Wednesday, April 27, 2016


As could have been expected, Mrs. Clinton won the Democratic primaries last Tuesday.  So did Trump on the Republican side.  The other candidates still do not give up and this endless boring exhibitionist show goes on.  Cruz and Kasich have made a "Wolf meets Snow White" deal to stop Trump, but this "arrangement" will never fly.  Sanders will try to veer the Democratic platform to his side, and remains the cranky spoiler.

Republican candidates would do better looking at the future than wasting time in pseudo cultural warfare which only contributes to splitting the country even deeper and repeating yet again a Southern strategy from the dark ages.  All candidates try to disguise coincidence into design and flip/flop on most issues.  Trump=noise.  Clinton=avoidance. 

The Republican front-runner remains a shrewd matinee entertainer. The Democratic front- runner often sounds like a weather forecaster who always has a zone of high or low pressure in reserve, in case she falls short of waterproof predictions.

After years of micro-management, the country is all too ready to listen to a global coherent vision on all matters, from trade to terrorism, from debt to a more engaged foreign policy, from racial to moral issues. Paradoxically, the first black president became almost the antithesis of what Afro-Americans imagined. They were rightly proud after his inauguration, but they have had a limited return for their support.

It will be indicative to see whom the two finalists choose as running mates. All bets are on the table. The name of Julian Castro, Secretary of HUD, former mayor of San Antonio, comes up on the Democratic side. This choice would be a nod to the Hispanic vote but one could argue that the Hispanics will vote for Clinton anyway. She may listen to her more hawkish inner persona and come up with a surprise candidate (retired Commander Stanley McChrystal) which would put the Republicans on the defense but would certainly displease the current thin- skinned occupant of the White House. Vali Nasr would be perfect as her National Security Advisor, after the disastrous tenure of Susan Rice.  General Petraeus deserves a major bonus.
Trump is a wild-card. As much as Governor Christie might want to be the Sancho Panza of this "Sears" Don Quixote, the two, seen together, would look like a vaudeville act. So Trump might have to find his Kamikaze elsewhere.

Last week, Obama toured some of the US allies (a.k.a. free riders.)  He was received with skepticism (Sunni Arabs), courtesy (UK) and some warmth (Germany).  Prince George was probably the least critical of all his interlocutors. The President still refuses to recognize the global damage which was caused after his "red line" reversal in Syria. He still does not brand ISIL as an existential threat. Instead, he touts the climate change agreement or the victory (for now) over the Ebola virus as some of his major achievements. His disdain for "dumb wars" is justified, but it becomes equally absurd to repeatedly return to the second Iraq war to find an excuse for not doing enough now. His almost unconditional trust in warfare by proxy (drones, special operations and technology) looks almost Freudian. Notwithstanding his denials, his inroads with the American military remain rocky. He should also refrain from lecturing others and had better take care of his own backyard which looks increasingly neglected or dangerous (inner cities continue to rot, infrastructure is often third world/minus, US military projection is shrinking, the economy lacks balance).

It looks as if a Clinton presidency might also have to do some soul searching: her new (opportunistic) stand on trade is wrong. She needs to come up with a coherent American role paradigm.  Russia and China are "equals" in the fight against ISIL & Co.  Putin's Eurasian-ism will only grow if he continues to be the "uninvited one" by the Western "rationalists".  She must also bring Republicans and Democrats closer to being on speaking terms again.

Cruz is getting desperate and realizing that he remains persona non grata in his own ranks, he has now chosen Carly Fiorina as his running mate. In doing so he selected a woman of superior intellectual agility who is also his Doppelganger, a personality who seems equally unable to win over hearts.  Trump should not be snubbed.  Surely he is a better ad hominen (insult) than ad rem (argument).  His foreign policy address was worse than a misguided effort, it was a bummer, sinking under the weight of platitudes. His chances to be the next president are dim, but Mrs. Clinton's negatives remain swords of Damocles. In the current mood, "what fools these mortals be" comes to mind.  After all, we celebrate Shakespeare!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Trump and Clinton won with convincing margins.  Clinton's numbers show, however, a generational divide.  She is losing the Millennials and younger voters to Sanders.  Cruz was, as could have been expected, a footnote in NY which is adverse to his "Texas persona".  Kasich or a hypothetical Mr. or Mrs. X could still be the jokers if the magic number of delegates is not reached before the Republican lemmings meet in Cleveland. 

This boring show drags on.  Trump will attempt to control his temper and act more "presidential."  Clinton will try to ignore Sanders and to baby-talk the younger voters into giving her a second look.

So the two candidates with the biggest "negatives" are coming closer to the finish. Any projection would be premature though and even if circumstances remained the same, a vote in primaries is not the same as a vote in the general election. Voters who made their preference known now might switch allegiance when their vote counts for "real".  Many Republicans might vote for the devil they dislike rather than for the one they know too well (for now). Besides, one should not forget that while Clinton is impervious to change, Trump isn't. In Rumsfeld's famous words "there are many unknowns there".

Meanwhile, the President has chosen to be elsewhere, trying to smooth the waters with the Saudis and to warn the UK against a Brexit.   Merkel will play her usual "hard to get".  His interlocutors will be polite, sans plus.

The next US president will have an almost monumental task, switching from aloofness to a more cruising altitude, avoiding both stratospheric thinking and pedestrian haste. Trump doesn't look like the ideal pilot for this recalibrating manoeuvre. Clinton can hardly go to Canossa for her past sins.  Hence, the dire straits are here to last for awhile. Most of the world finds itself moored because of economic and political turmoil. The situation might just continue, since no captain seems to be able to guide this flotilla out of trouble.

Monday, April 18, 2016


Bernie Sanders is putting socialism on the American agenda.  Socialism in Europe was essential in fighting child labor, income inequality, in arriving at equal pay for men and women, health care for all and union rights, among other achievements.  This was "then" and socialism was the agent of change for conditions which, for the most part, no longer exist. The movement then was truly transformational.  The system in the United States was equally affected by FDR's New Deal or LBJ's Great Society, but those extraordinary initiatives were "corrections" which, contrary to Europe, never contradicted the capitalist essentials of the American fabric.  The delirious aberrations of Lenin or Mao found few followers in the United States. Socialism remained a Utopia with few takers.

Now Sanders has resuscitated the corpse. He sounds sometimes like a deranged Piketty.  He is right in saying that income inequality is growing, that the distance between Wall Street and Main Street has become too large.  But he is wrong in prescribing punitive, mostly outdated remedies or in attacking trade deals. If one were to listen to him, America would lose its premier class seat in innovation, start-ups, high-tech and would end up punishing the providers of wealth and creativity, encouraging entrepreneurs to invest outside rather than to expand inside.

True, the U.S. need some social engineering to deal with discrepancies which benefit the super managers and top incomes. The ever growing income of capital only highlights stagnating wages which feel frozen. The malaise cannot be denied, but Sanders is the wrong doctor even if his intentions are sincere.  He talks like a pre-globalization, classical Keynesian in a world wherein one computerized sell order in Singapore might disrupt the markets worldwide. Technology marginalized theoretical answers. Adam Smith (and Milton Friedman's school) remains relevant though, while Marx has become just a brilliant but failed Utopian.  Bernie Sanders sounds strangely out of touch, but his message resonates nevertheless with mostly younger voters, who are sold to his often simplistic but persuasive rhetoric. He promises the moon but he forgets to mention how to pay for the ride and where to find the rocket!

The other contenders are unappealing, to various degrees. Trump is a loose canon (for now), while Cruz comes over as an unabashed right wing, religious zealot. Kasich, the only gentleman in the flock, often sounds desperate.  Mrs. Clinton has the advantage but her victory in New York has to be more than just a decent score if she intends to strive for an easy coronation. She carries too much baggage to pretend to fly in economy-class.

The Americans act as if they feel stranded in some nightmarish impasse. The President does not help because his academic skepticism collides with their more activist, solution-oriented nature. They are looking for leadership.  In their haste to break out of the abstractions which they endured for eight years, they are tempted to go for the megaphone instead of engaging in a sobering dialogue about America's role in the world and the adjustments that have to be considered for restarting the engine.

Tuesday's New York primaries might only bring bitter tidings, with no "real" winners or losers. What is at stake is a system which was the envy of the world and which is now in jeopardy.

Friday, April 15, 2016


Owen Sheers' novel "I Saw a Man" is like the echo chamber for a most disturbing sounding quartet.  It is part Cheever, part Chekhov, but it stands alone, like a willow tree in the literary landscape.  I have seldom had such a close encounter with the terrifying normality of orphaned deceit.

Sheers' disturbing "chamber music" evokes the mortality of most things, without really delving into any of them.  Death, betrayal, impendence, feel devoid of gravity. They drift, confiding to the air the mark of Cain.  This novel, wherein the "bad" befalls rather than being reclaimed, is dangerous to handle but such a privilege to access.

Monday, April 11, 2016


James P. Cain, former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, lost his son-in-law and his sister in the Brussels  terrorist attack on March 22.  His grief and his "rage" are all too close to the feelings and indignation felt by any self-respecting human being in the world.  Since 9/11, the world's eyes are forever bloodshot.

I would avail myself to make two observations:

Ambassador Cain described the Belgian crisis-management as disheartening.  He accuses the Belgian authorities of being unable to ensure the security of visitors and refers to the disregard experienced for the sentiments of searching families.  That confusion reigned is a fact. That advance knowledge of the "intentions" of the perpetrators can be ascertained is dubious, given that Brussels was only considered at the last instance, after an original Paris plan (attack in the La Defense area) was hastily abandoned. The terrorists were so ill prepared that they almost got lost in the Brussels metro.  I am sure that there was also plenty of empathy and medical care, which is hard to find in most countries, the USA included.

He calls for American leadership, rightly so. Maybe he over stresses the necessary military component and does not give enough credit to some soft-power which is needed to fight a nihilistic comicality from the high-ground of assured undisputed moral and cultural superiority.

Personal grief and anger deserve more than "containment".  Far from me to suggest restraint in outrage and sorrow.  I only want to venture the idea that "generalizations" can end up blaming the individuals of good will for the failings of an imperfect system.


Saturday, April 9, 2016


Il arrive que l'ailleurs "therapeutique" est un melange toxique de positif / negatif.
Le Mexique represente tous ces aspects.
Le pays est une exageration d'energies.
Eisenstein ou Bunuel, Paz ou Fuentes ont tous escalade ces piramides qui restent muettes.
Le Clezio a compris, me semble-t-il.
Je reste exile permanent devant cette avalanche de litterature, arts, mais aussi devant cette autre forme de "non etat" dans l'etat , qui piege tout.
La drogue semble etre devenue ,  comme dans la loi de Gresham, le mal qui chasse le bien.
En definitive il faut consider le Mexique sous tous ses aspects, politique, economique, sociologique, culturel.
Certes, mais il reste la donnee " magique ", qui reste ignoree dans le vocabulaire globalise, alors quelle reste essentielle pour comprendre un pays aussi deconcertant, "Nafta-ise" par raison , mais "ailleurs" de coeur.

La magie n'est pas a la portee des amateurs, elle requiert un temperament. Plusieurs qui se sont risques a dechiffrer cette terre composite se sont trouves abimes des l'arrivee.

Friday, April 1, 2016


The mayor of Molenbeek is (in)famous for her statements which veer from the disingenuous to the grotesque.  She now implies that Molenbeek cannot be compared to the Bronx, suggesting that the latter is worse than the urban, socio-cultural, and economic wasteland she presides over.  Either the mayor doesn't know the Bronx or, if she does, she chooses to move around tone deaf (her usual) and blindfolded.

Is there an impeachment for incompetence in Brussels?  Obviously if there were one, the workload would be of such a magnitude that it could help alleviate unemployment.  Madame mayor should better have a look into the occupancy rates at Brussels hotels which have plummeted as a result of her, and her predecessor's, incompetent policies. 


Hadid was an architect of many trades.  She was also known as a designer of spectacles.  Her work was controversial, politically colorblind and often veering on demagoguery.
Contrary to Koolhaas, Nouvel or Piano, among others, she reversed hierarchies. Architecture did not serve art or function, both became accessories to architecture.  Hence, she indulged in a formal vocabulary which chose to go after the highs rather than the serene, the souffle rate-look over transparency. No wonder that "strong" regimes liked her as well. Her medium often looks "culinary", a pasta dish gone amok.  She was unique, she was impervious, and should remain an interesting parenthesis, no more.