FACT ALLERGY – a diary (January)

// 100 days under President Trump //

––>> JANUARY, every entry

12. (Tue, 31 Jan 2017) – YOU’RE HIRED

Easy to lose track with all that’s happening during Trump’s first week and a half as – are you sitting down? – the 45th President of the United States. (that’s his title, yes, still unbelievable, right?)

Anyway, that’s probably how it was meant to be. We lose track. Miss the bigger picture. And so all the fury surrounding Trump’s immigration ban somewhat drowned out the most important news of the day. That day was Saturday, to be sure: Donald Trump, in another executive order, rearranged the National Security Council by ousting the country’s most senior intelligence and military officials as regular members of the Principals Committee. Instead, he installed one of his top political advisers, namely Stephen Bannon.

Now, even if White House spokesman Sean Spicer announced that Trump will reinstate the director of the CIA as a regular Principals Committee member, he will keep Bannon, his chief strategist, as a regular committee member, “while the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will not be regular attendees”, as CNN reports.

Let me reiterate quickly: within a few months, Bannon rose from relative obscurity as a dark lord of the alt-right, Breitbart News clique to one of the most influential policy advisor of the US President. As everyone focused on the protests at the airports, Trump slipped this little detail, that Bannon now is part of the select few that considers national security and foreign policy matters with the President, past a lot of people.

“Mr. Bannon is positioning himself not merely as a Svengali but as the de facto president”, the New York Times wrote in their Opinion Pages today. Not sure if that is a reassuring thought: what if Donald Trump is merely a puppet on a string?

–> SONG SUGGESTION for the day: Barry White, “You see the trouble with me”

11. (Mon, 30 Jan 2017) – YOU’RE FIRED

Kindergarten is a German word that knows no equivalent in English. Funnily enough, the White House has become somewhat of a synonym for it. You wouldn’t think that travel ban could have caused any more bizarre moments than it already did.

But here is another one.

Donald Trump outdid himself today and falsely said Delta Airlines and protesters were to blame for the chaos and confusion at airports nationwide over the weekend, when the actual reason was his executive order temporarily banning citizens from seven countries traveling to the US and suspending the refugee program for 120 days.

And here is another one.

Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a Democratic appointee appointed by Barack Obama, after she told Justice Department attorneys not to defend his executive order.

The White House statement reads like someone trying to settle a Kindergarten fight:

“The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.

Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.

It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.”

“Well, what do you expect? She didn’t do her job,” I hear you say. To which I say: “Well done.” Glad she didn’t.

–> SONG SUGGESTION for the day: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, “O Children”

10. (Sun, 29 Jan 2017) – PAPERING OVER THE CRACKS

As the mess that is Donald Trump’s executive order suspending people coming to America from seven mostly-Muslim majority countries gathered steam in the form of chaos and protests at several US airports, there is still one question that remains in this: Who is he doing it for?

Americans. The American people, everyone. That is the obvious answer out of the Trump corner. Protecting the whole country from the dangers that people from these singled-out countries (supposedly) pose. The people out at American airports protesting beg to differ that this executive order is in their interest. “This is not about religion,” Donald Trump said in a statement, “this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”

Name me one American who doesn’t want to be safe. Exactly. This action taken by Trump was more playing into the hands of his supporters than pleasing all Americans who feel unsafe. It is, after all, like this: Whether the protesters at the airports are a majority in this country is hard to tell, but there are millions of racist, xenophobic, islamophobic, and sexist, homophobic people out there in this country.

For all the blaming of Trump and his dark lords pulling the ideological strings, it is exactly those people he is doing it for. They are not racist, xenophobic, islamophobic since November 9th. They didn’t wake up the morning after the election opening their local paper to the news of a president Trump and thought: “Look, honey, it’s that young lad from Manhattan, might as well see what he’s got to say for himself. Maybe he has a few brilliant ideas up his sleeve…”

Go out there and you see all these stress fractures throughout American society –– people blaming immigrants for their woes, people condemning a whole religion on the base of pure fear-mongering. Long before Trump came along.

Calling out Donald Trump on his lies is important, it should not stop. Yet, we’re somewhat papering over the cracks if we blame it all on him. He is the vessel for society’s anger and fear. There is something inherently wrong with society in this country.

Has Trump caused this division? Partly, maybe. Has he exposed its ugly face – and is using it more and more to his advantage? Certainly.

–> SONG SUGGESTION for the day: Pulp, “The Fear”

9. (Sat, 28 Jan 2017) – #MUSLIMBAN

Several hashtags were trending on twitter: #muslimban, #JFKprotest, and #Terminal4 amongst others, which was a clear sign of public outrage and solidarity by enlightened citizens over what seems like an obvious bigotry campaign by the Trump administration. Thousands went to JFK airport (and later other airports in different cities) to protest against the executive order signed by the US President in a conscious effort to disunite the country even further.

People with legal visas and dual citizenships were held at airports all over the country on the basis of a legal framework seemingly put together by the White House without serious thought on the implications of this action or the necessary consultation of government agencies, as this blog post worth reading explains in great detail.

Out of all people offering insight into the simple, somewhat despicable thought process of Donald Trump’s executive order to ban refugees and other people from seven, mostly-Muslim majority nations was Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and Trump’s henchman for on-camera explanations on what outrage the business man had now said or tweeted during the campaign.

“When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban,’” Giuliani said in a FOX News interview. “He called me up and said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’”

Giuliani said he did indeed form a commission, with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Rep. Pete King (R-New York) and other lawyers. The order suspends refugee resettlement entirely for 120 days, bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and individuals from seven countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) temporarily.

“What we did was we focused on ― instead of religion ― danger!,” Giuliani added, “the areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible, and that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there is substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.”

So, bottom line, Trump confidant Giuliani admits the thin veil over the term Muslim ban is simply a rhetorical gimmick: “areas of the world that create danger for us”.

–> SONG SUGGESTION for the day: The Strokes, “Hard to explain”

8. (Fri, 27 Jan 2017) – “WE DON’T WANT THEM HERE,” HE SAID

The notion that an office so powerful as the President of the United States would make one a more humble person is obviously nonsense. Not obviously, but clearly. At least after what Donald Trump did today.

He came good on the awful campaign promise to use “extreme vetting” of immigrants and signed an executive order that limits the flow of refugees from seven nations and indefinitely suspends admissions for Syrian refugees into the United States.

“I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry,” the order reads. The countries affected by it are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, according to a White House official.

“I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America,” Trump said during the signing at the Pentagon. “We don’t want them here.”

No one wants terrorists in their country. Invading Afghanistan and Iraq, and leaving behind a region in chaos, is one thing. To then equate whole nations with a minority of radicalized terrorist offsprings is a whole different bag. Terrorists, by the way, the US as a nation indirectly played a hand in creating. With their intervention and subsequent turmoil in some of these regions, the radicalization process was only sped up.

It’s very simple: Banning people from these countries on the premise of their supposedly radical faith is not a political issue. It’s called racism.

–> SONG SUGGESTION for the day: Kanye West, “All falls down”

7. (Thu, 26 Jan 2017) – ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN COAST

Outside snow-covered mountains went past the window. It was surprisingly silent and calm. Occasionally you could hear someone cough and sneeze. The plane was half empty. I had rushed to get my connection – arriving at Gate A34, leaving from B05 with 20 minutes to spare.

When I showed my boarding pass, the women at the counter in the blue uniform said: “Oh, you made it.” – She closed the gate behind me. Inside the plane, the stewardess closed the door behind me. I heard the engine rev up. The few passengers on board who looked up from their phones and books and magazines gave me a “you look tired, sit down, let’s do”-look.

I had thought about taking a different route, but then a 30-minute layover seemed more plausible than having to wait three and a half hours for the connection.

The plane had reached its cruising altitude. Looking outside of the window (I sat in 21A) we were hanging above the clouds, every now and then you could make out the vast corn fields covering the mid-West.

The women next to me leaned in: “Can you see anything?”

I told her that from here it looked like America was all peaceful and quiet. She laughed. It wasn’t a loud laugh, more a surprised one.

“Two Gin & Tonics,” the woman told the stewardess when she asked for drinks. I poured some more tonic water, but that tiny piece of lemon would not sink. It would always come back to the icy surface.

The woman and I didn’t toast. We just raised the plastic cups and looked across the middle seat between us. She had a haircut like Bowie in 1987, only a bit longer at the sides. She told me about her family, who was from Oregon, her three children, who were “living all over the place, one is a doctor in Chicago, the other a teacher near Detroit, and my youngest is still at college in Nashville”, she told me about her two adorable grandchildren, showed me pictures, said that one of them had fallen ill recently, but “Mary is a doctor, so I’m sure the little one will be all right”, she told me about her husband, Mitch, a “dashing soldier in the army when we met”, who had retired some time ago, always watching the football, never too worried about eating healthy food, still active though, she said with the hint of a smile.

“I am Sue, by the way,” she said and offered me her hand to shake. She told me about how she had left Oregon, how she grew up an only child with conservative parents that had knack for Jazz, what life was like on the West Coast, how she struggled with her first husband, that she never worries about the kids too much, because “life sorts itself out, believe me”, and that the bills were a bit much sometimes, but that she lived a happy life.

The plane touched down, I put my unread book back into my bag. While putting on my jacket, Sue said: “Safe travels, it was nice meeting you… And you know what? We didn’t even talk about Trump.”

–> SONG SUGGESTION for the day: All Saints, “Pure Shores”


During the campaign last year I met a voter who said –– in this OTT way you only get when the person opposite is speaking into a mic or a notepad (and is a Trump supporter) –– that he would “lay the first brick” himself it that’s what it took.

If it were up to Donald Trump, he would have you believe this voter had to get started mixing concrete very, very soon. “Trump orders construction of border wall”, ran the headlines after the President seemingly kept one of his main campaign promises by issuing an executive order for the construction of a wall along the Southern US-Mexican border.

It is, quelle surprise, only a smoke screen. A mere gesture to his supporters, and a nice photo opportunity on top. Along the border, which is about 1900 miles (3000 kilometres) long, there already exists a “wall”: roughly 700 intermittent miles of barriers, fences, and barb wire. According to CNN “any promise to build more wall will fail mostly because of geography. You cannot build a wall on the Rio Grande. And in other border areas vast mountain ranges make an ocean-to-gulf wall simply impossible, if not ridiculous, to build.”

Good thing Trump didn’t specify a date or any other information as to where, how, and when all of this is ought to happen. This way you can’t pin him down on any details in the future, yet he can claim to have kept his promise.

Here is one detail on the border for you: Mexicans make up the majority of unauthorized immigrants, though their numbers actually had been declining in recent years.

–> SONG SUGGESTION for the day: Style Council, “Walls came tumbling down”

5. (Tue, 24 Jan 2017) – THE SEASONS THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’

It was little over a year ago. The skinny guy at the car rental desk said he had no economy car left for me. “I know you requested something else, but if you want you can have this one.”

He pointed at a white Dodge. “Just take that. Much safer when it starts to snow in the afternoon..” I can’t even remember the name of the car, only that it was way too big for me and my small bag that I had filled for the days leading up to the New Hampshire primary.

I drove off. The sun had long gone. A chilly wind was sweeping across the car park when I stopped the engine. I had never seen Marco Rubio, the Senator from Florida, before. He was running to become President of the United States. It was early February, the field of contenders was still wide open.

20 minutes after my arrival, a young, fresh-faced guy entered the local school gym in Salem, New Hampshire. He looked friendly, enthusiastic, down to earth, approachable. But it didn’t take long to figure: Marco Rubio was just as unelectable as the rest of the Republican candidates.

“Climate change, what climate change? The climate has always been changing,” he said in front of a packed audience of mums, dads, and children. “… and anyway,  it’s snowing outside, isn’t?”

Rubio’s punchline rings even more hollow now that 2016 has officially been named earth’s hottest year on record yesterday. And today, it became known, Donald Trump apparently had ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to freeze its grant programs, anonymous sources told the Huffington Post.

That would include funding for research, redevelopment of former industrial sites, air quality monitoring, and education, among other things, the report read. True or not, the environment has certainly not gained a powerful ally in Donald Trump who claimed that “environmentalism is out of control”  just today. Instead, he was sending a message to the American automobile industry. If it is up to him they would build and sell their cars in the US again on a large scale to create a number of jobs.

This time last year, by the way, a blizzard hit the East Coast. In D.C. it snowed for 36 hours straight. Almost 365 days later, just as he went up to the podium to address the nation after taking the oath of office, Trump stood out in the open at the Capitol. That instant it started to rain.

–> SONG SUGGESTION for the day: The Jesus and Mary Chain, “April Skies”

4. (Mon, 23 Jan 2017) – 21st CENTURY MAN

America’s worst invention (and there are so many terrible ones) is the so-called bro. Obviously. Boys behaving every day like they are on shore leave, pretending to own the world that they have hardly seen –– stone me, what a life. That is just so dull.

“It takes guts to be gentle and kind,” Morrissey once sang on “I know it’s over”, and with that sad howl ringing in my ear, I wrapped a scarf around my neck, and walked out the house into the stormy afternoon to catch a dose of this world view. I found it at the cinema: “20th Century Women” is a funny, sad, smart, fresh meditation on what it means to grow up, to raise a child, to be a couple, and most of all what it takes to be a good man.

“Men always feel like they have to fix things for women, but they’re not doing anything,” Dorothea, played by Annette Bening, tells her son Jamie in the film. “Just be there. Somehow that’s hard for all of you.”

That might work, sometimes. Poor Barron Trump, Donald Trump’s 10-year-old son, is doing just that of course: he’s simply there. And yet for him being a good man is a bigger task than for his dad to be a good president. He got mocked the other day, basically for being the son of a populist, sexist, racist man. On Twitter, of course. By an SNL writer, who later apologised. She got suspended from working on the show for making fun of a kid who will be shredded to bits soon enough for carrying that surname alone.

That Trump gives boys a bad name is unfortunate for his youngest son. Being a projection of your dad’s misdeeds must suck royally. Bros, on the other hand, will hopefully benefit greatly from being schooled even more now by 21st century women.

–> SONG SUGGESTION for the day: Talking Heads, “And She Was”


After the rain had stopped late in the afternoon I took a stroll down to White House. In the front builders were still busy dismantling the stage set up for Donald Trump’s inauguration, while the back side conveyed an aura of peace and quiet –– the building was lit up sitting there all bright and shiny, ready for dusk to swallow up its silhouette.

Just outside South Lawn, someone had arranged a graveyard of signs from yesterday’s Women’s March. A few put-downs, self-empowering words, and funny lines lined up for people to read even days after the event. An event that must have gotten under Trump’s skin real bad, by the way. His inauguration smaller than Obama’s? Smaller than a bunch of women marching against King Midas from Manhattan? Not possible, just impossible.

The US media for its part spent much of Sunday revelling in the confrontational, yet defensive words of Sean Spicer. Trump’s new Press Secretary claimed on Saturday that “it was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration. Period. Both in person and around the globe.”

If those lines might just be a blatant lie, NBC’s Chuck Todd wanted to know from Trump’s top adviser Kellyanne Conway on Sunday morning (I’m only paraphrasing, he used falsehood, but he might as well have said lie).

“You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary — gave alternative facts,” Conway replied.

Propaganda, fake news, alternative facts. If one willingly breaks from the truth, what are you left with? A coercive force of opinion.

–> SONG SUGGESTION for the day: Depeche Mode, “Policy Of Truth”

2. (Sat, 21 Jan 2017) – SIZE DOES MATTER (TO HIM)

So you made it and survived the first day (somehow), you are unpacking all those boxes (a lotta books), you try to memorise the new address in case someone asks you where to send a good deal (White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC), you log onto Twitter (obviously), you see two crowd sizes compared (yuuuge, and not so yuuuge), you wonder what is going on (with these women), you look at the two pictures (tremendous eyesight), you cover one eye, you cover the other to verify (you believe in science), you call your friends (so many), you don’t listen to their advice (why woulcha), you visit the CIA (the stuff you know now), you give a speech afterwards (much to talk about), you contemplate playing it cool (hot topic tho), you do mention those two crowd sizes again (yuuuge, and not so yuuuge, APPARENTLY!), you hear numbers in your head (0 till ∞), you say the words “I’m like, wait a minute. I made a speech. I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, million and a half people” (normally dealing in billions, okay, okay), you feel no shame in trying to belittle buncha fun and harmless gals (most a 4 by the way, if at all), you feel great (you are).

–> SONG SUGGESTION for the day: Donna Summer, “Bad Girls”

1. (Fri, 20 Jan 2017) – THE BEGINNING OF THE END

And so the knives are out. Only that they are shinier than the bronze complexion of that guy who thinks we are all living in Nazi Germany. It really happened, Donald Trump is officially the 45th President of the United States. The only question that remains is: who will be the first backstabber to put it in and twist it?

It seems fair game. I mean, the guy is leaving his business in charge of his two sons, Uday und Qusay. There is bound to be trouble. But then what do we know? Is any of you a billionaire? I am certainly not. I know how to tie a tie though, which is absolutely no qualification for being president.

The protests today in D.C. during inauguration (where rubbish bins were up in flames and a lot of glass was shattered) were not about any ridiculous style-blablah by the way. (let him wear that red necktie as long or short as he wants it to be) No, it was about tough shit like women’s issues, LGBTQ rights, labour laws. There was a lot of anger on the streets today, which in a way is surprising –– had people not talked about him and his supporters being so furious that it was scary? On the other hand, he won the election, his supporters must be super happy. And after they felt disenfranchised for so long, the rage boomerang suddenly comes back in from the left. Why, out of all places, it had to land in the windows of a lot of D.C. shops is another question. (what do we know about running a business?)

Anyway, back to the shiny knives Trump will have to fear now that he has insulted women, Mexicans, Jeb Bush, “Hamilton”, Nazi Germany, and so on. As the main course for his inauguration lunch he chose Maine Lobster, have you heard? And that, we all know as sons and daughters of billionaires, is best eaten with no silverware at all but with your fingers.

–> SONG SUGGESTION for the day: John Lennon, “Nobody Told Me” 

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