Shock after shock

Written By: - Date published: 9:15 am, January 31st, 2017 - 62 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, activism, democracy under attack, us politics - Tags: ,

One of the things about chaos is that it’s hard to keep up. There’s some good work being done out there by people in the US to keep track of the rapid fire changes happening, and documenting what’s right and what’s wrong. But still there is too much. I’m resorting to what jumps out at me. A few things about the last few days.

The US ambassador to the UN threatens the world,

President Donald Trump’s inexperienced new United Nations envoy has warned allies to ‘back the US or else’.

Nikki Haley, the newly-appointed ambassador, has pledged to overhaul the world body – after her boss warned last month that “things will be different” when he came to power.

But her comments that she is “taking names” and will “respond” to those countries that do not support Washington have been met with consternation in some quarters.

The Prime Minister of NZ picks a sidestays silent on the Tr*mp administration ban on Muslims, and then eventually comes out saying that it’s not the NZ way but we can’t tell other countries what to do. His comment is exclusively about refugees.

US Historian Heather Cox Richardson outlines the shock doctrine tactics of the new administration,

What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries– is creating what is known as a “shock event.” Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order. When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.

Last night’s Executive Order has all the hallmarks of a shock event. It was not reviewed by any governmental agencies or lawyers before it was released, and counterterrorism experts insist they did not ask for it. People charged with enforcing it got no instructions about how to do so. Courts immediately have declared parts of it unconstitutional, but border police in some airports are refusing to stop enforcing it.

Predictably, chaos has followed and tempers are hot.

My point today is this: unless you are the person setting it up, it is in no one’s interest to play the shock event game. It is designed explicitly to divide people who might otherwise come together so they cannot stand against something its authors think they won’t like. I don’t know what Bannon is up to– although I have some guesses– but because I know Bannon’s ideas well, I am positive that there is not a single person whom I consider a friend on either side of the aisle– and my friends range pretty widely– who will benefit from whatever it is. If the shock event strategy works, though, many of you will blame each other, rather than Bannon, for the fallout. And the country will have been tricked into accepting their real goal.

But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively. We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event. A successful shock event depends on speed and chaos because it requires knee-jerk reactions so that people divide along established lines. 

Yonatan Zunger‘s article explores a Trial Balloon for a Coup?

I see a few key patterns here. First, the decision to first block, and then allow, green card holders was meant to create chaos and pull out opposition; they never intended to hold it for too long. It wouldn’t surprise me if the goal is to create “resistance fatigue,” to get Americans to the point where they’re more likely to say “Oh, another protest? Don’t you guys ever stop?” relatively quickly.

However, the conspicuous absence of provisions preventing them from executing any of the “next steps” I outlined yesterday, such as bulk revocation of visas (including green cards) from nationals of various countries, and then pursuing them using mechanisms being set up for Latinos, highlights that this does not mean any sort of backing down on the part of the regime.

Note also the most frightening escalation last night was that the DHS made it fairly clear that they did not feel bound to obey any court orders. CBP continued to deny all access to counsel, detain people, and deport them in direct contravention to the court’s order, citing “upper management,” and the DHS made a formal (but confusing) statement that they would continue to follow the President’s orders. (See my updates from yesterday, and the various links there, for details) Significant in today’s updates is any lack of suggestion that the courts’ authority played a role in the decision.

That is to say, the administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored.

Yesterday was the trial balloon for a coup d’état against the United States. It gave them useful information.

There’s a lot in there (including the mass ‘resignation’ of State Dept staff and questions about Tr*mp’s finances). George Monbiot’s response is Quite a bit of this requires further investigation. But there are some extremely alarming pointers here”. Also pertinent is that it was written by a senior engineer at Google working on privacy. Jim Wright points to some of its limitations here.


President Donald Trump granted controversial adviser Steve Bannon a regular seat at meetings of the National Security Council on Saturday, in a presidential memorandum that brought the former Breitbart publisher into some of the most sensitive meetings at the highest levels of government.

Trump also said the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of national intelligence, two of the most senior defense chiefs, will attend meetings only when discussions are related to their “responsibilities and expertise”. Barack Obama and George W Bush both gave the men in those roles regular seats on the council.

Don’t forget to hope and act.

[Author note: I welcome considered comment, including serious critique of the articles, that helps us make sense of what is happening, as well as genuine questions that add to the debate. I will be moderating this post with zero tolerance for trolling or flaming. If in doubt, choose your words with care.]

62 comments on “Shock after shock”

  1. mac1 1

    I have seen it argued on the Standard that what Trump’s administration is doing, at least in part, is flying kites to see where people stand in relationship to it. This was argued in the case of the attack on the media over the inauguration, ‘alternative facts’ etc. The argument is that then the media and others were being tested.

    Now, are the nations of the world being tested? And to what end?

    Is there credibility in that argument?

    If so, what indeed are they planning that they need the world’s acquiescence and subservience?

    • weka 1.1

      The US has always assumed the position that it’s the best in the world, the strongest, and the most important. I think the difference now is that the people running the place are unhinged morally and in their personalities and they’re simply not interested in concepts of justice or law. Certainly previous presidents have manipulated those things to suit their own agenda, but what we are seeing here is a wholesale disregard for what collective humans have decided is right and fair. I have no idea how far that will go, which is a big part of the dynamic. The situation is hugely unstable, which might work in our favour.

      I think it’s still odds either way whether their incompetency will have the ascendancy. It might be our saving grace. That’s moral and social intelligence incompetency as well as simply not having the skills or nous to run a government.

      On the other hand, there are people in power now who weren’t there before who see the Armageddon as a good thing. The sooner the people in the US rise up and do something, the better for all of us.

      I would put the UN ambassador comments in the incompetency bracket, but that doesn’t mean the threat isn’t real.

      • Psycho Milt 1.1.1

        Homeland Security and border control agencies declaring they’ll follow a presidential decree rather than a federal court order is hair-raising stuff. That’s effectively the point at which all those people who bullshit themselves that of course they would have stood up against the Nazis if they’d been there get to find out whether that’s actually true or not.

      • mac1 1.1.2

        Thanks for the reply, Weka. I’m old enough to remember Keith Holyoake’s “guns for butter” argument for following the US’s lead.

        I also remember quite a bit of demonstrating. 🙂

        A younger family member is now firing up and will become quite politically active as a result of all this. I am sure that now, as then, that some good will flow. The trick is to target.

        As Winston Churchill said, ” If I stop and throw a stick at every barking dog, then I will never reach my destination.”

    • Andre 1.2

      “…that what Trump’s administration is doing, at least in part, is flying kites to see where people stand in relationship to it.”

      Seems to me that the simpler explanation for what’s been happening is just incompetent flailing from Trumpets giddy with power that don’t understand governing is fundamentally different to being the dictator atop a business. Scarily however, we do have to seriously contemplate the possibility there actually may be that degree of evil genius hidden behind these actions.

  2. saveNZ 2

    +100 Weka

  3. Bill 3

    The details take time and energy to uncover and counter individually. And I’m not sure what can be achieved by that or what the hope is.

    Far better for the left (particularly in the US) to organise on its own terms. It’s known that this admin is fucked up on many levels. It’s known that it has to go. It’s known that the alternative offered by the Democrats isn’t really acceptable. It’s known that if any programme of ‘Bump the Trump’ has success, then Pence steps up…

    What more needs to be out there?

    If people run around being reactive to every Trumpfart, people will burn out. Being pro-active is far more invigourating, useful and powerful.

    Take the whole lot of it, with all of it’s shenanigans and intrigues (whatever they may be) and shove it off the eastern and western seaboards. Organise to the point where that sounds like a realistic threat and the admin and the machinery behind/beneath the admin begins to be reactive.

    That’s the point at which the balance of power is tipped in ‘the left’s’ favour.

    But it’s also a point that will probably be preceded by much mainstream media, if not being openly hostile, then vigourously promoting some Democratic Party “safely back in the box” solution that will probably, ultimately, satisfy no-one.

    • weka 3.1

      Yep, the saving of the Dems is on the way already (haven’t read the whole thing yet, just got this snip from twitter),

      Legislators facing re-election next year, potential presidential candidates and would-be leaders of the party all scrambled this weekend to give voice to the fury over President Trump’s executive order temporarily barring refugees and some other migrants from coming to the United States. They had little choice.

      The swelling anger over Mr. Trump’s week-old administration is fueling a surge of spontaneous activism that some Democrats say they have not seen since the Vietnam War. The growing and seemingly organic energy offers Democrats a prime opportunity to ride a backlash to electoral success this year and next, the same way Republicans capitalized on Tea Party rage against President Barack Obama in 2010.

      But then this popped up again 🙂

      One of the interesting dynamics I see is that there is a large chunk of the population now not just freaking out but gearing up for ongoing protest. I would say many of those people haven’t even started, or are only just starting to think what is real beyond the Dems/GOP e.g. the idea of the end of capitalism. This is where I think that alongside critiques around Liberalism etc, there needs to be a lot of information put out there about alternatives. Because liberals, and those who are kind of still ok (the middle classes) won’t jump if they don’t know where they are going to land. Laying out some signposts in concepts they can understand seems a good next step.

      • Bill 3.1.1

        Laying out some signposts in concepts they can understand seems a good next step.

        Sanders, the SNP and Corbyn have already provided the sign-posts. Sturgeon was explicit in referring to herself as a social democrat. Sanders might have made claim to being a democratic socialist – (he’s not). Corbyn is constantly echoing social democratic sentiments and morality.

        Sanders was ‘taken out’, but his message (a basic social democratic one) seems to have resonated.

        Corbyn may or may not survive the constant assault of the more liberal inclined in the UK Labour Party and their mates in the media.

        But for good solid examples of what a social democratic programme can achieve even when it’s financially constrained as is the case for the Scottish government that has to operate within the financial confines of a UK hell bent on liberalism – then yup – throw up the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish National Party.

        I think that getting good numbers of people from the middle classes on board with ideas based on social democratic principles just wouldn’t be at all difficult.

        And how much further could people holding my kind of political view then push things? Well, that’s the fun bit for those engaged in stuff. 😉

        But whatever, don’t let political parties (or any rag tag authoritarian left org) ‘capture’ the momentum to then guide it or moderate it to suit their own ends. Have them follow in the wake of it all.

        • Carolyn_nth

          Agree, Bill. Needs a social democratic platform that will bring a broad section of the population on board. That creates an environment that enables productive dialogue with people more aligned with your political views/position.

        • weka

          “Sanders, the SNP and Corbyn have already provided the sign-posts.”

          Ah, ok, we can all sit back and relax then 😉

          I wasn’t meaning system people so much. I agree that there are things there for even middle class liberals to be attracted to. I was meaning about how we shift the culture, and this applies to NZ as much as anything. The political party people have done good work on this (Sanders, Corbyn, SNP) and there are other avenues too. So, posts on TS, using social media better, and most of all explaining things to the people wanting to change in language and concepts they can understand and engage with (hence my push to you and adam to bridge the gap between your political analyses and what lots of people take for granted).

          There’s a thing happening in the US around identity politics where some small accommodation is starting to be made to liberals who want to change with the idea that they need guidance. It’s a balance between saying the hard stuff and creating enough space that people will still want to change. Beyond that Stephanie has been writing about inclusive politics a bit lately. Those are the places where I see some potential to be shifting out of the old dynamic and into something better. Not a sole solution by any means but if the activists can’t get their shit together they can’t really expect others to either.

          Agreed on not letting the political parties control things. We lead, the follow.

          “I think that getting good numbers of people from the middle classes on board with ideas based on social democratic principles just wouldn’t be at all difficult.”

          I think the potential is definitely there.

          “And how much further could people holding my kind of political view then push things? Well, that’s the fun bit for those engaged in stuff.”

          😀 (will reply to the G/L convo later).

          • Bill

            I’m not sure whether the opening of your reply was intended to come across as snarky as it reads, but who said anything about relaxing? The fact that politicians and political parties have suggested a path that people in general find acceptable, means there’s no need to cast around for something or re-invent the wheel.

            Maybe we’re on different pages regarding the cultural shift that accompanies a move away from liberal democracy towards social democracy? For my money, it’s huge (but only a beginning – a first step as it were).

            Or is it that you believe a blog (the standard) can initiate cultural shifts? Stuff does come out of left field sometimes, but I’d suggest that the potential for a cultural shift originating in something put up here is on a par with that shift happening because of some unknown person’s reaction to so some reasonably innocuous event growing legs and everyone running with it – ie, it happens, but it’s not a recognisable basket, never mind one that anyone’d want to put their eggs in.

            Using social media well to augment ‘feet on the ground’ organising works well, but (and this is the sense that I’m getting from your comment) using social media as a proxy for’feet on the ground’ organising is a waste of time and energy.. most people do not engage with social media for political reasons – therefore the reach of politicised social media is fairly limited (echo chambers and all that jazz).

            • weka

              The 😉 is intended to convey there is no snark 🙂

              “…but who said anything about relaxing? The fact that politicians and political parties have suggested a path that people in general find acceptable, means there’s no need to cast around for something or re-invent the wheel.”

              I guess your previous comment came across as saying we already have the solution. If Sanders and co were enough, it would have worked. I think it is working but it’s not sufficient on its own. I’m pointing to one other quite specific thing (there will be others too), a need, and I don’t see it being adequately addressed yet. I’m not suggesting inventing a new political theory, I’m talking about how to engage people with those existing structures and knowledges. It’s similar to the one about non-voters, or working class people etc, but it’s specifically aimed at middle class liberals (my home ground).

              Maybe we’re on different pages regarding the cultural shift that accompanies a move away from liberal democracy towards social democracy? For my money, it’s huge (but only a beginning).

              I think the potential is huge. In the US I’m not sure yet which way things will go. This is the tipping point I’ve been banging on about, and the thing about tipping points is there are places to intervene in the system that can affect which way society tips. I’m hopeful about what is happening in the US, but I also see some significant danger signs, most notably the pace of change and the shock. This is why I think it’s critical that the liberals are given a hand (the ones that want to change). The incoming fascists will have been reading tipping point theory too and will have their own plans for where to intervene. I think they are stupider though and have misread what good humans will do, but I’m not sure the cultural shift has happened far enough yet to make me think it’s going to snowball on its own. It needs a push.

              It may also be that the US ends up in a dictatorship or similar and that that spurs the rest of the world to get its shit together.

              Or is it that you believe a blog (the standard) can initiate cultural shifts? Stuff does come out of left field sometimes, but I’d suggest that the potential for a cultural shift originating in something put up here is on a par with that shift happening because of some unknown person’s reaction to so some reasonably innocuous event growing legs and everyone running with it – ie, it happens.

              I definitely see TS and other online spaces as influential. On TS I think the value is in a number of places. One is the posts at the top of the FP. Headlines, intros, bits that people read. These are alternatives to mainstream narratives and that in itself is invaluable. I think we can do better here on TS, but that’s another convo 😉

              I also think there is value in the commentariat community. This is an activist space. What we nut out here we take out into our lives and that’s where the influence happens. This is why I am in favour of stomping on the worst of the trolling and encouraging people to engage in a more proactive way in addition to just arguing with each other.

              Using social media well to augment ‘feet on the ground’ organising works well, but (and this is the sense that I’m getting from your comment) using social media as a proxy for’feet on the ground’ organising is a waste of time and energy.. most people do not engage with social media for political reasons – therefore the reach of politicised social media is fairly limited (echo chambers and all that jazz).

              Yep, I agree with that. We need multiple actions across many different ways that humans interact and be in the world. I focus on the internets because I am at home so much. If my health were different I would be doing more action out there in the world for sure.

              Having said that, we don’t need most people to be online for online to have an effect. We need a critical mass. I don’t know what that is, but I think it’s more in the realms of 10 or 20% rather than 50 or 60%. Get 20% of people excited about change online and they will move. I haven’t seen much analysis yet, but I’m pretty sure that the airport protests over the past few days were a direct result of social media. And the value in those protests is both the immediate protest, but that those people are then energised and networked to do the next thing. Snowball building.

              I do think you and I are reading quite different things, which is great and why we should keep talking.

            • Adrian Thornton

              @Bill, Again I agree with your over all assessment, yes social media is of course a very important political tool, but having people mobilized and inspired enough to get their feet on to the ground and their hands dirty is where real political change will come from.

              • weka

                I’d be interested in your ideas in how that might happen or be brought about.

                • Adrian Thornton

                  Well I would say you have to start with a party and a leader who are themselves impassioned, unflinchingly courageous and uncompromising around the human issues of equality and fairness for all citizens, and the environment and if we don’t have that party today, which we don’t, we must not be bullied into accepting anything less than these simple demands from our party (Labour in my case).
                  By collectively rejecting anything less and all the while demanding more, we embolden and open the spaces for the right people to emerge and help lead a peoples movement….to victory.

                • Bill

                  Well, you might get the ball rolling by hosting some “Coffee, Cake and Revolution” meetings in your home. (Not my idea. It’s been done.)

                  • Adrian Thornton

                    @ Bill, don’t you worry, got the coffee covered, I have a faithful old La Pavoni that gets a heavy work out during some of the political conversations/debates that go on in the bookshop, also good for a quick hit for the crew, before a late night poster run.
                    I am also working on a ‘Turn Labour Left’ local campaign, which seems to be picking up a little bit of interest.

              • Carolyn_nth

                Feet on the ground is a difficult thing, because offline social & political organisations have been in decline in recent decades.

                So maybe part of the answer is to re-build offline organisations and networks between them.

                Unions can be part of that, but it’s necessary to go beyond them to more leisure-related activities, and to local cultural events, I think.

                • Siobhan

                  Which leads us to one of my pet topics…BRING BACK NIGHT CLASSES.
                  Night classes where a unique opportunity for people of different cultural and socio economic groups to meet up in a relatively neutral space.

                  Down here in the Hawkes Bay there is a real class divide, yet in night classes you would see The Orchidists, The Workers, The Professionals and the Underemployed all sitting around talking as friends and equals, comparatively speaking, mixing socially with people they would normally treat with prejudice.

                  I suspect this was one of the reasons for dropping the classes.
                  Its interesting to me that Labour haven’t talked about bringing them back.
                  Night classes are a traditional way to further the skills of the population, and an important part of building community, especially in a time when people are so often moving house and jobs.

                  • “Night classes”

                    Liking this, very much.

                  • Carolyn_nth

                    Like the old workers education association?

                    Maybe a new version in the 21st century times of precarious employment, unemployment, and under-employment – people’s education association?

                    Community education association?

              • ” feet on to the ground and their hands dirty”

                Plus one hundred, etc.

        • Adrian Thornton


  4. One Anonymous Bloke 5

    Thanks for the links Weka – I’ve been thinking along the same lines and they filled in a lot of the blanks.

  5. rhinocrates 6

    It is standard for authoritarians (bullies on the personal scale, governments on the macro scale): promise or demand order, but in practice create constant chaos.

    It is not only a distraction, but psychological terrorism meant to deprive people of the sense of their own narrative and thereby make them receptive to authority.

    There is no stable destination. That is a lie they use, but they want a population constantly disoriented, cynical and malleable. The chaos will be permanent. Authoritarian governments depend on there being a constant perception of chaos barely controlled and the leadership as the exclusive force opposing it. In such a state, you may hate the authority, but you will be dependent on it, always reacting not proactive.

    This is the point Orwell made with the Party constantly changing the enemy and ally status of Eurasia and Eastasia.

    A point Hannah Arendt made about totalitarianism too is that you’re not meant to be persuaded by propaganda, instead propaganda establishes a narrative to support later actions by the authoritarian government. It is a means to condition you to reject what you know and see in favour of what you are told. Gaslighting of an entire population as it were.

    • Carolyn_nth 6.1

      The shock chaos of Team Trump, reminded me of Walter Benjamin’s writings on fascism and permanent “the state of emergency”. He was a Marxist, but also wrote about the importance of culture, and popular culture, in the class struggle.

      It’s about understanding the very real experiences of class oppression – which is , and has always been existing, under a state of emergency. The rise of fascism just makes the state of emergency more visible, and obviously chaotic. It is class oppression by another means.

      Thus, the current system has already contained the elements from which Trumpism has arisen.

      But Benjamin’s writings are also about how the ruling classes use popular culture to oppress: and how the oppressed classes can use popular culture as part of their resistance.

      So far I haven’t found anything useful about Benjamin’s views, that doesn’t use some highly academic language.

      Benjamin was a Jewish German at the time of the rise of H1tler. He turns the notion of a “state of emergency”, seemingly initiated by the oppressive state, on it’s head. The state of emergency in which we live is the on-going reality that’s always been part of capitalism.

      For him the class struggle put the ruling class into a constant state of emergency:

      In other words, all class society is a permanent state of emergency in which the rulers are always under threat. Fascism is thus not some sort of breakdown of tradition but a continuation of traditional class rule by other means. Overcoming it thus requires not just anti-fascist attitudes but also a destruction of its roots in class oppression.

      Benjamin ultimately saw no escape from the Nazzis & killed himself.

      [Benjamin] left Germany shortly before the Nazis seized power. After the Nazis invaded France, he fled to Spain, with a precious travel visa to the United States. Spain’s government then cancelled all transit papers. The police told Benjamin and all the other Jewish refugees in his group would be returned to France. He killed himself.

      Disturbing echoes of Team Trump’s shock tactics.

      But Benjamin’s writings also suggest how popular culture – today digital media, plus live cultural events, can be used to promote an alternative message, and can encourage solidarity among those wanting a more human and democratic system.

      And that solidarity needs to be based in a clear understanding of class oppression in a capitalist system.

      • rhinocrates 6.1.1

        Good post. I think that in all analyses of the situation, we should also be looking for a way out.

      • Ad 6.1.2

        Adorno was a whole bunch better on that theme than Walter Benjamin.
        Have a go at Dialectic of Enlightenment.

        But could we please stop Godwinning Trump?

        Have an original idea.

        This isn’t Germany 1933.

        • Carolyn_nth

          Have read the Dialectic of Enlightenment. A decade or two ago now.

          I like some of Adorno’s stuff e.g. the need to produce culture that critically engages people – that jars their preconceived notions (delivers a wake up call) and causes them to reflect. He was against pop culture that drew people in emotionally, and provided distractions from the class struggle, sucking people into the culture of the ruling classes.

          But Adorno tended to be anti- popular cultural forms and new technologies of mass communication. A bit of a cultural snob.

          Benjamin was more savvy about the potential of new forms of communication technologies, and was more positive about the potential of popular cultural forms to engage the wider community.

          • Ad

            Adorno was somewhat of a snob, and his critiques of L.A. popular culture dated pretty quickly.

            But he is fresh and fearless on how tyrannical rule within western democracies evolve.

            I preferred Habermas over Benjamin on newer forms of communicative technology. He was generally more hopeful for the internet.

            • Carolyn_nth

              I’m not so familiar with Habermas. My understanding is he’s all about the Internet as a global pub-like environment, where anyone can participate critically in discussion about social and political issues – an Agora.

              I’ve never seen the internet as the great new democratic space that some did at the end of the 20th century. It does provide a space for discussion. But it’s hard for all voices to be heard equally. And it always was going to be commercialised and dominated by communications and media corporates.

              Walter Benjamin was more aware how propaganda could be conveyed (and resisted) through the way images, and sequences of images are constructed: also how cultural values can be conveyed within the built urban environment – shopping arcades. etc.

              Through the post WWII 20th century and into the 21st century, our whole built and communications environment has been saturated with emotive sounds and images, which use the skills/techniques of propaganda.

              In a way, those technologies of propaganda, in a media saturated, reality TV world, have been a significant vehicle for the rise and chaos of Team Trump. The online discussions critiquing his lies, incitement of hate and support, and spreading his mis-directions, don’t seem to have been that effectual in stopping him so far.

              We have street protests. It is on the TV. But how will the attitudes Trump taps into be countered if we don’t deeply consider all the ways our image saturated world constructs and conveys anti-democratic, neoliberal/capitalist values through raw emotions?

  6. Ad 7

    President Trump will likely put two places onto the Supreme Court to gain the majority to crush any legal challenge to his immigration actions.

    Once that is achieved, all branches of government will in the end answer to him: Senate and Congress majority, all executive posts, himself, the armed forces, and Supreme Court.

    Trump is cleansing to implement the policies that he was voted in on. I mean, great to see Acting Attorney General Sally Yates refuse to support the orders, but the clock is now ticking over her as a result. These people are taking names; of people, and of whole countries.

    Sure hope the Opposition can keep this up. Four years is a long time.

    And while it’s a long way off, Trump changing what is possible in democratic politics is also going to be terrific license for the left once they get re-elected into power.

  7. Pat 8


  8. Glenn 9

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a “Reichstag conspiracy” doesn’t happen during the next few years.
    That would be the final nail in the coffin.

  9. Murray Simmonds 10

    This is all just “smokescreen stuff”.

    What’s really going on is this:

    Trump has just appointed the wealthiest cabinet in the history of the USA. A fair number of those appointees are ex Goldman Sachs employees.

    Now read here what Goldman Sachs is all about:

    And hopefully you saw the doco on AlJazeera on “The bank that rules the world”.

    A quote from the “Rolling stone” article:

    “What you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain — an extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic capitalism, which never foresaw that in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.

    The bank’s unprecedented reach and power have enabled it to turn all of America into a giant pump-and-dump scam, manipulating whole economic sectors for years at a time, moving the dice game as this or that market collapses, and all the time gorging itself on the unseen costs that are breaking families everywhere — high gas prices, rising consumer credit rates, half-eaten pension funds, mass layoffs, future taxes to pay off bailouts. All that money that you’re losing, it’s going somewhere, and in both a literal and a figurative sense, Goldman Sachs is where it’s going: The bank is a huge, highly sophisticated engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on Earth — pure profit for rich individuals.”

    Some of you may say this is “off topic”.

    Its not, if you believe there are such things as “diversionary tactics” in the “political toolchest”.

    • Murray Simmonds 10.1

      The other part of the picture:

      Yes, I know the Rolling stone article is old. So is the Bible. That doesn’t stop people believing in it! Nor does age necessarily invalidate the essential truths that the publication might or might not encapsulate.

      Trump’s immigrant ban is set to last three months. Thereafter, who knows what?

      My guess is that Goldman-Sachs will have enacted its next round of self-gratifying”mischief” by then.

      You could always go and protest at the nearest branch of Goldman Sachs. Trouble is, there is only ONE branch and that is in New York. This alone tells you something interesting about this “bank”.

    • “organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.”

      That’s it, sports fans.

  10. weka 11

    Coming through twitter politicos in the past day or so is that the LGBTQ communities will be targeted next.

    Here we go,

    So how does this play out via the various theories around Tr*mpville? Incompetency? Consolidating money and power? Fascism? Is this another test? Who or what is being tested? Who will stand up? What’s going on in the background as another wave of protests happen? Will the people rise and move beyond the Dem/GOP stalemate?

    • Carolyn_nth 11.1

      Red meat to his core followers? Shoring up his support, while dividing some of their opposition?

      Also, dropping grenades in various locations – keeping disconnected groups putting out fires so they don’t join forces?

      We should just focus on solidarity between all sections of society and stand by all groups that can easily be marginalised.

  11. Glenn 12

    George Orwell..A final Warning…

    “Don’t let it happen.”

  12. Paul Campbell 13

    So, explain to me someone, apparently there’s some exemption to Trump’s immigration ban for citizens of 5-eyes countries … hearing him on the radio it seems that our PM is thinking about considering asking Trump if it’s true ….

    No one’s explained why? what’s so special about the citizens of 5-eyes countries that makes the US think that we are a safe known quantity?

    The only thing I can think of is that we’re such a safe known quantity because the NSA knows so much about each and everyone of us because we live in a 5-eyes panopticon.

  13. Skeptic 14

    From what I’ve read n the news about legal reaction to trump’s ban, and from I know of the US Constitution, I think Trump just stepped on his crank big time. Breaching civil rights laws in the USA is an impeachable offence, especially when the Courts (that are independent in the US) rule as such. Several federal and State Courts have issued “stay” orders against the ban, plus there are several Laws Suits pending. I think Trump just hit an almighty wall – similar to the one he hopes to build. Down the road a bit, I think he’s gone – within the month. The lesson will not be lost on Pence, if he starts discriminating too much in favour of the fundamentalist Christian Right. The lesson: politics is the art of the possible – the law and constitution are absolutes.

  14. weka 15

    Maybe time for some grim laughs,

    Malcolm Tucker
    There are lies, there are damned lies and then there’s the shit that Gropey McTrumpfuck vomits out onto twitter.


    Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
    Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage,…..

  15. Andre 16

    The argument that we shouldn’t be surprised, let alone shocked by Trump’s actions. The shock will come when he has to deal with a crisis not of his own making.

    • weka 16.1

      I’ve been reading Sarah Kendzior for nearly a year writing about the rising of fascism in the US and I’m still shocked. Yes we shouldn’t be surprised but it is still very shocking nevertheless.

  16. Glenn 17

    ” Kiwi couple’s dream to see America has been dashed – at least temporarily – by President Donald Trump’s ban on visitors from seven majority-Muslim nations.

    The Auckland couple, both born in New Zealand, have been caught by the ban because the 24-year-old woman has Iranian as well as New Zealand citizenship due to her parents being born in Iran.

    She had been due to attend a visa interview at the US consulate in Auckland tomorrow, but the interview was abruptly cancelled today after Trump’s 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya.”

    • weka 17.1

      Ironically, there was a piece on RNZ this evening about a US couple who came here on holiday and he was refused entry and sent back because he bought his medicinal cannabis with him thinking it was legal to do so (it was until late last year). So we can compare Dunne to Tr*mp now 😉

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