So Inauguration Day in Washington came across as a decidedly odd, even slightly unsettling, affair: which is perhaps the only fitting end-point for what has been a decidedly odd, even slightly unsettling, presidential race.
What was most striking about the scenes is how low-key, even grim, the mood and atmosphere was, feeling slightly more like a Soviet-style event than an American presidential inauguration. Something similar was noted by Russian chess legend Garry Kasparov recently in regard to Trump’s first press event.
This was perhaps more noticeable in contrast to Barack Obama’s inauguration and the enthusiasm, spiritedness and optimism that had infused that entire affair – an event that had been characterised by a sense of hope, momentum and cultural unity. Regardless of what you may or may not think about Obama’s presidency after the fact, the mood and tone of his victory in 2008 and his inauguration in 2009 was something extraordinary, particularly after what had been eight years of a deeply unpopular Bush-fronted Cheney/Rumsfeld Neo-Con regime.
By contrast, Friday’s events saw a departing president with one of the highest approval ratings on record handing over to a president-elect with possibly the lowest approval rating in recent memory: naturally, the inauguration was going to end up reflecting this somewhat.
Even so, I’m not sure it was supposed to look and taste more like a funeral than a ceremony.
The new White House press secretary just claimed the inauguration had the largest ever attendance for a presidential inauguration: this clearly isn’t true and almost every outlet – both in the US and abroad – has said it was one of the smallest attendances. The matter actually wasn’t much helped by laying down white plastic sheeting when it rained, as this only served to highlight empty spaces.
Trump – clearly a man with a massive complex – himself has now been quoted as saying any media outlets that “lied” about the size of his attendance will ‘pay a price’ for their lies.
The problem now, however, is that various MSM are going to continue trying to operate against Trump for some time: while Trump’s administration – and its Alt-Right allies – will also continue with the lies too.
Essentially, it will be an ongoing quagmire of lies and counter-lies, which will make it very difficult for most people to ascertain the reality.
In my first post of this year, I went slightly off-script into a meditation on reality and more specifically on how recent events were prodding at my sense of reality. The reason I began the year with that subject was because it had a lot to do with how I was starting to perceive political situations that were unfolding, feeling a bit like the alternate-reality ‘Pottersville’ in the Frank Capra movie It’s a Wonderful Life.
Some of what is happening now feels like a continuation of that theme, where reality appears to be a work of fiction, or at least heavily echoing fiction.
I’m also continuously caught somewhere between wanting to be positive about Trump and some of his ideas and wanting at the same time to be on-guard against dark forces and dangerous shifts in Western civilisation.
It’s a difficult balancing act – much more difficult than what most people do, which is to either go all-out against Trump or go the fully opposite ‘Trump as Savior’ route.
LBC presenter, Ian Dale – who is generally center-right in his views and who, prior to Friday, had generally been fair and non-hostile in his view of Trump – was genuinely alarmed by Trump’s speech and immediately likened it to Mussolini. This came from someone who, until the speech, had actually been fairly sympathetic towards Trump’s movement.
The problem of course is that fascists tend to arrive as timely saviours with good intentions of restoring their given nation to some vague sort of mythical past glory: typically, some of what they say in the early stages may even sound very positive, particularly the idea of cleansing corruption from the system and giving power back to ‘the people’. But billionaire playboys with abysmal track-records aren’t renowned for selfless service – and Goldman-Sachs isn’t renowned for having great compassion for the common people. Also, Hitler – to a point – could be said to have accomplished some very positive things in terms of Germany’s domestic needs, particularly economically: the problem is he also did a whole bunch of very fucked-up stuff too – all of which rendered his other results completely irrelevant.
Some of the signs and trappings of the Inauguration Day events were ill-boding.
For the record, the “America First” meme that was clearly emphasised in the speech has its roots in US Nazi sympathsiers in the 1930s who advocated appeasement of Hitler and abandonment of Britain in the war. Whether Trump himself is aware of that is unclear: but, given who his advisors and managers are – including the Breitbart man Steve Bannon – it is very likely that he knows exactly what he is alluding to with that reference.
‘America First’ as a general indicator of economic policy is absolutely fine and even sound: but ‘America First’, if applied as a deliberate allusion to the 1930s, really isn’t fine at all.
By the same token, some of what Trump claims to be for and about is also perfectly fine and even sound: but the reality depends heavily on how much of it is an act and how much of it is very clever manipulation to cover up or dilute other agendas. Which, again, given the inextricable involvement of the ‘Alt-Right’, Steve Bannon, and even shady figures like Blackwater mercenary founder Erik Prince, is entirely possible.
The problem is that we truly are in the ‘post-truth’ age, where a war of ‘fake news’ is being waged on both sides, making reality more difficult to distinguish than it has ever been.
In this post-truth era we’re now in, all bets are off.
Trump could be a well-meaning patriot/savior – or he could be the death of America, the same way Erdogan and Putin have respectively established corrupt and ‘democratic’ dictatorships in Turkey and Russia respectively.
Half of what CNN reports about Trump is probably false: but most of what the ‘Alt-Right’ is reporting is also utterly fake.
My policy – as best as I can manage it – is to trust neither side and to look for the ‘facts’ that appear to be the most true, the most verifiable or the most logical.
And this is the approach I have tried to maintain when talking about Trump: when I posted about the array of nutjobs populating the Trump arena, it was all based on actual, factual statements that those individuals have made – and not on speculation. And the people protesting en masse against Trump are not protesting based on unverified conspiracy theories or ‘fake news’, but based on things that have clearly been said and are on record.
That’s why I’ve never said a word about ‘Pizza-Gate’, but did say plenty about why Hillary Clinton was an international criminal who had no moral right to the presidency. And when we come to Trump’s inauguration, I think it’s excessive when people compare Trump potentially to Hitler or Mussolini (the real comparison, I would say, would be to more contemporary figures like Putin or Erdogan).
To add to all of these considerations and bad imagery, we also learn, apparently, that Trump and people in his team had originally wanted a Soviet-style military parade (with tanks and missile launchers) to accompany the inauguration – which is, frankly, an extraordinarily bad sign. We are told the idea was abandoned because military officials thought it would send out very negative signals.
But Inauguration Day got weirder and worse.
Donald Trump’s inauguration sermon was called “When God chooses a leader”. The private service at St. John’s Episcopal Church that preceded the inauguration was delivered by a Trump supporter named Robert Jeffries, who notoriously leads a ‘mega-church’ in Dallas.
And who is this religious figure who performed this ceremony on Inauguration Day and ran with the ‘God’s Chosen Leader’ theme?
Jeffries has, among other things, previously drawn attention for preaching that Catholics follow a religion created by Satan, that Mormons are essentially Satan-worshippers, that Islam is created by Satan and Muslims are “evil”, and that homosexuals are linked to pedophilia.
He also claimed that Barack Obama was “paving the way” for the ‘Anti Christ’. Which, come to think of it, is an improvement on the general, low-IQ right-wing evangelical trend of portraying Obama as the Anti-Christ himself: but it is also rather disingenuous, as this suggests the ‘Anti Christ’ must therefore actually be Donald Trump; but whatever.
But it is no small symbolic matter that this is the man the president chose to perform the religious ceremony preceding his inauguration.
In fact, I already spoke about the somewhat Messianic delusions that surround Trump – how much of it exists in his own head is unclear, but there are certainly scores of zealous supporters who bizarrely see him in that light.
The weirdness (and disingenuousness) continued onto the first Inaugural Ball, with the newly-inaugurated President Trump arriving at a venue filled with enthusiastic supporters, accompanied by his odd, supermodel wife, and stepping on stage to enjoy his ceremonial dance with Melania (soon joined by Mike Pence and his wife). Trump had wanted Sinatra’s classic ‘My Way’ to be the soundtrack to this moment – a request emphatically mocked by Nancy Sinatra.
In the end, an appallingly bad cover-version of the immortal Sinatra song was played; but even in this carefully choreographed event, there was an unintended problem: while Trump had very good reason to choose that song – as its lyrics in large part do fit nicely with the story of this presidential campaign – he and his advisers clearly didn’t realise how ominous the song’s first line would appear. As Donald and Melania took to the stage in an embrace, it was accompanied by the line “And now the end is near…”
In the interests of fairness and balance, I will say that there were hints of positives in Trump’s speech. His reference to all Americans of all colours “bleeding the same colour” was at least an attempt to encourage some degree of unity; his pledge to not want to impose American values or will upon other nations is also a very encouraging sign, given the catastrophes that have come from US foreign policy.
And there is still a part of me wanting to give Trump a chance – a chance he now has, of course.
But the ill omens are so numerous, the background players so ominous – and the Inauguration event itself so eerie – that this proves more and more difficult.
I maintain, however, that the worst thing that could happen now is Trump – for any reason – being removed from the presidency; because the last thing we should want is any of the morally dubious figures around him to take his place.
I also still think it is very possible that Trump himself is a pawn – or, to borrow a Soviet phrase, “a useful idiot” – who is being used to service agendas other than his own.
But in the age of ‘fake news’, who the fuck knows anymore?
For the record, I’m still not saying (at least not categorically) that Trump or his people are ‘fascists’ in the classic sense or that any kind of blatant dictatorship is on the horizon. There is also a difference between nationalism and fascism. He may even end up doing some good (there are several ways in which he very much could do good – particularly in foreign-policy and possibly in jobs creation, though it should be noted that, contrary to all the right-wing anti-Obama propaganda, Obama has actually presided over one of the biggest spells of continuous jobs growth in US history): I would suggest, however, that all of us need to very much have our guard up and watch closely, not just in the context of domestic American affairs, but in the context of how what now happens in the US may influence what is happening with the rise of the Far Right in Europe.
The arrival of the new administration in the United States very much plays into what France’s Front-National leader Marine Le Pen recently prophesied was “the new world” (or ‘new world order‘?) coming into being.
After Trump’s inauguration speech, prominent leaders of the Far Right in Europe – including Marine Le Pen and Holland’s Geert Wilders – came together in celebration and a show of force, taking Trump’s victory as a symbolic indicator of how this year could see several major Far-Right victories in Europe that could drastically alter the fabric and nature of European civilisation in concert with the potentially drastic course-change that could be occurring in America.
Whatever Donald Trump’s own nature is or his intentions are (good or bad), what continues to bother me is that he has been very reticent in discouraging Far-Right elements in his own circle or disavowing the statements of solidarity from the KKK or American Nazi Party, as well as from European Far-Right entities like Geert Wilders. He has either done this through negligence or because he doesn’t want to separate his movement from their movements – if it is the former, I would hope he clarifies the matter as soon as possible.
The nature of Western civilisation, societies and values, could very much be in existential danger – and if you think Trump’s inauguration has nothing to do with it, you’d be kidding yourselves. In this broader context, a recent comment (that I previously talked about) by Trump’s Breitbart/Goldman-Sachs campaign manager Steve Bannon remains all the more concerning: “Darkness is good,” he said. “That’s power.”
Again, what Donald Trump really needs to do – and which he didn’t seem to do very much in his Inauguration speech – is clarify his own values and disavow those elements or factions that he should, in theory, not wish to be associated with.
Otherwise, those associations and links will linger in people’s minds and suspicions; and dark, unsavory elements and factions – both in America and abroad – will continue to attach themselves to Trump’s campaign and momentum, regardless of whether he agrees with them or not.
I’m not trying to be mean, but it’s difficult to find much coherency in the viewpoints presented here. I want to make clear that I’m not a Trump fan, nor am I a Hitler fetishist, but this ubiquitous paranoia about “fascism” in relation to Trump is just silly. Trump is a civic nationalist at best and isn’t the least bit interested in race. He actually smeared Pat Buchanan as a Nazi sympathizer back in 2000 in much the same way that people have been smearing him since he declared his candidacy for the presidency. Trump’s history of associations is so saturated in Zionism that any suggestion that there is anything “Nazi” or “Nazi sympathizer” about Trump just comes across as comedy. The “KKK or American Nazi Party”? That crap barely even exists outside of FBI/ADL operations. Demanding that Trump denounce their endorsement is like demanding that he denounce some random hooker in Detroit who voted for him.
A Zionist pharmaceuticals billionaire, Stewart Rahr, has been backing the idea of a Trump run at least since 2011, when he established the ShouldTrumpRun.com website, and his campaign was directed by Michael Glassner, who was involved in privatizing the WTC for Larry Silverstein, whom Trump has described as a friend. Trump did a notorious campaign ad for Benjamin Netanyahu, and his top advisor is the son of Charles Kushner, who sponsored a Mossad asset’s insinuation into New Jersey Governor McGreevey’s administration. And never mind that Trump’s children literally sleep with Jews. Look out for those Nazis! Trump can’t stop blabbering about Israel, and made a prominent appearance at AIPAC. How many “Nazi” alarm bells are there in this post vs. the one lonely little reference to Israel? And “the presence of Steve Bannon always suggests the possibility of a Goebbels/Nazi-style operation going on beneath the surface”? That’s pretty funny considering that Breitbart was by its own admission conceived in Israel.
It’s particularly sad, in view of your quite justified objections to the destruction wrought by American foreign policy, that you insist on trotting out the pathetic “appeasement” and “Nazi sympathizer” smears (straight out of the neocon talk radio playbook) in connection with the “America First” slogan. “America First” was the rallying cry of those Americans like Charles Lindbergh who wanted to avoid sacrificing hundreds of thousands of their countrymen’s lives for the sake of the U.S.-taxpayer-facilitated Stalinist enslavement of half of the European continent and the genocide of the subjugated Germans. That sort of vilification of peace activism and the lazy comparisons of Trump to totalitarian figures from decades ago sound a hell of a lot like the way the mainstream media treated Muammar Gaddafi. It’s clear from the way you write about the Alt-Right that you barely understand what it is. Glancing at mainstream news articles calling Richard Spencer a sieg-heiling “neo-Nazi” and garbage like that isn’t going to be any better a source of information than the Rush Limbaugh show would be for truth about the plight of the Palestinians.
Icareviews, I take some of your criticism on-board, though not all of it.
Firstly, I was totally honest in the article about distrusting both sides of the divide in terms of info and propaganda – and entirely acknowledged that there are lies being told about Trump. I was anti Hillary for all of the presidential race and I tried to be more balanced about Trump. Now that he is in power, however, I don’t see why I should back off and avoid all scrutiny or criticism – as this is what much of the alt-media appears to be doing.
I didn’t compare him to Nazis or Hitler – I wrote that these comparisons weren’t as valid and that the more valid comparison/warning would be with the likes of Putin or Erdogan.
In terms of ‘America First’, I was simply making a historical connection to the phrase – but admittedly this might’ve been me falling into the ‘Nazi’ comparison trap a little too easily. I’ve generally sought to be balanced – but I wholly admit I may have failed a little here in that respect. I genuinely thank you for keeping me on my toes in that respect – as some others have done too – and pointing out where you think I’ve missed the mark.
I am neither pro nor necessarily anti Trump: I am not parrotting the stories being pushed by CNN or MSM – but reacting to factual statements and/or policy. I totally acknowledge I could be wrong in various respects.
Finally, in terms of me ‘not understanding’ the ‘alt-right’, I disagree with you and think I understand it well enough. A significant portion of it is Far-Right politics that has hijacked part of the alt-media movement in order to achieve its ideological goals. I actually don’t think Trump himself is ‘Far Right’ – but he is surrounded by and connected with people who are. And that is something I consider necessary to watch carefully and not just go along blindly with.
In terms of a lack of coherency in this article, I apologise: this particular post was more a case of reacting off-the-cuff with a general impression of a specific event.
Icareviews, also on the subject of Zionism/Trump – I’ve already covered that connection in other posts. I’m fully aware of Trump’s Netanyahu connections, as well as Steve Bannon’s connection to illegal settlement builders. However, you can be pro Zionist and anti-semitic at the same time: lots of them are. The European far-right is full of figures who support the right-wing govenrment in Israel and yet hate ordinary Jews.
So you guys are saying that you didn’t find the whole politcal correctness movement had become fascist? The constant monitoring and correcting of what you can say and think….? PC started well but really should have eased off when it’s objectives had been achieved.
On a different, how many of you have watched Hypernormalisation by Adam Curtis? It’s a BBC documentary so it’s stands to reason punches have been pulled but it remains very powerful.
I am deeply saddened that you (Burning Blogger) have been swept up in the tide of false reporting about the Inauguration and other events around Trump. Believe me when I say that these words get stuck in my throat because I despise the man but- watch some Alex Jones (eurgggh) footage around this. I have little time for the odious man but the mainstream media’s misreporting has been despicable
mez123uk, I understand where you’re coming from; but why do you think I’ve been swept up in ‘false reporting’ about the Inauguration. The lies about having had the ‘biggest inauguration ever’ was so pointless and counter-productive – it served no real purpose and represents the Trump team shooting themselves in the foot on day one. Completely avoidable.
In this article, and in all posts about Trump, I have made sure to be even-handed: I specified clearly in this post that I think Trump could do a lot of good, as well as the fact that MSM is engaged in lies about Trump and are going to be propagandising against him. But that doesn’t mean you therefore automatically trust everything that the Trump administration is putting out. You don’t get the truth by trusting one side exclusively over the other. And Alex Jones’s channel is one of the worst ‘fake news’ outlets out there. I am not being anti-Trump: I’m right in the middle – I think the guy should have every chance to do what he intends to do, but I’m also on-guard against dangerous things. You can’t pretend that everyone involved around the Trump administration and network is an angel – some of these people are highly dodgy individuals with bad records and who’ve made worrying statements. Most of alt-media is engaged in over-the-top praise and acceptance of the Trump administration – all I’ve done is to take a more cautious, wary position and flagged up various information and signs that I think people should be concerned about.
For the record, however, I do often watch what Alex Jones and Breitbart, etc, are saying, as well as BBC, CNN, RT and other MSM and various other sources – and try to ascertain what the ‘truth’ probably is. But it would be very unwise to dismiss everything in the MSM as ‘fake’ and to then therefore accept everything from the alt-right as ‘true’. More importantly, even ‘true’ information coming from sources that have an overriding – and possibly negative – agenda is also something to be on-guard against it.
I apologise, in any case, if this post bothered you. I was genuinely trying to be objective and analytical – but it’s possible I failed to come across that way.
Good job. Your write with a fairness in journalism that I miss.
Nice analysis and who would not agree that there is more than a whiff of fascism in the air. These are really scary times. I do however have doubts that any group has sufficient influence or indeed is skillful enough to engineer events with such precision that, for instance, Trump might be ‘tapped’ in advance by the powers-that-be or that Brexit was a wholly manufactured but cunningly disguised goal. More likely, I think is that often shit just happens and then the powers-that-be react quickly either to lessen the detrimental impact or else to swing it to their longer-term avantage. Brexit Britain becomes Global Britain, for instance – so you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t (and why wouldn’t they have fallback strategies?)
So this US election was to some extent already an establishment victory once Sanders was convincingly out of the race – Trump v. Clinton being basically a win-win for the bankers and the military-industrial complex. But then, maybe Trump is in fact more dangerous for all sides and so the establishment would have preferred the safer hands of Clinton, but since Trump won (indeed stole the vote) they now just work that bit harder to make sure he doesn’t get out of line (hence these attacks from the CIA which keep him on board with neo-con foreign policy). That’s a hunch obviously but it’s how it appears to me and you might justifiably ask so why let him steal the election at all – so another hunch is that the Republicans already had the levers attached already and would have stolen it whoever was their candidate (and then there’s the Koch bros of course).
It is really interesting to hear all kinds of informed opinions right now – and so thank you for detailing your own thoughts and especially so for being frank about your deep uncertainties. Times are uncertain and we should all recognise this. As for ‘fake news’, however, I very much dislike this new-fangled post-modern meme on two accounts: firstly, it is itself ‘fake’ in that it feigns novelty when ‘hoaxs’ have always been with us as has ‘propaganda’. Ask Bernays about ‘fake news’! But more importantly, I feel sure the term is honed to be targetted directly and solely at the alternative media outlets, denigrating us all by association. The aim to further shutdown or more simply confuse the debate Cass Sunstein style. Times are complicated… we might say “interesting” but no more “fake” than ever before – that’s my own opinion anyway.
Thanks; yes I agree, the fake news thing is probably designed to target swathes of alternative media. The problem is that swathes of alt-media *are* actually full of fake stories, which tends to undermine the real, legitimate research and online journalism. This is a ridiculous situation we’re not getting into, re ‘fake news’ and ‘fake media’. Discerning the truth in these circumstances is extremely tricky.
Excellent analysis. Deciphering the truth from among all the “fake news” will become a greater challenge as we move forward.
Perhaps the atmosphere at the inaugural was fitting and what’s needed. Still maintain, the bluster from Trump, and will “fix, fix, fix…” maybe, the worst aspect? Attempt some and some with restraints, knowing the powers that really be, but overly amping the ease and bang into boom times for the many – talk about setting up to fail? When moderate gains and safeguarding… (…here I go again, forgetting the deeper levers and global-ites). ‘Low approval’ – ? Reading your article has me identifying some people’s negatives as a different kind of encouraging. Less ‘him’ hope and moves more localised/activism. Showy marches isn’t where engagement might bring any better results. And convergences with libertarians and more open-progressively liberals, properly threatening to evil systems and darkest slaves. Beginning – me – to blab here. Best brief respond on a coupla things and be done: Re; ‘When God chooses a leader’ talk? (Didn’t…/and won’t be tuning in on this). Typically as, and Calvinism talking. I.e. everything is/what is. So talk of somehow specifics here, is a non sequitur. And how many were all hullabaloo and Cruz or Rubio? Again, like Trump’s overstating juggernaut claims. It’s ‘faith’ if measuring reality and calls a mountain a… and knows what a travail to pray thorough. Yes, fully-believe and rest in but whipped up presumption is rampant. // As for the anti-Christ, it’s here, personified and live: called, mainstream media. // My sense is Donald is the well meaning dreamer his history and manner seems to suggest. Like fake-Brexit – how controlled to linger? Bust-ups a-coming, and then we’ll see if the bold blond one, will give himself in true self-cost heroics. It’s far too convoluted to diminish his genuine stand for less elite-based compromise. Like you say, takes a tricky balance to hold. Good piece, could rabbit on but enough and chime on. Need this ‘neither and both’ input, thanks.