoing have generated huge balance of payment problems for the United States, especially in Asia where cultural discipline avoids the need for formal anti-import barriers, which have been dealt with only through abuse of the dollar as the primary world trade currency and the use of international debt financing through sale of government debt. That the latter is unhealthy and unreliable and in the long term poses the threat of a sudden collapse of the United States and possibly the world economy ought to be obvious and President Trump seems inclined to address the problem through a restructuring of United States international trade agreements. However, the United States maintains a very positive balance of trade with many, many countries and a careless international trade posture, even if well meaning, could prove as disastrous as the danger it is meant to eliminate. Thus, resolution requires a very delicate balancing act and given President Trump’s personality, one might be inclined to feel more comfortable pitting him against a hurricane than implementing such subtle diplomacy. But, the problem is real and must somehow be dealt with.
Lately, the mainstream media’s seeming attempt to assist the Democratic Party in apparently precipitating a coup d’état against President Trump’s administration, either legally through impeachment or otherwise, has instead started to generate a backlash. I feel its tug. I find myself sympathizing with someone I’ve never cared for and who I opposed in the recent elections. While many were horrified (great friends and political allies among them) by his anti-press tirade at his February 15, 2017 press conference (yesterday as I write this), I was heartened by it and found myself chuckling at the media’s discomfort and rage. The unstoppable force of buffoonery meeting the unyielding wall of hypocrisy, what a sight, perhaps a sight for the ages.
It somewhat heartened me because I believe a successful coup against President Trump, legal or otherwise, would be terrible for both the country and the world, effectively putting an end to this stage of our political evolution and auguring in an age of what Mr. Trump’s most vocal opponents claim they believe him to be. Yesterday, at a taped interview for a local law school, I expressed my concerns that a coup, de facto or de jure, seemed to have been planned and that it seemed to be being orchestrated by a combination of the prior Obama administration, the Clintons, the “Deep State” and the mainstream media. That may or may not be the case as paranoia and hyperbole appear to be infectious diseases and I feel a touch of each, but today, I feel that Mr. Trump may not prove to be the pushover Richard Millhouse Nixon was and that is strangely comforting. To me the biggest danger to our purported democracy is that Mr. Trump’s opponents, either deliberately or due to poor planning, will create the monster they claim him to be, pushing him further and further towards autocracy as he reacts to their taunts and their threats. But in yesterday’s press conference he seemed content to fight them at their own game with their own weapons of choice and in the opinion of many, he emerged victorious. It remains, however, to be seen whether or not the victory will prove Pyric. The press has a long memory and in history as in fiction, the ending is whatever the author wants it to be.
Perhaps in my naiveté (hopefully an endearing trait), I believe that credibility is essential to effectively challenging the things I oppose and encouraging those things that I support, and I believe that that by holding my fire for when it’s most appropriate rather than just throwing all the feces on which I can safely get my (gloved) hands at the (debate) wall, hoping enough of it sticks, my points will more often than not prevail if right, or that I will maintain the maturity and good will necessary to admit when I was wrong. That is what I plan to do with Mr. Trump, doing all I can, despite intense social and peer pressure from people I love and whose opinions I respect, to remain objective and to maintain balanced strategic, tactical and reactive perspectives.
So, … like much of the world, I wait with baited breath during this all too interesting experiment in brinksmanship, with most of the chips on the table and the cards all marked, … but all too variably.
Murphy must be thrilled.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved