This week I’m spreading the net a little wider to take in some pieces which aren’t as directly topical as usual, because a lot of the directly-relevant stuff is merely rehashing what has already been published by the WaPo and NYT and offers nothing much else.
Debate over the violent protests at the G20 in Hamburg continues. Jakob Augstein considers the issues:
In any other place at any other time, setting a car on fire would have been an insignificant act of vandalism. In connection with the summit, this is a political act – accepted by a small minority, rejected by a large majority, but seen in the right context by all. Anyone can put the burning cars at the G20 summit in the context of the militant rejection of this summit. Nobody would understand if they burn at a church meeting. But no one has ever heard of plundering Protestants.
How does this politically motivated violence work? Once accepted, the violators of Hamburg have won. It is assumed that in the foreseeable future such a summit will no longer take place in a German city. Would that be the capitulation of the legal state? Or is democracy a legitimate place for non-state violence?
These questions arise from the monopoly of power of the state – and therefore to the state itself.
Carolin Emcke, the peace laureate, twittered to Hamburg: “Every TV minute devoted to the violence of the Hooligans was a minute in which the decisions of the # G20 could not be criticized.” The question arises whether peaceful protests against the summit would have received just as much attention as the violent clashes. This is the essence of political protest in democratic capitalism: if it adheres to the rules, its effect remains weak. If it breaks the rules, it puts its acceptance at risk.
Fate now seeks the break point of McCain, senator of Arizona, and in 2008 the Republican party candidate for the White House, inflicting on him a brain cancer, GBM glioblastoma, which will consume him in a few months. A nemesis of the legends, because the GBM felled, August 25, 2009, Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy: moving, re-reading biographies, discover McCain and Kennedy as twins, even before the hard diagnosis. Both born in the tragic Thirties of the twentieth century, ’32 for Ted, ’36 for John, scattered by historical dynasties.
Both for McCain and Kennedy the White House remained a mirage, Kennedy lost the nomination against Carter in 1980, with the legendary comment “The dream will never die,” McCain, nominated by Republicans 2008 against Obama, advancing to the Lehmann crisis, is then beaten by the young rival. Both of them gain on the field the unmistakable brand of maverick, a loose cannon. McCain has given a twist to President Trump, who hates him (privately calls him “ambushed” for not fighting in Vietnam), Kennedy had been a thorn in Carter’s side.
They both knew the bitter titles of scandals, deaths in a secret incident by secretary Mary Jo Kopechne, after a party for Kennedy in 1969, the case of “Keating Five”, the corruption of the 1989 Savings Cases for McCain. They have emerged, wounded, defeated, for their values, social solidarity for Kennedy, free personal spirit for McCain, rebellious rebels, children of an America who fought for politics-as in the World Tour in 80 days of Verne – but then went to drink a beer together, under the flag. An America that, as Ted and John feared, can now perish because nations as well as men have their point of breaking.
Linking McCain and Kennedy reminds us of when the Senate was a fairly useful deliberative body – before Turtle McTurtleface became leader of the Republican caucus – and politics was relatively sane. There are already 8752 theories about what caused the deterioration, but Nick Bryant has come up with an 8753rd:
It seems entirely fitting that OJ Simpson should reappear at this surreal juncture in American life because many of the trends that culminated in the election of Donald J Trump can be traced back to his arrest and trial.
Consider first of all the impact on the US media of that slow-motion car chase, as “The Juice” headed down the 405 freeway in the back of his white Ford Bronco pursued by a small armada of police cars and a squadron of news helicopters. With viewers glued to their televisions that day, Domino’s recorded a record spike in pizza deliveries.
It was the moment arguably that real-time, rolling news truly came of age.
That chase and the gavel-to-gavel coverage of the 1995 trial on CNN and Court TV demonstrated a voracious appetite for cable news. The OJ “trial of the century”, with its blend of tabloid sensationalism and serious analysis, established the formula for ratings success. In last year’s presidential election, the media fixation with Donald Trump demonstrated how that recipe still works now. His candidacy could almost have been tailor made to fit the requirements of real-time cable news and Twitter, its digital equivalent.
Here again there are parallels with the election of Donald Trump, when voters were presented with the same evidence, the same televised spectacle, and reached diametrically opposed opinions. Again America was riven, although the roots of that polarisation were different. With OJ, it was race. With Trump, it was class, education, gender and geography. Yet he, too, tapped into a shared sense of victimhood. He portrayed himself as the victim of the Washington political establishment and East Coast liberal media, essentially telling his supporters that the same elites sneering at him were the same elites sneering at them. Whereas Cochran played the race card, Trump deployed the rage card.
What struck me about last year’s election was how many voters were prepared to overlook Donald Trump’s truth-stretching and falsehoods because of their determination to exact revenge and send a message. Trump’s relied on slogans – Make America Great Again, Build the Wall, Lock Her Up – knowing they had more resonance than detailed policies. Feelings were more important than facts. Hillary Clinton became the perfect bogey woman. Someone who personified all that was wrong with the American body politic. Someone who used the “d” word, deplorables, to describe them.
Many of those who voted for Trump felt the political system was rigged against the white working class, just as some of the black jurors in the OJ trial felt the political system was rigged against them.
Getting even more abstract, Andy Martin discusses how POUTS causes good crime fiction:
There was once a cartoon in the New Yorker which featured a 19th-century editor, very Victorian, with long sideburns, and poring over a manuscript on his desk, giving a hard time to a young wannabe writer. “Come, come, Mr Dickens,” he is saying, “it can’t be both the “best of times” and the “worst of times”, can it now? Make your mind up!” It occurred to me at ThrillerFest in New York this week that this could be another of those times, both best and worst.
Worst because of rampant Brexitism and Trumpery. Best on account of the raft of forthcoming thrillers and mysteries in the new season.
The question is: could there be a connection? The worse the state of the world, the better the literature emerging out of our orgy of uncertainty and self-destruction? There is a case for saying that all great works reflect death, horror, murder, crime. Think War and Peace or Crime and Punishment. The Brothers Karamazov just naturally assumes that most sons will want to bump off their father. Turning it around, Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” is predicated on the belief that guys (and perhaps specifically Ted Hughes) have got it in for her.
They’re all Nazis at heart. Al Alvarez used to make the case that all the best poetry was written on the verge of nervous breakdown. Maybe that’s where we are now.
We have been programmed, in evolutionary terms, to find consolation and reassurance in these narratives that provide both an epistemological and moral pay-off: a puzzle is solved and justice is served. We wander the earth in a moral maze in which mysteries have a habit of remaining mysterious. We rely on the crime novel to bring us clarity and enlightenment where before there was only darkness. Maybe it is all we have left of the sublime.
Which I think explains why these narratives are so popular in the age of Brexit and Trumpery. The novel is more myth than mimesis, an “escape” in that it offers an imaginary solution of the ills that beset us and remains intractable in the real world. It is closer to religion than to nature because it insinuates that there is always Someone On Our Side. But they also suggest why, in turn, Brexiteers and Trump have of late been so insanely successful. It is because their penny-dreadful gospel claims to “save” us from a host of hazy crimes and misdemeanours, “carnage” and apocalypse.
In the Herald Scotland, Alison Rowat also looks at fiction and the current administration:
WHEN it comes time to make a movie about the Trump presidency, some unfortunate screenwriter is going to find all the best titles have been taken. Creative tinkering will be required, particularly if the filmmaker wants to home in on the true tale of the president’s eldest son, Donald Jr, and his meeting with a Russian lawyer.
Would one plump, for example, for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Numbskull? Eternal Sunshine of the Clueless Mind? Indiana Jones and the Temple of Dumb?
But the Russia story is different, is it not? With several congressional committees already investigating, this matter above all others has the potential to do momentous harm to President Trump. To be accused of accepting foreign help is shocking enough. If such accusations were proven it would amount to a scandal worse than Watergate, a shame that was at least home-grown. It is a delicate situation, therefore. The mother of all fine china shops, the kind of establishment that would bar entry to passing bulls and children. Enter, then, number one Trump son and 39-year-old political toddler, Donald Trump Jr.
America seems to be suffering from a condition best described as Trump outrage fatigue. It reached a certain plateau after the election, and it spikes now and again, but essentially it continues on the same level. The patient seems unwilling or unable to shrug it off, to find some way to break the fever and move on.
But what does it matter? America has been divided for so long on so many issues the Trump presidency would hardly seem to make much difference. Yet it does. Leaving aside the wider, global harm that could follow from having a distracted and weakened America turning in on itself, there is the damage being done to democracy. Mr Trump was swept into office on a wave of disillusionment with the status quo. That same disenchantment, far from being reversed, is being fuelled further by the Russia claims. How this democratic disaster movie ends no-one, not even Hollywood’s most imaginative minds, knows.
POUTS has been in office for six months now, and a number of outlets have produced reports on what he’s done so far. Here’s the one from the Frankfurter Allgemeine:
Donald Trump has been in the White House for six months. That means a lot of noise, countless Twitter messages, chest-beating everywhere. His popularity is, according to surveys, as low as any other president at this time. Less than 40 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with their president. But politics were also made in the first term of office of the new president.
Thus, Trump withdrew the United States from the Transpacific trade agreement TPP, surprisingly, and tried to re-negotiate with Mexico and Canada the existing North American agreement (Nafta). With other countries, including Germany, he is at war with trade policy.
But the biggest failure of Donald Trump in his first six months in office was administered by his own party. He has not been able to comply with his electoral promise to abolish “Obamacare”, which has been hated by republicans and their voters because of high contributions . It was not because the Democrats had resisted or the constraints had been too great, but rather because his own party, despite their majority in both congress chambers, could not reach a consensus.
The American president also shows repeatedly that he has no experience in political life. In May, he met the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov at the White House and told him that the United States had access to a spy within the “Islamic state”. This has put both the life of the agent at risk, as well as betraying important state secrets, which in the view of the American secret services has taken massive influence on the presidential election.
But along with all these negative things, positive things also happen, at least from the perspective of Trump and his supporters. Thus the White House is boasting that in the first six months of office, more than 860 regulations have been abolished. Most of them came from the Obama Administration and were about, for example, environmental protection. Trump sees these regulations as an obstacle to the economy and wants to reduce the influence of the state on the economy in a major deregulation campaign.
Elaborating on the failure (so far) of Deathcare, Peter Winkler looks at the fallout.
In essence, however, the drama about the health reform has exposed only the old trenches that keep the Republican Party holding its breath. Unlike in Europe, the major American parties are not bound by any program that would discipline their members and leaders. Rather, each deputy and senator herself defines what republican politics mean to her or him.
Radical anti-socialists, security-political hawks against libertarian statesmen, and the a business-friendly establishment against the tea-party movement’s leaders. These and other schisms also make the party difficult to manage despite controlling all areas of the government. In addition to this, the iron political law for social works: once built, they turn into kryptonite, which is better not touched, because it even robbed Superman of his powers.
The reform of health was supposed to be the legislative project that the Republicans could quickly push through, then turn to other topics. There was, for example, the big tax reform, whose prospects are by no means better after the failure of the reform of the health system, or the law on the renewal of the infrastructure of a trillion dollars, which, as the blog “Politico” aptly describes – shows no signs of life.
Instead, the US once again looks into the abyss of a self-made insolvency if the statutory debt ceiling can not be increased in time. Such scenarios had marked several totally unnecessary power struggles between the Republicans in Congress and Obama at the White House. The diplomatic world then followed with astonishment how, in Washington, the creditworthiness of the United States itself was treated as a political football.
James Kirchik has a long article in the FAZ about how the Republican Party has become the pro-Russia party. It’s not too difficult a read despite its length.
How is it possible that the party which had moral clarity of a Ronald Reagan has turned into that of the moral emptiness that is Donald Trump? Russian intelligence is among the best in the world. I think they have carefully studied America’s political scene, and in the course of the Obama years realized that the conservative movement was ready for manipulation. Their basic counterpart to the “axis of evil” was long past. There only remains an intellectually and morally dried carcass, populated by high-rollers, opportunists, entertainers andcon-men, who operated extremely profitable publishers, radio empires, websites and television stations, and did not spread ideas there, but resentment.
If a political official from the Russian Embassy in Washington had visited the zoo which is the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, he would have seen a “movement” that lauded a ridiculous performance artist like Milo Yiannopoulos as if he were an intellectual heavyweight. When conservative bloggers are ready to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars from the authoritarian government of Malaysia to launch a dirt campaign against a democratic opposition leader, which they do not know the least about, it’s but a small step to the support and defense of an action of a brain dead Dauphin like Donald Trump jr., who is at least attempting collusion?
Why, in the face of this miserable picture, should not Russia try to “reverse” American rights, whose ethical rot is the necessary condition for her repulsive unscrupulousness? It is precisely this ethical decay that makes it possible for Dennis Prager, one of the more flexible professional moralists of the Right, to assert with an straight face: “The new media in the West is a far greater danger to Western civilization than Russia.” Why should a “religious right” celebrating a miserably immoral charlatan like Donald Trump, not close their eyes to the oppressive regime that prevails in Russia – or even expressly approve it like Franklin Graham?
Another long read is provided by Bettina Gaus in taz. I’ll warn you that it’s another examination of POUTS supporters, but it’s written out of curiosity rather than trying to advance an agenda and mercifully doesn’t attempt to come up with a Unified Theory.
Change of location. West Virgina, one of the poorest states in the USA. In addition to some income from tourism, this is mainly due to coal. Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton did not score with her campaign for renewable energies.
Conrad Lucas is chairman of the Republicans in that state. A year ago he said, “I am 34 and the great hope of my party in West Virginia. If Hillary Clinton moves into the White House and possibly stays there for eight years, then I am 42 and someone else is 34 years old and the great hope of the Republicans. ”
Hillary Clinton has not become president. Lucas is now 35 years old and is considering to stand for congressional elections in the coming year. His family settled here a few hundred years ago. He is – or seems to be – evangelical, homophobic, reactionary. So has good prospects in his party.
A small problem: He is also funny, sarcastic, intelligent. And he is not allowed to use any of these skills against Donald Trump, who is supported so far by so many Republicans that no candidacy could be successful against his political course. Conrad Lucas does not say a word against the US president. But he can not always resist the temptation to deliver a differentiated analysis. “The transition from a business man to a politician is always particularly difficult,” says Lucas, a graduate of Harvard University. “There is a wealth of possibilities for action in business life, but only a few goals. There is also a wealth of possibilities for action in politics, and the number of goals is unbelievable. ”
A wise definition of politics, especially of foreign policy. This contains a sharp criticism of Donald Trump. Lucas formulates here the counterposition to the viewpoint of the dignitaries of East Aurora, according to which audacity is enough to achieve what one wants. He calls for a clear prioritization of political goals – that is, the opposite of the uneasy leverage, for which Donald Trump stands.
But does anyone notice this? Who is already interested in foreign policy? The longer and the more frequently you talk to Trump’s followers, the more it becomes clear that the US president is looking inside – and so he is understood. Whether he travels to Saudi Arabia or to the G20 summit to Hamburg, ultimately it is all about domestic politics.
There’s little that seems to unite the people Gaus interviews beyond being fed up. Some are now fed up with POUTS as well.
Aas believes it is essential to understand that the United States is a divided society, where it is almost impossible for the Republicans and Democrats to reach compromises on the important issues. Thee ambassador points out that this is not new with Donald Trump as president. This was also the case under Barack Obama.
“Congress did not get anything done at all. They sat on each side of the aisle.”
“It was crucial even though other countries might criticize, from the start, we were clearly willing to cooperate with them, and we were clear why Norway is an important partner for the United States,” said Aas.
He refers to things like security and defense with cooperation in countries like Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, as well as the United States Navy Corps on Værnes. But also for work on peace processes, such as Colombia and Afghanistan, trade, the Arctic, our relationship with Russia, and Norway actually contributing to creating jobs in the United States
…It’s just not easy yet. There are still a lot of posts in the various ministries Donald Trump has not been filled up with people. For the Norwegian Embassy, the consequence is that they often simply do not have anyone to address, such as in the Foreign Ministry, the Pentagon and the National Security Council.
– We notice that the political people are not there. That’s how the communication between the political leadership and the career people who now work in political positions often breaks up. It will be a bit more choppy, “explains Aas.
Norway isn’t the only country which has noticed the lack of senior appointments by the administration. Ansgar Graw considers the recent announcements of ambassadors to Germany and Russia:
… many administrators in Washington are skeptical about the unpredictable president and do not want to work in his government. On the other hand, Trump is very suspicious and so he prefers to be with close confidants, if not relatives.
Trump does not have more than 500 confidants and relatives. It is true that the White House has submitted proposals for further 145 top-ranking officials, which now await confirmation by the Senate. But the gaps remain immense.
But that there is so far no regular ambassador among the US representation in Berlin, hardly anyone has registered. Because both countries cooperate closely, contacts have emerged at all levels that work without diplomatic action.
There are direct channels between the Bundestag and Congress, as well as between the Federal Ministry of Defense and the Pentagon , between the Foreign Office and the State Department, between the other Ministry of Defense, between the secret services and, of course, between the Chancellery and the White House.
Ambassadors are much more important in countries that are important to the world, but have less close contacts with Washington. Russia is one of them. Despite the obvious efforts in the Trump environment to establish confidential channels to Moscow, the contacts between the individual ministries or the military are still at the top level, but they are totally underdeveloped at the crucial work stages.
At a second glance, there is much evidence that the President desperately needed to get Huntsman out of DC. For the popular ex-governor of Utah had been considering to stand next year against the 83-year-old Senator Orrin Hatch. Hatch, who belonged to the Senate since 1977, promised in 2012 that the current legislative period was his last. At Trump’s request, however, the influential chairman of the Finance Committee announced another candidature in spring. The 57-year-old Huntsman would have been dangerous to him.
According to a survey conducted by the local newspaper in January, Huntsman led his opponent Hatch by 62 percent to 21 percent. In the Senate, an independent and clever head like Huntsman might have become an offense for Trump. In Moscow, on the other hand, the president can use him.
It seems like it’s something new every time we turn around. It taxes your psyche when you have everyday problems and then see all the flak we have coming from so many directions regarding this farce of a gov’t that is in the WH and the GOP side of the aisle in Congress. They’ve shown us their disdain for citizens not as affluent as them and I for one am sick and fucking tired of it.
I’m sick of the stupid fucking people in this country that were stupid enough to be taken in by a couple of bombastic assholes. Whether or not they listened to and voted for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump is almost besides the point. It’s that they continue to listen to and believe a couple of morons and the people that they would literally kiss their bared ass and be overjoyed about it.
It’s ludicrous that we have to put up with misogynists, bigots and racists in 2017 when I seem to remember the 1970’s as more enlightened than it is now. I’m sure they were there but they weren’t out in the open like they are now. So up in arms becasue they think their white privileged way of life is disappearing. Maybe it is and maybe it’s about time it did.
That’s enough angst out of me for the day…On to what drives us nucking futz.
Take that Donnie boy!
Mueller is expanding his investigation of Trump's business transactions, including the Bayrock partnership https://t.co/In95yhA1ap
I’m continuing my look at the healthcare planks of both the Democratic and Republican Party platforms, despite the fluid events in the news about the status of BCRA[p] and the ever-changing Republican plans to destroy the ACA. We need to know just what the Republican positions are, not matter how unworkable, because if we know anything, it’s that they don’t quit. And if by some miracle a chance for bipartisan fixes to the ACA comes about, we need to know what fixes, additions, and changes Democrats might have in mind; Medicare for All is still unlikely, even if a push to work together somehow comes about.
The Village News & Views July 19, 2017
Wednesday Get Over the Hump Free for All
Greetings, Village Meese. It’s Day 181 of the Resistance and time for another Get Over the Hump post and discussion thread.
On July 19, 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention convened. Heralded as the first American women’s rights convention, the two day event was held in the Wesleyan Chapel External in Seneca Falls, New York. The convention had been advertised on July 11, 1848 in the Seneca County Courier. Despite the minimal amount of publicity , there were an estimated 300 attendees at the inaugural meeting.
I’m going to leave the discussion of history to those better suited to it, but I didn’t want to ignore this particular event, since our Village began as a support system for those who were determined to elect our country’s first woman to the office of President.
This campaign boasted many firsts, including the first female nominee by a major party. Also, the first woman Presidential nominee to win the popular vote.
While we are bombarded daily now with revelations and implications suggesting that without interference from foreign actors and cooperation or collusion by the opposing campaign, we might have seen a different outcome, we continue to redouble our efforts in the spirit of our candidate, to Resist the tainted GOP and Trump agenda to the best of our abilities.
Women power this Resistance, aided and abetted by our male allies who love and seek justice for all human beings.
Senator McCain’s surgery and his as-of-yet unknown date of return to the Senate; a BCRA(p) bill that must be passed under the FY17 budget resolution, using the reconciliation process (thus preserving a FY18 budget resolution/reconciliation process for tax reform); senators announcing they are no votes on the MTP for widely-varying reasons; and a squabbling Republican caucus that is being “enticed” by McConnell in any way possible have combined to create a perfect storm for the Resistance. Every delay enables us to make more calls and create more pressure, and every delay brings us closer to the end of FY17, the adoption of a FY18 budget resolution, and the resulting loss of the ability to use FY17 reconciliation for the repeal and replacement of the ACA. In the event you’re starting to feel the Resistance Burnout Blues, today I’m comparing and contrasting the Democratic and Republican platform planks related to healthcare. Because of the timeliness, detail, and complexity of the topic, I will be covering healthcare in two separate posts, today and on Thursday.
POUTS has been off on his travels again, yet again having to put conversations with foreign politicians ahead of golf. No wonder he’s upset.
First stop was Poland, where he made a belligerent speech in front of a bused-in audience of RWNJs. This prompted Máriam M-Bascuñán to reflect on POUTS’s advisers’ choice of reading matter:
What is relevant in Trump’s speech is his substantialist vision of the values of the West, which he says he wants to defend with relish against potential external and internal enemies as Le Pen already did with his “choix de civilization”: the war of interpretations within The West is served. And it is symbolic that Trump wielded it in Poland, where the government favors an intolerant and fundamentalist populism. Pericles prayed to the fallen in the midst of the war, and Trump turned to the martyrs and heroes of Poland as an example and model of what the struggle for freedom, family, country and God means. His warning is clear, a warning to sailors. Too bad his advisers read so much Thucydides instead of the Kant of Perpetual Peace!
On to Moscow, and a meeting with a Russian bloke POUTS barely knows and has never colluded with, not nohow, nosirree Bob. Maria Georgieva comments in Svenska Dagbladet:
The meeting lasted for more than two hours, much longer than expected, which makes Russia look good.
The Kremlin hoped to inject some clarity in what direction the relationships will take. It is important for Russia that the presidents find a common ground to stand on.
On the whole , it became a good day for Putin, who looked like a real statesman. But despite the expectations of excitement, the challenges remain. Russia still wants Trump to lift the economic sanctions, halt support for Ukraine – something that has not happened so far.
It also seems that the outside world wants to work out which of the presidents is the savannah’s wild lion on the one hand, while on the other hand, conclude that there is a wide-ranging “bromance” between them. Next to each other they looked like two elephants pushing and trying to drink from the same waterhole….
Regardless of what’s going on in the future, the Kremlin wants Putin to appear as the winner of the meeting, to ensure momentum against other world leaders. Therefore, President Putin’s facial expressions will continue to carry on passive expectations.
The G19 distanced themselves yesterday from the White House tenant by including in the final declaration of the Hamburg Summit a point declaring the climate change agreement in Paris “irreversible” and calling for “proceeding swiftly” to its implementation despite opposition from the United States. The delegation headed by Donald Trump included a note stating that the US “would work with third countries to use fossil fuels more effectively and cleanly”, a phrase that was supplemented, on the initiative of the France of Macron, with the addendum ‘and other renewable and clean energy sources’. Finally, the United States was not able to add to its proposal the support of Saudi Arabia or Indonesia (large oil producers) and the Americans were left alone, certifying a paradigm shift in the G20 summits, traditionally led and directed by the tenant of the White House on duty.
The other of the great points where a priori disparity of approaches existed between the US delegation and the rest of the G20 members was the chapter on free trade, which Trump had set afire with its serious charges against German business practices in the steel market against which it intends to raise tariff barriers. Finally, as in Hamburg, a compromise was reached: the final declaration enshrined the principles of global free trade but, at the same time, it recognized the right of states to play Trade defense. This last expression was universally understood to be a concession torn away by the delegation headed by the millionaire New Yorker. In any case, the text approved and signed by the US, China and the European Union proclaims the need for free and fair international trade with open markets and condemns discriminatory protectionism through tariffs or regulations.
Much comment is of a similar nature. The world is adjusting to the USA being out of step. Make America Irrelevant Again was probably not the original idea, but it seems to be working.
There were some pretty violent protests, which led to a lot of Germans asking whether it was worth holding G20s, especially in Germany. Christian Stöcker doesn’t think so:
1.A city like Hamburg is unsuitable as a venue.
Even before the first stone flew and the first car was burning, the summit had begun to paralyze Hamburg. There were hours of traffic jams, the city center was locked up, police cars on every corner and helicopters across the city produced a sense of siege. From the dissolution of the “Welcome to Hell” demonstration on Thursday evening, black-dressed hooligans began to hit the streets in various places in the city, lighting barricades and cars and generally spreading chaos.
If threr must be a G20 summit, then in the future please in the desert, on an island or an aircraft carrier.
2.The “black block” has nothing to do with politics.
The people who came from Europe to riot in Hamburg describe themselves as politically radical, as anti-fascists, anti-capitalists or anarchists. In truth, the past three days have once again shown, they are simply hooligans as soon as they put on the black gear. To light small cars and smash the windows of mom and pop stores with a hammer is not a political statement. And just because you have yelled a few times “Anti-Anti-Anticapitalista!” does not make a political symbol of the plundering of an electronic store. Writing “Death to the police” on walls and throwing stones at policemen is not an act of resistance in a democratic state.
4.These peaks bring nothing
The Chancellor’s summit conference was, to put it cautiously, no revelation. The US is still not involved in climate protection, one wants to take care of Africa somehow, all find free trade jolly good. Saying this as clearly as that could have been accomplished much more quickly if the ladies and gentlemen had held a teleconference.
Heads of government must be able to talk to each other, for example about climate protection . Moreover, in the months leading up to their meeting, they need to know which topics of international politics interest citizens. Talk about it, argue, write about it. All this would not happen if there were not such conferences. Without the G20 in Hamburg, not many thousands of citizens would have discussed world politics, if scientists had not made any reform proposals for global co-operation, and foundations had not invented new joint projects.
At the G20 in Hamburg, all of this led to the climate being on the agenda. In the end, nothing revolutionary was decided, but the G20 has passed the Trump test and put it at 19: 1 to take the resolutions of Paris seriously and to work on further joint strategies. It does not save the climate any better. Would we could get much more. For example, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Erdoğan, did not want to go on afterwards and wanted more money.
But the world does not consist mainly of friendly, environmentally friendly, democratic governments, with whom one likes to pass polite time by the Alster. That is why small steps in the right direction are already a success. It has been given on the G20 summit, with a few other topics as well. That’s why it was right to go to Hamburg.
Some people were surprised that POUTS didn’t attend some meetings, sending along his daughter instead, which is at least unusual. Matthew Norman discusses it:
In Hamburg, birthplace of his favourite food item, Donald Trump had warm words for his favourite female politician. Oddly, it wasn’t Angela Merkel, his hostess, or our own Lame Duck Boudica, Theresa May.
“I’m very proud of my daughter Ivanka,” declared 45th US President at the G20 summit, “always have been from day one… If she weren’t my daughter, it’d be so much easier for her. It might be the only bad thing she has going, if you want to know the truth.”
Of course we want to know the truth. We always do, though whether Trump is the go-to guy for that is a matter of opinion. George Washington had a stronger reputation in the field (Trump would have framed the cherry tree for suicide), and he was phobic about nepotism.
With America joining Britain in the death-spiral to isolationism, the free world begins to look for leadership to the unfree world, in the unlovely shape of China. However gruesome the paradox, geopolitics abhors a power vacuum, and unless and until the EU becomes a federal superstate, China will be the only candidate to replace the US not just as the world’s largest economy but leading power.
In the meantime, look forward to more nepotistic merriment, with Ivanka winning the $600m contract to supply US Army uniforms, Donald Jnr replacing Ulysses S Grant on the $50 bill, Eric made US Masters champion by executive order after shooting 197 and 212 in the first two rounds at Augusta, and 11-year-old Barron and his two favourite teddies given permanent situation room chairs in place of the National Security Adviser and a couple of four-star generals.
Only that nebbish Tiffany will continue to be overlooked, according to top DC sources. Far from being very proud of her from day one, the President wouldn’t date her even if she wasn’t his daughter.
Although golf was off the agenda, there was plenty of opportunity for POUTS’s other favorite sport, competitive handshaking. Marco Venturini analyses his matches at the G20 (This takes you to the original, where the actual videos being given the expert treatment will play.)
During the G20 there is always some attention on the handshakes , which are often used as a diplomatic message . Sometimes they are avoided, sometimes they are asked, they usually give themselves, formally.
The handshake communicates a lot, in a non-verbal way . In the case of the leaders reveals the relationship they have with each other and what they want to make outside . In many cases, a quick gesture of handshake tells us whether a leader feels submissive or wants to dominate the other.
This time, Trump preferred to avoid embarrassment and immediately stated, not verbally (with a gesture instead of words), his intention to shake hands at the German Chancellor.
We can see from it that Trump gives and opens his hand long before he gets to the point of contact with Merkel. Trump makes several steps with his hand pulled to the German leader .
This formality of handshake with an enemy, however, embarrasses Trump. His gesture was due but not heard . So to relieve tension and prove it has not changed, it breaks the pattern by giving them taps on the right arm as it goes.
The fear of distortion in the eyes of the world with that handshake makes him perform another unpopular gesture in typical Trump style: just before leaving the center of the scene, the provocative president shakes the fist closed in a gesture of exultation towards the photographers. As if he wanted to induce the cheer for him. An obvious discharge of tension at a time of embarrassment.
He went on from the G20 for another bout of handshaking with the current world champion, Emmanuel Macron. Most observers reckon that Macron won the epic 25-second tussle. POUTS was there as the guest of honor at France’s national day celebrations, in which the French naturally pay more attention to what their own President does. This was Macron’s first 14 July, just as ten days earlier had been POUTS’s first Fourth.
So it’s worth having a look at reviews of The Macron Show (with special guest). First, Vadim Kamenka:
Since the beginning of his mandate, the Head of State intends to embody a new foreign and European policy: his own. It is a break with his predecessors, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande. Is it to reconnect with a gaullo-mitterrandian line? For Christian Lequesne, researcher at the International Research Center (Ceri), there is little doubt: “Emmanuel Macron takes the standards. There is a form of rupture with the previous two quinquenniums, which largely based their diplomacy on the question of respect for the great principles and democratic values. There seems to be a tendency in the French president to diplomatically pursue interests. It can be characterized as a kind of pragmatism “according to which” France must be able to discuss with everybody “.
The new head of state would be ready on Syria for military reprisals against the regime in the event of chemical attacks.
France would not hesitate to act alone in order to “respect its red line”, he affirmed, like Donald Trump who ordered a military strike against the Syrian army on April 4th. Macron did not break with Atlanticism at all. And the president goes so far as to invite Donald Trump for the celebrations of July 14, in Paris. A highly symbolic gesture, which the Élysée explains by a determination not to break the dialogue after an “opposition” on COP21.
It remains that Emmanuel Macron break with neoconservatism and interventionism seems overplayed.
The official goal is to celebrate “the 100 years of the United States’ entry into the war with French troops during the First World War”. Unofficially, the Elysee wants to bring the United States back into the process of fighting global warming and work together on conflicts in the Middle East, notably on the Syrian issue and the fight against terrorism.
Emmanuel Macron seems to want to draw inspiration from all the diplomatic lines. A method that could work for a while, but that “could become complicated if the aura surrounding it were to become fragile. For now, his success in the presidential election still serves him, but if his reforms in France become problematic, then he could lose credibility with other leaders, warns Christian Lequesne.
In Le Monde, Marc Semo again underlines that Macron is very much aware of being the new kid on the block and keen to make a strong impression on the world stage:
Mr. Macron loves history and its symbols. He had already shown it by inviting Vladimir Putin to Versailles for the inauguration of an exhibition celebrating the 300th anniversary of the visit of Tsar Peter the Great. The centenary of the United States’ entry into the war in 1917, the start of their involvement in European politics in the name of a certain idea of democracy, is even more important.
“He treats de facto Donald Trump even better than Vladimir Putin, stressing the importance of the alliance with Washington,” analyzes Bruno Tertrais of the Foundation for Strategic Research. Mr. Tertrais noted that the French president “invites above all the President of the United States, even beyond Donald Trump.”
It’s a bet for Mr. Macron. “He is buying Trump down, relying on the fact that the United States remains in any case unavoidable whatever the errors of their president,” notes a fine observer of the diplomatic scene. The unpredictability of the US president, his refusal to engage in the fight against global warming as his protectionist tendency in the name of “America first” complicate his relations with many international leaders, beginning with Angela Merkel. The German Chancellor has often had very harsh words against him.
Macron, for his part, took the lead in a diplomatic counter-offensive to recall the irreversibility of the Paris agreement. But both at the G7, where he still evoked his hope to convince Mr. Trump, that at the G20, the Head of State has multiplied the gestures of kindness towards him. “Personal alchemy works well between the two men,” said a White House official.
“I never despair of convincing, it is a trait of character,” explained Mr. Macron in Hamburg. With his diplomacy of “at the same time”, the French president has willingly posed, since his entry on the international scene, as a mediator taking advantage of the tensions of the last months between Moscow, Washington and Berlin. He is the political leader capable of snapping the wind at Angela Merkel, of talking in firmness with the strong man of the Kremlin and of keeping the ear of the real estate tycoon who runs the United States. The latter, ever more discredited, has everything to gain by displaying a French president with excellent image, including in the United States, whom he salutes as a “trailblazer” (pioneer).
I’ll finish this week’s miscellany with a piece by Slavoj Zizek entitled “Christian conservatives don’t support Donald Trump despite his vulgarity – they support him because of it”. Which is at least an intriguing title:
How to account for the strange fact that Donald Trump, a lewd and morally destitute person, the very opposite of Christian decency, can function as the chosen hero of the Christian conservatives? The explanation one usually hears is that, while Christian conservatives are well aware of the problematic character of Trump’s personality, they have chosen to ignore this side of things since what really matters to them is Trump’s agenda, especially his anti-abortion stance.
If he succeeds in naming conservative new members of the Supreme Court, which will then overturn Roe v Wade, then this act will obliterate all his sins, it seems. But are things as simple as that? What if the very duality of Trump’s personality – his high moral stance accompanied by personal lewdness and vulgarities – is what makes him attractive to Christian conservatives? What if they secretly identify with this very duality?
Exactly the same goes for Poland’s current de facto ruler Jaroslaw Kaczynski who, in a 1997 interview for Gazeta Wyborcza, inelegantly exclaimed: “It’s our f***ing turn” (“Teraz kurwa my”). This phrase (which then became a classic locus in Polish politics) can be vaguely translated as: “It’s our f***ing time, now we are in power, it’s our term”, but its literal meaning is more vulgar, something like: “Now it’s our time to f**k the whore” (after waiting in line in a brothel).
It’s important that this phrase was publicly uttered by a devout Catholic conservative, a protector of Christian morality: it’s the hidden obverse which effectively sustains Catholic “moral” politics.
The important lesson here is that this coming open of the obscene background of our ideological space (to put it somewhat simply: the fact that we can now more and more openly make racist, sexist and generally xenophobic statements which, until recently, belonged to private spaces) in no way means that the time of mystification is over, now that ideology openly displays its cards.
On the contrary, when obscenity penetrates the public scene, ideological mystification is at its strongest: the true political, economic and ideological stakes are more invisible than ever. Public obscenity is always sustained by a concealed moralism, its practitioners secretly believe they are fighting for a cause, and it is at this level that they should be attacked. To paraphrase the old Marx brothers joke, apropos Trump or Kaczynski: you look and act like a vulgar clown, but this should not deceive us – you really are a vulgar clown.
It goes on to theorize that Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal is because he’s so ordinary — he seems like a man of the people because he doesn’t really stand out from the crowd. I think Zizek is on to something, but my view is slightly different: Corbyn is a very nice man. He’s not given to firebrand rhetoric and while as a lefty he can’t entirely avoiding speaking in slogans, he doesn’t talk down to people. Some people can work themselves into quite a lather hating what he stands for, but it would be very difficult to hate him personally. You wouldn’t want to go and have a beer with him, but you’d probably be able to have a pleasant conversation while you sipped your coffee and he his tea in a local cafe.
The thing is, you’ve got to be who you are. Mother Theresa, stung by the criticisms that she’d been robotic about the Grenfell Tower fire, has been telling stories about shedding a tear when she saw the exit polls on polling night, presumably as part of an attempt to prove that she was born rather than assembled. I have to say that it’s not working. Like POUTS, she’s way out of her depth.
The Village News & Views July 12, 2017
Wednesday Get Over the Hump Free for All
Greetings, Village Meese. It’s Day 174 of the Resistance and time for another Get Over the Hump post and discussion thread.
EMAILS. It has been pointed out that there seems to be a certain irony regarding the subject of emails in relationship to this presidential campaign, and now this administration’s activities as regards conspiring with a foreign government to subvert the election of the US President.
As we watch the developments and startling reveals unfold, as we risk getting caught up in the very understandable outrage and the train-wreck fascination of the stories coming out, the individuals and institutions concerned and their reactions, we must continue to remind ourselves that as damaging as this appears to the GOP and Trump camp, they will still be using it as a smoke screen as they forge forward with all their might to dismantle as much as possible of the government systems that we rely on to protect us, our environment, our net neutrality, our health care, our voting rights, our justice, our lives and the futures of our loved ones.
The number one issue of the day is still the GOP’s determination to pass DeathCare, a.k.a. tax cuts for the rich on the backs of the lives of the most vulnerable Americans including seniors, children, vets and the poor.
As we parse the building storm over Russia’s interference in our election and the degree of collusion on the part of one of the campaigns – the one now in power – send one more text, make one more call, send one more fax or letter.
Keep the pressure on.
I will be taking Master Wufei to the vet this morning but I will check in when I can.
Feel free to partake of your favorite morning (or afternoon) beverage, greet your friends and discuss the events of the day, any Resistance news you have to share and anything else you would like.