Friday, August 18, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 18.8.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

Life in Spain:-
  • Here's The Guardian on the growing problem of African refugees heading for Spain.
  • Reader Eamon has advised of a new - and unexplained - item on his electricity bill - the PVPC (El Precio Voluntario para el Pequeño Consumidor). I researched it and found this, which left me no wiser. Specifically, does any Spanish reader know how to translate el importe del término de energía?
  • As you'll appreciate, Spain's energy companies are still some way from demonstrating any customer orientation.
  • I'm sure this is a re-cycled list from The Local - of Ten Things That Shock Spaniards about the UK. But some readers might not have seen it yet.
Donald Trump: At the end of this post there's a Guardian article that should appeal to one reader at least - my friend Ian, down in Oz. I believe I'm on record as saying - more than once - that all that's required is for people to silently follow the guy around, holding placards that simply say: LOSER. That should drive him to distraction. Possibly even to resignation . . . 

Galicia's Xunta has confirmed it's going to move from 'lo cost' tourism to some higher-profit model aimed at richer folk. I have to say I haven't noticed any low cost model being operated. So I wonder what they mean.

That reminds me that it's reported that La Coruña is winning the Galician Cruiser War against Vigo. Numbers for the former are 58% up, whereas for Vigo they're 7% down. Or 57.48% and 6.49%, as the local press reported it. You do have to wonder what it says about Spain that such ridiculous 2-decimal-place numbers are so common. Sometimes three!

The fiesta in Vilagarcia I recently mentioned turned out to centre on the spraying of water, not the snorting of locally-landed cocaine. Which seems a little perverse in a country which doesn't get enough rainfall. At least not south of where we are. But, then, as I've said, there's not much concern in Spain about its excessive per capita consumption of water.

Finally . . . Here's a foto of some young peña revellers, taken after one of last weekend's bullfights.

It's reminded me that there are basically just 2 fashions for women in Pontevedra this summer - short shorts or flimsy, flowy ankle-length dresses. On balance, I prefer the latter. One can get too much of exposed bum cheeks.


With every sneer, liberals just make Trump stronger: Simon Jenkins

Did I tell you Donald Trump is a vulgar, foul-mouthed, meat-faced, 71-year-old redneck buffoon?

To be honest, he is a fossil-fuel guzzling, Big Mac-eating, pussy-grabbing, racist dick. He has hubris syndrome with paranoid narcissistic disorder. Do you read his tweets? The English is dreadful. How can a man run the country who is so uncouth, with that hair, those ties, those baggy suits? He is a Ba’athist generalissimo, the president of a banana republic. He is anti-Christ. There. Does that make you feel better?

All the above phrases are culled from a brief Google scan on the current American president. They reflect a melange of national shame, liberal trauma, snobbery and class hatred. They extend across the Atlantic and around the world. They assume two things. One is that Trump is so appalling it is inconceivable he could win a second term in office. The other is that deploying the same language as he did to win office is the best way to send him packing.

I hope the first is true, but I am not sure about the second. The comparison this week between Trump’s scripted and spontaneous reactions to the Charlottesville riot spoke volumes of his technique and his appeal. He failed to fully address the one aspect of the riot where attacking the left might have had traction, its Orwellian “history scrubbing” of the Confederate hero General Robert E Lee. Instead he used the occasion to denigrate the “alt-left”, and ramp up his appeal not just to the “alt-right” but to the silent right that, perhaps ashamedly, sympathises with it.

Trump made it almost arrogantly clear that his formally scripted criticism of the right was merely to appease Washington’s “liberal elite”. He promptly erased it in the sort of street fight with the media that his followers love. Every time this happens, Fox, Drudge, Breitbart and his social media operators gleefully edit clips and feed them to his millions of supporters. A BBC documentary by Jamie Bartlett this week showed how Trump may be a gastronomic and sartorial throwback, but he is a master at social media. The 1990s thesis that the internet would turn the world into one vast lovable, liberal community has never looked less likely than today. It plays into the hands of the political polarisers.

Trump’s approval rating is at a historic low for a first-year president of 34%. Republicans are almost as appalled by him as Democrats, since they fear he may lose them votes in next year’s mid-terms. This is even though they have not done badly in recent byelections. Hence the two former Bush presidents issuing a joint statement denouncing racism. The basis of Trump’s second-term appeal is already emerging: the tried and tested technique (see Margaret Thatcher) of taking on his own government and keeping up the fight.

Eliminating Trump will depend not on making liberal America feel good, but on detaching him from the bulk of his conservative support. The battle will not be for the elusive centre of American opinion, an entity that political scientists such as Jonathan Haidt and others have declared non-existent. It will be over a group that both Trump and the failed Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders identified as the white working class, urban as much as rural. Sanders did astonishingly well, given his socialist credentials.

Forty-two per cent of American adults are classified as white working class. For two decades they have seen incomes shrink in favour, as they see it, of welfare recipients, “identity groups”, graduates and the rich. Defining them as racist xenophobes and “deplorables”, as did Hillary Clinton, when they craved jobs and income security, was a sign of the “class cluelessness”, analysed by Joan Williams in the bestseller White Working Class. Written like a Victorian explorer encountering unknown tribes on the Congo, it has joined JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy in charting the origins of Trump’s appeal.

These people made up the bulk of the 63 million who voted for Trump. Insulting him insults them. When the insults carry a tinge of cultural, intellectual and class superiority, they bite deep. As Edward Luttwak points out in the Times Literary Supplement, liberal America finds it hard to believe that since the crash “the median American family cannot any longer afford a new car”. That is the key to Trumpism, not the loud-mouthed spoilt brat but the word “JOBS” with which he ends his tweets.

In New York recently I read in the New York Times each day pages of columns competing with each other not just in criticising but in jeering at their president, to the point where I could understand his paranoia. Articles in the New Yorker discussed his mental health, his impeachment or his dismissal for incapacity under the constitution’s 25th amendment. It was all preaching to the converted.

Meanwhile a deafening wall descended somewhere beyond the Hudson river, where there lay a frightened, puzzled, increasingly poor America, one that had put its faith in a man who seemed to speak its language and address its fears. No one was reaching out to them, calmly explaining that others than Trump felt their pain. Trump does not appeal to the Republican wealth nexus, as did Ronald Reagan. He appeals to those whom the left thought were its own, and whom it has long neglected. Hence perhaps the fury that lies behind the insults.

Trump is easily depicted as a man whose narcissism renders him unsuited to the presidency. He is testing America’s constitutional power balance to the limit. Pundits assume that his ineptitude will be curbed by the “grown-ups” now gathered around him and by the weight of congressional opposition. Either by unforeseen accident, or by the rise of rivals, they predict he will be a one-term nightmare.

But Trump and his supporters thrive on the venom of their liberal tormentors. The old maxim should apply: think what your enemy most wants you to do, and do the opposite. Tolerating Trump may stick in the craw, but it must be counter-productive to feed his paranoia, to behave exactly as his lieutenants want his critics to behave, like the liberal snobs that obsess him.

If Trump wins again, it will be by convincing voters “the system” still cares nothing for them. He will say that it will be an eight-year job to bring his anarchic rage to bear on a smug establishment, and let him “finish the job”. I would rather not help him to that ambition.


Eamon said...

Some years ago I could walk into my local irongmonger and buy two hooks for one farthing (1/4 of an old penny) which would hold up a curtain rod. Today I have to buy a packet of ten to do the same thing. So I am buying eight extra that I may never use or end up losing. There are many houses and apartments here in Spain that are only occupied during the summer holidays. Each one has or will shortly have a smart meter for the electricity supply. The old style meters only worked when electricity passed through them. Today the smart meter is passing information back to the supplier at an hourly rate or maybe even less. Whether the user is using the supply or not the meter is still working away. The PVPC is just a new way of charging for the calculating of electricity based on an hourly market rate. So for those meters that are not actually doing anything is the consumer paying for the time the meter sends back information that just says nothing is using the electricity except the meter itself. I wonder.

Maria said...

Eamon, I don't know, but I would assume the consumer doesn't pay for the electricity continuously running through the meter. What I do know is that when we had the old meter, we were paying around seventy euros each billing session. Now, we're paying around twenty-five with the new meter. We're not using less electricity than before; our appliances are the same ones, and with the same amount of use. But, of course, we will never be reimbursed for what we've been overpaying for years.

Colin, importe del término de energía can be interpreted two ways. One, how much you're paying for the meter each time, if we see término as a noun describing the meter. Otherwise, it might mean exclusively how much energy you're paying for, without counting taxes, etc. But it seems to be a term that can have any meaning the company wants it to. They abuse their power all that they want.

Eamon said...

María, thanks for your information and I think if a meter is over reading you will never get any word from the electric company but if it is under reading you will quickly find out. I liked your pun (power) in the last sentence of your input above.

Colin Davies said...

Still can in Ponters, Eamon. 'Bundling' has yet to arrive in my favourite ferretería.

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