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I can’t stay up as late at night as I used to, so it has taken me until now to finish watching season 5 of House of Cards. While I didn’t find it as compelling as the first season, the one in which President Frank Underwood began his side job as a serial killer, it did have its moments, most of which were fleshed out well enough for me to finally decide whether I would rather see Underwood or Donald Trump in the White House. I have chosen Underwood because although he is vile and amoral, he is competent. He understands how things work, how government and politics happen. Though he could be capable of destroying the world in season 6, at least it wouldn’t be by accident.

I am surprised that I have not seen much about the parallels between the fictitious Underwood White House and the very real Trump White House. Parallels abound in season 5. There are NSA leaks and Russian intervention in a U.S. election. There are congressional hearings, some led by a character that looks and acts like Devin Nunes.

There was a horrific chemical attack on civilians in Syria, a segment filmed before the real thing happened. There was a botched election, actually more like the Bush-Gore affair than the Trump-Clinton debacle, but it wasn’t hard to imagine Trump following Underwood’s lead by establishing “voting centers” in order to suppress turnout in key states and then manufacturing a terror crisis to keep those voting centers empty.

The public reaction to an Underwood presidency mirrors the actual reaction to the Trump presidency, with protesters chanting that he is not their president and the vanquished opponent noting that the winner had received less than majority support.

It is reassuring, I suppose, that there is no visible evidence that Trump’s vice president has ever killed anyone, and certainly not in the midst of extramarital relations. But Mike Pence does sometimes come across as just as stiff Claire Underwood and just as willing to do anything for a vote.

One thing missing from the Netflix series is presidential tweeting, but it occurred to me during the season’s final episode that the directors accomplished the same thing by having Frank Underwood go out of character and speak directly to the viewers. Fortunately for Frank, his sorta sotto voce lines are scripted. If he were to speak into the camera during the Comey testimony Thursday, it is unlikely that he would be reduced to Trumpian language. While we can fully expect to see Trump tweeting out something like “Comey’s a total loser” tomorrow, or “Pants on fire!!,” it is more likely that Frank watching similar testimony would turn to the camera to say something like, “I should have known when I let him stay on that he never really saw the big picture.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Greg Ahlstrand June 7, 2017, 4:32 pm

    Nice column, Royal.

  • Patty Cramer June 7, 2017, 5:42 pm

    Yes, and of course two members of the committee having dinner with trump, reeks of impropriety. Both of them should recuse themselves or be put on the stand themselves to find out what they were or were not asked to do. Disgusting!!! Great article, as always!!!

  • Amy Anderson June 7, 2017, 6:21 pm

    What a lovely post- dinner treat Royal! Very apt comparisons, and not as terrifying as reading the ‘fake news’

  • Gregory D Lee June 7, 2017, 9:07 pm

    Royal, so you would rather have a fictional multiple murderer as our president instead of our duly elected President Trump. That’s a very sad commentary. I guess if Hillary was convicted of espionage, like Reality L. Winner will be, it would still be okay for her to be our president. Even more sad.

  • Dan Turner June 7, 2017, 9:15 pm

    “There was a horrific chemical attack on civilians in Syria, a segment filmed before the real thing happened.”
    I know that folks who get their info solely from the Main Stream Media (MSM) accept as a fact that the Syrian government has used gas against “its own people” and that Assad is only one circle further out in Hell than Putin, but there is no evidence that it was the Syrian government that used poison gas and it is much more likely that the gas belonged to our terrorist mercenary proxies who are trying to overthrow the Syrian government and, if you think about it (careful here – we’re edging into critical thinking), the Syrian govt would have had to have been nuts (which, even if you think it is run by disciples of Satan, doesn’t mean that they’re stupid) to have used poison gas at the points in the conflict that it was used (I can provide details, if you want, but I’m not going to put them in here).
    So, what’s my point? That these casual references to the use of poison gas by the Syrian govt, which are generally accepted and believed by the vast majority of folks in the US – due to their having been told that it is so by our govt and the MSM over and over again – need to be opposed/refuted/called out for the BS that they are, loudly and often.

    • Royal Calkins June 8, 2017, 12:34 am

      Read it again, Dan. “There was a horrific chemical attack on civilians in Syria, a segment filmed before the real thing happened.” Absent from those sentences, but not from your analysis, are “Assad,” “its own people,” and “Syrian government.” Those gnats you’re swatting at, I think they may be inside your head.

      • Helga Fellay June 8, 2017, 8:17 am

        In Dan’s defense, Royal, I think what he meant was that the calculated widespread lie by our government, that Assad poisoned his own people with a horrific chemical attack on civilians, which was used as a pretext for our unprovoked war on Syria to effect “regime change (just like the proven lie that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction was used as a pretext to invade Iraq and kill Saddam, or lies perpetrated by Hillary about Libya which were used as a pretext to invade Libya and kill Gaddafi) – this calculated lie was repeated so often and hammered into the consciousness of gullible Americans by the MSM for so long that it has turned into an undisputed fact on both the conscious and unconscious level. So if you repeat that lie without disclaimers such as “unproven” or “highly disputed” etc., Americans have been so brainwashed that they will automatically (albeit subconsciously) add the words you mentioned above. It was like a sneaky way of repeating the MSM lie, leaving a little backdoor open to be able to deny it if challenged because you didn’t repeat the lie verbatim. Now you will probably accuse me of having gone around the bend, or lost it, or maybe swatting at gnats in my head, none of which are valid counter arguments.

      • Dan Turner June 8, 2017, 6:18 pm

        Yes, but “the real thing” is not what most folks in the US think happened. So, to just pass on “the real thing” is to be complicit in the lies our govt tells and the propaganda that the MSM disseminates. Ain’t no flies on me!

  • Dan Turner June 7, 2017, 9:29 pm

    As for comparisons of Trump to a fictional character played by Kevin Spacey, who is, in my opinion, one of the best actors around nowadays, Trump is just a blowhard asshole. Not an uncommon type in NYC. Everyone who lives in NYC has encountered those sorts of people. No one likes them but everyone has had the unfortunate experience of having had to deal w/them. I suspect that no one in NYC is surprised by anything that Trump has done. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t horrified/nauseated/sickened by his words and deeds, just that they’re not surprised. What he’s done during the first few months of his presidency is exactly what a NY’er would have expected a blowhard asshole to do if one were ever elected President.

  • bill leone June 8, 2017, 12:38 pm

    According the the MSM, which I do not ignore or despise, the Assads, both father & son, are, & have been, monstrously cruel to the people of Syria: with the help of the Russian government, they have
    jailed, tortured, killed dissidents, opponents & innocents with poison gas, Scud missiles, barrel bombs, & starvation. The US has not been blameless in all of this, but Assad, his father, & the Russian government were & are the primary perpetrators of the mess that is the Syrian Civil War.


    • Helga Fellay June 8, 2017, 2:26 pm

      OMG – you must have ambitions to gain an office or position of importance within the DNC, because that is such shameless propaganda that no one with connected brain cells would fall for it. I know the NYT has been trying to outdo the CIA funded Washington Post in how much propaganda they can publish, and plenty of people have taken notice. Not you, obviously as you do not despise the vapid for hire corporate MSM.

    • Dan Turner June 8, 2017, 6:39 pm

      I’m afraid I agree w/Helga. The main culprit in the attack on Syria has been the US and our allies, both in NATO and the Saudis/Gulf Emirates/Qatar. To believe that the Syrian govt and Pres. Assad are the culprits there is to show the depth of the average American’s (and Bill is above average) indoctrination by our propaganda system, the MSM, which parrots anything and everything that our govt vomits out.
      We hijacked the Arab Spring back in 2011 and used it as a pretext to bring in our fundamentalist Sunni proxies, as we did in Afghanistan during the Soviet intervention there, in the late ’70’s and into the ’80’s, and as we did in Libya a few years ago. We are the cause of the terrible and enduring misery of Syria, not Pres. Assad and his “barrel bombs”. (Do you think his barrel bombs hurt more than our “cookie cutter” anti-personnel bombs? Why do you suppose you are so exercised about the barrel bombs? Could it be due to the MSM having repeated their name over and over again. Why aren’t you as concerned about the bombs [supplied by the US] that the Saudis are dropping on people in Yemen?)
      The majority of soldiers in the Syrian Arab Army are Sunni’s, not Shiites. Pres. Assad is an Alawite which, I think, is some sort of Shiite but they compose only about 15% of the Syrian population. The brave people in Syria fighting against our vicious mercenary terrorists are from a broad spectrum of the Syrian people. They do not view Pres. Assad as the blood-drinking, vein-eating, barrel-bombing monster that you believe he is – which is a direct result of your information about Syria coming solely from the MSM.

      • Dan Turner June 9, 2017, 9:41 am

        Correction : Our bombs are called “daisy-cutter”, not “cookie-cutter”.

  • bill leone June 9, 2017, 11:23 am

    My “position” in the Democratic Party is satisfactory as it is. Otherwise, I would need to spend too much time at meetings & not enough time in my garden, playing tennis or surfing.
    And, yes I plead guilty as charged to believing the NYT, The Washington Post, & other long-standing news organizations have more credibility than RT News, Sputnik News, & a host of other Internet sites that parrot Russian Propaganda, which oddly enough seems to be very similar to the nonsense coming from the Pimp President’s administration.
    You must ask yourself, who benefits from undermining the credibility of our traditional sources of news, our intelligence services, our government, our long-standing alliances, our judiciary, our political system? Moreover, don’t you find it highly coincidental, that news agencies throughout Europe are reporting the Russian Government has been taking “active measures” to undermine Democracy in a number of European countries by the same methods the American MSM reports they are employing here in the US?
    Could it be that you, who claim to be progressive, but expose the same or similar positions as Darth Bannon, have been duped by propaganda?

    • Dan Turner June 9, 2017, 10:30 pm

      Nope, I haven’t been duped by propaganda. The economies of most European countries are stagnant or in recession and they are flooded w/refugees from Syria as a result of following our disastrous policies in the Mideast. These refugees are causing serious social and economic (and, hence, political) problems in Europe. So, its not surprising that they don’t want to talk about those things and, instead, find it better and easier to talk about “the Russians-did-it”.
      Just as there is no basis (evidence) to the MSM’s claim that the Russians interfered w/our election, there is no evidence to support the claims that in Europe they gave money (or something) to Le Pen in France.
      You continue to use the cheap academic trick of dismissing my position by saying that Bannon agrees w/it, rather than showing where my position/claims/analyses are wrong. You seem to have a religious belief in the veracity of our MSM and an equal and opposite belief that anything coming out of Russian news services is just propaganda. Actually, the reason that some governments in Europe are so upset w/Russian news sources is that their version of events and their analyses regarding the causes of various political situations makes a lot of sense and strikes a responsive chord amongst many Europeans.

  • Helga Fellay June 9, 2017, 7:01 pm

    Fake News: Eviscerating the New York Time’s ‘Sarin Gas’ Propaganda

    Robert Parry
    Consortium News
    2017-06-09 18:30:00

    An MIT national security scientist says the New York Times pushed a “fraudulent” analysis of last April’s “sarin” incident in Syria, part of a troubling pattern of “groupthink” and “confirmation bias,” writes Robert Parry.

    For U.S. mainstream journalists and government analysts, their erroneous “groupthinks” often have a shady accomplice called “confirmation bias,” that is, the expectation that some “enemy” must be guilty and thus the tendency to twist any fact in that direction.

    We have seen this pair contribute to fallacious reasoning more and more in recent years as the mainstream U.S. media and the U.S. government approach international conflicts as if the “pro-U.S. side” is surely innocent and the “anti-U.S. side” is presumed guilty.” [end of article]

    It’s no coincidence that Europe’s MSM reports they exact same propaganda as our MSM, as it is owned by the same people (I read somewhere that there are actually only six men in charge of all the MSM). I don’t know if you realize it, but the EU is nothing more than a vassal state of the US and is under total US control. So no, it’s no coincidence that Europeans are fed the same BS propaganda that we are. Just because a lie is repeated often enough does not make it true, it’s still a lie. You ask “who benefits from undermining the credibility of our traditional sources of news, our intelligence services, our government, our long-standing alliances, our judiciary, our political system?” If that system is rotten to the core, completely corrupt and evil, we all do. Not only we, but every other nation in the world which has been bombed, invaded, sanctioned, exploited, which is almost the entire globe. I know this goes against your religion and your faith in Santa Claus, Kris Kringle etc. etc. I know it’s scary. I don’t know why I am bothering….

  • PT Caffey June 10, 2017, 4:41 am

    Robert Parry spent twenty years working for the Associated Press, Newsweek and PBS. These globalist organs of neoliberal thought represent the epitome of MSM. In the years Parry served these masters, you could not work for news media more “mainstream.”

    So, given Parry’s long career aiding and abetting the MSM, how can we believe him now? Did he, one day, “see the light”? Or did he adopt the mantle of “crusading, independent journalist” as a ruse, calculated to deceive readers into thinking his ties to the MSM had been conveniently cut?

    Consider the following: In October 2015, Parry received, and accepted, a journalism award from Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Harvard also produced war criminal Henry Kissinger. Why would a supposedly “iconoclastic” and “alternative” journalist welcome an association with Kissinger’s Harvard? Most reporters outside of the MSM would be repulsed by this connection.

    I would submit that there exists no evidence Robert Parry ever disavowed the propaganda he peddled at the AP, Newsweek or PBS’ Frontline. There exists no evidence that Parry ever shed the values of the MSM inculcated in him through his long professional relationship with the six owners of world media. There is no evidence that Parry is anything but a clever provocateur who continues to toil (albeit in secret) on behalf of his MSM masters.

    Some might ask why would the MSM offer critiques–through the guise of Robert Parry and Consortium–of their own reporting? Isn’t that illogical? No, it is not. If you control both the sources of propaganda as well those critique it, then you control everything. Thus, the MSM manages to draw those critical of the MSM worldview to their own “house critics,” drowning out and smothering true skeptics in the process.

    The system is completely rotten to its core and quivers, through its many webs and tentacles, to every purchase and reach. Even the most caustic “critics” of the MSM are nothing more than Potemkin skeptics, striking a pose. There is nothing potentially beyond the reach of the MSM’s projections of groupthink. This includes Robert Parry, Glenn Greenwald and Noam Chomsky–all of whom pose as “critics” of American imperialism. Yet there is no evidence that these individuals, and others, are not discreetly situated on the private payroll of the secret six. How else could Parry or Greenwald or Chomsky make a living? Their works are scooped up by the truckloads by the same entities that fund them. In this way, through this incestuous circle, is “dissent” manufactured.

    Is it a coincidence that the sources of Robert Parry, “ex” agent of the MSM, are often “ex” CIA and “ex” FBI? How very convenient! Do the MSM believe we are dull enough to accept this bushel of its agents as a parcel of born-again dissidents?

    No, we are not.

    The alternative journalism of Parry and others is, in its conspiratorial cartoonishness, a ploy invented by the MSM to subvert and destroy, from with, a truly “woke” strain of American dissent. Resist this. For, if you follow it, you are following (unknowingly) the MSM. You are following a false orb.

  • bill leone June 10, 2017, 12:14 pm

    Consortium News & Russia Insider seem to have a connection, & if you somehow believe the non-existence of Russian Propaganda in Both websites, please read a few articles:


  • bill leone June 11, 2017, 2:40 pm

    The arguments in favor of “The Russians didn’t do it,” as apposed to everything the MSM, late-night comedians, & most major news outlets all over the world (except those not corrupted by Russian Cyber-intelligence), is sounding more ridiculous with each passing day.

  • bill leone June 11, 2017, 2:41 pm

    Correction: “except those that Are corrupted by Russian Cyber-intelligence.”