Sunday, May 29, 2016


President Obama's words and gestures in Hiroshima showed the face of the other America, which is too often erased by an electoral frenzy, out of control.  He connected yet again with a tone and emotion which were so evident in Berlin, Cairo, Sandy Hook and on occasions when he let personal feeling vibrate through reason.  This very hermetic man should have been more often the communicator-in-chief, especially at times wherein the "loud" dominates the "lofty", in all corners.

Strange how he is already "revisited" before leaving.  It shows that many Americans feel their principles and manners endangered.  I cannot blame them.

Friday, May 27, 2016


The other day the viewers were invited to the core of the Trump's lair.  Mrs. Trump guided Greta van Susteren through a nightmarish nouveau riche decor, reminded one of "Liberace on speed". The chorus of siblings followed, a living proof that the apple falls close to the tree, indeed.  This virtual first family-in- waiting is frightening. Maybe for reasons of real estate overkill, they speak in bricks rather than in words. They look alike and they share Donald Trump's lack of nuance, understatement or humor. Mrs. Trump looks like some real estate agent, trying to remember where the doors lead to. If this family nightmare were to invade the White House, Jefferson's ghost will run for the nearest exit.

There is worse. Candidate Trump is talking loud (which could be overlooked), but also dangerous and gross. His grasp of world affairs is nil, while his contradicting remedies for energy, trade, banking regulation, climate change, social/moral issues pile up. The Republicans, and the right in general, look like adoring the golden calf while preferring to ignore the more cautious views in their midst.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders continues on his Marcuse-type campaign, which resonates with the Millennials (speaks for their IQ). Mrs. Clinton has good ideas, a great record but she is an uneven campaigner. She is bogged by a serial fault-line which stretches from her former years as First Lady to her current e-mail mess. She is unable to come clear on personal issues and in not doing so, she only makes them worse. She is obliged to wage a campaign on two fronts and both Trump and Sanders smell vulnerability.

America is doing better than almost any other country in the world. President Obama, the anti-Trump by definition, was, unfortunately, unable to foresee that his country had left the drawing-room for the kitchen table.  His PBS talk does not resonate anymore because a new audience feels alienated and has ended up legitimatizing the Trump-look, food, ties...and Kardashians trash.  After the cameras were allowed in Trump Tower, the question was immediately raised if Mrs. Clinton would be equally open for a house tour of her private domain. I doubt if she will consider because she is obviously adverse to the current exhibitionistic wave.

More important than the personae is the future of this country's soul. The presidentials have already marginalized art, culture and history. Trump builds walls, reverses non-proliferation, goes for protectionism, and one can go on...  Past policies are not set in stone, indeed, but Western societies are also built on history, precedent, moral principles. Trump disregards the fabric of society in the same way as Sanders rejects it.  Both have it on the cheap, because too little was achieved in reconnecting with the Americans.  Kennedy did it seriously (with some help). Reagan did it fluently (with some flair). Obama spent his real capital by ignoring the growing alienation of too many who felt morally unattended.  He has the better intentions but often comes over as too distant to measure all that went astray, while Trump, who never gave a dime for the underdog, became its recourse. It is too ironic to be true. America will be great again...on shallow ground.

Mrs. Clinton remains the better alternative. The question is no longer one about desirability or not. We find ourselves in a minefield. Despite the negatives, she looks like the only person currently in the race who could remedy ailments at home and improve and continue Obama's policies abroad. America deserves to be respected rather than to be seen as a "remake" of times we choose to forget.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


President Obama is in Asia. He repeats mutatis mutandis his opening to Cuba by enlisting Vietnam in the buffer policy by stealth around China. The killing of  Mullah Muhammad Mansour is a blow to the Taliban and a warning to Pakistan. No doubt he will press the issue of the TPP in Japan, but he finds resistance home both with Democrats and Republicans.  The President looks like being in control of the pivot to Asia but he is still confronted both with the Middle Eastern fiasco at large and by the sabotage (some of his own doing) at home. Nevertheless, Raqqa might fall during his tenure, depriving ISIL of its Caliphate capital. His "persona" is not unlike Ronald Reagan's.  Both presidents remained a riddle to their entourage and both were equally uxurious and private.

The elections now are an Armageddon without boundaries. Trump relishes the moral swamp and "calculated" strategic ignorance.  Sanders plays the part in "Back to the Past".  Mrs. Clinton looks stuck in some kind of Rubik dilemma.  How long can she stand the abuse of a Republican candidate who takes cover behind the vulgar and gets a free pass for avoiding to explain his contradictions or for having to discuss the real issues?  Not enough attention is paid to the possible repercussions of a Trump victory: intellectual chaos, strategic and financial uncertainty, the moral compass of the Supreme Court in jeopardy. The Republican candidate plays poor-taste Vaudeville. Instead of going for ideas, he procrastinates, talking about others' private lives (not of the Noel Coward class) to hide his own private and business wanderings.  The Republican "elites" still shun the black sheep for now but prefer to remain silent, just in case...  Trump is a contemporary version of Guy Fawkes who might as well blow the "normal" out of the political system.  Sanders is becoming a curse which might cost the Democrats the gains which looked certain months ago.

As a consequence most of the world looks on with unbelieving eyes and ears. Obama tries to reassure but the velvet president looks almost "fickle" compared to the campains' sound and fury.

The problem is that the dividends of Obama's policies have no impact on the mindset of middle America. People do not pay attention to climate change, international trade, obscure diplomacy, Ebola or Zika virus, at a time when the improvements in the economy, which are real, seem often to favor macro over micro interests. Even affordable health care is plagued by an overdose of bureaucratic "fat".

I am sure that the future will look at the Obama years through a more sophisticated lens.  Some strategic and personal miscalculations are certain, but the personal dignity of the man and his over-intelligent soliloquies will be revisited. The more the end of his term advances the more his style will be missed already, because what might be coming is frightening indeed.

The May Grey,  so typical for southern California, covers the whole of the country now...sad !

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

LA BELGIQUE EST " UN ACCIDENT QUI DURE (merci Francoise Sagan) "...encore.

Apres les attentats de Bruxelles tous les disjoncteurs ont cesse d'etre operationnels.
Il est apparu que la Belgique est tombee victime de l'accumulation des diagonales au detriment de la verticale.
Le poids accumule des niveaux de petites competences bloque toute possibilite d'aeration et le pays risque de manquer d'oxygene.
Des voix commencent a se faire entendre dans la Justice et dans le monde des affaires pour fustiger l'infernal embouteillage.
Qu'apres l'attentat a l'aeroport il y ait eu des mouvements de greve en dit assez sur le civisme de certains. La greve des gardiens de prison cree une situation penitenciere digne d'Edmond Dantes. La Gay pride rassemble 60.000 personnes (tant mieux) alors que la marche du souvenir apres les attentats n'en comptait que 20.000. A tous les echelons les divers responsables -  a l'exception du Premier ministre- n'ont jamais ete a la hauteur d'une tragedie qui a tue lachement et mis a nu la banqueroute d'un systeme.

Je doute fort qu'un rassemblement puisse encore etre trouve pour rectifier cette diagonale constitutionnelle  du fou qui a destabilise la structure du pays. A l'interieur tout projet mobilisateur devient immediatement la cible des forces horizontales. A l'exterieur, la reputation de "failed state" devient indelebile.
Les constats disabuses et desenchantes se multiplient. Le president de la cour de cassation est alle tres loin dans sa philippique ou il met en garde le pays contre le danger immediat de devenir un "etat voyou".
J'ignore s'il est encore possible de prevoir des Etats Generaux Belges qui puissent  s'elever au dessus des interets particuliers, envisager une formule de gouvernement par rotation ou corriger les erreurs passees, en premier lieu dans les Domains du commerce, de l'innovation et de la culture. S'il etait vrai que l'etat unitaire devait s'amender, il est tout aussi vrai qu'aujourd'hui la formule federale doit etre revisee a une epoque ou les defis requierent  des sauts qualitatifs et quantitatifs, qui ne sont pas a la portee des regions.
L'Union Europeenne et l'OTAN ne sont a Bruxelles que par obligation. Encore convient-il de dorer cette pillule.

La Bourse est devenue un lieu-memorial. Ce serait faire oeuvre de classe de lui accorder un role culturel de haute gamme, plutot que de tomber une nouvelle fois dans le "Tuesday, this must be Belgium", friandises et bieres incluses. En attendant, le Palais de Justice, megalomane mais incontournable, pourrit derriere des echafaudages egalement pourris, sans que personne ne semble s'en preoccuper. Sic transit...

Saturday, May 14, 2016


Wars are sometimes given strange or different names. Remember the "potato war" (Saxon/Prussian versus Austria in 1778) about the Bavarian succession?
The American Civil War was (and often still is) known in the South as the "war between the states".  The term "war" has invaded all areas and the latest neologism,"the bathroom war", is another American addition which is becoming, yet again,  an argument which opposes liberals and conservatives.

The President has announced a policy that allows students to use the bathroom which matches their gender identity.  Ted Cruz is already painting a future wherein the freedom of choice for trans-genders opens the gates for sexual deviants, voyeurs and boys who will invade girls' locker rooms, like locusts in some biblical remake.

It has been noticed historically that the most strident prayer doomsday enthusiasts are often the most dedicated shoppers at or the most dedicated providers of "escorts" revenue.

In the current state of electoral fever, common sense and respect for individual diversity are taken hostage by this conservative fringe, mostly in the South and middle America, where Bible class still rules and where the closets are packed.
The arguments in conservative circles remind one of the venom which "infects" any conversation about the Second Amendment or reproductive rights. The attacks are dishonest and increasingly ugly, fed by the bygone culture wars which sweep the plains.
The President was right to come out in favor of transgender students but he might have considered a six-month moratorium to allow the vitriol to cool off. I can understand uneasy feelings but I have no sympathy for the usual right wing obstructionism. The de jure  Republican Party has been taken over by a de facto fascist mindset. This form of isolationism is also leading to an isolationism in foreign policy. Paradoxically, this Western ersatz of Wahhabism obeys to a similar form of intolerance and fear, and suffers from a structural inferiority complex.   In the end, the conservatives follow the wrong piper, who will betray their small mind interests at the first occasion.  American fault-lines run so deep now that, in the short term, recovery appears out of reach. 

Monday, May 9, 2016


In the New York Times Magazine (May 8, 2016), Samuel Adams wrote a piece about the rise of Ben Rhodes in Obama's court.  The portrait that comes out is one of a highly smart personality, loyal and apparently devoid of existential angst. Affirmations are made which do appear extravagant, such as Valerie Jarrett and the President's shared experiences, having both lived in predominantly Muslim countries; the glorification of the Iran deal and the reorientation of American policy in the Middle East; the contempt for the American foreign policy establishment; the toll of war in Syria (450,000 slaughtered) compared to the tens of thousands of deaths in the Congo, and one can go on. This hyper-intelligent man is the product of a Zeitgeist which favors sound-bite over commentary.

Rhodes is more about story than history.  He shows little respect for Kissinger and appears to have no time for precedent. I seldom have been confronted with the portrait of a man so devoid of shadows. The launching pad of his ideas is called "amnesia".  Everyone who has the privilege to come close to foreign policy must be aware of historical/cultural causes and contemporary effects. One should not feel trapped by past derailments or adjustments but neither should one ignore them. The Westphalian model might be out of fashion in this White House, but it might come back with a vengeance.

The Obama foreign policy is obviously more complex than the Risk "game" alluded to in the article. Nevertheless, the outline of the decision making of this administration feels antagonistic, snobbish and impervious to differentials. This foreign policy looks more like the product of an isolated laboratory than of a think-tank, open to plurality.  Paradoxically, the disdain of "establishment" sounds almost Trump-like, albeit in a more sophisticated mode.  Some might argue that this is a form of Realpolitik. This is false insofar as the former German model waged diplomatic incursions that took into consideration vested interests and legitimacy. Likewise Nixon and Reagan made sure that in their "musical chairs political moves", the director never lost sight of his orchestra.

In reality, recent American diplomatic moves have given a small dividend, while at the same time destabilizing alliances which looked "waterproof."  How can one seriously crow about "success" while China continues to follow its own path and while Putin stalks the US fleet, undisputed.  Iran Before = Iran After, for now.
This US policy is strangely disconnected. At least the political battles between the US and the EU over the second Iraq war were waged in the open (remember the brawl with Rumsfeld in Munich?). Now everything is muted since the EU is on life support and other formerly close American allies are looking for alternative routes.

The Boy Wonder of Obama's White House is like his boss:  smart, reluctant to engage, and closer to artificial intelligence than to historical reconstruction. Proclaimed better intentions are contradicted by the manipulation of collaborative sources, news and comment. There is no clean record "there".  Sometimes it is indeed better to deconstruct, but when the tone-deaf and the blind coalesce, the damage done might be hard to correct.

Saturday, May 7, 2016


The contemporary vernacular adopts with open arms dubious newcomers, such as "quantitative easing", "strategic patience" or "We shall make America great again"...and one could go on.  They become part of the conversation, while nobody really knows the substance they are supposed to cover. They have out- maneuvered former solid concepts such as "containment" and "balance of power", considered depasse.  As a result, the neo-reality which is presented does not cover any measurable fact. As long as a pronouncement becomes viral it receives a lifeline, fed by media and pundits who are less about accountability than about entertainment. Trump is a master of the inconsequential, selling the absurd as theorem while the President has a knack to present the spin as strategy.

Trump receives "impunity" while uttering the most far-out suggestions with regard to, for instance, the American debt, the Fed or non-proliferation, not to mention the personal gutter attacks and ego building. The President chooses the opposite path, keeping his cool while China is cementing the South China Sea and the Middle East is in total chaos.  Both, in different modes, are stuck in the fantasy world of some form of artificial intelligence.

The world is turning to a stage of dangerous infantilism, wherein the ISIL nihilist becomes Robin Hood, and Kim Jong Un is a spoiled Caligula playing with a nuclear toy. This reversal is perverse. It is the result of a form of abdication of enlightened leadership, mostly in the West.  Presidents Xi and Putin are unhindered in clearing their paths to some form of absolutism. The image of the Russian orchestra in Palmyra is surreal.  It was surprising they did not play Tchaikovsky's loud 1812 Overture to cover the noise of the Russian military planes over Syria.

While the Russian and Chinese leaders remain above the fray, holding court, their Western counterparts haunt the screens, the airwaves and the papers until one becomes to numb, unable to switch the channel or return to normal. Maybe there is a conspiracy to hijack the minds until total surrender by the intelligentsia occurs.  One focuses on the United States now because they run the major show.  It should not be a distraction from the amazement with regard to the happenings in Europe which is heading for the "icebergs" with a frightening speed.

Confronted with so much human folly, the Queen of Hearts would not hesitate to scream "Off with their heads".

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Indiana provided the predicted outcome.  Trump ruled the waves.  Sanders won (a Pyrrhic victory).  Cruz got stuck in a negative spin of his own doing. His running partner, Carly Fiorina, did not help in projecting a more "mellow" image. Both were seen as the "evil twins".  Clinton still prevails in the Democratic camp and is set on winning, rather than loving.  Bernie Sanders is sliding on the downwards electability bell-curve but should not be underestimated. California is not a slam-dunk deal.

The paradox is that the so called angry white males and the discontented votes for Trump are absurd. If he loses, he will return to his nouveau riche niche.  If he wins he will be unpredictable. In any case, he will forget the discontented as soon as he sets foot on a red carpet, at home or in the White House.

This campaign is sad, for many reasons, the President being one of them. During the last White House correspondents dinner, Obama was in top form, master of his home brew of sarcasm and hauteur. While most of the American global political zone of exclusivity is slipping away, the President continues to play the game of the aloof, all knowing statesman, oblivious to the chorus of former aides who start spilling the beans in unflattering terms.

Commentators of the left and the right are becoming alarmed, in equal terms. They fear that Clinton could continue the legacy and might be unable to stop the retreat of US power and influence. Besides, they cannot imagine Trump in charge after all the inflated rhetoric and egomania.

The problem is that the "US strategic patience" of the current administation is seen abroad as an abdication rather than a vindication. America lets the weeds invade its backyard, while China and Russia are landscaping their own abroad. To reverse this trend will take more than a change of resident in the White House. There is a latent virus of isolationism in the air which is fed by failing education, biased information, faulty infrastructure... For one Amazon or Apple there are numerous bad schools, outdated airports, understaffed or outsourced services on the cheap, a health care system nobody understands, and insitutions which have become hostage to political spite.

Trump's "We are going to make America great again" resonates because the voters are fed up with what doesn't work.  Outside they see failure, inside they feel stuck.  These people are not going to vote about climate change.   Rather, they will vote against free-trade and in favor of the wall against Mexican immigrants. They are wrong on both sides.  Trade crates competition and innovation. Without Mexican labor, parts of the US economy would come to a halt.

Mrs. Clinton will have an uphill battle.  Sanders will continue to play Savonarola on her left. Trump will try to torch her past, present, husband and more. This is getting ugly. The horrible Trump/Cruz battle was only an appetizer for worse to come.  I hope Clinton will keep her cool, but she is human after all, something the robotic Trump is not. It is hard to fight contradiction and selective memory-loss head on. The Republican probable nominee is more about commerce than about business. Gore Vidal said that commercialism is the ability to do well what ought not to be done at all.