Tom Engelhardt: The Future According to Trump

Yves here. The scenario of Trump properties being targeted (both domestically as well as internationally) is all too plausible.

By Tom Engelhardt, a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. Originally published at TomDispatch

Can you doubt that we’re in a dystopian age, even if we’re still four weeks from Donald Trump entering the Oval Office? Never in our lifetimes have we experienced such vivid previews of what unfettered capitalism is likely to mean in an ever more unequal country, now that its version of 1% politics has elevated to the pinnacle of power a bizarre billionaire and his “basket of deplorables.” I’m referring, of course, not to his followers but to his picks for the highest posts in the land. These include a series of generals ready to lead us into a new set of crusades and a crew of billionaires and multimillionaires prepared to make America theirs again.

It’s already a stunningly depressing moment — and it hasn’t even begun. At the very least, it calls upon the rest of us to rise to the occasion. That means mustering a dystopian imagination that matches the era to come.

I have no doubt that you’re as capable as I am of creating bleak scenarios for the future of this country (not to speak of the planet). But just to get the ball rolling on the eve of the holidays, let me offer you a couple of my own dystopian fantasies, focused on the potential actions of President Donald Trump.

There is already an enormous literature — practically a library — of writings on our unique president-elect’s potential conflicts of interests. He does, after all, own, or lease his name to, various towers, elite golf courses, clubs, hotels, condos, residences, and who knows what else in at least 18 to 20 countries. That name of his, invariably in impressive gold lettering, soars to striking heights in foreign skies across the planet. These days, in fact, the Trump brand and its conflicts are hard to escape, from Bali, the Philippines, and Dubai to Scotland, India, and the very heart of Manhattan Island. There, in my own hometown, at a cost to local taxpayers like me of more than a million bucks a day, the police are protecting him big time, while the Secret Service and the military add their heft to the growing armed camp in mid-Manhattan. They are, of course, defending the Trump Tower — the very one in which, in June 2015, to Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” he rode that escalator directly into the presidential campaign, promising to build a “great wall,” lock out all Mexican “rapists,” and “make America great again.”

That tower on busy Fifth Avenue is now fronted by dump trucks filled with sand (“to help protect the Republican presidential nominee from potentially explosive attacks”) and, with the safety of the president and his family in mind, the Secret Service is reportedly considering renting out a couple of floors of the building at a cost to the American taxpayer of $3 million annually, which would, of course, go directly into the coffers of a Trump company.  (Hey, no conflict of interest there and don’t even mention the word “kleptocracy”!)  All of this will undoubtedly ensure that New York’s most Trump-worthy building, aka the White House North, will be kept reasonably safe from intruders, attackers, suicide bombers, and the like.  But much of the imperial Trump brand around the world may not be quite so lucky.  Elsewhere, guards will generally be private hires, not government employees, and the money available for any security plans will, as a result, be far more modest.

With rare exceptions, the attention of the media has focused on only one aspect of Donald Trump’s conflict-of-interest issues (and they are rampant), not to speak of his urge to duck what he might do about them, or dodge and weave to avoid a promised news conference to discuss them and the role of his children in his presidency and his businesses.  The emphasis has generally been on the kinds of problems that would arise from a businessman with a branded name coming to power and profiting from, or making decisions based on the money to be made off of, his presidency.  Media reports have generally zeroed in, for instance, on how foreign leaders and others might affect national policy by essentially promising to enrich Trump or his children.  They report on diplomats who feel obliged to stay at his new hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue just down the street from the White House; or foreign heads of state reaching out to him via his business partners in their lands; or Trump brand deals that are now going through in various countries thanks to his election victory.

The focus is almost invariably on how to cope with a president who, for at least the next four years, could stand to profit in mind-boggling ways from his various acts in office (or simply from the position he holds, even if he does nothing). And make no mistake, that issue might indeed edge Trump’s presidency into the truly dodgy, not to say paradigm breaking, when it comes to the history of the White House. But don’t call that dystopian.

What few people (the Secret Service aside) are thinking about is the ways in which conflicts of interest could consume the new president by threatening not to enrich, but impoverish him (and his children). Head down that path and believe me you’re instantly in dystopian territory.

Here’s a scenario for you:

It’s April 1, 2017. Donald J. Trump has been in office for less than two and a half months when a nattily dressed “businessman” manages to enter Trump Towers Istanbul, which soars into the skyline of the Turkish capital with the name of the new American president impressively done up in gold letters atop one of its towers.  Once in the lobby, that man, a messenger from the Islamic State who made it through the complex’s private security screening with a suicide vest strapped to his body, blows himself up, killing a doorman, a security screener, and a number of residents, while wounding a dozen others.

Of course, I’ve never been to Trump Towers Istanbul, so I don’t really know what security measures are in place there in the heart of that already explosive capital, but given the Trump projects scattered around the world, feel free to pick your own branded building, resort, or hotel.  And that initial explosion would just be a start.  Don’t forget that it only cost Osama bin Laden a reported $400,000 to stage the 9/11 attacks and lure the Bush administration into a set of trillion-dollar failed wars that would help spread terror movements across the Greater Middle East and Africa.  So don’t for a second imagine that the leadership of ISIS (or similar groups) won’t see the advantages of sending such messengers on the cheap to get under the oh-so-thin-skin of the new American president and embroil him in god knows what.

Imagine this as well: it’s 2018.  China and the U.S. are at loggerheads across the Taiwan strait, pressures and emotions are rising again in northern Africa, where continuing American military assaults in Libya and Somalia have only increased the pre-Trumpian chaos, as well as in the heartlands of the Middle East where, despite massive American bombing campaigns, ISIS, once again a guerilla group without territory, is causing chaos. In addition, in Afghanistan, 17 years after America’s second Afghan War began, the U.S.-backed government in Kabul is tottering in the face of new Taliban, ISIS, and al-Qaeda offensives. Massive waves of immigrants from all these unsettled lands continue to endanger an angry Europe, and everywhere anti-Americanism is on the rise, not in a generalized sense, but focused in fury on the American president and his much-beloved brand.

Imagine as well for a moment growing demonstrations, protests, and the like, all aimed at various towers, clubs, resorts, and condominiums in the Trump stable.  And consider just what a combination of threatened terror attacks and roiling demonstrations, as well as increasing anger over the Trump name across the Islamic world and elsewhere, might mean to the profitability of the president’s brand.  Now, think about the Trump towers in Pune, India, or the 75-story tower in Mumbai, or the “six-star” luxury resort in Bali, or the tower going up in Manila’s Century City (each a high-end Trump-labeled project expected to come online in the near future and all, except Pune, at past sites of devastating terror bombings).  What will their owners do if prospective buyers, fearing for their comfort, health, or even lives, begin to flee?  What happens when the hotels can’t keep their rooms filled, the condominiums lose their bidders, and the Trump brand suddenly begins to empty out?

There is, of course, no guarantee that such a thing will happen, but if you stop to consider the possibility, it’s not hard to imagine.  Next, take into account what you already know about Donald Trump, a man inordinately proud of his brand and hypersensitive beyond belief.  Now, try to imagine — and in Trumpian terms we’re talking about a truly dystopian world here — what American foreign policy might look like if, amid the fears of resort-goers, golfers, business types, and the like, that brand began to tank internationally, if raising those giant gold letters over any city immediately ensured either mind-boggling problems or staggering security costs (and, at a minimum, a life of TSA-style lines for consumers).

Don’t for a second doubt that, under such circumstances, American foreign and military policy would end up being focused on saving the Trump brand, which, in turn, would be a nightmare to behold.  Speaking of past controversies over presidential appointments — okay, I know we weren’t, but humor me here — in 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower had his own Rex Tillerson-style moment and picked Charles Wilson, the CEO of industrial giant General Motors, to be his secretary of defense.  At his confirmation hearings, Wilson infamously offered this formula for success, “I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”  If the State Department and the military were indeed tasked with digging out the Trump brand, you would need to turn that comment upside down and inside out: “I thought what was bad for the Trump brand was bad for America, and vice versa.”

Indeed, if the Trump brand starts to go belly up, knowing what we do about the president-elect, we would be almost certain to see a foreign policy increasingly devoted to saving his brand and under those circumstances — in the words of former State Department official Peter Van Buren — what could possibly go wrong?

Now, that is dystopian territory.

Assassin-in-Chief

Let me add another dystopian fantasy to what obviously could be an endless string of them. For a moment, let’s think about the topic of presidential assassinations. By that I don’t mean assassinated presidents like Lincoln, McKinley, or Kennedy.  What I have in mind is the modern presidential urge to assassinate others.

Since at least Dwight Eisenhower, American presidents have been in the camp of the assassins.  With Eisenhower, it was the CIA’s plot against Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba; with John Kennedy (and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy), it was Cuba’s Fidel Castro; with Richard Nixon (and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger), it was the killing of Chilean President Salvador Allende in a U.S.-backed military coup, which was also the first 9/11 attack (September 11, 1973).

In 1976, in the wake of Watergate, President Gerald Ford would outlaw political assassination by executive order, a ban reaffirmed by subsequent presidents (although Ronald Reagan did direct U.S. Air Force planes to bomb Libyan autocrat Muammar Gaddafi’s home).  As this new century began, however, the sexiest high-tech killer around, the appropriately named Predator drone, would be armed with Hellfire missiles and sent into action in the war on terror, creating the possibility of presidential assassinations on a scale never before imagined.  Its subsequent missions threatened to create a Terminator version of our world.

At the behest of two presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, a fleet of such robotic assassins would enter historically unique terrain as global hunter-killers outside official American war zones.  They and their successors, Reaper drones (as in the Grim Reaper), would be dispatched on mass assassination sprees that have yet to end and that were largely organized in the White House itself based on a regularly updated, presidentially approved “kill list.” 

In this way, the president, his aides, and his advisers became judge, jury, and executioner for “terror suspects” (though often enough any man, woman, or child who happened to be in the vicinity) halfway around the world.  As I wrote back in 2012, in the process, the commander-in-chief became a permanent assassin-in-chief.  Now, presidents were tasked with overseeing the elimination of hundreds of people in other lands with a sense of “legality” granted them in secret memos by the lawyers of their own Justice Department.  Talk about dystopian!  George Orwell would have been awed.

So when it comes to assassinations, we were already on dark terrain before Donald Trump ever thought about running for president.  But give the man his due.  Little noticed by anyone, he may already be developing the potential for a new style of presidential assassination — not in distant lands but right here at home.  Start with his remarkable tweeting skills and the staggering 17.2 million followers of whatever he tweets, including numerous members of what’s politely referred to as the alt-right.  And believe me, that’s one hell of an audience to stir up, something The Donald has shown that he can do with alacrity.

In a sense, you could already think of him as a kind of Twitter hit man.  Certainly, his power to lash out in 140 characters is no small thing.  Recently, for instance, he suddenly tweeted a criticism of arms-maker Lockheed-Martin for producing the most expensive weapons system in history, the F-35 fighter jet.  (“The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military [and other] purchases after January 20th.”)  The company’s stock value promptly took a $4 billion hit — which, I must admit, I found amusing, not dystopian.

He also seems to have been irritated by a Chicago Tribune column that focused on Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s criticisms of his comments on international trade and China, where that company does significant business.  Muilenburg suggested, mildly enough, that he “back off from the 2016 anti-trade rhetoric and perceived threats to punish other countries with higher tariffs or fees.”  In response, The Donald promptly took out after the company, calling for the cancellation of a Boeing contract for a new high-tech version of Air Force One, the president’s plane. (“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”)  That company’s stock similarly took a hit.

But giant military-industrial corporations can, of course, defend themselves.  So no pity there.  When it comes to regular citizens, however, it’s another matter.  Take Chuck Jones, president of an Indiana United Steelworkers local.  He disputed Trump on how many jobs the president-elect had recently saved at Carrier Corporation.  Significantly less, he insisted (quite accurately), than Trump claimed.  That clearly bruised the president-elect’s giant but remarkably fragile ego.  Before he knew what hit him, Jones found himself the object of a typical Trumpian twitter barrage.  (“Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!”)  The next thing he knew, abusive and threatening calls were pouring in — things like “we’re coming for you” or, as Jones explained it, “Nothing that says they’re gonna kill me, but, you know, you better keep your eye on your kids. We know what car you drive. Things along those lines.”

A year ago, an 18-year-old college student had a similar experience after getting up at a campaign event and telling Trump that he was no “friend to women.”  The candidate promptly went on the Twitter attack, labelling her “arrogant,” and the next thing she knew, as the Washington Post described it, “her phone began ringing with callers leaving threatening messages that were often sexual in nature. Her Facebook and email inboxes filled with similar messages. As her addresses circulated on social media and her photo flashed on the news, she fled home to hide.”

On this basis, it’s not hard to make a prediction.  One of these days in Trump’s presidency, he will strike out by tweet at a private citizen (“Sad!”) who got under his skin.  In response, some unhinged member of what might be thought of as his future alt-drone force will pick up a gun (of which so many more will be so much closer at hand in the NRA-ascendant age of Trump).  Then, in the fashion of the fellow who decided to “self-investigate” the pizza shop in Washington that — thank you, “fake news” — was supposed to be the center of a Hillary Clinton child-sex-slave ring, he will go self-investigate in person and armed.  In “Pizzagate,” the fellow, now under arrest, fired his assault rifle harmlessly in that restaurant, whose owner had already received more than his share of abusive phone messages and death threats.  It’s easy enough to imagine, however, quite another result of such an event.  In that case, Donald Trump will have given assassination by drone a new meaning.  And should that happen, what will be the consequences of the first presidential Twitter “hit” job in our history?

Don’t forget, of course, that, thanks to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Trump will also have all those CIA drones to use as he wishes to knock off whomever he chooses in distant lands.  But as a potential Twitter assassin, rousing his alt-drones to the attack, he would achieve quite another kind of American first.

A Message for Planet Earth

And that’s just to edge my way into the future universe of Donald Trump, which is, of course, about to become all our universes. I suspect that his will turn out to be the screw-you presidency of all time. And believe me, that will prove to be dystopian beyond compare — or do I mean beyond despair?

Take the most dystopian issue of all: climate change.  In recent weeks, Trump has mumbled sweet nothings to the assembled New York Times staff, swearing that he’s keeping an “open mind” when it comes to the link between humanity and a warming planet.  He’s also sweet-talked Al Gore right in the heart of Trump Tower.  (“I had a lengthy and very productive session with the president-elect,” said Gore afterward. “It was a sincere search for areas of common ground… I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued.”)  Whatever else Donald Trump may be, he is, first and foremost, a salesman, which means he knows how to sell anything and charm just about anyone, when needed, and reality be damned.

If, however, you want to gauge his actual feelings on the subject, those outer borough sentiments of his youthful years when he evidently grew up feeling one-down to New York’s elite, then pay no attention to what he’s saying and take a look at what he’s doing.  On climate change, it’s screw-you devastating all the way and visible payback to the many greens, liberals, and those simply worried about the fate of the Earth for their grandchildren who didn’t vote for or support him.

The Guardian recently did a rundown on his choices for both his transition team and key posts in his administration having anything to do with energy or the warming of the planet.  It found climate deniers and so-called skeptics everywhere.  In fact, “at least nine senior members” of his transition team, reported Oliver Milman of that paper, “deny basic scientific understanding that the planet is warming due to the burning of carbon and other human activity.”

Combine this with the president-elect’s urge to release American fossil fuels in a way no one previously has and you have a message that couldn’t be clearer or more devastating for the future of a livable planet. Think of it as so dystopian, so potentially post-apocalyptic, that it makes 1984 look like a nursery tale.

The message couldn’t be clearer. If I had to put it in just five words, they would be:

Trump to Earth: Drop Dead.

And oh yes, happy holidays!

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50 comments

  1. S M Tenneshaw

    dystopian beyond compare — or do I mean beyond despair?

    More importantly, dystopian beyond repair.

  2. Carolinian

    Sounds like if Trump wants to protect his brand and his children’s inheritance he’s just going to have to make peace with the rest of the world. This of course would be a giant “conflict of interest” as far our current establishment is concerned.

    I like Engelhardt as a rule but enough with the hysterical fantasies. Trump will take power in a few weeks and reality will overtake speculation. Then we can get hysterical.

    1. makedoanmend

      “Then we can get hysterical” – lol & chortle

      It’s always irked me when people speculate that something catastrophic is going to happen when their favourite bogeybug-opposition takes the reigns.

      I don’t expect dystopia. It’s already here. I do expect more cuts out of the thousands that are promised.

      Someone said, on another thread on another yesterday, that Trump would obey the oligarchs, and my only thought is he will, then, be obeying himself. He will rule as an oligarch for the oligarchs. Direct rule – no more pandering middle-anti-mensch politicos required.

      We have a ringside seat to see if democracy has any mitigating influence left. Only time will tell.

      I’m willing to bet a few forthcoming cybercredits on the demise of formal democracy by bi-partisan means in the next couple of decades – anyone giving odds?

      1. thesaucymugwump

        One could make the argument that the demise of democracy has already started. The whole concept of “fast-track,” giving the president advance authority not mentioned in the Constitution, would give the Founding Fathers fits. Allowing Silicon Valley to ignore existing laws, with Uber being just one example, oiled the slippery slope to anarchy and massive unemployment (U6 in November was 9.3%). Not breaking up / regulating Walmart, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and many other monopolies has severely damaged our economy and way-of-life. And as soon as we allow online voting — as usual, we won’t bother to secure it — politicians will no longer be subject to the vote.

      2. John

        You think we still live in a functioning democracy? I thought that myth had been put to rest several years ago. See Gilens-Page study.

      3. reslez

        Engelhardt gives us so many frightening things to imagine — oh Lord, an ambassador feels “pressured” to stay at the Trump Hotel in Washington — what about his beloved Obama about to take his payoff out in vulture capital-land? What about Hillary cashing checks from Qatar and Saudi Arabia throughout her tenure as Sec State? Tom, your imagination has already lost against reality. Forgive me for stifling a yawn.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          Two wrongs do not miraculously make a right just when your favored boy is nailed for it. The fact that Trump is poised to kick it up a notch, and cash in beyond even the Clintons’ dreams of avarice, is a very real threat to our interests as Americans.

    2. a different chris

      Yup, this essay (at least the first 1/3) actually was a, well not a “bright spot” but “something not terribly negative” about a Trump presidency I hadn’t thought about.

      We drone “other” people because we don’t care about their lives, their countries, nothing. But suddenly our President can’t launch a missile and then disappear back into the clouds — his very own building, with his freaking name on it, is only a country or so over. A building can’t run, it can’t hide. It’s going to give him a whole different perspective on the world and how to behave in it than we’ve seen.

      I don’t see why Engelhardt doesn’t see or doesn’t want to see this. It was a bad lead to the rest of the other stuff, which I agree – he has stimulated the Rethug followers to a level that is dangerous to other Americans and he can’t fully wrap his little mind around climate change.

      1. UserFriendly

        I have a feeling the heat at the north pole will be creating some crazy weather this year that will make climate change denial by anyone utterly ridiculous. You don’t heat up the north pole by 50 degree’s and not have major consequences elsewhere.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      “…enough with the hysterical fantasies.”

      Indeed. The major difference between Trump and his predecessors, as Engelhardt admits to, is his fondness for Twitter. And in that regard, he’ll likely be far more transparent, albeit likely not in a good way, than most other presidents.

      Maybe that will lead to better relationships with foreign countries – just think of all the money they’ll save not needing to hack his emails to find out what he’s up to ;)

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        “The major difference” between Trump and his predecessors is his brand, as exemplified by his properties scattered across the globe. As Engelhardt much more clearly “admitted” in the first part of his article. Given the nature of the world today, it is essentially guaranteed that there will be flashy, deadly assaults on Trump brand properties, perhaps even before he takes office. Engelhardt’s speculation about how he’ll react is not out-of-keeping with Trump’s words (tweets) or his well-documented history.

        Engelhardt is also spot on regarding the value of “watch what he does, not what he says”. Trump has a 1950s, smokestacks are progress! nostalgic view of industrial success. Like the kind of guys who will never love Teslas’ 0 to 60 in under 3 seconds……. because it doesn’t “sound” powerful!

        Trump’s energy appointments are to the “right” of even mainstream Republican BS on climate change and fossil fuel use. I don’t think they will do as much relative damage as Engelhardt fears, because we weren’t going to be gifted with climate salvation by Clinton in any event. They may, if we’re lucky, provoke a planet-saving backlash. But, it won’t be due to Trump’s “vision”.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Trump is definitely more obvious with the branding but Barry didn’t get marketing campaign of the year back in ’08 for nothing and it’s pretty clear the Clinton’s were profiting off their names too.

          You may be (and I hope you are) right about the planet-saving backlash. I suspect there will be much more protest against him than against Obama in regards to energy policy mainly because of his brashness. Obama was pretty good as saying one thing to make himself look good and then doing another.

          We may get a temporary reprieve from cooking the planet even further due to a simple lack of demand regardless of who’s president.

  3. oho

    ‘Trump to Earth: Drop Dead.’

    not defending Trump. Just will say President Rodham Clinton would not have been the environmental messiah.

    what the 1 billion people in the first world do will be irrelevant as 6 billion+ people clamor for first world living standards—barring very major tech and social-political changes.

    just a realist. not many peeps are banging on the politically incorrect message of zero population growth (eg pre-2015 Merkel migration Germany)

    1. oho

      i should add, cuz i don’t want to be seen as a nazi, all humans justifiably have the right to be energy hogs like me—hot shower, climate controlled living, etc.

      hence the environmental prisoners’ dilemma

  4. RenoDino

    Hey Tom, the U.S. is an Empire and we are finally getting the Emperor we deserve. Rule one of Emperors: Get your name out there. Roman emperors built personalized monuments throughout the providences and featured their likeness on the coinage. Any attack on any Trump building is an attack on the Empire. Our enemies need to fear us and that means protecting the brand.

    Befitting the greatest Emperor in the history of the world, Trump needs to be the richest person in the world. Right now XI and Putin probably have him beat, but Trump will soon surpass them. Nothing wrong in having skin in the game.

    Running through arguments like Tom’s is the notion that corrupt cynical republics (in name only) are somehow always superior to great Empires run by Emperors Augustus. I don’t think history is clear on that point.

    Great rulers can bring peace and prosperity to their subjects. There is nothing wrong with that unless you happen to be a disgruntled general, bureaucrat or spy who liked the way the game was played before the revolution.

    1. Barbara G

      The problem is, Trump has none of the qualities that would predict his becoming a “great ruler”. Qualities like a secure, adult sense of self; empathy; an even temper; intellect; etc etc.

      I do agree that he may become the emperor that those who voted for him deserve. The other 74% of the country, not so much.

    2. Jonathan

      Very funny, Dino. “Why bother fixing a little old constitutional republic when you can have the imperial glory of Enron? Great brands can create great bubbles, and great men strip great assets. Who but a disgruntled general could object?”

  5. Jack

    I think all of these scenarios are plausible, in fact likely. I can’t think of a time previous to now that the US president was so visible as a brand name both inside and outside the US. If I were in a terrorist shoes the opportunity to hit the US President personally would be hard to pass up. And Trump has proven time and again how quickly he can fly off the handle. I personally predict that within the first year of his term in office Trump is going to over reach and step in it, with impeachment to soon follow. The Republican establishment just will not be able to take being ordered around and their power throttled. And they can easily accomplish impeachment. Trump has few friends in Congress, the Republicans control both houses, they like Pence a lot better than Trump, and the Dems would certainly be on board in terms of getting rid of him. One last point. The author stated, “it only cost Osama bin Laden a reported $400,000 to stage the 9/11 attacks.” It is much more likely than not that bin Laden did not fund or organize the 9/11 attacks. The only real “evidence” to support that hypothesis is a video tape of bin Laden admitting he did so, and most of the analysis of that tape shows it to be a fake.

  6. KeepCalm&CarryOn

    Progressive doom porn. It makes a great “bookend” to match the conservative doom porn that is out there outlining the dystopian future of an HRC presidency.
    The future is often not nearly as good or as bad as people predict.
    Time to make lemonade.

    1. Christopher Peter Boehme

      Which leads to the question: Who are you guys, anyway? I’ve been reading Naked Capitalism for years, and it’s still not clear to me with whom I’m dealing. Some people sound like a liberals; some people sound like conservatives; nobody sounds like a progressive except Yves. Many people sound like technocratic libertarians. My mentor in high school called himself a critical realist…is that what you are, whatever that is? Dispositional cynics? Attitudinal smart asses? Marxists? Bohemian Clubbers? Disestablishmentarians? I suppose the strength of this blog is diversity, and I honor and respect that; but if there’s something I should know about y’all, let me know now. I mean, who doesn’t like Tom Englehardt?

      1. integer

        Who are you guys, anyway?

        I can’t speak for others here but I’m someone who likes to think for myself. Is there a label for that? You seem to want to put people into groups that have, interestingly enough, been defined by other people. Why are you so attached to established identity markers?

        I mean, who doesn’t like Tom Englehardt?

        Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I dislike him, but I certainly won’t be going out of my way to read anything else he has written on the basis of this piece of writing.

      2. Philip Martin

        Aw, just drop the labels. Everyone is welcome here as long as they can deal with facts as truth.

        But to your point–I myself am a Burkean conservative who frequently finds compatible viewpoints with liberals and progressives.

  7. thesaucymugwump

    Why is a scenario of an Islamic suicide bomber in a foreign Trump hotel worse than an Islamist killing the driver of a big-rig and driving the truck into a large crowd of people somewhere in the U.S., similar to what happened in Berlin?

    Obama allowed the sexual enslavement of hundreds, if not thousands of Yazidi girls and women via his incompetence and inaction. More than a few Christians were also trapped by Islamic State. Yet his State Department has only allowed a handful of Yazidis and Christians from the Middle East into the country, while allowing in large numbers of Muslims.

    Obama’s Hawaii Christmas vacations cost taxpayers $35 million over eight years. His many, many golf vacations — he was playing golf while the Berlin murderer was at work — cost the country plenty. Not to mention his wife’s boondoggles.

    Trump’s many businesses present problems, to be sure, but they pale in comparison to how the Clinton Foundation sold favors to foreign entities — and would have continued doing so with HRC as president.

    If the author knew anything about the F-35, he would applaud Trumps’ tweets. The technology has been partially, if not completely stolen by China (its J-20 is the result) and many media outlets, e.g. War is Boring, believe that the plane will perform badly in a conflict because of “acquisition malpractice,” i.e. it was fielded before its design was completed, which occurred on Bush the Younger and Obama’s watches.

    As for the Secret Service, let’s not forget that Valerie Jarrett has had Secret Service protection in violation of federal law.

    Trump was the second-worst candidate in U.S. presidential history, but I’m happy he was elected instead of HRC.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Apparently you’re not “happy he was elected” on the basis of his stated desire to get us out of the practice of “liberating” people who have nothing to do with us (i.e. Yazhidis, Royhingas. Of course you have not indicated having a problem with Burmese enslavement of Royhingas. Not the right persuasion of victim for you?)

      Disengagement from empire was one of Trump’s very few virtues. It’s a damned shame he didn’t mean it.

      1. thesaucymugwump

        Bush the Younger and Obama screwed up the Middle East. It’s almost unsolvable now, with Islamic State having distributed their Yazidi sex slaves all over Sunni villages. As much as I’d like to see U.S. troops clean it up, I understand that a good number of them would die in the process because Islamic State uses suicide bombs as a regular weapon, in a similar manner to how the Nazis and then the Soviets used blitzkrieg tactics. The solution is to fully partner with Kurds and Yazidis who will do the actual fighting, but the ever-clueless Obama continues to aid the mythical, moderate rebels, not to mention that he does not understand that Turkish sultan Erdogan is not our friend and does not share our belief system — at all.

        As for the “Burmese enslavement of Royhingas,” I’ve seen plenty of signs carried by monks along the lines of “the world was not created solely for Muslims.” That isn’t the exact wording and I wish I could remember the signs I saw, because the meaning was clear: the monks disliked Muslims due to *their* attitude, not the other way round. I do find it amusing that Aung San Suu Kyi is beloved by liberals except for her attitude toward Muslims.

        Speaking of spoiling Islamic fairy tales, did you know that Kosovo and Sweden are two of the top exporters of jihadists in Europe? Belgium probably rounds out the top three.

        Yazidis, a people who mixed beliefs from Zoroastrianism, Islam, and a few other religions, were killed, raped, enslaved, etc., by Islamic State, with the assistance of Sunnis in Syria and Iraq. Islamic State is not misunderstanding Islam, but is simply interpreting the Koran literally. I’ve studied the different religions. People really need to understand that sharia and Western civilization are mutually incompatible.

        We are discovering that Trump did not mean many things he said. He’s always been a nut, having been one of the original birthers.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          The U. S. has no obligation to “solve” the Middle East. The only thing we really need to do is to get our foreign policy out of the hands of various actors who want to pin us down there on behalf of their preferred in-groups.

          I’m glad someone like you is around to bleed copiously in public on behalf of enslaved women on the other side of the world. However, I think I will continue to ‘care’ actively for those who live near to me, whose lives I can truly help. Artful sorrow on behalf of pitiable strangers is as beyond me as it is…… useless to the enslaved.

        2. Fiver

          Funny how the claim the West and Islam are mutually incompatible showed up so recently in history – have to ask what else showed up not so long ago that just might account for such an oddity.

          1. oh

            But if the people who follow Allah have plenty of money we will kiss their ring and bow to them (e.g. Barry and Saudi Prince)

  8. craazyman

    Whoa this is grim. This is a real Asteroid Alert!

    I hope they don’t shoot Santa out of the sky by mistake — thinking he’s an asteroid.

    Hopefully with all the reindeer he’ll look like a comet. Comets don’t hit, they circle the sun and go back where they came from.

  9. Susan C

    The more I think of what the future will hold in Trump World, the more I think the other parts of the government will be on super-drive, such as the Senate and House. I am sure they are not going to just stand by and do nothing. One false move by Trump and an impeachment could develop – they owe us at least that much as they are allowing this guy into the White House. I would hope Trump would get tired of the whole thing and just quit and go back to his business interests and reality TV show – I am sure by now he has ample video footage of what it is like to put together a cabinet, etc. I can’t see him moving to the White House either –

  10. John

    The Democratic Party died in the last eight years. It is pretty much a zombie corpse now, at all levels. The Republicans always put Party before Country or State (see North Carolina). They will consolidate with the 2020 redistricting gerrymander. You might want to read about the Roman senate after Augustus.

  11. clarky90

    Our Mother of The Earth was here billions of years before Tom E was born and will be here billion of years after he dies. She knows what she is doing.

    Tom, are you getting plenty of Sunshine/vitamin D?

  12. blert

    The Trump properties are at such obvious risk that I anticipate President-elect Trump to unload them// take his name off.

    It’s been done before.

    Trump’s war policy is pretty obvious: ally with Russia, et, al.

    Trump is a pragmatist, liberal New Yorker.

    He also loves to negotiate// re-negotiate … just about everything.

    We may well be treated to 100 days of legislation, FDR-style, right from the start.

    &&&

    Stop worrying about AGW — begin worrying about Chinese air pollution — it’s epic.

    It’s screwing up weather patterns across the northern hemisphere.

    It’s triggered California’s drought — by causing precipitation to fall up in Alaska and Canada.

    The scale is so massive that Chinese pollution even reaches San Francisco.

    And it’s a pretty good bet that Chinese soot is the primal cause for the weird polar weather we are now witnessing.

    This crazy situation needs to be addressed in the here and now.

  13. gail e

    Interesting assessment. I believe we’ll see Mr. Trump and his crew succeed in this Presidency. Most of his picks have all the money they need. Most have attained great power in their own lives. I personally believe these folks were chosen by Mr. Trump for their ability to lead and succeed, something we shall surely require as we go down this rabbit hole. We have many today with college degrees handed to them–some earned, of course, by the schools they attended. Unfortunately some have to live at home because there are few jobs available in their chosen fields.
    On the other hand we have men and women chosen by Mr. Trump for key positions–many older individuals that I pray will have the stamina to perform their appointed tasks. We’ll see!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Lordie. Succeed for whom? Pulled from Lambert’s Water Cooler:

      “To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, the incoming administration will be a government of the super wealthy, by the super wealthy and — perhaps — for the super wealthy. Are we really expected to believe that these folks are going to change the very system that has been so good to them?” [USA Today]. “Billionaires don’t become billionaires by acting like Mother Teresa. They do it by ruthlessly watching their own bottom line and taking advantage of every rule that can be fudged, every corner that can be cut. And when the rules aren’t helpful enough, they work the system to change them. They’re the very embodiment of what Trump attacked during the campaign: the ‘global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.’” Of course, the Democrat nomenklatura can’t say this, because they have their own squillionaires they need funding from. And so they yammer and stamp their feet about “conflict of interest,” which, when you think about it, is the very nature of an oligarchy.

      1. gail e

        Thank you for your concerned reply. I have a question: “Do you believe Hillary would have been a better choice then Mr. Trump and Why?” Fear is an interesting task master. Comparing over 100 years of absolute corruption in our government to whatever the Trump administration may or may not do is quite unfair at this point.
        If I were a betting individual, I would put up $1,000.00–more if I were wealthy–that Mr. Trump will be a huge success as US President.

  14. Fiver

    I think it’s a valid point re the Trump properties becoming potential targets, but I would be extremely wary as to attribution in such an event given just how many State and non-State actors/interests have enormous stakes, all forms of stakes, in just what happens when Trump opens, or one of those other agents arranges for Trump to open, Door Number 3 to another dimension.

    But Trump doesn’t need an excuse to go after ISIS. Someone other than ISIS may wish to keep ISIS as the punching bag for the military, but it sure looks to me like Trump and his Brass are the perfect tools for a much bigger war in exactly the same trajectory as where the neocons left off. Remember, many of them wanted to go for Iran post-9/11, not Iraq – they came around quickly, with the promise to ‘get ‘er done’ in due time.

    https://www.thenation.com/article/trumps-foreign-policy-appointees-are-set-to-provoke-war-with-iran/

    Another point. This notion:

    ‘Don’t forget that it only cost Osama bin Laden a reported $400,000 to stage the 9/11 attacks and lure the Bush administration into a set of trillion-dollar failed wars that would help spread terror movements across the Greater Middle East and Africa.’

    He didn’t ‘lure’ anyone anywhere. He was the invitation the US printed up special.

  15. Dita

    Trump’s threatening tweets at big business and subsequent hits to their stock prices may one day get their reward. Lockheed Boeing et al can have their drones too y’know, with trump as their target.

  16. Gaylord

    Trump is the ideal president to spearhead the collapse of civilization which the US has fervently promoted through its unfettered militarism, exploitation, consumption, and pollution. This is who we are!

  17. Jeremy Grimm

    I used to think the choice of colors for the pills in the “Matrix” were unfortunate. But I’m ready to take a different view. Trump is the “red pill”. He will show us “how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” But unlike Morpheus — Trump’s guidance lacks all helpful intent. Trump and his cabinet are so stark and plain in their greed for gain and power that no one will be able to “believe whatever they want to believe” given such blatant evidence for the realities of our state.

  18. Fiver

    Please check for the comment I posted at the end of this thread last night circa 4:15 am. It was a good comment. Thank you.

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