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Hullabaloo


Thursday, January 26, 2017

 

From "the dark side" to the Dark Ages

by Tom Sullivan

Destroying America — who we are, what we value, America's spirit — is job one for the nascent Donald Trump administration. From The Guardian this morning:

Donald Trump has used his first TV interview as president to say he believes torture “absolutely” works and that the US should “fight fire with fire.”

Speaking to ABC News, Trump said he would defer to the defence secretary, James Mattis, and CIA director, Mike Pompeo, to determine what can and cannot be done legally to combat the spread of terrorism.

Yes, you've seen this movie before. Except last time U.S. officials committed the crime before admitting to it. And knowing it was a crime, they'd concocted legal cover in advance to make the illegal "legal." Trump just announced to the world beforehand his intention to repeat that. Trump means to finish the job Osama bin Laden started: getting the United States to destroy itself. Somewhere, bin Laden is smiling.

The interviews come after reports that Trump is preparing to sign an executive order that would reinstate the detention of terrorism suspects at facilities known as “black sites”.

This would remove limitations on coercive interrogation techniques set by a longstanding army field manual intended to ensure humane military interrogations, which is mostly compliant with the Geneva Conventions.
Trump complained that ISIS is doing things not seen "since medieval times." It has been clear for years that conservative extremists meant not simply to roll back the 20th century, but the Enlightenment that breathed life into the U.S. Constitution as well. Not to be outdone, Trump means to go further still.

Digby linked yesterday to a story of scores of programmers and scientists at UCLA, the University of Pennsylvania, and elswhere racing to rescue public data from a Trump administration likely to delete from the public record climatic data and other research that conflicts with the administration's chosen view of reality. Not so different, really, from the way museums in Afghanistan and Iraq rushed to preserve antiquities from destruction by advancing Taliban and ISIS forces. Like Irish monks after the fall of Rome, they are copying the historical record and storing it in remote locations to preserve it from a Trump Dark Age.

Hedrick Smith in "The Russians" (1984) recounted a visit to Moscow's Lenin Library. (Memory must serve, as I cannot locate the text online.) Smith, the New York Times' Moscow Bureau Chief from 1971–74, had gone to one of the world's great libraries to do some research. He needed a back copy of Time(?) magazine. But viewing such subversive foreign material was restricted. He had to present a permission slip from some office, which he had. While the clerk went back into the restricted stacks to fetch the magazine, Smith began leafing through a copy of Life someone had returned to the counter. When the clerk returned, she became visibly agitated. Smith had permission to read Time, but not Life.

In Trump's America, soon we may all need permission slips.

Even before Trump took office, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared he isn't turning back. In December, Brown was defiant on climate change:
"We've got the scientists, we've got the lawyers and we're ready to fight," Brown said to applause during a speech to the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
Charles M. Blow pulls no punches this morning in pushing back. Trump is "a pathological liar":
It is no coincidence that the rise of Trump is concurrent with the rise of “fake news.” It is no coincidence that his rise comes during an age of severely damaged faith in institutions.

And now that he has been elected, Trump wants absolute control over the flow of information, to dictate his own version of facts rather than live with the reality of accepted facts. Trump is in a battle to bend the truth to his benefit.
And it is our charge, your charge, to fight back.