Yesterday I was rather taken aback to see the near brawl that took place on the set of “The Young Turks” between the host Cenk Uygur and two supporters of the Trump campaign, Roger Stone and Alex Jones. Uygur’s show, which is webcast only, was in Cleveland covering the Republican convention when Stone and Jones literally hijacked the broadcast and began baiting him about supporting Saudi Arabia, calling one of Uygur’s assistants a “little jihad”. This really got Uygur enraged, who jumped out of his seat and screamed, “We are against Saudi Arabia, you dumbass.” Getting in Stone’s face, he looked on the verge of punching out Stone’s clock. All in all, it had the ambience of those afternoon TV shows like the Jerry Springer Show that were popular about 20 years ago, when, for example, the two men who a woman was having sex with on alternate days, had to be separated by crew members to avoid a fist fight. The Springer shows were pretty much staged but I have no doubt that Uygur was ready to kick some ass.
The provenance of Jones and Stone is interesting. Alex Jones has a radio show called “Infowars” that shares about 90 percent of the talking points of Mike Whitney, Eric Draitser, Pepe Escobar and Andre Vltchek—in other words, the far reaches of the Baathist amen corner. Despite his affinity with them, it is doubtful that CounterPunch would ever publish Jones because he is an out-and-out rightwinger. Unlike Paul Craig Roberts, who does appear regularly on CounterPunch, Jones is qualitatively more toxic. If anything would shut the door on him, it is his heavy promotion of 9/11 conspiracy theories of the kind that Alexander Cockburn despised. This is not to speak of his pro-cop broadcasts, including one that just appeared–“The Case for Blue Lives Matter”.
Roger Stone is as colorful a character as Jones. He got involved with Richard Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President in 1972 when he was a student at George Washington University. One of his “dirty tricks” was donating money to Nixon’s presidential primaries rival in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance, the Trotskyist youth group I joined in 1967. He then took the receipt and released it to the ultraright Manchester Union-Leader to scandalize Nixon’s rival. So devoted was Stone to Nixon’s way of doing business that he had his face tattooed on the back of his neck.
Stone was a lobbyist for Trump for many years, promoting his casino businesses. This is probably how the connection was made to Paul Manafort, who is now Trump’s chief adviser. Stone and Manfort hooked up with Charlie Black to form the consulting firm of Black, Manafort and Stone in 1985. Black is as creepy as Stone, having founded the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC) in 1975.
Stone became Donald Trump’s first chief adviser and served until August 8, 2015. Trump fired him for unspecified reasons, only tweeting “I terminated Roger Stone last night because he no longer serves a useful function for my campaign. I really don’t want publicity seekers who want to be on magazines or who are out for themselves. This campaign is not about them. It’s about victory and making America great again.”
Stone remained loyal to Trump even after being fired. There were probably no deep policy differences between the two scumbags since his partner Paul Manafort took over for him. One imagines that Trump decided Stone was a liability because of his big mouth. It was not so much that he disagreed with what he said, only that he was just a bit too obvious on Twitter as the liberal MediaMatters reported:
Donald Trump ally Roger Stone, who was recently banned from CNN for crude attacks on its staff, has tweeted sexist and racist attacks against other members of the media, according to a Media Matters review.
Stone is a notorious “dirty trickster” who recently co-authored The Clintons’ War on Women. The 2015 book is dedicated to — and cites research from — a Holocaust denier who blames a “Jewish plot” for the 9/11 attacks. Stone’s history includes forming an anti-Hillary Clinton group named “C.U.N.T.” during the 2008 election.
Stone worked for Trump’s presidential campaign last year and is now organizing against Clinton’s campaign again. He is a frequent presence in the media because of his long ties to Trump; their friendship and professional relationship goes back decades.
As Media Matters previously documented, Stone has written disgusting tweets against people who work for CNN and Fox News. He’s called employees at those networks an “arrogant know-it-all negro,” a “stupid negro,” a “fat negro,” a “Mandingo,” and “quota hires.” He told Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer — who was paralyzed in a diving accident when he was in medical school — to “stand the fuck up,” and said Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly has a “nice set of cans.”
No wonder Uygur was ready to punch him in the mouth.
For many on the left, people like Jones, Manafort and Stone have one redeeming feature. They are pro-Assad and pro-Putin. If you go to Infowars, you can find an article that appeared originally on RT.com that accused the USA of supporting al-Qaeda in Syria. One of Jones’s frequent guests is “The Syrian Girl”, a diehard supporter of the dictatorship. In terms of Russia, Jones’s views hardly differ from what you can read in The Nation or on the World Socialist Website such as his broadcast of “PUTIN WARNS OF WORLD WAR 3: Society hurdles dangerously closer to global warfare” on July 2nd.
So the question of how someone like that can become a comrade of Manafort and Stone, whose love for Reagan passeth all understanding, is worth considering. Is it possible that the ultraright has broken decisively with the Cold War-bred neo-conservatism of the Republican Party and adopted the coloration of European movements like UKIP in England, the National Front in France and Jobbik in Hungary? Apparently so.
This week two articles appeared that took note of this.
Two days ago Jeffrey Goldberg wrote an article for Atlantic titled “It’s Official: Hillary Clinton Is Running Against Vladimir Putin”. Goldberg, an arch-Zionist and ardent supporter of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, is quite upset over Trump’s disdain for NATO obligations and indifference to Putin’s intervention in Ukraine.
And just yesterday, Paul Krugman wrote an op-ed piece titled “Donald Trump, the Siberian Candidate” that raised the same concerns but was additionally troubled by Trump’s admiration for Putin, particularly his “leadership” abilities. He, by the way, is not the only rightwinger who goes weak in the knees when he sees a bare-chested Vladimir Putin. Rudolph Giuliani, who vilified Black Lives Matter in a speech at the Republican convention, views Putin as the kind of strong leader the USA needs.
It seems that Rush Limbaugh has a photo of a shirtless Putin on his website, accompanied with this observation:
Well, did you hear that the White House put out a photo of Obama talking on the phone with Vlad, and Obama’s sleeves were rolled up? That was done to make it look like Obama was really working hard—I mean, really taking it seriously. His sleeves were rolled up while on the phone with Putin! Putin probably had his shirt off practicing Tai-Chi while he was talking to Obama.
If the ultraright was identified by “one percent” type ideology in the past, it has swung over apparently to demagogic populist appeals that arguably position it to the left of the Democratic Party—at least on economic questions.
In his speech to the Republican Party convention, Trump said the following:
I have visited the laid-off factory workers, and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals.
I am going to bring our jobs back to Ohio and to America – and I am not going to let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way, without consequences.
My opponent, on the other hand, has supported virtually every trade agreement that has been destroying our middle class. She supported NAFTA, and she supported China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization – another one of her husband’s colossal mistakes.
My opponent, on the other hand, wants to put the great miners and steel workers of our country out of work – that will never happen when I am President. With these new economic policies, trillions of dollars will start flowing into our country.
This new wealth will improve the quality of life for all Americans – We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and the railways of tomorrow. This, in turn, will create millions more jobs.
It is quite startling to see such words coming out of the mouth of a man who has relied on the advice of Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, who have a long history of backing the most retrograde economic policies of Nixon, Reagan, and George Bush, father and son.
It is entirely possible that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States since the pain people have been suffering is so acute. The contrast between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the debates will be striking, with her backing NAFTA and other such trade agreements and Trump attacking them as if he were Bernie Sanders or Ralph Nader.
It is important to remember that Trump is a skilled demagogue whose long-time tenure on “The Apprentice” made him a celebrity whose success was envied by the unfortunate souls who paid good money to take classes at Trump University.
On January 5, 2016 Trump took part in an off-the-record interview with the NY Times where he revealed that his views on immigration were strictly intended to get votes and that he should not be held to them. If that is good news, there is also the bad news that his anti-NAFTA tirades have the same intention, promises that will not be kept.
Back in the 60s, when the radical movement was far more powerful than it is today, leftists honed in on the question of the Permanent Government. It analyzed institutions like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and so on. A large part of the interest in how the state operated beyond the control of ordinary citizens flowed from LBJ’s broken promises about keeping us out of Vietnam and Richard Nixon’s continuation of that war despite his nominal opposition. In more recent years, the Marxist core of such analysis dissipated to be replaced by conspiracy-mongering of the Infowars variety.
For many on the left, politics has become personality-driven as if our vote in November will have any major impact on what the ruling class decides to do about wars, the economy, killer cops, global warming or any of the other major problems facing us. In the final analysis, the state is the executive committee of the ruling class and will remains so as long as capitalism exists.
Jack Rasmus, an economics professor at St. Mary’s College in California and a frequent contributor to leftist magazines and websites, made very good sense in an article titled “Trump, Trade, and Working-Class Discontent” that appeared on Telesur.
He is pandering to those with a legitimate and serious real concern who have been deeply harmed by U.S. trade policies. Trump is in that great U.S. presidential candidate tradition, promising voters what they want to hear and then, if elected, doing whatever the economic elites want them to do. U.S. presidential candidates, of either wing—Republican and Democrat—of the Corporate Party of America, are habitual liars and cannot be trusted.
We had our pseudo-populist from the “left,” Barack Obama, elected eight years ago promising to reform free trade treaties. And he became the biggest free trade advocate in U.S. economic history. In Trump, we have our Obama analog, a pseudo-populist this time from the “right,” promising the same. And who then will do the same. To paraphrase an ancient saying, U.S. voters now considering voting for Trump based on his anti-trade views would do well to “Beware Billionaires Bearing Gifts.”
If you need any evidence on how Trump is not going to take on the billionaires who are making our lives miserable, there is an article that appeared in yesterday’s NY Times that is aptly titled “G.O.P.’s Moneyed Class Finds Its Place in New Trump World”. It states:
Roughly 500 wealthy Republicans poured close to $16 million into the Republican National Committee’s convention account leading up to this week, according to disclosures made to the Federal Election Commission through last Friday. The biggest donors, giving more than $100,000 each, are also a veritable roll call of the stop-Trump movement, among them the billionaire investor Paul E. Singer and Marlene Ricketts, who bankrolled early efforts to deny Mr. Trump the nomination.
Mr. Singer did not attend, though his political advisers made the rounds in Cleveland, as did representatives for other megadonors who remain opposed to Mr. Trump. And there were growing signs that at least some of the party’s biggest givers were warming to him: Co-hosts of Monday’s super PAC reception at the Ritz-Carlton included Harold Hamm, a billionaire oil tycoon and former energy adviser to Mitt Romney, and Stanley Hubbard, a Minnesota television station owner and prominent donor.
Among the guests was Foster Friess, the Wyoming-based mutual fund investor and super PAC donor, who expressed optimism at his party’s prospects. “I think it could be a landslide,” Mr. Friess said in an interview. “Donald Trump has the ability to reach all the plumbers and carpenters and factory workers who usually vote Democratic.”
Interesting to see that Friess is enthused about Trump’s ability to reach plumbers, carpenters and factory workers when he has given millions of dollars for the election campaigns of Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Perry—three politicians who epitomize the determination of the bourgeoisie to turn the clock back to 1880 or so when there were no trade unions and big business drowned strikes in blood. This is the reality of American politics. Pay less attention to what politicians say and more to what they do. If Trump is elected, we have to mobilize to stop him in his tracks. The same thing goes for Hillary Clinton. As the economic situation continues to favor the billionaires they represent, we will have the opportunity to get across a radical message in a way that we haven’t since the 1930s. Let’s not waste that opportunity on ill-conceived maneuvering in the two-party system that needs to be abolished with the capitalist system it stands upon.
UPDATE: Excellent report on Alex Jones and the Trump campaign: https://newrepublic.com/article/135370/trumps-coronation-alex-jones-king