Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My State of the Onion Address

So, where are we today, then?

The American media has totally tripped over its feet on the ‘fake news’ thing, as I (and many others) predicted. It’s currently completely unable to tell fact from fiction from disinformation and all anyone has to do to send them to a corner sobbing is to point at an article and say ‘fake news!’. It works every time and they have no defense against it. They could try solidarity, but that’s like saying the left should try solidarity. It never happens.

Of course, the media is all over Trump’s tweets, or “Look, a squirrel!” as he could well call them. This weekend, Martin Luther King Day weekend, Trump tweeted something marginally ignorant about a Black lawmaker and former Civil Rights leader. The press yapped after it like hunt dogs after a red herring, while Rex Tillerson, the architect of a $500bn Exxon deal with Russia (currently in limbo, under Obama’s sanctions) was being questioned about his ability to act neutrally towards Russia as US Secretary of State. No time for probing articles on this dilemma – we have a tweet here belittling a nice person that requires dissecting at incredible length!

One piece of news we know isn’t fake is Christopher Steele’s “piss party” dossier. The European news sources know Steele, know his integrity and believe his story, or at least believe that Steele believes it. (And, remember, the bombshell inside is not that Trump may have been filmed with micturating prostitutes – there are another 34 ½ pages in the report and many of them document Trump’s ties with Putin.) The BBC reported that there is another source for this information – and other sex tapes. It’s possible that the Russians do not mind one of their kompromat tapes being disclosed to Trump as it alerts him they may have more. It still works as blackmail. Dismissing it in the press seems to have worked as the media is currently hopeless, but that’s not who this release of information was for.

One good thing about this all is that Trump is less likely to start WWIII with Russia. Obama was gearing up to do so – did you know the US just sent troops to Poland? – and Clinton would have followed suit. Unfortunately, Trump seems to want to start a war with China instead. Putin may reel him in – Russia has been trying to friend China recently – but if not, the US is in for at least a trade war with China.

Trump’s picks for major positions in goverment all seem to be based on picking a campaign donor who has the least experience and the greatest hatred for the system he (or in one case she) will be running. This is, I assume, designed to gut the various government offices. I’m not too sure that’ll happen as governments do not shrink in size and the minions will have plenty of stalling maneuvers ready to save their own jobs. All it’s likely to accomplish is each agency having an expensive, injurious inner struggle.

In most cases a PEOTUS would pick a Pharma lawyer to head FDA, and the Pharma lawyer would automatically run the administration to the benefit of his old colleagues, both because it’s what they know and because it raises huge barriers to entry by newcomers, reducing competition. (Which is why, for instance, pharma startups are bought out by Big Pharma as soon as they have a successful drug nearing market.) Trump is apparently favoring a man who cannot stand FDA, Balaji Srinivasan, and who appears to think that getting drugs from lab bench to market quickly so that the patients can trial the drug themselves is a better way of approving drugs than the traditional (8-12 year long, $1bn-costing) New Drug Application procedure. As a fellow lab testing person, I tend to agree with his assessment of FDA but I’m not convinced that Yelp et al is the best way to trial drugs. To give one reason out of a whole basket: the people who die are not going to be leaving reviews, a well-known statistical problem literally called Survivorship Bias. As for his ability to run FDA or run it into the ground, he’s a lab guy, I already mentioned that. Oh, and he appears from his now-deleted tweets, to be a Bitcoin bro and a pro-posthuman/singularitarian bro. (I didn’t see any fedoras or MRA stuff in his tweet… otherwise, definitely a bro.)

I think it’s quite likely that the GOP know they’ve unleashed a monster and are planning to impeach Trump soon after the inauguration. I’m sure they love Pence, a joy deficient religious extremist who feels healthcare and welfare are frills, while the ‘religious freedom’ to discriminate against LGBT people is a must-have. (He also consistently votes against environmental protection bills, believes that “smoking does not kill”, that the planet is “cooling”, and is a creationist.) They'll be much happier with him in charge. On the other hand, they seem genuinely afraid of Trump - authoritarians gotta authoritate, I guess. He's the alpha and they're all currently doing a great job of cringing and baring their necks. What a world.

It's going to be an interesting four years. (If we survive that long.)

1 comment:

KaliDurga said...



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