Thursday, February 16, 2017

Pontevedra Pensées: 16.2.17

Spain has some decidedly odd village names. Up in Galicia, I like the one that translates, from Galician, into Dead Cat. And the one call Mesquita, or Mosque in English. Here's a few that others have noticed, in Spanish.

If you're thinking of buying a property in Spain, here's a useful guide to its likely running costs.

Relatedly . . . Spain comes 4th in the global list of empty properties scattered around the country - after Malta, Mexico and Greece. More on this here, again in Spanish. I can't say I was astonished to read that construction in Spain continued even after the end, in 2008, of the ludicrous boom of the previous 6 or 7 years. It certainly did in respect of the still-empty houses in my barrio. But these 40 or so houses are a miniscule fraction of the 3.4m houses in Spain said to lie empty.

It's a fact that - despite the country's serious problems - there's no right-wing party in Spain to compare with those in Germany, Austria or France. Or even the pale UKIP version of the UK. If you want to know why Spain has been immune to this European virus, click here.

Finally . . . The Madness of King Donald. The man who wrote the US guidelines on the Narcissistic Personality Disorder has agreed that Trump is a classic narcissist but denied that he has mental condition. Here's what he offered initially on this subject:-

Fevered media speculation about Donald Trump’s psychological motivations and psychiatric diagnosis has recently encouraged mental health professionals to disregard the usual ethical constraints against diagnosing public figures at a distance. They have sponsored several petitions and a Feb. 14 letter to The New York Times suggesting that Mr. Trump is incapable, on psychiatric grounds, of serving as president.

Most amateur diagnosticians have mislabeled President Trump with the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder. I wrote the criteria that define this disorder, and Mr. Trump doesn’t meet them. He may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.

Mr. Trump causes severe distress rather than experiencing it and has been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy. It is a stigmatizing insult to the mentally ill (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Mr. Trump (who is neither).

Bad behavior is rarely a sign of mental illness, and the mentally ill behave badly only rarely. Psychiatric name-calling is a misguided way of countering Mr. Trump’s attack on democracy. He can, and should, be appropriately denounced for his ignorance, incompetence, impulsivity and pursuit of dictatorial powers.

His psychological motivations are too obvious to be interesting, and analyzing them will not halt his headlong power grab. The antidote to a dystopic Trumpean dark age is political, not psychological.

And here's what he's added since:-

Many people still don't understand that Donald Trump can be a world-class narcissist and still not qualify for a mental disorder.

My last blog explained why he is bad, not mad—crazy only like a fox. And that lumping him with the mentally ill is an insult to them, not him.

The urge among amateur diagnosticians to mislabel Trump as mentally ill is perfectly understandable. They are terrified (as am I) by his dictatorial and impulsive behavior and feel compelled to resort to psychiatric name calling as a way of delegitimizing him. But this is inaccurate, unnecessary, unfair to the mentally ill, ineffective, and badly off target. 

We must challenge Trump on his outrageous behaviors and constant lies, not on his mental status. Speculations on Trump's psychological motivations, or whether he believes his own lies, are both distracting and irrelevant. 

At this crucial moment, with our fragile democracy at serious risk, I really couldn't care less why Trump does what he does. It is his dangerous actions that count, not the psychological reasons he does them.

Within a week of taking office, Trump declared war on our Constitution and also on the courts charged with defending it. He claimed that, based on his evaluation of risks to national security, he could arbitrarily exclude travelers from selected Muslim countries, without any judicial review of the legality of his executive order.

His claim is unprecedented and has been twice rejected by the court: "There is no precedent to support this unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our democracy."
Trump ridiculed the four judges who ruled against him and claimed that they were acting politically—despite the fact that two had been appointed by Republican presidents and two by Democratic presidents. No president in our long history has ever shown such disrespect for the judiciary or willingness to defy the necessary checks and balances restraining presidential power. 

Impending court decisions in this case may constitute a key turning point in United States history. Should the judges accept Trump's "national security" excuse for unconstitutional acts, it will embolden him to push for a much greater power grab. He can create a de facto dictatorship, eroding our precious civil rights, based only on his arbitrary interpretation of "national security."

The courts must establish that Trump's "national security" excuse is not a blank check, allowing for serial violations of the Constitution. Court decisions have always been heavily influenced by politics. The question now is whether judges will have the courage to support our Constitution in the face of Trump's determined bullying.

Trump is also setting up a straw man—he tweets that should a terrorist act ever occur, we should "blame them," not hold him responsible. He is preemptively abdicating responsibility for protecting the United States as best he can, but to do this in a manner consistent with upholding the Constitution and respecting our laws. Trump wants to establish the dangerous dichotomy that we either grant him dictatorial power or not hold him accountable for protecting national security.

All previous presidents understood that they were responsible for national security. None, not even George Bush, ever presumed that this gave them the right to rule autocratically and above the law. 

Trump can be contained only by the checks and balances that have always safeguarded our democracy. His persistent power grabs must be opposed by Congress, the courts, the media, and the public. So far Congress has proven useless, the courts are still to be tested, the public is mostly passive. The free media are the last and likely the best protector of democracy—which is why Trump persists in the bold lie that it is dishonest and that he is truthful. 

Opposition to Trump's power grab must be based on politics, not psychology. Everything possible must be done now to strengthen the backbone of the current very flawed Congress and to elect a wiser and more courageous one in 2018. 

And vigorous efforts must begin immediately to end the Trumpian dark age in 2020. If he gets a second term, Trump could go far in destroying the precious, but fragile, democratic institutions that have governed us for almost two-and-a-half centuries. 

It is no accident that Orwell's 1984 shot to the top of Amazon's best seller list immediately after Trump's election. Another book people should read is Sinclair Lewis' 'It Can Happen Here'.

Finally . . .  I ventured into Costa Coffee today, but only to use their toilets. On the way out, I noticed a sign on the door advertising a 'flat white' as the 'velvety smooth' companion to a latte. Coincidentally, my friend Anthea has written to give me/us this vital info today. But, really, after years of watching Fraser, I should have known this already. 

Unnecessary foto:-

And here's the guff on it from Costa, which I know to be the most profitable division of Unilever:- Richer than a Latte. Creamier than a Cappuccino. The Flat White, a coffee drink concept originally from Australia and New Zealand is a rich, creamy, full flavoured coffee with a velvety texture and made from the purest extract of the coffee bean. It actually takes a great deal of skill to produce a Flat White. Only the purest essence of the coffee bean is extracted, resulting in a short Espresso called 'Cortissimo'.  This is then blended with milk that has been heated using a special technique, resulting in a smooth, velvety texture, with each drink hand finished with a distinctive 'florette' pattern. Dear God! All this to justify a price of €3 for mostly water.

Which reminds me . . .  Walking around a TK Maxx store with my daughter this morning, I saw a sign saying something like Quality Gifts from Around The World. Which presumably translates into Cheap Kitcsh Tat From China. Like the imitation Anglepoise lamp I bought, reduced from 180 to 33 quid.


Sierra said...

Re: Coffee - is it just a Galician thing to still give free "tapas" with coffee? A café con leche with egg & ham roll and a piece of cake for €1, makes Starbucks, Costa, etc., seem awfully expensive

paideleo said...

Non coñezo ningún Gatomorto, se falas de Boimorto sería " Dead ox ". O nome d' A Mezquita non vén polo edificio relixioso senón polo nome dunha pranta. Mesmo no caso de Cans famoso polo festival non se refire a " dogs " como cre muita xente senón que son as canles de auga dos muiños. Canles > Cans.

Hai veces que os nomes enganan.

Colin Davies said...

See my screenshot tomorrow. Or Go to Lerez on Google maps and then go north east and enlarge the map.

Colin Davies said...

@Sierra. Depends on the café and your relationship with the owner/waiter. Always at least some sort of biscuit/cake. Sometimes a little ham sandwich or something similar. As I recall, 2 biscuits cost 1.75 in costa. But, of course, this is cheap compared to Ryanair, where they are 2.50.