Posts Tagged ‘the Daily Show’

‘Me Ne Frego’, Fascism, Trump and Vulgarity

March 9, 2016

There was a bit of mild controversy a few days ago about the low tone the rivalry between Trump and his rival for the presidential nomination, Marco Rubio. Rubio had made a speech stating that while Trump was a big man, about 6’2″, he had small hands. He then implied that another part of Trump’s anatomy was similarly petite, adding, ‘And you know what they say about men with small hands.’ Trump responded at one of his rallies a day or so later by claiming that he was very well endowed in a certain direction.

This had caused something of a stir, with Bill O’Reilly talking on Fox News about whether or not this piece of vulgarity was justified, or if it had been too crude for public taste. O’Reilly himself didn’t think so. His partner in the debate did.

Actually, this seems to me to be par for the course for Trump. Trump’s rhetoric is violent, full of put-downs, threats and vitriolic attacks on his opponents. Trevor Noah on the Daily Show pointed out how similar his attitudes as expressed in his rhetoric were to Fascism. It occurs to me that his vulgarity is another aspect of this. One of the formative elements in Mussolini’s Fascist movement were the arditi, elite Italian soldiers with a reputation for reckless bravery. The name means something like ‘Daredevils’. After the First World War, these and other discontented ex-servicemen, unable to adjust to civilian life, formed bands to beat their political opponents. And they had a slogan, ‘Me Ne Frego’, which means, ‘I don’t give a damn.’

Trump doesn’t just share the Fascists racial and nationalistic intolerance, or their taste for violence. He also has their crudity and vulgarity. And unfortunately, it seems to be winning him votes.

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The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah on Donald Trump’s Fascist Week

March 5, 2016

This is a piece of excellent satire – it makes you laugh, but like Bremner, Bird and Fortune and The Last Leg, there’s a deadly serious point to the jolly japes.

In this clip from The Daily Show, Trevor Noah goes through a list of the features of Fascism from the New York Times to show how they fit the attitudes and comments of Donald Trump.

Those features are:

* A cult of action.
* A celebration of aggressive masculinity
* an intolerance of criticism
* a fear of difference and outsiders
* Intense nationalism
* Resentment of national humiliation.

The Cult of Action
Trump: ‘I get things done. Better than anybody’.

Intolerance of Criticism
‘For those guys back there, the media, they are the worst’.

The Celebration of Aggressive Masculinity
‘Big hi-fives, smiling, laughing, I’d like to punch him in the face.’                                              
‘I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.’

Resentment of National Humiliation
‘We never win. We just don’t win’.

Intense Nationalism
‘I’m going to make America great again!’

Fear of Outsiders
‘A complete shutdown of all Muslims from the United States’.

Trump also retweeted a quote from the Fascist Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini ‘It is better to live one day as a lion, than 100 years as a sheep’. Noah points out that the quote itself isn’t particular offensive. You could probably find similar comments posted up all over gyms across America. But it’s acceptability changes once you find out the source of the quote. Trump was asked by one of the news anchors if he was disturbed by it coming from il Duce. He said that was all right, it was from Mussolini, but it was still a good quote. Did he want to be associated with Fascists? No, he said, he wanted to be associated with good quotes. But Noah says he had to think a long time about that one.

He points out that Trump’s statement that if he gets in, he’ll pass new libel laws so that they can sue critical journalists ‘and win lots of money’ is one of the key features of Fascism. It violates the principle that journalists cannot be sued for accurately reporting the bad actions and attitudes of politicians. If that happened, then the media could never report on his dodgy business dealings, shady policies or the fact that he wants to bang his daughter.

He also comments on Trump’s refusal during an interview to distance himself from David Duke, a former grand wizard of the KKK. Noah asks the question how he could possibly state that he was ignorant of the KKK, and plays a clip from an interview when he was running for the Reform Party, where he denounced Duke as a racist and a bigot and said he didn’t want him in his party. Noah ends by saying, ‘There’s a lot of Republicans saying that now too.’

He also makes a good point when he says, ‘It almost stops being funny the more you get into it.’ Totally. It looks funny, because we’re so used to comedians making fun of democratic politicians by comparing them to Nazis. But the laughter fades when you realise that with Trump, the comparison isn’t just superficial, but real. Noah says he’s not calling Trump a Fascist, but he is saying he has had a Fascist week. He’s right. Trump is Fascistic.

And that’s no laughing matter.

Brainwash Update on Lawlessness, Murder and Assassination by American Mercenaries Blackwater in Iraq

January 27, 2016

This piece is from the show Brainwash Update on RT. RT’s owned by the Russians, and its presenter, Abby Martin, resigned on camera in protest against Putin’s invasion of the Crimea. Martin here reports on the lawless of Blackwater, one of the ‘private military contractors’, or mercenaries, that the American government brought into Iraq as part of the invasion. She states that this was adopted as a result of the way the publicised deaths of American soldiers in the Vietnam War caused public opinion against that conflict. She’s right. The use of mercenaries in future wars, like the Iraq invasion, was approved for that reason. The public might be concerned about US troops, and particularly conscripts, coming back in coffins, but there was much less concern about private mercenaries.

Blackwater, however, brought their own problems with them. From the report here, it seems they’re completely lawless, who gun down and murder with impunity, even up to the point where they threaten officials from the State Department itself. In Iraq, the company became notorious for a series of murder sprees, where their soldiers shot at passing cars, innocent bystanders and animals. They were responsible for the massacre of 17 civilians. This was called Iraq’s My Lai moment, after the infamous massacre of a village by US soldiers during the Vietnam War. It was denounced by the Iraqi PM, and resulted in legislation being passed that made American mercenaries subject to the American judicial system. Apparently, they hadn’t before. They’ve become so notorious, that they’ve actually changed their names several times, including to ‘Z’ and ‘Academy’.

James Risen, a journalist with the New York Times, reported that Eric Prince, Blackwater’s top manager in Iraq, had stated that he would have the investigator for the State Department, Jean Richter, killed, and that as it was Iraq, no-one would be able to do anything about it. The officials at the American Embassy sided with Blackwater, and Richter was ordered out of the country. She is not the only person to testify that the company has been responsible for assassinations and other illegal activities. Two anonymous former employees have similarly stated that the company was involved in gun-running, and that they were also threatened with death.

Prince, however, appeared on the Daily Show to complain that he was being persecuted by the government, who threatened to drive him out of business. And instead of being closed down, or being called to trial, Blackwater received $200 million worth of further contracts, including from the Department of Defense and the CIA.

It’s not too hard to see why the American embassy sided with Blackwater. The mercenaries had the contract for protecting them, which made them extremely vulnerable. Quite apart from any ideological sympathies the staff may have had with the policy of using mercenaries. And a few years ago there were other reports of lawlessness in Iraq by the private military contractors. This included not just murder, but also prostitution, and was covered in Private Eye. The invasion of Iraq was a crime that has destabilised the whole of the Middle East, and the use of lawless elements, like Blackwater, and the Shi’a death squads set up by one American general to use against the Sunnis, contributed to the anarchy and bloodshed in this most historic of countries today.