Sunday, December 25, 2016

Correspondence: Round about Christmas

Edited by Moristotle

Nice Christmas picture: “‘Everyone was stunned’: Snow falls in Sahara desert town for first time in 37 years” [Jason Samenow, Washington Post, December 21]. Excerpt:
Photographer Karim Bouchetata captured the amazing moment snow fell on the red sand dunes in the world’s largest hot desert. Photo taken near Ain Sefra, Algeria, on Dec. 19 (Rex Features via AP Images)
    Bouchetata added that the snow lingered a day before melting.
    Ain Sefra, founded in 1881, has a population of about 35,000. It’s in western Alegria about 28 miles east of the border with Morocco.
    [read more]

A good overview of German press opinions: “Berlin Attack Poses Toughest Test in Merkel’s 11 Years in Power” [Alison Smale, NY Times, December 21]. Excerpt:
BERLIN — She faced down a euro crisis that turned into an existential crossroads for the European Union. She confronted a Russian land grab in Ukraine. Virtually alone among her peers, she welcomed into her country roughly a million migrants who flooded across Europe’s borders.
    Having made that fateful decision, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany now faces what nearly all here are calling the toughest passage of her 11 years in power, after a terrorist attack on Monday in Berlin left 12 people dead. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility, and the authorities are searching for a Tunisian man with Salafist ties [Anis Amri, shot and killed near Milan, Italy on December 23].
    The attack has rendered the chancellor, whose party has already suffered defeats in bellwether votes this year, still more vulnerable as national elections approach in 2017. A defeat for Ms. Merkel could have global consequences.
    With right-wing populism on the rise across Europe, Ms. Merkel has been seen as a bulwark against illiberal democracy. If she is weakened, and if next spring’s election in France produces a populist president, the already weak European Union could be badly, even fatally, wounded. [read more]

This is a good and useful article to share with your readers: “Berlin Market Attack Mars Square Where Three Eras Coexist” [Michael Kimmelman, NY Times, December 20]. Excerpt:
The Christmas market last year at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin. Credit Jörg Carstensen/Deutsche Presse-Agentur, via Associated Press
    The German authorities were at first typically cautious about describing it as an attack, as opposed to an accident. They now say that it was very likely an act of terrorism. Like similar episodes, it involved a public space, an emblem of common ground and open society. But in this case, the symbolism of the site ran even deeper.
    The truck that killed at least 12 people on Monday in Berlin drove into a Christmas market in the shadow of the city’s Gedächtniskirche, or Memorial Church. I have been scouring a video on Twitter of the aftermath, trying to distinguish the pools of blood from the spilled wine, looking for faces of people I know.
    This was my family’s Christmas market, near where we lived in Berlin. It fills the church’s windswept, stony plaza, built after the war, where children play and my older son learned to skateboard. We frequented the market each December to drink spiced wine, and bought dried cherries and gooseberries from a young Turkish couple with a stall near the entrance to the church who stuffed extra fruit into our bags as gifts for our boys.
    Week in, week out for years, I also passed through this square with our younger son on our way to and from the city zoo, next door. This is not a particularly beautiful place. It’s bourgeois, not chic. There’s a more proletarian Christmas market near Alexanderplatz, a fancier one at Gendarmenmarkt. Surrounded by postwar office buildings and anonymous streets packed with chain stores, the area, at the end of a fading commercial boulevard, tends to be frequented by German tourists and local shoppers with their families. The consumerist temple KaDeWe is nearby, and lately some stylish developments like Bikini-Haus have been moving in. [read more]

Newt Gingrich is right, Trump is a game changer: “Sham populism, shameless plutocracy” [Katrina vanden Heuvel, Washington Post, December 20]. Excerpt:
President-elect Donald Trump, right, greets Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump's pick for attorney general, in Mobile, Ala., last week. (Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
    In a speech at the Heritage Foundation last week, former House speaker Newt Gingrich portrayed President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming administration as a historic moment for conservatism. “This is the third great effort to break out of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt model” of government, he said, following the Reagan revolution” of the 1980s and Gingrich’s Contract with America in the 1990s.
    Such a bold proclamation may sound peculiar after Trump’s fellow Republicans spent much of 2016 attacking him as a heretic who threatened the party’s commitment to right-wing policy orthodoxies. On the campaign trail, Trump explicitly disavowed cuts to safety-net programs that have long been a hallmark of the GOP agenda. “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” he pledged.
    But as his administration takes shape, Trump is sending signals to the right that he is prepared to fulfill their wildest fantasies. With his sham populism giving way to shameless plutocracy, it appears increasingly likely that Trump will attempt to reverse more than the progress achieved over the past eight years under President Obama. The tremendous advances and reforms of the 20th century — from the New Deal to the Great Society — may be on the chopping block.
    So far, Trump’s Cabinet picks offer perhaps the clearest evidence of how he intends to govern and how much is really at stake. In addition to surrounding himself with billionaires, bankers and crony capitalists, Trump has nominated several candidates to run federal agencies whose functions they fundamentally oppose on ideological grounds. As Jamelle Bouie writes of Trump’s Cabinet in Slate, “It’s less a team for governing the country than a mechanism for dismantling its key institutions.” [read more]

A[ustralian]BC News on Instagram : “A caddy with a difference! This helpful kangaroo lent a hand on a golf course in Albany, Western Australia.
    Thanks to @abcopen contributor smithsonian institute for this fantastic photo!

Nothing about Donald Trump is going to be comfortable. Putin is his hero. For his cabinet he has appointed a pack of dingos to watch over babies. He has suspended news conferences and is communicating with the public in 140-character tweets. He lashes back at every criticism and seems to think that it is unpatriotic to criticize a President. He is running his family business out of the White House [& Trump Tower]. And he creates his own reality and won’t even look at any evidence that might challenge it. I had a hope that the worst parts of him that we saw during the campaign were more of an act than the real Donald Trump, but I now see that I was wrong. We are facing a very dangerous four years.

With many apologies to Dr. Seuss, How the Trump Stole America, by John Pavlovitz:
In a land where the states are united, they claim,
in a sky-scraping tower adorned with his name,
lived a terrible, horrible, devious chump,
the bright orange miscreant known as the Trump.

This Trump he was mean, such a mean little man,
with the tiniest heart and two tinier hands,
and a thin set of lips etched in permanent curl,
and a sneer and a scowl and contempt for the world.

He looked down from his perch and he grinned ear to ear,
and he thought, “I could steal the election this year!
It’d be rather simple, it’s so easily won,
I’ll just make them believe that their best days are done!
Yes, I’ll make them believe that it’s all gone to Hell,
and I’ll be Jerk Messiah and their souls they will sell.

“And I’ll use lots of words disconnected from truth,
but I’ll say them with style so they won’t ask for proof.
I’ll toss out random platitudes, phrases, and such,
they’re so raised on fake news that it won’t matter much!
They won’t question the how-to, the what, why, or when,
I will make their America great once again!”

The Trump told them to fear, they should fear he would say,
“They’ve all come for your jobs, they’ll all take them away.
You should fear every Muslim and Mexican too,
every brown, black, and tan one, everyone who votes blue.”

And he fooled all the Christians, he fooled them indeed,
he just trotted out Jesus, that’s all Jesus folk need.
And celebrity preachers they all crowned him as king,
tripping over themselves just to kiss the Trump’s ring.

And he spoke only lies just as if they were true,
until they believed all of those lies were true too.
He repeated and tweeted and he blustered and spit,
and he misled and fibbed – and he just made up sh*t.

And the media laughed but they printed each line,
thinking, “He’ll never win, in the end we’ll be fine.”
So they chased every headline, bold-typed every claim,
’til the fake news and real news they looked just the same.

And the scared folk who listened, they devoured each word,
yes, they ate it all up every word that they heard,
petrified that their freedom was under attack,
trusting Trump he would take their America back.
From the gays and from ISIS, he’d take it all back,
take it back from the Democrats, fat cats, and blacks.
And so, hook, line, and sinker, they all took the bait,
all his lies about making America great.

Now the Pant-suited One she was smart and prepared,
she was brilliant and steady but none of them cared,
no they cared not to see all the work that she’d done,
or the fact they the Trump had not yet done thing one.
They could only shout “Emails!,” yes “Emails!” they’d shout,
because Fox News had told them – and Fox News had clout.
And the Pant-suited One she was slandered no end,
and a lie became truth she could never defend.
And the Trump watched it all go according to plan –
a strong woman eclipsed by an insecure man.

And November the 8th arrived, finally it came,
like a slow-moving storm but it came just the same.
And Tuesday became Wednesday as those days will do,
and the night turned to morning and the nightmare came true,
with millions of non-voters still in their beds.
Yes, the Trump he had done it, just like he had said.

And the Trumpers they trumped, how they trumped when he won,
all the racists and bigots, deplorable ones,
they crawled out from the woodwork, came out to raise Hell,
they came out to be hateful and hurtful as well.
With slurs and with road signs, with spray paint and tweets,
with death threats to neighbors, and taunts on the street.
And the grossest of grossness they hurled on their peers,
while the Trump he said zilch – for the first time in years.

But he tweeted at Hamilton, he tweeted the Times,
and he trolled Alec Baldwin a few hundred times.
And he pouted a pout like a petulant kid,
thinking this is what Presidents actually did,
thinking he could still be a perpetual jerk,
terrified to learn he had to actually work,
work for every American, not just for a few,
not just for the white ones – there was much more to do.
He now worked for the Muslims and Mexicans too,
for the brown, black, and tan ones, and the ones who vote blue.
They were all now his bosses, now they all had a say,
and those nasty pant-suited ones were here to stay.
And the Trump he soon realized that he didn’t win,
he had gotten the thing – and the thing now had him.

And it turned out the Trump was a little too late,
for America was already more than quite great,
not because of the sameness, the opposite’s true.
It’s greatness far more than just red, white, and blue,
it’s straight, gay, and female – it’s Gentile and Jew.
It’s Transgender and Christian and Atheist too.
It’s Asians, Caucasians of every kind,
the disabled and abled, the deaf and the blind.
It’s immigrants, Muslims, and brave refugees,
it’s Liberals with bleeding hearts fixed to their sleeves.
And we are all staying, we’re staying right here,
and we’ll be the great bane of the Trump for four years.
And we’ll be twice as loud as the loudness of hate,
be the greatness that makes our America great.
And the Trump’s loudest boasts they won’t ever obscure,
over two million more of us voted...for her.
Grateful for correspondence, Moristotle


  1. I laughed I cried but in the end nothing changed. Merry Christmas everybody---it maybe the last happy one you have for awhile.

    1. Thank you, Ed, but you imply that this one is happy....Santa Claus didn't bring me what I asked him for.