Conspiracy Theory and the Trump Team
By Dennis Loo (3/6/17)
Trump enjoyed one day of good feelings generated by his Address to Congress, a speech that he was coached in and largely memorized, to make up for his poor reading of the teleprompter because of his reading difficulties.
Then his new Attorney General Jeff Sessions gets embroiled in scandal, twice lying to Congress about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador to the US. Who unearths these lies? Why if isn’t the “fake news” Washington Post doing its job.
The White House’s energy is increasingly being devoted to damage control. Trump is now upping the ante by demanding a Congressional investigation into his evidence-free claim that Obama tapped Trump Tower phones before leaving office.
Why doesn’t Trump demand a head count of the inauguration photos while they are at it?
One of the troubles with this administration is that they are led by and riddled with those who are conspiracy nuts, including the dearly departed National Security Advisor Mike Flynn who traded in conspiracy theories constantly. At the time of his original nomination I wondered aloud “How are they going distinguish real dangers from fake ones? What does this mean for the Empire if they go off on all kinds of wild goose chases?”
It’s bad enough when you are vigorously feeding a tide of violence – blowback it’s called – let alone the inability to distinguish truth from fiction when you are yourselves leading the pack with fiction everyday!
Think about the consequences of this, now and going forward: the Commander-in-Chief, who dodged the draft when he had a bone spur in which foot he doesn’t recall now, and who makes the final decisions about matters that involve people’s lives and the planet, cannot distinguish the real from the unreal!
This is not just poor decision-making but a guaranteed recipe for disasters. This isn’t just a matter of partisanship: this spells trouble on a small and grand scale. Loyalty takes the place of minimal competence. Finite resources are being squandered and people’s lives are suffering needlessly and climate change deniers and anti-scientist attitudes are in charge.
Obama earlier fired Flynn for being strange and not up to snuff. And Trump resurrected him, only to see him lie about his conversations with Russian spies, a lie that Trump was briefed on by the Justice Department three weeks before he fired Flynn. Of course they were talking to Russian spies, everyone knows that! Even this Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight knew they were communicating with Putin, directly or indirectly!
Why does Trump and his people keep denying and lying about their ties to Russia? Because he would then be forced to reveal - through investigative journalism - some of the corruption of those ties and deals, but more importantly his coziness to Putin is a product of the fact that they are both oligarchs fooling and exploiting their own people!
You will continue to be fooled by people trying to mislead you until you see the class interests at stake. What sits on the surface is not the story, only part of it and through a glass darkly.
We are seeing in extremist form the culmination of trends that are a few decades old.
This attack on reality, on science, on reason, and on the Enlightenment is intimately connected to developments in the economy and politics, this book’s core subject. Globalization and its political expression, neoliberalism, could not continue to exist and prevail without the degradation of the meaning of truth.
Since the term neoliberalism is not widely known or understood in the US, a brief explanation is in order here. Neoliberalism has nothing to do with the common meaning of the term liberalism—as in “Senator Edward Kennedy was a liberal.” Neoliberalism is an ideology (and the word can also refer to public policies based on that ideology) that touts liberalism in the Adam Smith sense of the term—liberalizing or freeing market forces to do their work unimpeded, and making sure that the government’s role is to facilitate these market forces...
A kind of philosophical quicksand has been expanding in the world that needs to be identified, understood thoroughly, and avoided if we are to properly grasp and deal with the threat that neoliberalism represents.
In its most extreme versions, we have those who believe that “what is going on” in the world resides exclusively in people’s heads. Everything, according to this view, is “discourse” or “text”; everything is interpretation and symbol. As the poststructuralist Jacques Derrida has famously put it, “Il n’y a pas de hors-texte. [There is nothing outside the text.]” Christian and Muslim fundamentalists both agree on one thing: that text is the Bible or the Quran, which they believe, respectively, is the literal word of God or Allah.
To both religious fundamentalists and postmodernists, reason and science in pursuit of truth are anathema, or at least deeply problematic. Reason and science present obstacles—instead of indispensable tools—to literal textualists’ preferred agendas for the planet. Reality, to religious fundamentalists and postmodernists, is what you make it. Reality is what you (or God/Allah) will it to be and want it to be. Postmodernists believe that the notion of truth “is a contrived illusion, misused by people and special interest groups to gain power over others.” Facts “are too limiting to determine anything.”
Postmodernists are not fans of George W. Bush, but they share his worldview regarding empirical data and objective reality. As a Bush senior aide put it to Ron Suskind in 2002, explaining that the people in the White House and their supporters were all members of the “faith-based community” rather than the “reality-based community”: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, 2014, pp. 2 -4)
By comparison to Trump, Bush now looks like a smart and cultured - who reads actual books - person since Trump is bottom-of-the-barrel stupid and exceedingly dangerous.
In the current issue of The New Yorker is a long essay entitled “Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War.” In the article is this: “What we have is a situation in which the strong leader of a relatively weak state is acting in opposition to weak leaders of relatively strong states,” General Sir Richard Shirreff, the former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, said. “And that strong leader is Putin. He is calling the shots at the moment.”
Putin represents a relatively weak state led by a strong leader, out to challenge with limited resources the strong state led by a spectacularly weak and deranged leader Trump. The article details a few instances where the weak state has carried out with perhaps around 1,000 cyber-attackers and a relatively small investment, successful hacks of the Pentagon, including systems that are completely insulated from the internet, by selling cheap thumb drives to US personnel, betting correctly that they would at some point plug into the system.