Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 13.11.16


Dying: The Catholic church might not like it but not many Spaniards take much notice of that these days . . .  More and more people are turning to cremation of their loved ones. Click here for El País on this, in English.

The Secrets of the Alhambra Palace: Being decoded, it seems.

The Segovian Viaduct: The date of origin of this awesome structure is a tad earlier than previously thought.


The Economist: This (apparently) august mag is a fan of the EU and so is anti-Brexit. It's also very pro free trade. But, as Dominic Lawson points out in today's Times: The Economist seems oblivious to the fact that the EU is not a free-trade zone but a customs union — a racket that the magazine’s original moving spirit, that great apostle of free trade Richard Cobden, would have deplored. Quite.


That Election: Podemos was a wake-up call to the elite of Spain. Brexit was a wake-up call to the elite of Britain. And the election of Trump is a wake-up call to the USA. Over in Brussels, that arrogant, jumped-up clerk from corrupt Luxembourg, President Wanker Juncker, appears not to have heard any of them. Quotes:-
  • We will need to teach the president-elect what Europe is and how it works.
  • I think we will waste two years before Mr Trump tours the world he does not know.
President Trump: Here's how he's said to be seen in the USA:-
  1. A non-ideological figure who meant little of what he said, or
  2. A liberal in conservative’s clothing who's tricked his way to the White House, or
  3. The leader of a revolutionary movement, coming to Washington to turn it upside down.
Meanwhile . . . As of right now:-
  • The task in hand is to decide his cabinet and policy priorities for his first 100 days.
  • He has done little planning for his 71-day transition to power.
  • His policies are a mystery. While he made plenty of (outrageous) pronouncements he repeatedly contradicted himself.
At the end of this post is an article by Janet Daley on Trump which contains far more common sense than most of them. And which is the last I intend to post here. BTW . . . I, too, thought that Trump's body language suggested not only that he hadn't expected to win but that it was beginning to dawn on him what he'd done and what it meant for him. I can't imagine he cared about what it meant for the country. Least of all, the world.


The Sights of Pontevedra. HT to my friend David for this tweet providing 10 things you must see in our province and city. Well, 5 to be going along with. The rest will follow, it seems.



Another of my thrilling dawns, yesterday . . . .


Trump a demagogue? No. Ordinary people have just put democracy to action:    Janet Daley

How did that mantra go again? “Elections are always won on the centre ground.” Well goodbye to that. While we’re at it, goodbye to message management, to focus-grouping and campaign grids, to professional spin, to instant rebuttal, to scripted soundbites and all the rest of the baggage that turned politics into marketing. Bye-bye.

Yes, it is possible to find a glimmer of light in even the darkest moments. What we have just seen is, as everybody keeps saying, the triumph of belligerent populism. But it is also a reminder that the American people still believe in an actual – not a synthetic – electoral contest. If they are outraged and believe that their anger is being ignored (or worse, belittled), they are prepared to give the ballot box a chance. Politics just got real. This is democracy as ordinary people understand it.

In a remarkably orderly fashion – considering the rage and frustration that their votes suggested – they marched into the polling booths and registered their faith in an electoral solution.

What happens next, when they discover that the man in whom they put their trust cannot possibly deliver what he promised – a return of prosperity to those “left behind” by the globalisation of wealth and labour – is too frightening to contemplate. For what it’s worth, I thought Trump’s body language and facial expression at the White House last week suggested that he was discovering just how out of his depth he was. But for the moment, the voters support the system and are determined that “government for the people” should mean what it says.

So how did it come to this? How did the “forgotten men and women” as Donald Trump calls them (plagiarising an expression from Franklin Roosevelt’s era), come to see this man as their only possible saviour? That is the question that all mainstream parties are morally obliged to answer. And it applies here at least as much as in the United States.

Clearly, the Democratic party had utterly lost touch with what was its natural constituency: working class and lower-middle-class voters. The party that once stood up for what my parents used to call “the little man” against the rich and powerful has become a party of protest, relying on a rainbow coalition of social minorities, single-issue campaigners and gender equality activists.

It now seems uninterested in its traditional supporters – the great mass of blue-collar workers who could once expect to be employed in the coal and steel industries, or to be making cars in Detroit.
So the guys with baseball caps and pick-up trucks (the US equivalent of “white van men”) found themselves with no one to speak for them at all. Established Left-wing politics there, as here, has become an almost entirely bourgeois phenomenon.

Even in her emotional speech after losing the election, Hillary Clinton seemed not to get it. Her most passionate regret was apparently that “we”, as she put it, had failed to break the glass ceiling by electing a woman president. I don’t recall Margaret Thatcher ever referring to “glass ceilings”, nor, so far as I know, has Angela Merkel.

It may be no coincidence that the women who have been elected to lead major western countries have mainly come from parties of the Right, not the Left. Successful female leaders need to see themselves as politicians who happen to be women, not as Women Politicians.

Note to female candidates on the Left: most women (and almost all the working-class ones) are not obsessing about glass ceilings. They are worried (especially the working-class ones) about paying the mortgage or the rent, about finding some kind of work that can fit around child-rearing, about whether their families can hope to thrive in the present circumstances.

In fact, most of them do not see their interests as being in direct conflict with those of men. Indeed, they have men in their lives of whom they are quite fond: husbands or partners, sons or sons-in-law, fathers or brothers, grandsons or nephews. 

They are more likely to be angry if they feel that militant gender wars are taking precedence over the fate of those men, than they are about professional “glass ceilings” which are the concern of the very privileged. Women politicians of all parties should take this as a salutary lesson: sexual partisanship does not beat economics as an electoral issue.

This may help to explain why so many more women voted for Trump than expected. In good times, the softer, more abstract concerns about gender equality might have a chance. In bad times, it is the hard worries about jobs and money that prevail.

And those sizeable minorities which the Democrats still nominally identify with – black and Hispanic voters – seemed less inclined to vote on ethnic lines than on economic ones: they are out of work and feeling abandoned by established politics just as the famous “white working class” is said to be.
That too, in its way, is a hopeful sign. The divides of race may still be there, but the tough reality of unemployment and the collapse of the American birthright of self-improvement are cutting right across the old ethnic loyalties. Yes indeed, politics has got real.

You may notice the parallel with our own dear Labour party, which has become the voice of north London rather than the voice of the north of England. The treatment of its core voters has gone way beyond indifference and become positively contemptuous.

The entire respectable establishment of the centre Left has agreed to relegate those witless oiks who will not, or cannot, keep up with modern cosmopolitan tastes to the dustbin of democratic history.
In the US, these are Mrs Clinton’s “deplorables”, whom she also characterised as “irredeemable” – which must have been grossly offensive to evangelical Christians who regard no one as irredeemable. In London, they are everybody’s dinner party joke, but they are especially scorned on the liberal Left (remember Emily Thornberry’s famous encounter with a Union Jack and a white van?).

This smug, supercilious hilarity – which sometimes reveals itself as genuine hatred – is one of the most seriously anti-democratic forces in the present political equation. One US commentator has called it “point-and-laugh liberalism”. It is one of the chief reasons why elections (and referendums) have become so wildly unpredictable. It is what all those Trump supporters were railing against when they protested about the tyranny of political correctness. Their discontents have literally become unspeakable. Mrs Clinton has warned that a Trump presidency could undermine America’s liberties but, to a great extent, it is liberal intolerance – with its “safe spaces” and “no platforms” – that has pushed the country into the hands of a demagogue who may be only a harbinger of the real social conflict to come.

Ironically, even if all those infamous “white working-class voters” were to die off (a prospect some liberal thinkers explicitly long for), the problem would not be solved. The prospects for manual workers, even skilled ones, are declining. Technology is making their employment obsolete. What low-skilled work remains is now being supplied by a globalised labour market transporting armies of migrants from one corner of the world to another at the behest of a globalised economy.

This is what makes the Trump promise to bring jobs back to the American rust belt so unrealistic. He might launch infrastructure projects just to keep people working but this employment recovery will be a short-term illusion – just as it was under Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Somebody is going to have to find a real answer to this: it may be democracy’s last chance.


Perry said...

Interesting article about the later date for the completion os the Aquaduct in Secovia. Wikipedia has noted the change.

The discovery in 2011 of 17 coins, including 4 coins struck by the Roman procurator of Judea, Valerius Gratus in the years 17/18 CE, posed a conundrum foe Israeli archaeologists in 2011.

During excavations at the base of the Western Wall in Jerusalem they found a rock cut Mikvah or ritual bath that was situated directly in line with the Western Wall. The builders
filled in the bath with earth, placed three large flat stones on the soil and built the first course of the wall on top of this blockage. Whilst sifting the soil removed from inside the sealed ritual bath, three clay oil lamps were discovered of a type that was common in the first century CE. The sifting also yielded the 17 bronze coins mixed into the soil.

When Herod the Great died in 4 BCE, his kingdom was divided into three. Herod's son Herod Archelaus, ruled Judea, Samaria & Idumea so badly that after an appeal from his own population, the territory in 6 CE, was declared Roman province by the Emperor Augustus. This means that the southwards extension of the Western Wall took place 20 years after the death or Herod the Great.

These finds are more evidence to support the idea that the Haram (or Temple Mount) was not the site of the Jewish temples, but of the Antonia Fortress, so-named by Herod to honour his patron Mark Anthony, who provided 3 Roman legions, so Herod could overcome the Parthians & capture Antigonous, whom he handed to Mark Anthony for execution in 37 BCE. Having regained his kingdom, Herod need to garrison his Roman troops in Jerusalem & immediately began construction of a standard, rectangular Roman fortress, some 30 acres in extent. You can see the outline in this photograph.,_2007)_01.jpg

Here is a pdf about the 2011 finds.

Perry said...

Have you heard of the Milo Yiannopoulos Dangerous Faggot tour?

This is Milo, the day before the US Election.

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