Hervin Khalaf’s blood is on Trump’s hands

It’s one thing after another with that asshole Trump. The mad king of America is having fun spreading chaos and destruction everywhere. He is personally corrupt and evil. Nothing is too vile or too bad for him. It’s like the world is unraveling. Cruelty and insensitivity abound. Donald Trump is a psychopath.

Now that we’ve established what Donald Trump is, let’s ask: What evil or corrupt thing did he do today? Here is the latest scandal: It turns out that last Sunday, Trump had a telephone conversation with the Turkish strong man Recept Tayyip Erdoğan and gave him the green light to invade and “ethnically cleanse” our Kurdish allies in Northern Syria. It was, by all accounts, an impulsive act of our little toddler king.

During the Turkish invasion against the Kurds, who, as I said, received the “green light” from Trump, many well-documented atrocities have already been committed. The Turks specifically targeted and bombed civilians killed children and destroyed entire families. Similarly, their representatives of Arab militias perpetrated violent massacres and ethnic cleansing. It seems indisputable that the Turks are fucking barbarians. We should expel them from NATO. We should expel them from the civilized world.

In short, another day, another act of madness, cruelty and betrayal by Donald Trump. Not only is he betraying his own country, but this time he is also betraying our allies, the Kurds, for the ethnic cleansing and countless atrocities committed by his Turkish paymasters.

There has been a lot of media coverage and the Turks are brutally killing everyone in their path, especially civilians. But, for some reason, one death among many touched me. Her name was Hervin Khalaf. She was a Kurdish politician. Her death was just one death among many, but as I said, it caught my attention. This woman was obviously targeted for death well in advance. And I thought of her alone, helpless, trapped like an animal. But according to most witnesses, she was raped, tortured and then stoned to death.

Remarkably, there is apparently a video of her death. Because it turns out that the Turks and their Arab militias are in fact proud of it. They wanted everyone to see it, even if it was a war crime. I will post a link to the video I mentioned above, and the Twitter account where it was found, but you probably don’t want to watch it. It is said that the rape and murder were also filmed, but I have not yet seen a film of this kind.

I don’t know why this one death among the massacre of so many innocent people was so significant to me, but perhaps it’s because the death of thousands of people is an abstraction while the death of an individual is real and tangible. Maybe this woman’s murder will hit the Republicans’ heartstrings and the Turks will be forced to withdraw. I am not sure that it is possible, at this stage, to repair the damage, but perhaps these heartless and sanctimonious bastards will be pushed to do something. Who knows? One thing is certain, Hervin Khalaf’s death will not affect Trump at all; to feel human emotions, you need to have a heart and a soul, and he doesn’t have one either.

Hervin Khalaf’s blood is on Trump’s hands, which won’t bother him, because he’s a malignant narcissist and a psychopath. He has no conscience or soul. He is condemned to hell, and I personally think that his Republican Party facilitators should join him there as soon as possible.

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A brief response to Kevin Drum: Did Donald Trump just cross the Rubicon?

With respect, I do not think that Kevin Drum fully appreciates the significance of Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.  When he says that “this letter was plainly not written with legal arguments in mind. No lawyer would do anything but laugh at it” he misunderstands both the provenance of the arguments made in the letter and their likely appeal to the five Republican Party zealots who are currently in control of the Supreme Court.

Trump’s lawyers are making arguments that are essentially the same as those made in the OLC memos and in other legal memos and briefs written during the GW Bush administration revolving abound theories of the unitary executive.    As I understand the OLC and Bush era memos, the president is the living, breathing heart of the country in much the same way that the person of an absolute monarch is entwined with the very essence of the nation. That is what I think Louis XIV meant when he said « l’état, c’est moi » (I am the state).

What I think both Trump’s lawyers and the lawyers who wrote the OLC memos are saying, in essence, is that, by convention, this country chooses a new ruler every four years. But once that ruler has ascended to the presidency, he becomes the state in much the same way that Louis XIV was the state and his power transcends everything.  The president enjoys sovereign immunity and he enjoys it absolutely. The president cannot be investigated, cannot be prosecuted, cannot be forced to use the power of the state to harm himself in any way because he and the nation are perfectly entwined.  The person of the president and the existence of the nation are one. This is the concept of the inviolability of the monarch’s person that I wrote about earlier.

These are not arguments with which I agree but there are many in the hard right with quite respectable legal and philosophical credentials who believe that this is the logical and inevitable resting place of all presidential systems. My assumption is that all of the Republicans in the senate and the five party members on the Supreme Court will grumble a bit but Republican Party’s will to power is such that they’re ultimately going to accept these legal theories as legitimate and correct even though they are obviously and utterly inconsistent with the principles upon which our republic was founded and hundreds of years of Supreme Court decisions. The norm of “checks and balances” is simply destroyed.  The president is now the proprietor of an administrative state which is equated with the person of the monarch.  What Congress gets from this point in the future is thanks to “la grâce de roi” and not because it is a co-equal branch of government.

Essentially, I think that simply by declaring that he is above the law and won’t cooperate with Congress except as it pleases him, Donald Trump and the Republican Party have just crossed the Rubicon. There’s no way to stop them. All we can do at this point is wait and see whether President for life Donald will rule with an iron fist or with an iron fist in a velvet glove. With any luck, it’s still possible that the chaos Trump leaves in his wake will make it impossible for the Republican Party to consolidate its power and continue the shift towards kleptocracy.  This is an important point being made by Paul Krugman but, nevertheless, it’s a very slim threat on which the fate of our republic is hanging.

But as Julius Caesar said as he crossed the Rubicon: “alea iacta est” (the die is cast).

Some thoughts on solidarity and the film “at war”

“One for all, all for one”

Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

The other night, I had the pleasure of watching a screening of the film “En Guerre”, in collaboration with the Alliance Francaise Los Angeles, followed by a discussion with Mr. Stéphane Brizé, hosted by Nadine Juton. It was a remarkable film, really excellent in all respects. It is a dark view of labour relations, particularly in France. It’s in what I think is a small town in the southwest of France.

Vincent Lindon (the star of Measure Of A Man, for which he won the prize for best actor at the Cannes Film Festival 2015), plays Laurent Amédéo, the leader of the strike of the 1,100 employees in a factory where the management (at the behest of the German multinational which owns the factory) after obtaining subsidies from the government and important concessions from the workers, decides that it is more profitable to close this plant and transfer production to a Romanian plant where wages will be even lower. (In addition, I was shocked to learn that there was only one professional actor in the film. All the performances were excellent. Sometimes the film almost seemed like a documentary).

The film begins with a reminder that “whoever fights can lose; the one who does not fight has already lost”. And yet, even if I do not want to spoil the plot of the film, I also remember the French proverb, often attributed to the Count Bussy-Rabutin “providence is always on the side of the big battalions”. Which, I have to say honestly, presages everything in the movie. But for the purposes of our discussion today, I will simply say that large multinational employers have learned to follow a strategy of divide and conquer as a way of breaking unions, breaking workers, and breaking governments. I would like to comment briefly today on the implications of this strategy.

As I mentioned, there was an excellent discussion after the film with Mr. Brizé, hosted by Nadine Juton from AFDELA. And during that discussion, Mr. Brizé made a critical point in which he spoke about some of the actual strikes that inspired his film and the tactics used by the large companies to break those strikes. The events of the film can only be described as a tragedy, but I think Mr. Brizé summarized what we should all take as the message of the film when he spoke about “solidarity”. That disunity and the inability or refusal of the unions to work together to support strikes like this one, as Mr. Brizé notes, was the cause of the weak bargaining position of the employees depicted in the film and, ultimately, of their fall.

Solidarity between unions would have made all the difference in the world.  If all the trade unions in France and Germany had worked together, their combined resources would have far exceeded those of the German company and the employees would not be subject to such economic pressure. Similarity, if all the unions in France, had used their combined muscle to put pressure on the president (who, I suppose, was François Hollande), they could have gotten some tangible help from the government, instead of just lip service. And with the president more firmly committed to their cause, the response to the German company’s boss’s refusal could and should have forced the government to try to take the scalp of the recalcitrant boss of the German owner of the factory. If successful, negotiations with his successor would likely be more productive.

The other problem is that even in that one plant, there were obviously several unions, each with its own agenda and its own needs. And the lack of solidarity facilitated the division of the workers and victory of the German group. The main source of this division was whether to take a rather meager buyout offer or continue the strike to save the factory and their jobs.  At the heart of the problem, of course, was the fact that the strikers were not supported even by their own unions but were forced to rely on donations from supporters and their own limited savings. All the unions in France, if they worked together, pooled their resources, could have eased the financial burden that created the pressure which divided the workers.  But without this solidarity, the factory workers were like a handful of peasants confronting the king with nothing but their pitchforks. They are doomed to failure.

I really cannot stress enough how crazy it is to think that a worker, with limited resources and limited financial means at the bank, could survive for a long time in a fight with a multinational business with billions of dollars in the bank. Yet the national unions left them to fend for themselves.  Both financially and, perhaps more importantly, politically.

Each of these workers spoke only for himself and therefore had no power, even against politicians who were nominally their allies.

I think that if the German boss were under pressure from his government and the French government were to put pressure on the price of the company’s shares, his perspective would be different, knowing that he could personally lose. And if the unions had succeeded in taking the scalp of a CEO, the trend towards globalization could be considerably slowed.

Since Mr. Brizé started his film with a quote, I will finish with a quote. Unions and workers around the world must heed Benjamin Franklin’s saying, “we must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

The problem with Christianity is Christians

 

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

― Mahatma Gandhi 

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Matthew 25:35

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”

King James Version (KJV)

Isaiah  58:7

“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”

King James Version (KJV)

 

 

 

 

Brexit: The UK on the brink of disaster!

According to Le Monde, for the second time, the British Parliament has rejected the agreement negotiated by Theresa May on Brexit.  Which means that it is five minutes to midnight and they are now looking at the abyss. I think they’re going to ask the EU for a delay. And then another and another because, in the European Union, nothing is really decided except a deadly austerity policy that must always prevail no matter how misguided. But the meaning is the beginning of what I believe will be a long, perhaps endless series of delays is that we will live essentially forever on the brink of disaster. It also means that the county of my youth has been destroyed by a bunch of fools and posers.

England today is a country where all the politicians, and especially the Conservative ones, are fools, posers and morons. Why is it so difficult for these idiots to see the need for a second referendum? As the saying goes, it would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

Update:

I don’t understand what any of this business of the House of Commons setting its own agenda means. Apparently, this new group of Conservative MP’s will somehow define the agenda without consulting the government. But the May government will not fall, for reasons that are idiotic and concerned only with the internal politics of the Conservative Party (and, naturally, the ambitions of the next Prime Minister, Boris “the Clown” Johnson). I’m totally confused. How does that break the deadlock? There is no appetite for May’s deal with the EU, no appetite for no deal (except among the hardcore fools) and yet they do not allow a second referendum. So, what’s the way forward?

But beyond all this confusion, it seems that the United Kingdom, against all logic, believes that it has control of the decision-making process and can dictate the timetable despite the harsh speeches of Tusk and Macron and the deadline of 22 May.  This seems to be the foolish hypothesis that runs through all the Brexit madness; that England can dictate the terms of an agreement to which the EU must abide. But why is that? Yes, trade with the UK is important, but the EU economy is much larger, more diversified and probably more resilient.

This notion of British control over the process is absurd but the extension of the deadline granted “reluctantly” by the EU is only fueling this illusion and the related illusion that the British Parliament has the luxury of taking the time it wants to find something equally acceptable for the lunatic hardcore Brexiters.  But, of course, it was May’s policy of unreasoning appeasement of the hardcore Brexiters that put the United Kingdom in this jackpot in the first place.

A closely related problem, I think, is that the EU’s reputation for delay and ambiguity means that no deadline is taken seriously, because the consequences of a Brexit “without agreement” are so horrible that you have to “extend” an extension. But the fundamental principles do not change and the pressures that the EU intends to apply are ineffective because of the universally accepted assumption that it will yield and then surrender.

And so, Britain and the EU continue to live precariously on the edge of the abyss, neither together nor divorced. Every time we are told that there will no longer be an extension of time, followed by the inevitable extension, the conviction is that there will be no firm deadline. Until, of course, the EU finally says no, and we all plunge into the abyss.

It can happen here.

“A favorite theory of mine [is] that no occurrence is sole and solitary, but is merely a repetition of a thing which has happened before, and perhaps often”

Mark Twain

Certainly, the MAGA bomber, the massacre in the synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the increase in the total number of hate crimes were not Kristallnacht.   But I fear that the writing is on the wall. The echoes are still very weak and still quite distant, but if you listen carefully, the sound that is coming ever closer is so familiar that there is no doubt about it. Kristallnacht is coming.

Impossible here? Maybe in 2020 Trump is going to win a huge victory but then, of course, he’s going to be free from the constraints of the law, in which case I’m sure he’s going to change American society in the same way that Putin has turned Russia into an authoritarian regime. The money, the power, the lack of prosecution for his crimes will be a huge temptation for Trump. If he wins, he will be unrestrained.  So even if he wins, we lose.

What if he loses?  My belief is that he will make a coup d’état. We’re probably going to have a double whammy; massive pogroms and the end of our republican form of government.  Trump and the Republicans will cry that the election was stolen. And this will whip the base of the deplorable party in a violent frenzy.  There will be violent pogroms. And the authorities in Republican-controlled places will be told to allow the MAGA thugs to carry out these pogroms without interference, just as was the case with Kristallnacht. And he and his party will use these pogroms to pressure everyone else to buy peace by allowing him to stay in power.

As Yogi Berra once said: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” The question is whether the violence we’ve seen is the work of a scattering of isolated nutters or a harbinger of things to come. My guess is more the latter and less of the former. And when it comes, it will be more than the Jews, it will be everyone else. They will spill as much blood as it takes to keep their power; rivers of blood if that’s what it takes. I assure you that Trump and the Republicans will not be going gently into that good night.

It can happen here.  It’s starting here in a way very similar to the fall of the Weimer Republic. It will be different this time, of course. It’s different every time and yet always the same. An American version instead of a German version. Thugs with a red “MAGA” hat instead of thugs with brown shirts. But they are really the same people. They are always the same people. Maybe the Trump victims will be Mexicans and Jews, or maybe Asians or Arabs as well. But it will be bad, and what we’ve seen in recent months certainly bodes ill. It can always get worse and it probably will.

Of course, there are critical differences – mainly, that the various bombers, killers and MAGA criminals of recent months did not benefit from the impunity of those who executed the pogrom of Kristallnacht.  So that is something to watch for as an important indicator of what is to come. We must not ignore this important, but perhaps transitory, difference between today’s America and the end of Weimer, but nevertheless, the similarity is chilling.  The guardians of civil society resemble the little boy who has his finger in the dike and who holds back the sea. But for how much longer? My fear is that to wait and see what Trump and the Republicans are going to do and whether they’re going to give a semi-official green light to their “Bully Boys” is leaving it too late.  Remember, things deteriorated very quickly after the Kristallnacht. The result is will be the same if Trump and the Republican decide to end the republic after the 2020 election.

Trump will do everything to keep power. And stay out of jail too; remember that he was not simply involved in money laundering and various frauds like Trump University; he almost certainly committed serious crimes in during the 2016 presidential election.  As I suggested above, it’s a good bet that Trump will not be willing to leave office after the 2020 election if the incoming president is a Democrat. And so, the metaphor that might apply is that Republicans are like Caesar’s armies, camped along the banks of the Rubicon, waiting to choose between him and Rome.

For Caesar, a normal and not particularly evil man, crossing the Rubicon was perhaps a difficult choice. One could argue that there were larger issues involved, that it wasn’t purely self over country, since the Populares had legitimate and serious differences with the oligarchs who ruled the Roman Republic. But for a diabolical narcissist like Trump, the time is always right to put his personal interests over those of his country.  For Trump, patriotism is for losers. I think Trump and the Republican party will never accept a defeat in the 2020 election.  They would see the country burn first.  If you think I’m histrionic, I strongly recommend this analysis by Professor Tom Pepinsky, a recognized expert on authoritarian regimes.

Perhaps at the end of Weimar or the fall of the Roman Republic? Maybe politics as usual?  Who knows?  What I do know is that there is still something in the air. A tension, a hint that this can happen here. I am more concerned about the future of my country than ever before.

I think the Republicans are already camped alongside the river and ready to cross the Rubicon–I don’t know if they’re going to cross the Rubicon if they lose, maybe they won’t, but I’m wondering if there were people sitting around the breakfast table in 1933 having this conversation. And then, too, I wonder if Mark Twain is right that history repeats itself and we are doomed to share their fate.

Manifs contre la loi du travail: is today the opening skirmish?

I think that it has begun. I read that there have been  many demonstrations against the labor law in Paris, Lille, Marseille, other cities throughout France.  Several of these protests have represented quite strong mobilizations.  More such demonstrations are apparently being planned.

Even though I agree with Art Goldhammer that these “reforms” are mostly insignificant. I am opposed to them because the burdens of these reforms, trivial though they might be, are being shouldered almost entirely by the workers and the bourgeois. I feel that the bosses should give up something equal to what is being asked of the workers and the middle class.

Nevertheless, I do not understand certain things.  As a practical matter, Macron has all the power. All the députés of En Marche! came to Paris to serve him, the new god, the new Jupiter, and apparently for no other reason. There was no agenda during the election, just Jupiter. Plus, he essentially controls the MoDems 42 députés and, of course, the left has collapsed and his agenda is largely acceptable to the right.  So, no one remains to oppose him and his pro-globalization “reforms”.

And yet, the so-called “Reforms” are trivial. I am surprised that labor unions are even bothering to demonstrate so forcefully against them.  This package of trivialities is hardly the audacious blow of man who refused to give the traditional interviews on the occasion of the fête nationale the media is incapable of understanding the god-like, complex thoughts of Macron.

Macron will, hopefully, never have more power than he has today.  As I’ve said before, there’s probably never been a time in the history of France when one man has enjoyed so much power with so little opposition.   We all know that Macron wants to make sweeping changes to France and to Europe on behalf of the Davos crowd, yet even after gathering the Congress at Versailles, as though the country were in the midst of a national crisis, what he has proposed is relatively trivial by anybody’s standards despite all of the pomp and circumstance.

Which brings me to some further thoughts about the election: I think that he was in the “sweet spot of time”.  All the stars were perfectly aligned for Macron; and he followed his star without the slightest hesitation.

The internal problems destroyed all the political parties. From the extreme right to the center left, nothing remained standing.  In particular, the Parti socialiste was nothing but a smoldering ruin.   Of course, Macron and his patron François Hollande were the ones who destroyed the PS, but, no matter how it was brought about, the collapse of the PS resulted in a massive vacuum of power which the new Jupiter saw was clearly intended for him.

The first to begin to recover will be most probably the FN, because unless the party’s internecine rivalries are deeper and wider than previously believed, it is being disrupted by little more than a family conflict that will be resolved when all of the members of the Le Pen family remember the source of the family’s wealth and why they get to live in a castle. The structure of the party as a national organization, built by Marine Le Pen, remains essentially intact.  Unlike the PS, there doesn’t seem to have been much structural damage.

Following the example of the PS, its failure results mainly from an internal collapse which made impossible to work during the elections and also because of certain extremely stupid tactical choices (i.e., MLP’s pointless effort at distancing herself from the extreme right by appointing an actual Nazi as the caretaker head of the FN or abandoning her most important political and economic as disastrous and unworkable only a few days before the election). But the structure and the base of the FN remain more or less intact and it will be relatively easy to them to regroup and begin to rebuild and perhaps even expand at the local level.

And, make no mistake, if Macron cannot fulfill  his extravagant promises, the FN will probably be in the best position to take advantage of his failures.

The center and the right, of course, belong to Macron and to the men of unlimited ambition who are clustered around him.  But these are ruthless men who would gleefully stab Macron in the back in an instant, just as he betrayed his own patron, Hollande. So, in that sense, even with all his power, Macron must move cautiously and this perhaps explains his tepid reforms.

But my thoughts are principally focused on whether the Parti socialiste can be rebuild by those who might be attracted to a revitalized party of center left.  I believe the PS can rebuild itself and once again be the party of center left which meets the needs of the workers and the middle class through the “socialism of the possible”.

We all know who will oppose this resurrection.  The question is whether the base of the party wishes to continue being led by the ageing elephants of the radical center who burned everything on the ground.  Surely it would be better for the Parti socialiste to respond to the emergence of Macron by embracing the extremely popular and beneficial politics of the center-left which will revitalize France.