Thursday, November 29, 2018


In the Trump's dystopia one knows the price of everything versus the value of nothing. All the branches of government are being hijacked by the president-Don. In this lame-duck session of Congress, reckless actions are still possible before the Democrats take over the House. Trump will stop at nothing to kill the Mueller investigation, be it at the price of dragging the system down. His clan and tribal base will stay put. The Republicans from yesterday are no longer, Their successors are too busy around life, god and guns to pay attention to the existential downfall around them.

The country suffers from a collective nervous breakdown. The Trump haters and the Trump lovers are equally frustrated, for opposite reasons obviously, but meanwhile the country is in free-fall. America's international stature and influence are close to the alarm level. The fake news by the administration with regard to the benefits of the tax cut starts to be overtaken by a more somber reality test (former deductibles are disappearing). The Senate is becoming hostage to the Republican Southern strategy, vote suppression and the upcoming census. This lost democracy might end up killing the majority rule for ever.

Observers have been in denial for too long. Too many have said that the president would never dare to question the basic principles and morals that underscore the attraction of the American model. They forget that since Andrew Jackson many presidents did not live up to the lofty ambitions of the Founders. At least they still had a sense of history and understood the workings of democracy even when these were not to their liking. Now we have a man at the helm who is ignorant of, and indifferent to, all that which does not fit in his narrow egomaniac mindset. This former "builder" never cared about architecture, quality, rules, labor and tenant laws and he continues to lie, bend, disguise, avoid for profit then and now. He has no word, no vision...only pockets.

Nevertheless he is street smart. His base worships his red ties, love of coal and frank brutality and ignores his real nouveau riche persona, his trophy wives and his less commendable foibles. The opposition snubs him and often fails to confront him directly with the lies that cover his statements like some acid rain. Is there anyone in his close circle or administration whom one might still forgive, occasionally admire or tolerate? This syndicate of saboteurs is made up of crooks but they all excel in one objective: dismantling the rule of law and of checks and balances. The mostly white angry, homophobic, racist male rules, unchecked.

Trump will be attending the G20.  Strange meeting a la Bruegel. Blinds leading blinds in a G20 which has become nothing but a cover-up for quick dating without consequence. Trump's pas de deux with Putin, Xi, MBS or Macron will be catnip for Saturday Night Live. Unfortunately, this Buenos Aires tango might be a sad Habanera one should have avoided.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


The new normal:  Trump+Saudi, Filipino, Brazilian and other offenders of norms and decency.  Nice club!

Monday, November 19, 2018


If America is stuck in a bad Bertolt Brecht remake of Arturo Ui, the United Kingdom is hostage to a Shakespeare drama. The Brexit deal that the British PM arrived at is dividing the Westminster Parliament and is "gerrymandering" party lines. To avoid the Irish problem, the PM decided to keep the whole United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU for now. Hence, the UK would be part of an EU mechanism without being able to exercise any form of  control since it is no longer a member.

Her dependence on the DUP (Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party) stood in the way of more clear-cut solutions. She returns yet again to Brussels, trying to pre-empt the bad vibes that already appear before the European Council later this week. In her absence, the gloomy atmosphere in London might get worse and the rumors of plots and rancor could further multiply.

Some suggest a second referendum. Probably a majority would reverse the chosen exit path. Nevertheless, the majority risks being again razor thin, creating another wave of discontent in the opposite direction. One way or another, London can expect difficult days ahead. If one considers all options, Theresa May's proposal, as unglamorous and precarious as it is, might be the only way out of a situation "full of sound and fury". If not, as the bookmakers predict, the PM might end up "dead as a doornail".

All this misery is the direct result of former PM David Cameron's reckless decision to submit the UK's membership in the EU to a referendum, which was both risky and frankly ill- conceived and managed (like many referendums in history). The "miscalculation" is of an historical importance. Nothing has been as politically devastating since the unglamorous loss of the Empire. Theresa May today is only the undertaker, not the villain in this Shakespearean tragedy.

The EU cannot fall prey to the very "domestic" worries which are currently stoked by the narrow-minded populist mindset. It would be tragic to look inward when the American administration acts clueless and when China is in sophisticated overdrive (watch the imperial Xi Jinping versus the hapeless Pence, who was even ignored for the traditional opening photo of APEC). The EU's recent economic inroads with China and Japan have to be complemented by a more political input so that the void left by the US is not underwritten by China alone. Maybe the EU should reconsider some form of steering committee for political/strategic initiatives. Some might fear a return to Gaullist thinking, but in retrospect de Gaulle was often prophetic.

Monday, November 12, 2018


Le 11 Novembre a Paris etait lugubre, tres Verlaine "Il pleut sur la ville..."

Si le president francais etait a la hauteur de cette commemoration, d'autres semblaient egares, voir meme absents . Seule le chancelier allemand etait en symbiose avec la solemnite de l'evenement. Voir toutes ces excellences sous la pluie avait quelque chose de poignant. Au demeurant,  beaucoup sont "partants", plusieurs sont politiquement fragilises, tous semblaient egares dans un scenario dont ils n'avaient plus la maitrise.

Comme d'habitude Trump etait Trump. Il n'etait que ca. Au demeurant l'histoire et l'emotion bivouaquent mal dans le dereglement psychique permanent d'un homme sans qualites. Seul Putin etait amuse, il y avait de quoi!

Ce cortege funebre etait encore traverse par des lignes de demarcation entre nationalistes et "pluralistes", entre adeptes du "moi" et fideles au "nous". Le message du president Macron a ete entendu. La mauvaise humeur de Trump a ete enregistree. L'Europe a desormais l'accent francais.

Il est evident que le monde imagine par l'Amerique apres la seconde guerre mondiale n'est plus. Les Etats Unis ont enterre leur propres ambitions anterieures et privilegient desormais  une politique internationale de troc, cas par cas, demunie de toute forme de philosophie ou d'ambition superieure a l'interet immediat. L'Europe devra choisir la distance sans couper les ponts. Elle doit aussi menager les courants (Italie, Europe du milieu) opposes au camps classique. ( France/ Allemagne/ Benelux). Un nouveau G9 (France, Allemagne, Italie (?), Royaume Uni, UE, Australie, Japon, Coree du Sud, Canada) peut  contribuer a proteger et a amender le modele liberal existant, jusqu'a ce que une nouvelle administration americaine redevienne frequentable et fiable.

Il est probable que plusieurs participants aux ceremonies de ce 11 Novembre se sont interroges sur l'identite des fossoyeurs et des "presque-enterres". Il faut remercier le president francais d'avoir ete clair et d'avoir reaffirme la pertinence du choix occidental. Cette pavane n'etait pas destinee a un modele d'alliance bancale, defunt. Son denier mouvement renouait avec les "lumieres"...apres tout on etait en France.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


The midterm elections gave the Democrats a majority in the House, while the Republicans increased their hold over the Senate. The votes only confirmed the split which exists between town and country and the sociological changes in the suburbs, which highlight an increasing Democrat political urban profile. Trump is already his former pugilistic self, acknowledging that he will have to deal with a Democrat House Speaker but threatening her from the start. His first post-midterms move is to send Jeff Sessions packing so that he has a free hand in dealing with the Mueller Russia probe. It is going to be an unpleasant bumpy ride. 

Trump feels vindicated in his chosen message and will continue on the path of the culture wars, against press and city.  None of the Democrat star candidates for a Senate seat made it. The Democrats had better beware of Trump's traps. Their new House majority coming without a Senate bonus does not give them the blank check they hoped for. Theirs will be a difficult high wire act. Nancy Pelosi risks becoming some Maria Stuart, waiting for the ax which might very well come out of her own ranks.

It is becoming tiresome to have to return again to America's fall from grace but the fact remains that the downward spiral looks unstoppable as long as this pathological persona stays at the helm. Shakespeare would be at a loss of iambic pentameters to describe this ersatz composite of Lear, Richard III and Macbeth. Trump, not unlike former or current strong leaders, lives exclusively in a truth of his own making. He might even believe in it. After all, the grotesque poses of his former "Ivana" days were then already considered over the top. The Trump posing then in Playboy attire on a courtesan bed is not different from the Trump/Liberace you get today. The difference is that the pillow might now hide a gun.

Soon the president will depart for Paris (WWI remembrance, he knows nothing about) and Buenos Aires (where he can be the "ugly American" he is). He likes the pomp but not at the price of doing his homework. Besides, he does not particularly like the Europeans who snub his lack of manners and Godfather style.  Furthermore, there are serious issues (Iran, Cuba, climate, aid, NATO, environment, Russia, trade, human rights, immigration...) where the allies politically and philosophically diverge.

The Senate majority leader must be a happy man.  McConnell got a larger majority and was able to cash in on a swath of conservative judges who will enact hard-core priorities.  The Republicans are smart. They let the Democrats wage zombie wars while they push their own agenda, unhindered.

These "historical" elections were anything but. They confirmed that the United States is more divided than ever. Two years from now Trump might be re-elected in a real "historical repeat.  Biographies about America's former presidents and leaders multiply lately. The present is so scary that readers prefer to escape to the past rather than try to correct the present.  History is good for remembrance but an overdose can lead to denial regarding the present.


Sunday, November 4, 2018


The announced departure of the German Chancellor, coming after Brexit, is another blow to European values and ambitions. The populist derailment continues to create havoc. Trump, Putin and the Mitteleuropean crazies will rejoice, just as some did in the past when the Kaiser got rid of us the First World War as a bonus.

Without the United Kingdom and now losing Angela Merkel the EU is becoming more vulnerable. Only President Macron can try to steer the European project further, but his chances look slim. In reality the former Atlantic world is disappearing fast, battered under the selfish nationalistic shock waves coming from Trump and contaminated by Putin's Machiavellian touch of evil.

Western Europe may well be reduced to a sort of Eurasian archipelago under a Chinese/Russian board of  trustees. President Xi's grandiose new Silk Road ambition, together with Putin's energy policies (encouraged by, i.a., Germany's former chancellor Gerhard Shroeder, chairman of the Russian Oil giant Rosneft)), are reversing the projection of Mercator's map of the world. Like it or not, if the United States can do it alone, Europe cannot. With Trump, who has only a transactional outlook, Western Europe might end on its own. The American commitment to NATO can no longer be trusted since this loony president is devoid of any philosophical/strategic or moral fiber. He is only skilled as a consummate liar who gets away with "histrionics by repetition." He is of the same mettle as the former Idi Amin who ruled by exaggeration. Other leaders look pale in comparison. Under Trump, matinee entertainment has displaced enlightenment.

Trump already hijacked the mid-terms by his own knack for triangulation. If the Republicans win, it will be his doing alone. If they lose, he will blame them--not himself--for the loss. Until Tuesday he will shamelessly use the "caravan" for all the ills to come, accusing the Democrats of being complicit in letting in a fifth column of rapists and terrorists.

One has to be in Trump's America to fully understand the possible irreversible downfall of a great power. Mike Pompeo, secretary of State and certified Clinton hater, wrote a kind of elegy of Trump's genius in Foreign Affairs. He swooned over the highlights of the administration:  Iran--a debacle, and North Korea--a farce.  He stayed clear of even more embarrassing issues: the MBS/Jarred Kushner hotline, the "Russian bear" in the room, the latest Pyongyang cold shoulder, the Middle East peace plan or the Chinese and Russian aloofness toward an American president, too amateurish to be taken at his word.  In fact, America lost Latin America, Western Europe, Australia and Africa...speaking of accomplishment!

Chancellor Merkel could talk to Putin, Trump cannot. There is the difference. Europe had to cope before with unrest and brutal change in the East. Helmut Kohl found in President George W. Bush and the American administration support, diplomatic skill and historical know-how. Angela Merkel can likewise take a courageous and bold stand, but now without American support. Her successor will need clout and luck to measure up against the hostile headwinds East and West. The French president is brilliant but as happens with most things French, they mesmerize but do not last. International affairs are not seasonal!