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Politics shorn of politics is still politics. October 18, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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One of the most notable aspects of the US Presidential debates has been how much has devolved to personality. It is, perhaps, the inevitable outcome of a Presidential system – or at least one likely outcome across time – but it’s an ugly ugly thing for all of that. And it’s not as if there aren’t differences between the candidates and their respective platforms.

Even the rhetoric of ‘lock her up!’ feels of a piece with that. Trump’s threat to ‘jail’ Clinton isn’t serious process led politics. It’s emoting on a grand scale. And yet, the suspicion remains that if not political – or ideological, it has political ramifications if ever the situation occurred where he was in a position to implement it:

David Maraniss, a journalist and author, said: “As shocking as his debate statements were, they were of a piece with his earlier threats to use executive power to go after the media, set immigration restrictions based on religious affiliation, and declare the Central Park Five guilty long after scientific evidence found them innocent. Freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and the application of scientific proof are all wholly foreign to him.”

Perhaps, then, this is more of a worldview that we’re seeing here, one that is inchoate, difficult to pin down precisely, formed and sustained by fears and bigotry, and therefore – added to the nature of the candidate – free-flowing and inconsistent. Yet, as Maraniss notes look at all those inconsistencies, those contradictions, and the larger picture of an approach that would in practice be even more deeply injurious than contemporary aspects of the US polity becomes evident. It doesn’t need a programme as such, it simply needs a bending and fracturing of the system, imperfect as it already is, to see deeply pernicious outcomes.

Here’s a troubling one too.

Dr Louis Picard, professor of public and international affairs and African Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, and a frequent worker in Uganda … said Trump has also copied the tactics of some African political parties by questioning the legitimacy of the election in advance and claiming it will be rigged against him. “It does worry me in the long term because we’re starting to get this into the system and it won’t go away,” he said.

By the way, just on the campaign, I’m far from a booster of Hillary Clinton, in a way one pity of the campaign has how Trump has by his clowning prevented a forensic critique of her politics being applied, but the sheer misogyny in some of the attacks on her from the right is staggering. But then, again, where’s the surprise. I remember a friend of mine telling me some years ago of attending a formal international reception at which were a number of representatives of the great and good in the US, a small number of who made it very clear in informal conversation that they regarded Obama in appallingly racist terms. Small wonder that the first viable female candidate for President should receive not dissimilar stuff, though in this instance even more openly to judge from the rhetoric and garb of some at Trump events.

As striking is this exchange:

Up in the stands, a 65-year-old woman in full Trump gear who’d driven two hours from central New Jersey told me that GOPers who disavowed Donald were “not true Republicans.” Even Paul Ryan? “I don’t care for him,” said the woman. “He’s a conservative Democrat. Trump is a real Republican, born and bred.” But Trump used to be an actual Democrat, I pointed out. “Just for a short time,” the woman insisted.
I asked her if the leaked footage of Trump yukking it up about genital assault had given her pause. “What he said is really vulgar,” she began, before telling me that she’d been crassly propositioned by multiple men at her workplace over the years. “I was demoted three times for saying no,” she said. And then, in a flurry of words that made little sense to me, she transformed her experiences with sexual harassment into a pro-Trump argument, concluding, very confusingly (and inaccurately): “That soap actress, she said no and he accepted it.”

And the fact that Trump keeps upping the ante is curious in the extreme. The ‘drugs’ charge at the weekend against Clinton is testament to this. It’s as if the very first thing that pops into his head he runs with. Doesn’t matter how credible it is or not, he just goes. Let’s hope he’s gone as a political figure by the end of the election.

Comments»

1. Roger Cole - October 18, 2016

It a pity a left wing discussion forum is discussing Trum’s use of power to abuse women, but not mention that in the recent batch of leaked emails from Clinton it is clear that she knows about the fact that Saudi Arabia have being providing €million to ISIS and other fundamentalist groups in Syria while at the same time selling €billions of weapons to Saudi Arabia. It is what I expect from RTE and the rest of the imperialist media in this US Airforce base where 2.5 million US troops have used Shannon Airport on their way to their perpetual wars.

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irishelectionliterature - October 18, 2016

I don’t think there are too many here unaware of Clintons faults but she surely is the lesser of two evils in this election.

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Michael Carley - October 18, 2016

Just that: the “experience” we’re supposed to respect is actually a record of dreadful abuse in office, but she is an adult who might listen to reason, and Trump’s not.

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Gewerkschaftler - October 18, 2016

Emphasis on the might. The military/industrial/financial/security nexus she serves is impervious to ‘reason’, and answers only to questions posed as power and counter-power.

I suspect her presidency will bring an intensification of hot and cold wars over Obama’s incumbency, which was bad enough.

I hope I’m wrong.

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Michael Carley - October 18, 2016

I think you’re right but even then, we’ll still be grateful for not having Trump.

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WorldbyStorm - October 18, 2016

Roger, different aspects of this will strike different people in different ways . I would never stop you from articulating your foremost concerns and feel free to air them but other aspects ate of interest too.

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gendjinn - October 18, 2016

Whether or not Clinton or Trump is the LoTE depends on whether Clinton starts a shooting war with Russia or not.

They are both entirely, unacceptably, appalling in almost every regard that the remaining questions are the size of the butcher’s bill and upon whom it falls.

Stein and/or Johnson would accomplish nothing in four years, which will be far superior to what either Clinton or Trump will do.

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dublinstreams - October 18, 2016

we don’t have to make the choice, so we don’t have to even reluctantly support or vote for Clinton, you are forgetting Clinton was part of government that invaded Libya and now are Navy is in the Med trying to deal with her mess, I really don’t know what Trump has done that is comparable?

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WorldbyStorm - October 18, 2016

First part if what you say is correct but we can and should have a view. The second I’m less convinced by. Trumps stated policy platform – whatever we think about Clinton’s actions which have been reprehensible in many instances, are so intrinsically destabilising in relation to Mexico, and more broadly not least in his hostility even to rhetorical constitutional norms that it would be in my opinion a significant gamble. Of course we are all spectators in this but thats my tuppence.

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dublinstreams - October 18, 2016

what gamble? we don’t have say, we don’t have to gamble.

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WorldbyStorm - October 18, 2016

For the US. By the by I have friends there, and distant relatives so this isnt entirely academic. They talk to me about their fears expecting me to give an opinion,in sure its the same with you. In so far as one interacts with other human beings even when one isn’t directly affected by their concerns – though of course we can be indirectly affected – there’s no problem having opinions, offering thoughts, is there?

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dublinstreams - October 18, 2016

still what gamble?

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WorldbyStorm - October 18, 2016

The gamble between a known quantity – deeply problematic known quantity and an unknown quantity spouting sub fascistic rhetoric.

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dublinstreams - October 18, 2016

whats the stake in the gamble of yours? a vote? you seen have turned somebody criticising the lack of criticism of Clinton on a forum mostly used by non-American citizens into a vote for Trump? (or as suggested by others an abstention or vote of a third party) which I don’t think is valid or fair or relevant to his point.

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WorldbyStorm - October 18, 2016

I’ve never said it was my gamble. It is a gamble on the part of the US electorate. It is their gamble.

And just to be clear, I’ve been responding in this exchange to you in the comments between us, not anyone else on this thread. So I’m not sure whose point I’m being unfair to. Roger’s? But I’m not dissing him at all. My response to him is six comments in on the thread above wherel I’m saying is in response to his criticism that I should be writing something else from what I am writing is that he’s free to contribute with his critique just as I’m writing about what I’m interested in. I’m not disputing his critique or dismissing it, simply writing about what interests me. I even said specifically he was welcome to chime in with his critique.

So what are you talking about?

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dublinstreams - October 18, 2016

you said it was a gamble, in the context of the top comment in this subthread.

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WorldbyStorm - October 18, 2016

Wrong, I said it in the context of your comment which is the top comment on this subthread – precisely and exactly my point that it wasn’t in response to him. If I’d wanted to say it in response to Roger I’d have put it in my response to him which predated my response to you.

And by the way are you trying to say I cannot express an opinion on this, or only opinions which you believe are correct?

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dublinstreams - October 18, 2016

I must really rethink my world view, because I would take it that any response in a sub-thread is also a response to the top thread post, your direct response to Roger was so bland I did dismiss it

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WorldbyStorm - October 18, 2016

I genuinely didn’t think my response seemed like it was to him. It was completely to you, hence I was agreeing with your first part and being a little less in agreement with your second part. I’ve always assumed that sub-threads in larger threads are like a tangent to a conversation, that people can respond to them or people who create them as if they’re separate to the original thread. Maybe it’s me who needs to rethink my worldview.

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2. CL - October 18, 2016

“Rather than reaching out to moderates, independents, and other groups he would need to bring over to win a majority in November, the Journal article said, Trump now “plans to renew the nationalist themes that built his base and amplify his no-holds-barred attacks against Hillary Clinton to try to depress Democratic voter turnout..
..
Such a blitzkrieg strategy makes no sense, of course. If there is one thing that is guaranteed to get Democrats to the polls, it is the sight of Trump going around the country for the next three and half weeks inciting bigotry and racial hatred, launching personal attacks on his opponents, and generally acting like a deranged person. But, as my colleague Ryan Lizza pointed out on Wednesday, there is reason to believe that Trump’s true motivation is no longer winning: it is finding someone to blame for his upcoming defeat.”
http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/the-election-may-be-over-but-trumps-blowup-is-just-starting

“It’s also not shocking that Trump has been a regular guest on the radio show of Alex Jones, who, among other interesting things, believes that Americans are in danger of being controlled by “clockwork elves.”…

Bannon embraced the growing populist movement in America, including the “alt-right,” a new term for white nationalists, who care little about traditional conservative economic ideas and instead stress the need to preserve America’s European heritage and keep out non-whites and non-Christians..

Trump and Bannon have given up on trying to defeat Clinton. They seem more interested in creating a platform for a new ethno-nationalist politics that may bedevil the Republican Party—and the country—for a long time to come.”
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/steve-bannons-vision-for-the-trump-coalition-after-election-day

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3. 1798Mike - October 18, 2016

Trump is appalling and dangerous. Clinton is appalling and dangerous. However the idea that Clinton might listen to ‘reason’ is fanciful. She is a known quantity, Trump is unknown. That is probably as much as can be said at present.
Clinton’s protege in the State Department, Victoria Nuland was instrumental in orchestrating the Ukrainian coup. Clinton herself supported the coup in Honduras, when the elected president was overthrown and she worked behind the scenes to delegitimise him.
She played a key role in the destruction of Libya. She is a creature of AIPAC, a wholly owned subsidiary of hedge funds & other corporate interests. She is the anointed candidate of the arms industry & the imperial warmongers of the pentagon.
There is only one progressive candidate in this crypto-democratic election and that is Jill Stein of the Green Party. Unfortunately, for the world & the people of the USA, she will take 3 to 4 per cent of the vote.

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4. Joe - October 18, 2016

Thought strikes me on the election outcome. Clinton is comfortably ahead in all polls. Perception may be that she’s a shoe-in. So all those Bernie Sanders supporters who said they would have trouble voting for her … they are more likely to abstain now in the expectation that she’s a shoe-in anyway. Even ‘ordinary’ Democrats may relax and some may not canvass as strongly as they might and some may not even turn up on election day.
And thus, Trump could win.

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irishelectionliterature - October 18, 2016

You’d also wonder if there is a large group of voters who are Trump voters but are ashamed to tell pollsters.
And if I was in the US I’d probably hold my nose and vote for Clinton, but only just.

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CL - October 18, 2016

Shyness does not seem to be a characteristic of Trump supporters.
There is still apparently a relatively large number of undecideds,-with just three weeks to go.
But ‘Clinton will gain a little bit of ground each day just by holding steady as time runs off of Trump’s clock’
http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/election-update-clintons-big-lead-means-a-steadier-forecast/

It would probably take a ‘black swan’ event at this point to derail Clinton’s chances.

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gendjinn - October 18, 2016

The last 10 days of Trumps tape and women coming forward (nine now) have likely killed his campaign. Shy Trumpers are probably evaporating in the morning sun, if they ever existed. I was really curious to see how big the Bradley effect would be this time.

The RNC/GOP are starting to panic over the “rigged election” line, fearing it will depress Republican turnout overall. Polling and talk puts the Senate back in play – it wasn’t in the weeks running up to the tape release. The GOP are hinting they will block all Clinton supreme court nominees.

The next four years are going to be really interesting and from a certain perspective “fun”.

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5. Roger Cole - October 18, 2016

I was only making the point that the focus by virtually the entire corporate media especially in this country by purely focusing on Trump is ensuring that the War Queen Clinton’s support for selling $billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia while they then give those money and weapons to Al-Qaeda is totally ignored by RTE, Newstalk, the IT etc. Clinton has supported every war, she is the living symbol of the US Doctrine of perpetual war. There is not a shred of evidence that she is open to “reason”. She has described President Putin as Hitler, a leader who killed over 24 million Russians, and is clearly prepared to launch World War 3. This is not an argument in favour of Trump, it is merely drawing attention to the very real dangers of a President Clinton, especially as Ireland is a de facto US Aircraft carrier, a reality that is largely ignored by the Irish “left”. Finally, assuming we have four years to live, a very large assumption, whatever they will be, “fun” is not a word that will describe them.

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gendjinn - October 18, 2016

The US can end the war in Yemen tomorrow by ceasing arms sales to Saudi Arabia and mid-air refueling support without which the recent slaughter of innocents could not have occurred.

Thing is, SA got to kick Yemen as a quid pro quo for the Iran deal. Yemen, like Afghanistan, is the graveyard of empires. Faisal knew it.

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yourcousin - October 18, 2016

You are conflating Soviet casualties with Russian casualties. Proportionately more Ukrainian and Belarussians were killed by the Germans than Russians.

Secondly I would point out that even if the US and Russia went at it, it would not constitute a Third World War. The current Russian Federation is not the USSR. Marc Galeotti has a lot of insight on this.

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CMK - October 19, 2016

There won’t be a US(NATO) v. Russia war. A few clashes maybe, a misunderstanding or two (shooting down a couple of each others aircraft) etc.

The US hasn’t fought a half decent military force since Vietnam and we all know how that worked out for them. Carpet bombing terrorised Iraqi conscripts, overruning Caribbean Islands with puny military forces, fighting a protracted insurgency against a force whose most potent weapon is the rocket propelled grenade all have built up an unwarranted belief that the US military is invincible.

In 1999 Serbia by and large chose not to fight and hid its forces in Kosovo and kept them more or less intact and NATO hardly landed a punch on them in Kosovo.

A 10 day conventional war between the US-Russia would result in at least a couple of thousand US body bags, US troops being taken prisoner in large number, a couple of dozen planes being shot out of the air. US society wouldn’t be able to tolerate that, neither would the US political class.

The US would undoubtedly beat Russia in a conventional war but it would pay a higher price, proportionally, than any war it has fought since WW2.

US aircraft crews, for instance, will not relish flying into a zone where they’ll be very quickly locked on by S300 missiles when the same crews have been accustomed to freely bombing the s**t out of undeveloped countries for decades.

A US-Russia war would almost certainly involve clashes in the Baltics and that might not be pleasant for NATO. Recently as UK general claimed that the British army could not match Russia in a conventional war in terms of tactics, etc.

For all the sabre rattling I ain’t gonna happen.

A plague on both their houses though and workers in the US, Europe and Russia will get zilch out of any war that does happen.

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WorldbyStorm - October 19, 2016

I tend to think you’re right. Its not quite a stitch up between them but a direct war would be of no benefit to either. And while you’re right a war against Russia would be no picnic for the US, Russian military forces are pretty compromised too, its far from the titan some like to portray it. But these are both powers who are well able to and have very strong communications between one another with fairly clear spheres of interest (we didn’t see the US racing to Georgia’s side during that conflict, bar the Ukraine which has its own dynamic what happens in s sphere of interest tends to stay in a sphere of jnterest. Syria is interesting because Russian geopolitical reach has weakened in thd last two decades and Assad played footsie with the US hence in part the confusion and in some ways half hearted approaches) whatever the rhetoric.

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CMK - October 19, 2016

Georgia is the key precedent as you rightly point. A supposedly ‘critical’ US ally, when the Russian tanks rolled in they were on their own. We underestimate the degree of co-operation between the two. I would argue that all US operations post 1989 have only been possible with the tacit support of the Russians. For instance, in Afghanistan the Russians were critical in supporting the US logistical effort by allowing overflights to US bases in Uzbekistan. More importantly, if the Russians had dropped a couple of boxes of their latest shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile into Afghanistan it would have been game over for NATO as they were nearly 100% dependent on low and slow flying helicopters to conduct their occupation. There is great interest for both powers to puff up their chests but neither would come out of a war between them in good shape. The US is far, far weaker militarily than is commonly understood. It is one thing to enjoy ‘full spectrum dominance’ in a theoretical sense, excercising that dominance in a conventional war would soon expose the extent to which the US can put its advantage in military hardware to use.

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WorldbyStorm - October 19, 2016

100% agree re ops and tacit agreement. Agree too re US not being quite the titan it presents itself as. Its soft power too is oddly weaker than it used to be, I wonder if the efforts to roll back the US state under neoliberalism have had an effect in relation to that

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Michael Carley - October 19, 2016

I suspect the US has always been overrated as far as military power goes: when did they last defeat a first rank enemy on their own?

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yourcousin - October 20, 2016

MC,
When was the last time that happened for anyone?

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dublinstreams - October 19, 2016

wait for Thursday money when TDs will be discussing Syria will be baying for more war, calling for no-fly zones when they have no idea what that entails, or it would make things worse, criticising those who are not protesting Russia because they don’t want to cheer on making things worse.

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6. eamonncork - October 19, 2016

Cheer up lads. Maybe Trump will finish strong.

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Gewerkschaftler - October 19, 2016

🙂

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7. Gewerkschaftler - October 19, 2016

I think for a lot of voters – I tend only to meet ‘that kind’ of US citizen in my own private echo-chamber – it’s a case of knowing your local state and knowing whether you can afford to vote or abstain ‘symbolically’. Or do you have to grit your teeth, take an anti-emetic and vote for the somewhat lesser of two weevils.

Given the inaccuracy of polling, especially with exceptional political events like this US election, that’s a dangerous game, and one I’m glad not be part of.

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