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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Trump the Incendiary - Irrational Political Satire 2

"Private Eye" issue 1484, 13 Dec 2018 (p. 29)

There is something about Trump that makes otherwise intelligent, well-educated and well-informed people lose their reason. When they're not trying to make you lose yours, as I showed a few days ago.

Above are two more examples.

Let's start with the cartoon. Here is Trump, with that darkened face (it would be orange if in colour) represented as George Washington in the famous anecdote in which GW freely confessed his wrongdoing to his father. So, translated into words, is this image telling us that President Trump was personally responsible for the fires in California? Or that forest management would mean cutting down the trees?

And then, when the satirists decide to use words, as in the skit atop this strange sketch, they blether about Twitter, climate change, MAGA, even inventing criticism by Trump of the firefighters tackling the blaze - just, lunacy.

It's a visceral thing, not a rational matter. This video gives a plausible explanation for "liberal" intellectuals' loss of self-control at the sight and sound of the President (htp: A K Haart):

What actually happened?

Trump visited California because of the terrible blazes there that have claimed dozens of victims, with hundreds of other people still not accounted for.

Now the usual approach of political leaders is simply to empathise on our behalf - remember President Clinton's "I feel your pain"? (he did say it), announce financial and other support in general terms, and so on. It's sort of performing a Father Of The Nation or priestly role. And because we are mostly emotional, it works: Clinton's "emotional intelligence" may have helped him gain the Presidency, denying Bush Senior his second term in office.

But Trump is a businessman, so he blundered straight on into practical suggestion, looking at what could be done to prevent a recurrence. Clearing the forest floor, for example.

And that was a gift for those who will seize on anything at all to bury Trump in negatives. Suggest thinning out the woodland and you are accused of grabbing an opportunity to increase logging. Or an expert "fire scientist" - or biology professor - says that's not the issue. And because Trump speaks as he thinks, he will make verbal stumbles and that's even better - so "raking" became the big joke.

No wonder professional politicians practise being bland and vague. Probably they would have taken the usual tack in cases like this - calling for some lengthy investigation that would cause the eyes of the news media to glaze over.

But eventually, amid the spluttering, there came some more nuanced reconsideration of the problem and possible solutions, e.g. the BBC's "California wildfires: Is Trump right when he blames forest managers?"

As so often, when the media flak has died down we find that Trump has, in his ham-fisted way, opened an agenda for discussion. Among other things, the BBC's article implies that there is a need for better coordination between the various large landowners of California's forests, and quotes an expert who agrees that some detritus needs to be removed to reduce fire hazard.

Trump referenced Finland in his comments, but we might also learn from Portugal.

Last year, Portugal saw horrendous fires in the forests in its central region, with over 60 fatalities, some caught in the flashover as they took the wrong road in their attempt to drive out of danger.

This is a perennial problem in Portugal, much of which which is mountainous and covered with oily, fast-burning coniferous trees. A standard part of the land management is to clear the woodland floor.

If you walk along the dusty tracks through the forest, you will see rags and empty plastic milk bottles hanging from branches: these indicate the boundaries of individually-owned plots of land, which can be quite small, in traditional rural areas. You can help yourself to branches and cones that have fallen onto the road, but everything off the track is private.

The owners are responsible for regular clearance of their patch. It's their duty to the community.

But the situation is becoming difficult as the pattern of land ownership and settlement changes. In Portugal, if you wish to sell your house, you must show that you have the legal agreement of the entire family, even those members living abroad (and some two million of working age have emigrated to look for employment.) As the Portuguese have risen out of relative poverty, what they have been doing is to buy or build new houses elsewhere and simply abandon the old ones. There are many houses and plots of land that lie untended and it's often not clear who they belong to. So, who is going to clear their forest patch for them?

There's a 2018 English-language study of the complex Portuguese wildfire management issues here.

President Trump can often seem clumsy and crass, but our respect for some media commentators and parodists diminishes when we see how unthinking their responses to him can be.


James Higham said...

The boy’s doing well. All those he’s offending should be.

Sackerson said...

I don't have to be a Trump supporter to want to correct furious, crazy bias.

Paddington said...

As the saying goes, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then.

The man is a total buffoon, who might well be senile. He has spent his life conning people (including himself). There is no doubt from his previous actions that he is an avowed racist and misogynist. I have read numerous personal accounts from people who have dealt with him, including one of his pilots. Every single one talks about his narcissism. He hates all of his children, except the one that he wants to sleep with, he raped and beat his first wife. I can find nothing positive to say about the man.

The saddest part is that his antics are hiding some of the disgusting things that the GOP is doing. The 'tax cut' of last year just put massive amounts of money to the richest, and millions of Americans are going to be rather surprised in the Spring when they suddenly owe extra, instead of getting refunds.

In Wisconsin and three other states, the lame-duck GOP legislatures are scrambling to change the rules to reduce the influence of the incoming Democratic governors. In North Carolina, they cannot certify some elections because GOP operatives illegally personally collected absentee ballots and filled them in and witnessed them.

We might be at the brink of collapsing the Republic.

Sackerson said...

@P: As i said, you don't have to like him or approve of what he does, but if the media want to go after him they can certainly do better than this. Just lazy, sloppy.

You worry about the Republic going down, I worry about what's left of democracy in Britain. If the people are to retain any control over their representatives they will need a much better Fourth Estate to inform them.

Paddington said...

And what is the target of much of Trump's ire?

Sackerson said...

He'd have less to go at without the Russophobia nonsense.

I've just finished reading Roger Cook's autobiography and the News Of The World had a sustained, completely unscrupulous and quite unfounded, comprehensive go at him and The Cook Report. The media can be quite despicable and yet they and PR are all most of the populace have to go on.

Paddington said...

Certainly not nonsense. For the past 20 years, his business has been unable to get money from US banks, and many European ones. They have turned to some suspicious sources, with some good evidence that they have been laundering money for the Russian oligarchs, as the Bank of Cyprus did/does.

Sackerson said...

Trump is certainly irritating, and seemingly a narcissist, though at least the American electorate won't have to face 10 years of narcissism as we had under Blair.

I'm trying to recall a time when the American President wasn't buried under a heap of horse manure - or worse: I read recently that Busy Senior's dad was involved in some plot against FDR. There was (is?) endless stuff about the Clintons' early (pre-Presidential) business dealings, wasn't there? One wonders how the White House manages to get anything done.

But if there is something solid in Trump's Presidential actions to go for, let the media go for it.

So far - and I don't follow all this as closely as no doubt you do - the FBI, CIA etc seem to be in danger of attracting a lot of lightning because of their political partisanship.

I'm reading something at the moment about British intelligence interference in British party politics. Who is supposed to be running the country?