Top 5 Hypocrisies of Trump Friday

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

On Friday, Trump was making news again, after having appeared to be subdued (or muzzled?) by his staff midweek. But he addressed the conservative equivalent of that bar scene in Star Wars, CPAC. As usual, the sum total of his wacky pronouncements added up to a minus number. Here are a few of the more striking contradictions:

1. At CPAC Trump complained that the US deficit has soared to $20 trillion.

Then he said,

“We’re also put nothing a massive budget request for our beloved military. And we will be substantially upgrading all of our military, all of our military, offensive, defensive, everything, bigger and better and stronger than ever before. And hopefully, we’ll never have to use it, but nobody’s gonna mess with us, folks, nobody.

The annual US military budget is $773.5 billion. The US spends as much on the military as the next 14 countries, and this massive spending on war-related institutions drives the country into repeated wars (war spending creates constituents and lobbies). The federal government plans to collect $3.2 trillion in taxes and fees in fiscal 2017 and to spend $3.6 trillion– i.e. is spending $400 bn more than it has. The military budget is a quarter of the federal budget. War spending cannot be expanded without vastly increasing the deficit, as Trump himself seemed to admit when he talked about the wastefulness of the Bush wars.

2. At CPAC he said, “So I’m not against the media, I’m not against the press. I don’t mind bad stories if I deserve them.” And he said, “And I love the First Amendment; nobody loves it better than me. Nobody.”

Then he disinvited CNN, NYT, LAT, Politico and Buzzfeed from the Friday press briefing. Trump is attempting to make Breitbart and other alt-NeoNazi outlets into the mainstream media and to destroy even the center-right corporate media which he and Steve Bannon see as insufficiently worshipful of the privilege of the white and wealthy, and insufficiently worshipful of Trump.

3. Trump is always going on about how he will make the US more secure.

Then he basically called for a new nuclear arms race and ratcheting up of the planet’s most deadly arsenal.

4. Trump said, “And by the way, I want regulation. I want to protect our environment, I want regulations for safety, I want all of the regulations that we need and I want them to be so strong and so tough…”

But Trump is now again allowing corporations to dump their coal ash into our rivers and thus our drinking water. He also intends to reverse many of President Obama’s other clean water regulations.

5. Trump says he wants the intelligence community to report on the danger to the US emanating from the 7 countries whose citizens he wishes to place on a travel ban.

But when on Friday The Department of Homeland Security issued a report questioning the premises of Trump’s 7-country visa ban, Trump immediately and totally dismissed it.

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Related video:

PBS NewsHour: “What Trump targeting the media means for press access”

18 Responses

  1. If you add the budgets of the CIA and various other intelligence organizations to the military budget, the United States spends close to one trillion dollars a year on military-related issues. Furthermore, America is by a long shot the biggest exporter of military weapons and services to the rest of the world. According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, in 2015 the United States accounted for more than half of all arms transfers worldwide. America exported $89 billion worth of arms in 1914 and $80 billion in 1915. France finished 2015 a very distant second with agreements totaling $15.3 billion, followed by Russia at $7.2 billion.

    The sad fact is that a large chunk of those weapons are exported to the war-torn Middle East, with Saudi Arabia and UAE leading the arms race. Those weapons are directly killing thousands of people in Yemen and many thousands more indirectly by various radical and terrorist groups. We are now witnessing the true embodiment of what President Eisenhower called the Military-Industrial Complex.

    • Not to put too fine a point on the cost of the US defense establishment being tossed about, but these numbers rarely include retiree pensions and benefits, such as the VA, nor the cost of ongoing operations, like our incursions into Iraq.

  2. There’s no telling how the next four years will go, other than badly. But, a little anticipation is essential.

    One month in there has been no Night of the Long Knives; nor has he forced himself past the Judiciary; he has allowed the ‘system’ to take out Flynn as well as to install nominally sane people like Mathis into positions that could give balance to his positions. But, how long and to what degree can we expect Trump to allow himself be managed, to deny him that enormous change and glory he feels entitled?

    Methinks at the moment he’s ‘playing nice’. In a few months, once he’s been frustrated by Mexico, the Courts, the bureaucracy in general, the gloves will come off. His pattern of behaviour developed by 70 years of experience and generations of Real Estate breeding, is to win at any cost, the more zero-sum the better.

    Once he has been frustrated enough, and with his people firmly esconsced, especially at the AG, we can expect the gloves to come off.

    The pivotal question at the moment will be what support he can expect from a new SCOTUS. Still, while their endorsements would be welcomed, he’s not going to let them stop him either.

    Paraphrasing his Boy Miller, when it comes to national security the President’s decisions will not be questioned. In the final analysis everything he’s involved with is national security, so his intentions are clear.

    The only question in Trump/Brannon’s mind has got to be whether they’ll be able to just have their way, or whether they may have to get a little rough. Within a few months we should know.

    • And what is the one thing – thanks to Congressional malfeasance – that he can do that the courts and Congress cannot stop?

      We’ll either be at war with Iran or N. Korea sometime late next year…

    • There’s another dynamic at play, that argues in a very different direction. Trump has only filled 35 of 700 national security positions. With every hire, with every new body, every new voice that is not raised and trained inside the Breitbart world, the influence of Bannon and his cult slips a little more.

      The problem for Bannon is simple: there just aren’t a lot of White supremacist Leninists to join him in his project to destroy the government of the United States- the goal he blandly repeated at CPAC.

      When people like McMaster come in, they will disagree with him on just about everything. The same will be true of very last deputy and undersecretary. They’re not going to be White nationalists. They’re not going to be racists. They’re not going to be insane people.

      They will listen for a while before concluding that he’s a raving lunatic. And he, Miller, and the other members of their little death cult will be isolated into a small, padded section of the White House.

      • I’d really like to hear from a historian about that ‘choosing to work from within the system’ argument, especially considering 1930’s Germany. Seems to me they are hardly equivalent circumstances, and it’d be far easier for an individual not totally ‘on the team’ to be corrupted or coopted than to have a significant impact. I don’t know about McMaster’s political skills, but a guy like him will at best have to pick his fights very, very carefully.

        As to those 700 national security positions: I suspect plenty of ‘qualified’ people can be found among the new graduates of places like Liberty University. Keep in mind, there will be plenty of loyal and malleable supplicants if those are the criteria, and they certainly will be (along with appropriate donations to Trump’s campaign or whatever). What sort of premium does this administration place on facts, knowledge or experience, anyway? Corporate cultures predictable reflect the personality and values of their Supreme Leader, and its clear what we can expect from new hires here, especially those who are a bit less visible.

        It seems to me the Worst Case is hardly a foregone conclusion. David Frum, that arch-neocon over at the Atlantic, presents the most plausible Best Case I’ve read, and I’d be happy to see his vision come true (e.g., the US becomes the Mother of all Banana Republics), given other more plausible scenarios.

  3. Professor Cole – We are way beyond hypocrisy. All citizens especially Trump voters must be alerted to the full-blown COUP which is underway to COMPLETELY ERASE OUR GOVERNMENT except for POLICE and MILITARY and replace the United States of America with what a dangerous addicted subversive envisions to be the best methods to govern our lives, a CORPORATE-RUN POLICE STATE.

    Trump voters! HE WILL TURN ON YOU! Case in point – Trump was carried into office by massive, unparalleled CORPORATE CONTROLLED MEDIA NEWS gratuitous coverage. Trump’s now constant attacks on the press are designed to undermine the public’s faith in our institutions in general and the media in particular and amounts to a complete BETRAYAL of that which got him elected.

    University of Texas Chancellor William McRaven, the retired admiral who planned the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, said this week that Trump’s attacks on the media are undermining democracy itself.

    link to mystatesman.com

    Trump voters! YOU ARE NEXT! Bwahahahaha!

  4. Trump is wrong believing our department of war is suffering from inadequate funding. The deficit is in the intelligence of the top civilians and brass at that five-sided black hole on the Potomac. They were outsmarted by and couldn’t defeat the North Vietnam army nor the militias in Iraq whose budgets were small fractions of the Pentagon’s. Similarly, our military and the military-industrial complex’s European franchise (NATO) are bogged down in a quagmire in Afghanistan by insurgents with a budget that would correspond to chump change in Washington.

    • It’s more the nature of modern warfare. Mack Reynolds noted this in some 1960s era SF stories: the thing a modern army fears the most is sabotage by insurgents. A modern army is set up to fight other modern armies, not insurgents who can melt into the civilian population and re-emerge to attack soft targets.

      All those smart bombs, stealth aircraft, hi-tech weapons systems are largely ineffective against an insurgent force. Plus, they’re very expensive – in a war of attrition, the insurgents can keep pecking away until the mechanized force declares victory and leaves.

      It’s no longer acceptable to simply kill off the civilian population, either. The atrocities will merely breed more, angrier insurgents.

  5. There’s a Cheshire Cat smiling at all this from strange somewhere, but it’s the only thing that can be seen that’s smiling.

  6. The BBC was on the verboten press list, too.
    And the BBC is owned by the British government.
    Will the British have to “postpone” his visit now?

    And homeland security is definitely at war with Muslims.
    Read about the interrogation of the son of the late Muhammad Ali when he returned from Jamaica with his mom.
    link to theglobeandmail.com

  7. Trump gets his info from a very small sampling of the population, an N of 1. This is all he needs. He is the ultimate non-science, non-data, uninformed person. Whatever he knows now on whatever subject is enough for him to make or proclaim a definitive statement. Such a deal. Such a bad deal for the rest of the population, us.

    • Actually, a multipolar world will result in instability – you don’t want that. For all the flaws of the current international system, it has created – despite impressions – an enormous amount of stability. For the world and its powers, 70-80 years of peace without a major war is unusual. Only the Romans – again, for all their imperfections – had a better record than our own world today: over 200 years (30 BC – AD 235), with just a few relatively minor instances of rebellion and civil violence.

      The Orange Caligula and his evil Praefect, Lucius Aelius Bannon, are either so goddamned dumb or evil (you choose) that they have no idea how perilous “blowing up” the “administrative state” along with our treaties and obligations is.

  8. “And by the way, I want regulation. I want to protect our environment, I want regulations for safety, I want all of the regulations that we need and I want them to be so strong and so tough…”
    That was Harper’s approach in Canada. He proceeded to slash environmental monitoring and enforcement staff, so the tough laws weren’t enforced.

  9. Concerns about where proposed additions to military funding will originate are overblown. As President Trump knows more and better than our intelligence services we could make major reductions in spending on the CIA, NSA, DIA, and other intelligence agencies. Potentially $50-$100 billion annually could be transferred to purchase of military hardware. Intelligence? We don’t need no stinkin’ intelligence!

  10. CORRECTION:

    “We’re also put nothing a massive budget request for our beloved military.”

    should read:

    “We’re also putting in a massive budget request for our beloved military”

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