Kicking the Nuclear Football, Colltalers
It’s been a month since Donald Trump received the keys to the White House, and we haven’t written about anything else. Which means that, at least in part, we’re all falling for his dangerous histrionics. That’s something not to be proud of, but there’s more to it than a mere cop out.
For after leaving out the reality show skills he uses to direct attention to himself, there’s always an underlying urgency that needs to be reported. From our part, we’d choose the North Korea incident at Mar-a-Lago, last Monday, and the reelection rally Saturday, both in Florida.
They’re but brackets of yet another deranged and utterly concerning assortment of acts taken and statements made by this administration. As it mishandles pretty much everything it touches, from spur-of-the-moment nominations to threats to dissenters to renewed efforts to kick Muslims and Mexicans out, a growing feeling of dread, along a sense of general alarm, starts to take hold of most still sane Americans.
Trump’s plans to give the ban a new push, and the ongoing nationwide raids and deportation of Mexican-Americans and Latinos in general, happen at a particularly ominous time: 75 years ago this past Saturday, up to 120 thousand Japanese Americans were forcibly moved to the infamous wartime internment camps. Most would spend there the next four years, in one of the darkest actions taken by the U.S. in WW2.
Also extremely serious is the administration’s declaration of war on the media, ‘officially’ launched on Wednesday, during a fittingly zany sideshow-like news conference. For over a hour, the president that the majority of Americans did not vote for chastised and berated members of the press, chose what questions to answer, and often preferred to go on unhinged digressions whenever he didn’t like what was asked.
Two moments stood out: one, when a journalist took the now rare instance of challenging Trump on his often repeated, and incredibly blatant, lie about the Electoral College vote; and when another, representing a Jewish organization, was unceremoniously told to ‘sit down.’
In the first case, the reporter did stand his ground, another rarity, and delivered the facts, which frontally contradict the president’s assertions. But while his question hit the target, there was no followup to it, and he seemed deflated amid a room full of frighteningly silent journalists.
The Orthodox questioner was clearly not up
to the task of calling on Trump’s anti-Semitism, and allowed him to walk all over, with claims about his self-acknowledged exceptionally. Both incidents, however, were cringe-inducing and should make us all appropriately alarmed.
It’s not only that fewer reporters, not more, are openly challenging Trump, in public, rather than on the safety of their newsrooms, when the TV soundbite has long being overtaken by the ‘Trumpian’ lie. Or that someone at least related to a crucial U.S. foreign policy debate, one about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, was shut down in plain view of the nation, and there wasn’t a strong media reaction to it.
The gravity of this, yes, Fascist ‘war on the press,’ seemingly lifted straight from Goebbels’ textbook, and followed closely by every dictator worth his death squads, cannot be overstated. There’s no democracy without free press, and intimidation of it is liable in the court of law.
Granted: the U.S. established media has to bear responsibility for promoting Trump to a presidential contender, giving him unlimited free airtime, even when it became evident that his rallies were awakening and energizing long dormant foes of civil rights. Since the campaign was generating a huge profit to big conglomerates, they raised no objections about the presence of white supremacists at his gatherings.
It’s actually disingenuous for them to cry foul now, and there’s a certain grace in the karma of CNN and others being tagged ‘enemies of the people,’ in the old Mao Zedong style. But make no mistake: they may be the target but have power enough to withstand the pressure and will,
eventually even join in. What’s at stake is the fate of individual expression and right to disagree, supported by small news organizations.
The thought of enraged crowds adopting this discourse, mistakenly convinced that facts reported are fake, as Trump has repeatedly stated, is terrifying. In the eyes of bootlicking members of his administration, the president should dictate the news, and the media, simply report it.
Of the two ‘brackets’ mentioned above, we begin with the second: a re-election rally on the first of a 48-month term. It may sound bizarre, but it’s certainly part of a big plan we don’t dare to imagine that it’s already in the works. Again, the reality TV shtick is to distract us from its real purpose: to familiarize everyone with the idea that there’s already a candidate to U.S. president in 2020, and you just can’t wait to meet him.
But the other horrifying news was the impromptu stunt put in full display at that Palm Beach resort now known as Winter White House (membership fee: $200K, with full access to the president, his cabinet, and family): once it was reported that North Korea had launched a test missile, Trump invited Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe, in an official visit, and whoever was at his table, to ‘deliberate’ the U.S.’s response.
Worst, other people also gathered around, including someone kind enough to use her own cellphone (with the camera disabled… just kidding) to light up the paperwork laid down on the dinner table. It was a startling demonstration of complete disregard to security protocol, a charge Trump successfully capitalized against Hillary Clinton. There are simply too many scenarios, all bad, to deduct from this single episode.
To put a (rotten) cherry on the cake, one of his wealthy buddies had the gall to brag on social media for having met the officer who carried (for the last time, presumably) the so-called ‘nuclear football.’ That’s security jargon for the suitcase containing the codes for nuclear missiles that follows the president wherever he goes. And he outed the poor guy with a picture on Facebook. That was enough to keep us up all night.
There are many disturbing and menacing things already indicting this administration. But suddenly seeing the actual suitcase with buttons that could literally explode the world are just too Dante-esque a picture to think that, in any shape or form, we’re not playing with fire here.
We must keep the pressure on because it’s clear that Trump will govern to and for the wealthy, and he’s definitely not the man to protect us from those who can harm us. Indeed, some are actually working within the administration. Otherwise, rest assured: we’ll keep on trying to write about something else. Meanwhile, we hear that Winter Jasmines are blooming now and they’re beautiful. Bring some home tonight. WC