Tag Archives: Politico

US AND UK OUT OF COMMISSION

“In the United States and the United Kingdom – two of the world’s oldest democracies – national governments are at a standstill.   This, for better or worse, could be the future of politics.   It will be a system in which things have to get worse before they can get … worse.    Perpetual political gridlock: it won’t be pretty, and for many it may be painful.

“Both the US government’s shutdown and the UK’s Brexit have become problems with no exit.   Every strategy offered fails for lack of legislative support or national leadership.   The American and British political classes look intellectually exhausted and clueless about a path forward.”  (Gridlock is the new normal,” by Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, 1/17/19)

The above about sums it up.   The two nations that have dominated the world for as long as anybody can remember are essentially out of commission.

What will this mean?

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AMERICAN WITHDRAWAL FROM MIDDLE EAST

Middle East Chaos Will Escalate Following the Departure of the Americans:   If America departs the Middle East, then the region will become a free-for-all for others.    

The National Interest * January 17, 2019, by Tanya Goudsouzian: a Canadian journalist who has covered Iraq and Afghanistan for over fifteen years.  She is former Opinion editor of Al Jazeera English Online.

The inexorable direction of the U.S. administration is towards less intervention, less engagement, and fewer “dumb wars in the Middle East.”   Although Pompeo may trumpet steadfastness, the U.S. president can pivot on a dime.

The smart money is on disengagement from the region and anyone who thinks subsequent administrations will rush back in will probably be disappointed.

In filling that vacuum in Syria, expect the Russians, the Iranians and the Turks to rush in or stay in.  They have kept their eyes on the prize; to them, it’s not just about Syria but the whole region.

. . . Europe must also understand the consequences of yielding significant Western influence in the region.

. . . More Russian territorial influence means less European territorial influence.   More Chinese trade crowds out European trade.   Iranian ideological expansion displaces Arab cultural norms. All mean “less Europe,” and certainly more instability.

. . . America’s departure will not be leaving the region to itself, but to a free-for-all for others.   And to put it bluntly, the others may not (and probably do not) share the vision or values of the European experiment.    If Europe is unwilling to “up its game” when the Americans withdraw, then it may find the only thing worse than U.S. hegemony is everything else

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TRUMP THREAT TO ISRAEL

“The strategic reality facing the new chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, will depend largely on one factor – the political situation in the United States.   More precisely, it will depend on the vagaries of U.S. President Donald Trump.    At the outset of 2019, the Trump administration continues to convey uncertainty and instability.   The amount of news generated by the president in one week, like this past one, is equivalent to several months’ worth with previous presidents.

“Trump hunkered down in the White House, telling interviewers that he hadn’t emerged in months, forgetting for a moment his frequent trips.   He’s up to his neck in the crisis resulting from the government shutdown, continuing with his promises to build his wall on the Mexican border.   But the latest crisis is only a symptom.   The deluge of headlines in recent days included the following.

“The FBI investigation into Trump began right after he was sworn in two years ago, on suspicions he was a spy or acting on Russia’s behalf.   There was a report he was considering an American withdrawal from NATO, an idea whose very mention sends shivers down the spines of strategic experts, Democrats and Republicans alike.   There was also news of a secret plan initiated by the national security adviser, John Bolton, for attacking targets in Iran.”  (“A wild card thousands of miles away,” by Amos Harel, Haaretz, January 18)

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US-EUROPEAN TRADE WAR

“Transatlantic trump trading” was the title of today’s Brussels Briefing, by Jim Brunsden.

“Ideally trade negotiations between countries should begin on a note of hope:   the desire to deepen economic ties, nurturing prosperity and friendship among their peoples.

But optimism and positivity are not the words that first come to mind when thinking about the talks about to start between the EU and US.

Brussels is expected today to publish its plans for negotiations with Washington that were conceived last year as a way to divert Donald Trump from initiating a full blown transatlantic trade war.”

Things aren’t looking good.   Expect a full-blown trade war between the two trading superpowers.

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BREXIT

The PM has pulled out of a scheduled appearance at Davos next weekend to handle her crisis at home.   (Politico)

Mrs. May has ruled out any further delays on Brexit.   Speaking with Holland’s PM, Mark Rutte, she convinced the PM that there would be no attempt to prolong Brexit beyond March 29th.

The Labour Party’s leader, Jeremy Corbin, gave a strong anti-EU speech, finally making it clear where he stands on the issue.

Leo Varadkar, Irish Prime Minister, is a major obstacle to Brexit.   Brexiteer Lord Lamont says that his refusal to amend the “Irish backstop” makes it impossible to reach agreement on other issues.

From Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, 1/19/19:

“Current events in Britain’s Parliament are making politics in both Israel and America look positively sane and tranquil by comparison.

Around the world, jaws are dropping at the UK’s convulsions over leaving the European Union.   This resembles not so much a divorce as an amputation without anesthetic using blunt knives and a broken saw, with the surgeons throwing punches across the operating table.

“This week, the deal struck between Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU over the Brexit terms was thrown out by an enormous majority in the House of Commons.

Although this was the largest prime ministerial defeat in British history, Mrs. May survived a motion of no-confidence the following evening.”

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LA PUBLIC SCHOOLS STRIKE

LA teachers are on strike, demanding more pay and smaller classes. Sometimes, there are up to 35 pupils per class.

That’s definitely too many.   By comparison, there are 26 in one of my grandchildren’s schools.   The others are in the mid-twenties.  Private schools keep theirs down to 20, which is why their children receive more attention.

One reason for the mess in Los Angeles is that the schools are overwhelmed by immigrants.   One school reported on this week is 70% Hispanic, only 10% white.

It’s impossible for schools to keep up with the demand on their services.

Immigration is a major focus of Brexit – most people voted for Brexit because they wanted less European immigrants in the country.   It’s the same thing here in the US – most people want to keep the country as it is, and not allow other cultures to dominate.   Those at the bottom have to compete with new immigrants who are willing to work for less.

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And finally . . .

 

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BREXIT TURNS NASTY

British fishermen plan 40-strong flotilla back into French waters as ‘scallop wars’ threaten to erupt again (article by Henry Samuel, Paris Cara McGoogan, Brixham
30 AUGUST 2018 • 7:49PM)

BREXIT TURNS NASTY

Clashes between French and English fishermen took place this week.   The incident was over fishing for scallops just off the north coast of France.

But Brexit was blamed.   It’s as if the old animosities and rivalries are resurfacing with the coming of Brexit.   March 29th is D-Day when Britain departs from the EU.

Mrs. May, the British Prime Minister, was in Africa this week, on a three day tour to prepare for a trade deal with three of Africa’s biggest economies.   South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya were all British territories not so long ago.   Britain is looking to Commonwealth countries as well as the US to replace the European trade when it exits the European Union.

It should be noted that all three countries are very corrupt, a factor that adds considerable challenge to business in the private sector.

I’m currently reading “a novel of Africa,” The Old Order and the New by Wilfred Fowler (1963), who worked for the British Colonial Service in Nigeria, during the period immediately prior to independence in 1960.   He shows quite clearly that from the day a date was chosen for independence, corruption became a major problem in the country.   Politicians saw that, with the British gone, there were great opportunities to make lots of money without actually doing any work!

Germany’s Angela Merkel was also in Africa this week.   In West Africa, to be precise, visiting Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria.   All three countries are a major source of migrants to Germany and other nations of the EU.   Mrs. Merkel wants to try and cut the numbers moving to Europe through increased business and investment.

Note the following from Germanforeignpolicy.com:

“ In opinion polls, nearly half of the Senegalese, and around three-fourths of the Ghanaian and Nigerian respondents, signaled their wish to leave their country, because of dire poverty and a dramatically high youth unemployment rate.”

At least one report on TV news described the two women visiting Africa as a new “Scramble for Africa,” a term often used to describe European colonization and rivalry in Africa towards the end of the nineteenth century.   It’s not just the UK and Germany that are fighting for business in Africa – China is their biggest rival on the continent.   They have to move fast to thwart China taking over the continent, which is Europe’s backyard.

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TRIBALISM MAJOR CAUSE OF CRIME IN UK

A Sky News investigation of crime in London and other major UK cities has revealed that over half of all the violent crime is committed by young, black males.   A lot of it is gang rivalry.

I find this very interesting.

A major problem in Africa is tribalism, which goes back centuries.   People identify with their tribe first and foremost.   This now seems to be the case in the United Kingdom.

The problem hasn’t been solved in Africa.   It won’t be solved in the UK, either, no matter how much money the government spends on social programs.

London and other major cities have seen a dramatic increase in violent crime in recent years.

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POPULIST GAINS PREDICTED IN SWEDISH IDENTITY CRISIS   From the Brussels Briefing, Financial Times, Richard Milne, 8/31.

“Sweden, long known as a bastion of political stability, is gearing up for a step into the unknown.   Elections on September 9 have sparked a fierce debate about the future of the country with Swedes appearing as divided as many Europeans, leading many to fear messy and lengthy talks to form a government . . .

“The current centre-left government is widely thought to be the weakest in decades with the Social Democrats set to post their worst score in more than a century.   But the centre-right opposition seem incapable of capitalising on that. Instead, the main winners next weekend are set to be the populist, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats who could come in second place with about 20 per cent of the vote.”

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HUNGARY AND ITALY ATTACK MACRON OVER MIGRANTS    From Brietbart, 8/31

“Conservative Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and populist Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini have attacked globalist French President Emmanuel Macron as “the leader of pro-migration parties in Europe today.”

“At a joint press conference in Milan, Italy, on Tuesday, the two pro-sovereignty politicians singled out former Socialist party member Macron as their political enemy when they announced they are forming an anti-mass migration front ahead of European Parliament elections to challenge his vision for the European Union.

“He leads the European force that backs migration, he’s the leader of those parties who back migration to Europe, and on the other side there’s us who want to stop illegal migration,” said Prime Minister Orbán, according to Politico.”

——————————————————————————-ANTI-IMMIGRANT PROTESTS ROCK GERMAN CITY

The German city of Chemnitz has been seeing anti-immigrant protests all week, following the murder of a local man by two men, one from Syria and one from Iraq.

“The demonstrations, which turned violent at times, have shocked the country and are the latest manifestation of the divisions caused by the influx of close to two million asylum seekers since 2015.”  (WSJ, 8/31).

“On Monday, a demonstration registered by a local anti-immigration group drew around 6,000 protesters, some performing the banned Nazi salute.”

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DAY OUT WITH THOMAS

 

I’ve spent all week listening to songs from Thomas and Friends.

For those with no children or grandchildren, Thomas is one of the most successful children’s TV programs ever.   The series is based on books written by an Anglican vicar, the Reverend W. Audrey, who died over twenty years ago.

Last Sunday, I took our 6-year-old grandson for a “Day Out with Thomas” at Crossroads Village in Flint, Michigan.   They have four of these days each year.   This was the last one, though our grandson remains unconvinced and keeps asking me to take him back there.   I keep telling him that Thomas is hibernating through the winter (he has far more sense than people!) and we can go back and see him next summer.   Tell that to your six year old!

During our five-hour visit, Thomas songs were playing constantly. They have stayed in my head since then.

When I looked at Wikipedia’s write-up of the author and books, I was surprised to see that Thomas owes his origin to measles.   When the author’s son, Christopher, was sick with measles, his father told him stories of Thomas and his friends.   This was in 1943.   It wasn’t long before his wife suggested he publish his stories.   The first book came out in 1946.  The first TV series did not begin until 1984.

Thomas isn’t the only train our grandson Aubren has been on.   In six months, I’ve been able to take him on Amtrak to Battle Creek; a small railway in Coldwater, Michigan; the Pere Marquette (Polar Express); and Thomas.   Next year, I will have to top that – perhaps a journey on the Orient Express?

This has helped him greatly in his knowledge of geography – this morning he was playing with his train set and I heard him saying: “Thomas lives in Flint, but he has to go to Chicago!”   He’s also been telling his teachers everything he knows about trains.   He was able to have his picture taken on Sunday with a rather portly Sir Topham Hatt; and with Bob the Builder, who was also appearing.

I take seriously the scriptural admonition to “train up a child”! (Proverbs 22:6)