Monday, October 01, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 1.10.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • So, now we know the net worth of each of the government's 'top ministers'. Possibly.
  • The UK government is planning a law to punish cyclists who are dangerous for pedestrians. Given the lack of reaction towards the lunatic (male) cyclists who make Pontevedra's 'humanised' areas so perilous, I suspect it'll be 20 years before this is even thought about here. But let's hope I'm being overly pessimistic here.
Matters USA
  • Below is a sobering – if not depressing - article on the US political scene.
  • And here's a fascinating take on Fart from a psychiatrist. Taster: A distant mother and authoritarian father are key to understanding how Donald Trump became Donald Trump: infantile, impulsive and ill-suited for office. As if we didn't know: He  is “mentally unfit” and “psychologically unsuited” to the presidency. None of which seems to matter to the Republicans, given that he's brought them power. And a lot of money.
Matters UK
  • Transgender madness – See the second article below.
Social Media Matters
  • A funny video. I hope.

Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • The Town of Porriño this weekend had a gastronomic fiesta during which there were on offer 38 ways to cook tripe. I have to confess that 1 would have been more than enough for me. Happily, I had another commitment. Involving excellent barbecued pork.
Finally . . .
  • Orwell's biographer says that Nineteen Eighty-Four is a long, premeditated, rational warning against totalitarian tendencies in societies like our own rather than a prophecy about a Soviet or Nazi takeover. Perhaps everyone in the USA should be given a copy. Or every Republican, at least. Orwell himself wrote that The really frightening thing about totalitarianism is not that it commits 'atrocities' but that it attacks the concept of objective truth; it claims to control the past as well as the future. Remind you of anyone?
© [David] Colin Davies: 1.10.18


1, Donald Trump supporters love him just the way he is. Edward Lucas The Times

Democrats hope for mid-term gains but the president’s popularity among his base is unwaning
I watched Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing from the senator Chuck Grassley’s office in the Hart Building, surrounded by women who jeered the Supreme Court nominee’s accuser and cheered his every word. One clutched an icon. Others prayed out loud.

Mr Grassley, the judiciary committee chairman, represents Iowa. Once an archetypal battleground state, finely balanced between both parties, it is now dependably Republican. The furore over Mr Kavanaugh has indeed pushed many college-educated suburban women away from the party, but that is just one slice of the electorate. The resilience of Donald Trump’s base, exemplified by the devotees in Mr Grassley’s office, plus the quirks of electoral arithmetic, are pushing in the other direction. The surge in the Democrats’ fortunes in the forthcoming mid-term elections will not bring a satisfying denouement to America’s political agonies. It will intensify them.

From outside, it is easy to join the dots in a neat picture. Mr Trump’s popularity has plunged and his past misjudgments are coming back to haunt him. The legislative and judicial branches of the constitution are responding as they should. Disgusted voters will overwhelmingly back the Democrats on November 6, creating a huge congressional counterweight to the president’s power. Meanwhile Robert Mueller’s investigation will reveal Mr Trump’s sleazy business ties to dirty Russian money, the collusion of his campaign chiefs with Russian spies, and obstruction of justice through lies and obfuscation. He may limp on for another two years; more likely, he resigns or is forced from office.

That would certainly work as the storyline of a Hollywood political thriller. It will not be replicated in the real world. For a start, though the Democratic tide will sweep through the House of Representatives, regaining the Senate looks extremely difficult. In that body each state, however small, gets two seats.

Millions of Democratic votes will pile up uselessly in big states such as California (population 40 million) and New York (20 million). To make a difference the minority party has to beat back Republican challenges in states that went solidly for Mr Trump, not just Florida (21 million), Indiana and Missouri (both 6 million), but tiddlers like Montana (1 million), North Dakota (750,000) and West Virginia (1.8 million).

That alone is a daunting task, and would only keep the Democrats at their current 49 seats. Then they have to win at least two of Arizona, Tennessee, Nevada and Texas. Of the ten battleground states, only Nevada voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Whatever Mueller comes up with, impeaching Mr Trump looks like a non-starter. Even if his cabinet mutinied and used the 25th Amendment to deem him unfit for office, that requires the endorsement of both houses of Congress, by a two-thirds majority. So long as the Republican base remains adoringly supportive, therefore, the president stays in the White House.

Indeed, he is still the favourite to win the 2020 presidential election. There is no convincing Democratic contender in sight, let alone a challenger from inside the Republicans’ ranks. And the electoral college works the same way as the Senate, tilting towards smaller states where the Republicans mostly have a strong grip. Moreover, dirty tricks, known as “voter suppression”, can drive down turnout among poor, less-educated, mainly minority-ethnic (and overwhelmingly Democratic) voters in states like Arizona, Georgia and Missouri.

The stage is set for rows that will dwarf the dramas we have seen so far. Congressional committees have the power to issue subpoenas and, in some cases, to see classified material. Republicans have used that shamelessly to distract attention from the Mueller investigation, spreading nonsensical stories and leaks about plots against Mr Trump in the FBI and the Justice Department. In Democratic hands, the guns will be trained on the White House. Expect a blizzard of investigations and inquiries in which every dirty secret of the past 30 years will be unearthed and raked over.

That will be terrific fun for the Democratic base, which will feel vindicated in their loathing for the president. It will largely wash over the Republican base, a coalition of white, male, religious and blue-collar voters who regard all criticism of the president as invented, irrelevant or hypocritical. Why, for example, the conniptions* over Mr Kavanaugh’s alleged teenage misdeeds and silence about ex-president Bill Clinton’s proven and abundant adult ones? The whole point of electing an outsider, in the eyes of these people, is to have someone to break the rules and shake things up. The president has done just that, and if the Democrats try to stop him, it just highlights the problem.

Rhetoric aside, the real effect of the mid-terms will be to usher in utter paralysis in the political system. Laws and budgets will not go through. Government will seize up. The self-proclaimed dealmaker in the White House has neither taste or talent for the determined, detailed bargaining that lies at the heart of American law-making. Instead, he prefers grandstanding.

That way lies the real danger: that Mr Trump, bogged down at home, fires up foreign policy. A showy conflict — with China, Iran, North Korea, or even erstwhile allies in Europe — will distract attention and rally the apolitical patriots who make up the biggest chunk of the American electorate. All the sound and fury we have seen so far was only the overture.

* A fit of rage, hysteria, or alarm

2. The trans movement has been hijacked by bullies and trolls: Lucy Bannerman, The Times

A worthy movement to help a minority group has become a form of McCarthyism in bad wigs and fishnets, thanks to a bunch of bullies, trolls and humourless misogynists. Feel too daunted to venture an opinion on anything “transgender”? Great! That’s exactly how the bullies like it. Dare to discuss the complexities and contradictions thrown up by their absolutist identity politics? If the screams of “transphobe!” don’t shut you up, perhaps a call to your employer demanding your scalp will. Or to the police, bleating hate crime.

Perhaps the greatest trick they’ve pulled so far is to convince parts of the population that transgender people are too fragile to walk past a poster bearing the word “woman”, while at the same time being so terrifying it’s better to say nothing at all than to risk offending them. It’s nonsense, of course.

The “they” I’m referring to is not transgender people. (Though the bullies will pretend that it is.) I’m referring to the “trans activists” — some sinister, most joyless, and more than a few who don’t even identify as transgender themselves — who delight in “transplaining” to the rest of us the rules of this new, glittering utopia, where spaces must be shared, safeguards dismantled, disagreement decreed to be hate speech, and women must not be allowed to gather to discuss laws that will affect them.

And that’s fine. Bullies will be bullies. Trolls will be trolls. It’s the cowardice of the institutional response that’s astonishing. Girlguiding. Politicians. Billboard companies. Credit Suisse. Goldsmiths University. All willing to capitulate quicker than you can say “transwomen are women”.

Last Friday, women were due to meet at Leeds Civic Hall to discuss the government consultation on gender identification. Trans activists falsely claimed the women were a hate group. No matter that it was a lie; that it was said was enough. Their meeting was cancelled at the 11th hour by Leeds city council. What did MPs and councillors say about this outrageous assault on democracy? Not a single word. Silence. This behaviour is an insult to trans people.

Yet organisations like Girlguiding trot out their platitudes and expel the volunteers left to square the circle of absurd, contradictory policies that they’ve outsourced to interest groups in the desire to win some quick LGBTQI+ points and a pat on the back from Stonewall.

It’s that kind of cowardice that is enabling smear campaigns against those trying to discuss what activists’ demands to recalibrate the human race will mean for everyone else. Like it or not, genitalia is at the heart of this. It would be nice, for everybody’s sake, if all these organisations began to show some balls.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

Hilarious video!! If only I could copy it. To Facebook...


Perry said...

Transwomen propose, Brennus disposes. Within the effete western society that purports to offer equality for minorities, there is a group think that misleads the poor benighted idiots. There are tough lessons to be learned from history. If you would have peace, prepare for war.

Brennus was a chieftain of the Senones. He defeated the Romans at the Battle of the Allia (18 July 390 BC). In 387 BC he led an army of Cisalpine Gauls in their attack on Rome and captured most of the city, holding it for several months. Brennus's sack of Rome was the only time in 800 years the city was occupied by a non-Roman army before the fall of the city to the Visigoths in 410 AD.

Brennus & his share of the spoils. Too late to change back, chaps.

The Romans attempted to buy their salvation from Brennus & agreed to pay one thousand pounds weight of gold. According to Livy, during a dispute over the weights used to measure the gold (the Gauls had brought their own, heavier-than-standard), Brennus threw his sword onto the scales and uttered the famous words "Vae victis!", which translates to "Woe to the conquered!".

The exiled dictator Marcus Furius Camillus had extra time to muster an army, return to Rome and expel the Gauls, saving both the city and the treasury and said to Brennus "Non auro, sed ferro, recuperanda est patria" which translates to "Not by gold, but by iron, is the nation to be recovered". Read into that, that which you will.

paideleo said...

No Porriño eran 38 sitios onde comer callos non 38 maneiras de facelos. Iso si, había uns callos vexetarianos que non sei como se fan.
Palabra de porriñés.