Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr

Tag: Trump

Bret Easton Ellis on annoying liberals

Sunday, 12 August, 2018

The American fiction writer Bret Easton Ellis is best known for books such Less Than Zero, The Rules Of Attraction and American Psycho. The latter assured notoriety and brought with it the prosperity that allows Ellis to enjoy a “fuck you” attitude of speaking his mind without being terrified of the PC mob. A week ago, he spoke to Rolling Stone about politics and other stuff. Snippet:

Q: You tweeted that you were done discussing politics with liberals at dinner. Is it because everyone plays the role of knee-jerk shock and outrage?

A: Completely. I live with a Trump-hating, millennial socialist. I am not, as my boyfriend will tell everyone, political. I’m interested in the theater of it, how each side plays the game, and how the media has morphed with it. I have never seen liberals be more annoying than they are now. These last few weeks really were a flipping point for me, with the depression over the Supreme Court and the way the detention centers were being spun by the liberal media. It’s obviously a game. Here’s Rachel Maddow crying on TV, and pictures of Trump detention centers. My stepfather, who is a Polish Jew, had his entire family wiped out when he was an infant. Throwing around words like Nazi, Gestapo and comparisons to Weimar Germany is like, “Really guys? You’re going there?” I’ve had enough. I think there’s a reason why the #WalkAway movement is getting it’s ten seconds of fame, because there’s a real reaction toward the stridency of how Democrats are expressing their disappointment. It’s turning a lot of people off.

Q: As a gay man, what if your right to marry is suddenly taken away? Doesn’t that anger you on a primal level?

A: That is suggesting that I believe in identity politics, and that I vote with my penis. It’s suggesting that immigration, the economy and other policies matter so much less than whether I can marry a man. It’s not something that I worry about, or is on my mind. That’s the problem with identity politics, and it’s what got Hillary into trouble. If you have a vagina, you had to vote for Hillary. This has seeped into a bedrock credo among a lot of people, and you’ve gotta step back. People are not one-issue voters. I am not going to vote as a gay man, and I don’t think the idea of us not being allowed to marry is going to happen. Pence has his issues, but Trump is not an anti-gay president in any way, shape or form. I also have gay friends who support and voted for Trump, based on certain policies. It’s not just about being gay and being able to marry.

So true. If you want more, check out The Bret Easton Ellis Podcast. It discuses film, television, music, pop culture and, now and again, politics.


Defining populism, philosophically

Tuesday, 31 July, 2018

The latest book by the English philosopher Sir Roger Scruton is titled Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition. He spoke about it with Madeleine Kearns of the National Review in a Q&A headlined “What It Means to Be a Conservative.” Snippet:

Kearns: You mention neither Donald Trump nor populism in your book. Why?

Scruton: Trump is an interesting phenomenon, but not an interesting thinker, supposing he is a thinker at all. ‘Populism’ is a word used by leftists to describe the emotions of ordinary people, when they do not tend to the left.


The Art of The GM Deal

Friday, 27 July, 2018

Last Sunday, Reuters headlined an article thus: “EU approves Monsanto, Bayer genetically modified soybeans.” On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump met Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, and both sides claimed that they’d prevented a (trade) war and struck a great deal.

Juncker praised the US agreement not to impose any additional tariffs (including the president’s threatened levies on European car exports) as “a major concession by the Americans,” while Trump called it “a big day for free and fair trade,” and highlighted Juncker’s promise that the EU would import more American liquid gas and soybeans.
And it’s in that context that the European Union’s approval of genetically modified (GM) Monsanto/Bayer soybeans becomes interesting and that under-reported Reuters story becomes significant. Were the GM restrictions removed to placate The Donald? If so, there will be ructions when the euro Greens return from their holidays in September.


Trump, NATO, Gatsby and Montenegro

Saturday, 21 July, 2018

US President Donald Trump raised eyebrows in an interview with Tucker Carlson of Fox News earlier this week. “Why send our kids to fight in exotic foreign lands?” was the tenor of Carlson’s question. Specifically: “Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member that’s attacked. So let’s say Montenegro, which joined last year, is attacked. Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack?”

Trump’s response: “I understand what you’re saying. I’ve asked the same question. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people… They’re very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations you’re in World War III.”

Naturally, all those suffering from TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) viewed this answer as an attack on the very essence of NATO and a complete misunderstanding of the alliance and its role in the world. Others, a minority, it has to be said, saw in the president’s answer a deep understanding of international conflict and a nuanced appreciation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby. In Chapter IV, Gatsby speaks about the horrors of war and… Montenegro:

“In the Argonne Forest I took two machine-gun detachments so far forward that there was a half mile gap on either side of us where the infantry couldn’t advance. We stayed there two days and two nights, a hundred and thirty men with sixteen Lewis guns, and when the infantry came up at last they found the insignia of three German divisions among the piles of dead. I was promoted to be a major, and every Allied government gave me a decoration — even Montenegro, little Montenegro down on the Adriatic Sea!”

Montenegrin medal Little Montenegro! He lifted up the words and nodded at them — with his smile. The smile comprehended Montenegro’s troubled history and sympathized with the brave struggles of the Montenegrin people. It appreciated fully the chain of national circumstances which had elicited this tribute from Montenegro’s warm little heart. My incredulity was submerged in fascination now; it was like skimming hastily through a dozen magazines

He reached in his pocket, and a piece of metal, slung on a ribbon, fell into my palm.

“That’s the one from Montenegro.”

To my astonishment, the thing had an authentic look

“Orderi di Danilo,” ran the circular legend, “Montenegro, Nicolas Rex.”

“Turn it.”

“Major Jay Gatsby,” I read, “For Valour Extraordinary.”


Bourdain on Trump voters

Tuesday, 17 July, 2018

The death by suicide last month of the American chef Anthony Bourdain shocked not just the world of cuisine. Bourdain was a celebrity: he was a TV star, a popular author, sexy, successful and wealthy. But what’s the point of fame if the famous can no longer endure it was the question that did the rounds once the cause of death became known.

Maria Bustillos interviewed Anthony Bourdain earlier this year and their lengthy conversation has done a lot to raise the profile of her new magazine, Popula. There’s a lot to take away from Bourdain Confidential. Here’s a snippet:

“You know, I just spent about ten days in West Virginia. I like them. I liked the Trump voters. They say grace every meal. Coal is gone.

I love them. And anybody who cannot understand how important even the promise of a slight increase in the number of coal jobs is, how important that is to their cellular tissue, their self-image, everything. How grotesque it is, for people to bigfoot in and say we’re all going to move you into solar, and why can’t you people… No!

The contempt and the ridicule which has been heaped on places like West Virginia, which is the heart, demographically, of enemy territory, as far as New York liberals like us are concerned. If we cannot… This is something we fucked up in the Sixties. We were fighting against cops and construction workers… cops and construction workers were exactly who we fucking needed! They were the first to die, in Vietnam. We weren’t gonna!”

Anthony Bourdain


Charles Krauthammer, RIP

Friday, 22 June, 2018

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer, died yesterday. He was 68. The cause was cancer of the small intestine. On 8 June, explaining what he called his 10-month “uncharacteristic silence,” Krauthammer revealed in The Post that despite surgery for the tumour last August, cancer had recurred and that he had only weeks to live.

“This is the final verdict,” he wrote. “My fight is over.”

Charles Krauthammer, a former psychiatrist and self-described Great Society Democrat metamorphosed into one of America’s most persuasive conservative voices. He originated the phrase “the Reagan Doctrine” for the president’s strategy of going beyond the policy of containment to actively encourage anti-communist insurgencies. He coined the term “unipolarity” to describe the era of American power after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, and he diagnosed as “Bush Derangement Syndrome” the response many people had to the presidency and even the very existence of George W. Bush.

This is from Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics:

“For the Europeans there really is a peace dividend, because we provide the peace. They can afford social democracy without the capacity to defend themselves because they can always depend on the United States.

So why not us as well? Because what for Europe is decadence — decline, in both comfort and relative safety — is for us mere denial. Europe can eat, drink and be merry for America protects her. But for America it’s different. If we choose the life of ease, who stands guard for us?”


A German writes about Germany and Trump

Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

Jochen Bittner, a political editor with the German weekly Die Zeit, addresses the enormous hypocrisy of Europe and, especially Germany, in a New York Times op-ed titled What Trump Gets Right About Europe. Snippet:

“Mr. Trump’s anger at America’s allies embodies, however unpleasantly, a not unreasonable point of view, and one that the rest of the world ignores at its peril: The global world order is unbalanced and inequitable. And unless something is done to correct it soon, it will collapse, with or without the president’s tweets.

While the West happily built the liberal order over the past 70 years, with Europe at its center, the Americans had the continent’s back. In turn, as it unravels, America feels this loss of balance the hardest — it has always spent the most money and manpower to keep the system working.

The Europeans have basically been free riders on the voyage, spending almost nothing on defense, and instead building vast social welfare systems at home and robust, well-protected export industries abroad. Rather than lash back at Mr. Trump, they would do better to ask how we got to this place, and how to get out.

The European Union, as an institution, is one of the prime drivers of this inequity. At the Group of 7, for example, the constituent countries are described as all equals. But in reality, the union puts a thumb on the scales in its members’ favor: It is a highly integrated, well-protected free-trade area that gives a huge leg up to, say, German car manufacturers while essentially punishing American companies who want to trade in the region.

The eurozone offers a similar unfair advantage. If it were not for the euro, Germany would long ago have had to appreciate its currency in line with its enormous export surplus.”

What sort of lives do people/nations, who pose as being moral, lead? Jochen Bittner has posed the question and answered it, too.

Language note: The word “hypocrite” came to English from the Greek hypokrites, which means “actor” or “stage player.” Hypokrites is made up of two words that translate as “an interpreter from underneath,” and that makes sense when you know that actors in ancient Greece wore masks to represent the characters they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.

Hypokrites took on an expanded meaning to refer to anyone wearing a figurative mask and pretending to be someone they were not, and this meaning was imported into medieval French and then into English, where it appeared with the spelling, ypocrite, in 13th-century religious texts to refer to those who pretend to be pious to deceive others. By the 16th century, hypocrite had gained its initial h-.


History: The Singapore Summit

Tuesday, 12 June, 2018

The foreign policy elites have hated Donald Trump ever since he announced his candidacy for the White House. And that simmering hatred reached boiling point at the weekend when the US President slapped down the Canadian boy-band frontman Justin Trudeau at the G7 Summit in Quebec. But as Michael Mandelbaum documented in Mission Failure, the same elites that adore Trudeau and despise Trump have failed totally since the end of the Cold War in their efforts to prevent North Korea and Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Irony of history: What neither Clinton, nor Bush nor Obama could do, Trump can do and that’s why the potential success of the Singapore Summit is especially feared by those who should welcome it. Their Juju is in danger of being exposed for what it is.

The Singapore Summit


Peace: Stone meeting Water in Korea

Friday, 27 April, 2018 0 Comments

Kim Jong-un today became the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea by crossing the military line that has divided the peninsula since the end of the Korean War in 1953. In a moment rich with symbolism, the South Korean president Moon Jae-in and Kim shook hands at the border. Just months ago North Korean rhetoric was warlike, but now the talk is of peace and the ending of Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

Who deserves the credit for this? In the Sydney Morning Herald, Daniel McCarthy argues that “Donald Trump deserves the Nobel Peace.” Snippet:

“The Nobel Committee and the community of opinion that looks on the Peace Prize as an affirmation of liberal pieties may find Trump distasteful. Nevertheless, he is set to be the man most deserving of the honour. If that seems shocking, it is a shock that ought to prompt a rethink of how international relations really work. Decades of conventional diplomacy with North Korea only led to the Kim dynasty acquiring nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them between continents. To make peace demands a new approach, and President Trump has found one.”

One of the highlights of our trip to Korea was the time spent on Jeju Island in the Korea Strait, which connects the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan. Its fascinating Stone Park is devoted to “the history of stone culture” and the park’s combination of stone and water suggests that opposing elements can be united.

Jeju Stone Park

Jeju Stone Park


Trump migrates to Davos

Tuesday, 23 January, 2018 0 Comments

The World Economic Forum has opened in Davos and the theme is “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.” You can follow the action here. Lots of noble sentiment will be spouted by many worthy people in the coming days in Switzerland but their strivings are already overshadowed by the impending arrival of the planet’s only political superstar: US President Donald Trump, who is scheduled to speak on Friday.

In the run up to Davos, the scholar and writer, Walter Russell Mead, has written a piece for the Wall Street Journal titled “Immigration Is Still Radioactive” in which he makes the point that immigration “powered Donald Trump’s triumph over the Republican and Democratic establishments while tipping the U.K. referendum toward Brexit.” He also notes that “In Germany, Angela Merkel, once the unchallenged master of European politics, is still struggling to form a coalition.” This is mainly due to her disastrous open-borders policy which, back to Davos, has fractured German and European politics. And, immigration remains the “third rail” in global politics, says Mead, who warns: “Anyone who hoped voters would get it out of their systems must be sorely disappointed.”

Mead spoke recently to Susan Glasser, host of The Global POLITICO podcast. She asked: “As we’re here at the end of year one of this most unusual and remarkable presidency, do you think Donald Trump is a believer in Trumpism, or is it silly of us in our sort of academic mode to try to impose ideologies and isms on a guy like Donald Trump?” To which Mead replied:

“I try not to read other people’s minds. I’ve found I’m not very good at it. I think if you look at the pattern, at the record of things that President Trump has said over many decades, things like dislike of democracy promotion as a foreign policy, of limited wars, of trade, free trade, there are definite patterns. And it seems to me that we’re not going too far when we say, ‘Yes, the man does seem to have some core beliefs that persist.’ But, you know, how he fits those in with what he is learning every day as president of the United States, you know, whether it’s from the briefings he gets from various advisers or whether it’s you try something and the whole country screams that they hate it and your poll numbers go down, well, that’s an education too. So every president changes in office. I don’t think Donald Trump will be an exception to that.”

Davos Man, and Woman, should ponder that.


Taking Trump seriously, if not literally

Thursday, 28 December, 2017 0 Comments

“2016 turned out to be a year in which it was wise to take Donald Trump as a political candidate seriously but not literally, in the inspired phrase of the Washington Examiner‘s Pittsburgh-based columnist Salena Zito. As 2017 is on the point of vanishing, it’s worth asking whether it’s time to take Trump seriously, if not literally, as a public policy maker.”

So writes Michael Barone and he cites Tyler Cowen, a Trump skeptic, who also happens to be a a George Mason University economist and Marginal Revolution blogger, in making his case. Cowen, according to Barone, sees a pattern where others see only chaos and its name is “investment”. Trump’s goal, says Cowen is to make “the U.S. a new and dominant focus of investment, including at the expense of other nations.” Why is this a winner for the Republicans?

“Their deep reduction in the corporate tax rate, from the highest in the developed world to below average, obviously incentivized both U.S. — and foreign-based firms to invest here. Trump’s rejection of the Trans Pacific Partnership and renegotiation of NAFTA, in Cowen’s view, will make lesser-developed Asian nations and Mexico less attractive alternatives to the U.S. for investors.

Trump critics are right to say that this upends—the regnant cliché — the thrust of American policy since the years just after World War II. Then there was bipartisan agreement on encouraging free trade and foreign investment, as economist Douglas Irwin writes in Clashing Over Commerce. Europe was in ruins and voters thought its revival was in our interest.

But that was 70 years ago, and economic situations seldom remain static so long. A revived Europe has turned sluggish, while low-wage nations in Asia, Latin America, and even Africa are open for investment. First Japan, then China, now others will be moving up as competitors.

America has proved competitive at the top levels. But a country whose labor force is always going to include many low-skill workers may have some continuing interest in incentivizing low-skill employment. That’s not Cowen’s view or mine, but it’s apparently President Trump’s. Maybe it’s not just dismissible as crazy ranting.

Something similar may be said for the Trump foreign policy, considered as a perhaps unstable amalgam of his sober drafted national security Strategy and his sometimes impulsive tweets. This view explicated by David P. Goldman, writing this month in the Asia Times.

Trump’s view, Goldman argues, is of an America that is more competitive than cooperative, not necessarily hostile to others but not willing to rely on assertions of abstract common interests. ‘Competition does not always mean hostility, nor does it inevitably lead to conflict—although none should doubt our commitment to defend our interests.’

The national security strategy has a tough enough approach to Russia to disabuse all but the most dogmatic believers of the notion that Trump is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Manchurian candidate. It is sharply critical of some actions by President Xi Jinping’s China. It drops former President George W. Bush’s earnest promotion of democracy in the Middle East and former President Barack Obama’s gauzy faith that Iran will abandon its nuclear weapons program and become a normal constructive power in the region.”

That must be the best use of “gauzy” in 2017.