Saturday, February 18, 2017

My Notes on Trump, Bannon, Lenin, and 'Enemies of the People'

On Friday, the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, blasted out a couple of tweets in which he cited what he called "FAKE NEWS" publications and networks, damning the media as "the enemy of the American people." 

It was an interesting choice of words for someone who is heavily influenced by Steve Bannon. As The Daily Beast reported in August, Breitbart's Bannon not too long ago claimed he wanted to emulate Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin and "destroy the state." Now he is the president's most powerful advisor.

Following is an excerpt from The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, by Stephane Courtois et al, translated from the French and published by Harvard University Press in 1999:

















This is the tweet in question:
The day before, at the now infamous press conference where Trump vowed to speak past the reporters in the room to address "the American people," his efforts to dodge simple and direct questions were quite extraordinary, sometimes verged on the hallucinatory, and ultimately were self defeating. 

When a sympathetic Orthodox Jewish reporter, Jake Turx, working for Ami Magazine, a Jewish publication asked a carefully phrased question in which he said he did NOT believe Trump or anyone close to him is anti-Semitic, but wondered what the president would do to stop the marked rise in anti-Semitic attacks and threats in the U.S. since his election, Trump took this as a personal insult.

This is from the CNBC transcript:


... Trump: How much longer should we stay here, folks? Five more minutes, is that okay? Five? Wait, who is, I want to find a friendly reporter. Are you a friendly reporter?
Reporter: I'm friendly.
Trump: Watch how friendly, he is. Go ahead.
Reporter: So, first of all, my name is Jake [ inaudible ] magazine and, I, despite what so many colleagues might be reporting, I haven't seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-semitic. However, what we are concerned about and what we haven't really heard you address is an uptick in anti-semitism and how in this climate you're going to take care of it. There have been reports out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people who are committing anti-semitic acts or threatening to --
Trump: You know he's said that he's going to ask a very simple, easy question. And it's not. It's not a fair question. Sit down. I understand the rest of your question. So here's the story, folks.
Number one, I'm the least anti-semitic person you've seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person. In fact, we can very well relative to other people running as a Republican — [ inaudible ] [[Turx, still deferential, is trying to follow up]]
Quiet, quiet, he lied about getting up asking a straight, simple question, so, you know, welcome to the world of the media.
Let me just tell you something, that I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me, and you heard the Prime Minister. You heard Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday. Did you hear him? Bebe, he said, "I've known Donald Trump for a long time. Then he said, forget it." So you should take that instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question.
Go ahead.
Reporter: thank you, I'm Lisa — ...

It would have been so simple for Trump to say the government would not tolerate anti-Semitic incidents such as those described; the FBI is investigating, and so on. No. Somehow this question was about him.

But the strangest and most disturbing exchange, because it directly affects national security, came when the CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett asked about recent obvious provocations and tests of American resolve by Russia. Again, it was the kind of question that could have been batted down with reassuring platitudes. But no. Trump twisted the situation to blame the American press for Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior, essentially letting Putin off the hook. Truly amazing ...:



Reporter: Mr. President, you mentioned Russia. Let's talk about some serious issues that have come up in the last week that you had to deal with as president of the United States.
Trump: Okay.
Reporter: You mentioned the spy vessel off the coast of the United States.
Trump: Not good.
Reporter: There was a ballistic missile test that many interpreted as...
Trump: Not good.
Reporter: ...a violation of an agreement between the two countries and a Russian plane buzzed a U.S. Destroyer.
Trump: Not good.
Reporter: I listen to you.
Trump: Excuse me, when did it happen? It happened when, if you were Putin, right now, you would say, hey, we're back to the old games with the United States. There's no way Trump can ever do a deal with us because the public — you have to understand, if I was just brutal on Russia right now, just brutal, people would say — you would say — oh that's wonderful, but I know you well enough, then you would say, oh, he was too tough, he shouldn't have done that. Look.
Reporter: I'm just trying to find out your orientation to those.
Trump: Excuse me.
Reporter: I'm just trying to find out what you'll do about it, Mr. President.
Trump: All the things you mentioned are recent because probably Putin assumed he cannot make a deal with me because it's politically not popular for me to make a deal, so Hillary Clinton tries to reset. It failed. They all tried.
But I'm different than those people, go ahead.
Reporter: How are you interpret those moves and what do you intend to do about them? Have you asked Rex Tillerson for any advice or counsel how to deal?
Trump: I have. I have and I'm so beautifully represented, I'm so honored that the senate approved him. He's gonna be fantastic.
Reporter: Is Putin testing you, do you believe, sir?
Trump: No I don't think so. I think Putin probably assumes that he can't make a deal with me anymore because politically it's unpopular for a politician to make a deal.
I can't believe I'm saying I'm a politician, but I guess that's what I am now. Look, it'd be much easier for me to be tough on Russia but then we're not going to make a deal. Now, I don't know that we're going to make a deal. I don't know. We might. We might not.
But it would be much easier for me to be so tough, the tougher I am on Russia, the better, but you know what? I want to do the right thing for the American people, and to be honest, secondarily, I want to do the right thing for the world. If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along, and don't forget, we're a very powerful nuclear country, and so are they.
There's no upside. We're a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I've been briefed. I can tell you one thing about a briefing, that we're allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other. They're a very powerful nuclear country, and so are we. If we have a good relationship with Russia — believe me — that's a good thing, not a bad thing.
Reporter: So when you say they are not good, do you mean…
Trump: Who did I say is not good?
Reporter: No when I read off the three things that have recently happened each one of them you said are not good…
Trump: No, it's not good but they happen…
Reporter: Do they damage the relationship, undermine this country's ability to work with
Trump: They all happened recently, I understand what they are doing because they are doing the same thing.
Now, again, maybe I'm not going to be able to do a deal with Russia, but, at least, I will have tried, and if I don't, does anybody really think that Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Russia than Donald Trump? Does anybody in this room really believe that?
Okay. But I'll tell you one thing, she tried to make a deal. She had the reset. She gave all that valuable uranium away. She did other things. You know, they say I'm close to Russia. Hillary Clinton gave away 20% of the uranium in the United States. She's close to Russia. You know what I gave to Russia? You know what I gave? Nothing.
Reporter: Can we conclude there will be no response to these particular provocations?
Trump: I'm not going to tell you anything about what response I do. I don't talk about military response.
I don't say I'm going in Mosul in four months. "We are going to attack Mosul in four months." Then three months later, "we are going to attack Mosul in one month." "Next week, we are going to attack Mosul." In the meantime, Mosul is very very difficult.
You know why? Because I don't talk about military, and I don't talk about certain other things. You're going to be surprised to hear that. And, by the way, my whole campaign, I'd say that, so I don't have to tell you.
Reporter: Right, so there will be a response?
Trump: I don't have to tell you. I don't want to be one of those guys that says, "yes, here's what we're going to do." I don't have to do that. I don't have to tell you what I'm going to do in North Korea...
Reporter: In other words, there will be a response.
Trump: Wait a minute, I don't have to tell you what I'm going to do in North Korea. And I don't have to tell what I'm going to do with Iran. You know why? Because they shouldn't know.
And eventually, you guys are going to get tired of asking that question. So when you asked me, what am I going to do with the ship, the Russian ship as an example, I'm not going to tell you. But hopefully I won't have to do anything, but I'm not going to tell you. Okay.
Reporter: Thanks.

In point of fact, Trump got across his message very well to his core constituency. Putin's not the problem, he's not the problem. His tweet the next day was just a summation: the media are "the enemy of the American people."


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