Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 12.11.16


Road Traffic Deaths: When I came here in 2000, these were very high by European standards, reflecting a number of laxities. They've since fallen greatly, which is impressive. But the latest news is of an increase. Let's hope it's a blip.

Driving in Spain: As reader Sierra says, roundabouts - or, rather, the way the Spanish deal with them - is one of my bêtes noires. So I was delighted to see his/her citation of this example of a sign in Lugo. It's trying to both instil common sense and to wean drivers off the bad advice they received when learning to pass their test. And which is still being taught in at least Pontevedra. As my dashcam will shortly prove . . .

Insults: You might not know it but it's a crime in Spain to insult the police. A post Franco relic? Anyway, you won't be surprised to hear that the person who decides whether you've insulted a police office is  . . . the disgruntled cop. This daft principle has now been taken further by a government proposal that nasty memes on the internet be criminalised. See here for a typically robust Spanish reaction to this nonsense,


An Army: A report from The TimesAmerica cannot be relied on to defend Europe, says Mr Juncker. His words were amplified by a call from the Italian in charge of EU diplomacy for the union to become a superpower and act as the 'principal global security provider'. Can anyone really see this happening? Is there no limit to their megalomania and delusional thinking? I assume the working language - if not English - won't be German. What an irony that would be, if it were.


Worried Brits: If you're resident in 'Europe' and worried about losing your rights, click here for an encouraging report in The Independent.


Leprosy: Brits have been warned to stay away from those red squirrels which have survived the onslaught of the North American grey squirrels. They're said to carry a medieval strain of human leprosy - mycobacterium leprae


President Trump: One good thing about Donald Trump? At least he's killed off celebrity endorsements. One fervently hopes this is true. Why on earth should we be impressed by them?

A Message from Mexico: 
Trump: Greetings from Mexico

How to React to Trump's Election: There's no shortage of comment/advice on the web but the contrary view of Matthew Parris is attached as an article at the end of this post.


Government Salaries: These are reported to be a minimum of €4,880 a month (14 times a year?), rising to €8,700 for the President. This, of course, compares with the €1000 a month which is still so common. Not to mention all those jobs advertised below the legal minimum of €764.40 a month (€655.20 x 14). 



Don’t panic: Trumpism is just a passing fad - Matthew Parris, The Times.

‘The voiceless have spoken!” “The cry of the dispossessed!” “We must focus on their concerns!” How the clichés roll. Read them in a hundred opinion columns, hear them from a thousand pulpits across Britain and America on Sunday, see them in any number of tired scripts for tired politicians. The “forgotten”, the “just managing”, are “in revolt”. They “can’t take it any more”. June 23 and November 9 were a “shout of pain” from the “left behind”.

Both the Corbynite left and the populist right are this weekend leaping aboard the bandwagon of a supposed peasants’ revolt. “The elite” (they agree) have for too long ignored the suffering of millions driven to despair. In the gospels according to Jeremy, Donald, Nigel and perhaps Theresa, it is time to hear their cry.

Well la-la-la, I’m not listening. It’s nonsense. It’s a fashion. It’s bogus. It’s a meme that has gone viral. It will pass. We just have to make sure that before this wave of madness subsides, we don’t indulge a cartload of xenophobes and pea-brains who would wreck the West.

Stuff the windbaggery about engaging with these people. Stuff the facile columnising about Forgotten Britain. Kick away the condescension and forsake the quest to determine what’s really worrying voters. These people are just wrong. They don’t understand. They’re risking self-harm. They could destroy us all. Say so. Have we lost our confidence? We free-market, free-speech, open-society liberals owe the Trumpists and little-Englanders absolutely no duty to understand, sympathise, reach out, or meet them halfway.

Faced by an unexpected populist victory in Britain’s European referendum and now America’s presidential race, there has proved an easy way to make apparent sense of the upset. Just dispatch a roving reporter to a depressed place, ask some depressed people how they feel about their depressed local economy, and they’ll give you the same answer they would have given at any point in any century since the Industrial Revolution. They’re fed up, insecure, frightened and angry with the powers-that-be. In huge numbers — and in what is more of an uncomprehending scream than a practical manifesto — they have kicked their ruling elites in the stomach in the only way they know how. They were offered a referendum. They were offered Hillary Clinton. Thus Brexit. Thus Trump. So runs the report.

It’s a compelling picture but it doesn’t map on to the facts. The fact is that in 2008 we got the economic downturn — yet in 2010 and 2015 we voted for austerity. The fact is that Americans who struggle financially voted by a majority for Hillary Clinton, not Mr Trump. Research by Gallup suggests that Americans who live in areas hit by immigration, or a loss of manufacturing jobs, or competition from China were no more likely to support Trump than his Democratic rival.
Anti-immigrant and anti-immigration sentiment among less-educated white voters has been a powerful ingredient in the rise of the populist right, and remains critical to its vigour.

Where Trump did make striking gains was among a subset: he did very well among white blue-collar workers and among the very poorest who earn less than $30,000. And on both sides of the Atlantic we feel there’s something special — like the canary in the mine-shaft — about the white working class. It stands, perhaps, for the old economy, the old order. Treating it, however, as a bellwether for a national prospectus would be electoral folly.

But, you object, this is still not listening. So let’s listen. Eric Kaufmann, a professor at Birkbeck, University of London, has been going through the data. Pollsters asked American whites to rate Donald Trump on a scale of 0 to 10 and then say what they considered to be the most pressing issues facing the country. The differences between those who rated Trump 0 and those who rated him 10 (I’ll call them Trump-sceptics and Trump-enthusiasts) are startling. Both sets were concerned about the economy in general, but only one group was hugely more concerned about poverty and inequality. Forty per cent of Trump-sceptics gave these top rating. Only 4 per cent of Trump-enthusiasts did. The best identifiers of a Trump-enthusiast were linked: immigration and terrorism.

Although the story about rising inequality is important, it is not the electoral force that drove the Trump and Brexit votes. But if I mock the “cry of pain” explanation, what’s my own?
Fashion can drive forces large as well as trivial. A big part of the “rage of the dispossessed” now sweeping the West is simply fashion. Like zips, distressed jeans or nuts and bolts through our noses, it’s a craze: a craze in ideas. In a pub the other evening, I overheard two fiftysomething blokes having a moan about politics.
“They’re all in it for themselves,” said one.
“The unelected elite,” said the other.
“Westminster bubble,” said the first.
“Out of touch,” agreed the second.
“No idea what it’s like for ordinary people,” said the first . . .
“All these foreigners coming in . . .” interrupted the second. Thus it continued, cliché after cliché.

I slightly know these blokes. They’re not suffering at all. They aren’t even poor. Their lives are comfortable. They own their own houses. There are no immigrants where they live. They were just repeating what everyone else is saying — and working themselves up. A few centuries ago it would probably have been Catholics against whom they inveighed.

Farageism, Trumpism, has become a viral idea. We face an epidemic. As its political prescriptions are tried and fail, it will fade away like hula hoops or flares. It should be mocked, not indulged. It is important not to take this crackpot stuff too seriously. Trump can’t last.

But one ground for alarm does exist. It’s one of the hosts to this bug, and a powerful propagator. Racism. There is simply no getting round an uncomfortable truth, the same truth that reared its head during Britain’s EU referendum campaign. Anti-immigrant and anti-immigration sentiment among less-educated white voters has been a powerful ingredient in the rise of the populist right, and remains critical to its vigour. There’s just no point looking the other way. The liberal refrain about a “cry of economic pain” that I attack in this column is a distraction from another cry that liberals want to kid themselves they cannot hear.

It wasn’t the economy, stupid, it wasn’t misogyny, and it wasn’t inequality that clinched it for Trump. It was racism and jingoism, and the comforting discovery by racists and jingoists via social media that they are neither aberrant nor alone: there are millions like them out there. They have found their voice.

Giving not an inch we must now wait and hope for this storm to blow itself out. Don’t panic. Don’t reach out. Don’t concede.


Perry said...

Parris is wrong, but what do you expect from such a silly man. He's in favour of Muslims, seemingly without being aware that Islam demands that Muslims should kill homosexuals.

I would also point out that Trump's family have married Jews & all his grandchildren are Jews.

My comment from yesterday bears repeating. Who voted for Trump? The POOR, that's who. Look at this analysis of data from NYT exit poll.

Trump got 29% of the Hispanic/Latino vote; an increase of 8% over the vote for Mitt Romney in 2012.

I do not follow the western MSM, but prefer to use the Internet & Asia Times for research.

Colin Davies said...

Perry. It's v simple - the folk who voted for Trump were those to whom he offered the biggest false promises and made the biggest lies.

Perry said...

On a less controversial note, I knocked up three batches of no-knead bread dough last night. It's as a result of viewing the video below earlier in the day. After 18 hours, I turned out the three batches into frying pans to wait for my cast iron pot to heat up to 230 degrees Celsius in the oven. First loaf is cooling, second is browning & I'll start the third in 5 minutes.

First loaf is delicious.

Colin Davies said...

In other words, the Adolf strategy.

Not unknown among Caribbean and S American 'freedom fighters' and presidents. And always appealing to the disadvantaged and to the desperate. Nor in Asia and the Middle East. Or China, etc.

Perry said...

Well he's got 4 years to prove one of us right. I hope I am alive to see it.

H R Clinton is no stranger to falsehoods either. She must have been nuts to believe her husband when he said "I did not have sex with that woman." Fellatio in the Oval Office is not sex? It's a bizarre comprehension of language in the Democratic (Clinton) Party. “Who thought Obama’s legacy would be the destruction of the Democratic Party,” said CNN’s Amanda Carpenter, after Trump's win.

"Hillary Clinton’s character issues, her email fiasco, and the alleged unethical dealings occurring at her nonprofit ensured that she couldn’t hold the Obama coalition together to the point where Democratic gains in either chamber were dragged down to embarrassingly minimal levels."

Lenox said...

The DNC lost the election when they chose Hillary over the far more popular (and populist) Bernie. Notice that almost half the Americans didn't vote as they no doubt were unable to find a candidate they liked.

Maria said...

I agree with Colin and Lenox. Not all Jews are all-inclusive and tolerant, nor all Muslims narrow-minded and bigoted. Trump won on a ticket of fear and extreme promises that will never be fulfilled. And if Bernie had been the candidate instead of Hillary, the Dems probably would have won the election. While I would have loved to see a woman in the Oval Office, now was not the time, nor Hillary the ideal candidate. Nevertheless, in this election, she was the sane choice.

Colin Davies said...

@Maria: Thanks for that. I agree, of course.

@Perry: There is a large overlap in views. It was the poor to whom Trump lied the most. And, in doing so, to hwom he held out most false hope. They will be disappointed. Again.

Colin Davies said...

@Perry: Quote: "There was no bigger Trump lie than pretending manufacturing jobs will ever return. "

And, what the feminisists never understood:

"Rust Belt women and plenty of others saw him as the rough, tough boss who would bring the business back, and with it the manhood of the sad guy they love."

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