Monday, November 18, 2019

Second Week of Impeachment Hearings in Full Bloom

by Nomad


Last week, Democrats launched the public phase of the inquiry with testimony from three career public servants: William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs; and Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Monday is undoubtedly going to be a day of preparation and behind the scenes action.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Why US Suicide Rates are on the Rise While Western European Rates are Declining

by Nomad


Hard Cold Facts about a Difficult Subject 

Despite this public reticence, you might be surprised to learn that suicide now ranks in the top ten leading causes of death in the US. 
Each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide. Roughly 16 out of every 100,000 Americans will take their own life.
To put that in perspective, there were a total of 17,250 reported murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases in the U.S. in 2016. In fact, suicide is 250 percent more common than murder.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

"A Cheap Soulless Bully"

by Nomad


During the Kavanaugh hearing when Christine Blasey Ford reluctantly testified about her alleged sexual assault, Trump did not hesitate to mock Ford.
Charles Pierce shared his feeling in a poignant article in Esquire magazine. Here's an excerpt:
"In my life, I have watched John Kennedy talk on television about missiles in Cuba. I saw Lyndon Johnson look Richard Russell squarely in the eye and say, "And we shall overcome." I saw Richard Nixon resign and Gerald Ford tell the Congress that our long national nightmare was over.
I saw Jimmy Carter talk about malaise and Ronald Reagan talk about a shining city on a hill. I saw George H.W. Bush deliver the eulogy for the Soviet bloc, and Bill Clinton comfort the survivors of Timothy McVeigh's madness in Oklahoma City.
I saw George W. Bush struggle to make sense of it all on September 11, 2001, and I saw Barack Obama sing "Amazing Grace" in the wounded sanctuary of Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Among Independents, Support for Trump Impeachment is Surging

by Nomad

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released this week, there's growing support among political independents for the impeachment for Donald Trump.  

To make matters worse for the president, overall support for impeachment has risen by three percentage points since just last week. Overall, 46% of Americans said they supported impeachment and 40% said they opposed it.
Support for impeachment was relatively steady among Republicans and Democrats over the past week but it surged among independents, a group that includes people who neither identify as Democrats nor Republicans and do not favor either party when they vote. Among independents, 45% said in the latest poll they supported impeachment and 32% said they opposed it, the strongest level of support recorded in more than a year.
For Republicans who have been shielding the president from oversight, the news could hardly be worse. The persuadable independent voter has been called the "difference maker" in the presidential election.
Even Trump campaign spokesman and Deputy Communications Director for the Republican National Committee, Rick Gorka has observed:
“It always comes down to who can convince the independent voter..That is how you win the election.”

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Democracy's Darker Side and How It Has Been Exploited By Putin and the Far Right

by Nomad


"The Tyranny of the Minorities"

The other night, I was talking to a conservative friend about democracy. He has traveled the world and would be considered to be well-educated and successful. The subject turned to politics, something I loathe to discuss with locals given my delicate situation.
I usually prefer to listen in silence.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Former US Diplomat Weighs In on Trump's Controversial Syrian Decision

by Nomad


The Depreciating Value of American Handshakes


Brett McGurk, Payne distinguished lecturer at Stanford, a foreign affairs analyst as well as former Presidential envoy, had a few things to say about Trump's decision to pull US troops out of Northern Syrian. In short, he was livid.

Before leaving the Trump administration in December, McGurk had served under Bush (as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan) and Obama ( as Special Advisor to the U.S. National Security Council and Senior Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq).

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Sanity Sunday Musical Break - Dire Straits

by Nomad

Formed in London in 1977 by brothers Mark and David Knopfler, Dire Straits' debut album, Sultans of Swing, reached the top ten in the UK and US charts. By the mid-80s, songs like "Money for Nothing" and "Walk of Life" made Dire Straits an MTV favorite. 

Despite this welcome exposure, it was apparent that music video directors found it difficult to visually interpret Dire Straits songs. For example, even by 80s standards, Romeo and Juliet is nearly unwatchable. That's a pity because it is, in my opinion, a masterpiece.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Agent of Chaos: Our Sinister Joker in the White House

by Nomad


What with all the outrageous things going on day after day, you might not have heard of the controversy regarding the upcoming film called "Joker."

Starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Todd Phillips, the film is many steps removed from the superhero genre that provides its source material.
Forget the capes and the spandex tights. Forget the glitzy special effects and the Marvel Comic cliches. This film is closer to "Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy” and "American Psycho." Grim and gritty and full of angst.

The Joker, one of the most iconic and perverse villains of the Batman comics, has been completely "reimagined" as a person who, as Variety critic puts it, "spends every moment trying to twist himself into a normal shape, but he knows the effort is doomed, so he turns it all into a “joke” that only he gets."

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Joseph Maguire Testimony: A Trump Official Under the Spotlight

by Nomad

This morning, Joseph Maguire will be testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, regarding his decision not to release the whistleblower's complaint about questionable- and possibly impeachable- activities by the president and close advisors.

Maguire is the current Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. He retired from the United States Navy as a Vice Admiral in 2010 after 36 years of military service.

The committee is expected to ask Macquire why he refused to release to congressional intelligence committees the report of the independent inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who deemed it "credible and urgent."
Under mounting pressure from both parties, the Trump administration backed down on Wednesday and handed copies of the complaint to House and Senate intelligence committees.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Notes on Intolerance and Conformity from a Shining City on the Hill

by Nomad

A Turkish/Canadian friend of mine- we can call him Metin- told me that he was sitting on the grass in a seaside park recently. He was speaking English to a friend. It was another fine day in Izmir.
However, much to Metin's dismay, a woman he had never met before interrupted his chat and told him "You are in Turkey. Speak Turkish!"

It literally took his breath away, he later said. It was especially shocking that such a thing would happen in a comparatively liberal, laid-back city like Izmir.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Dr. Oliver Sacks on Gratitude

by Nomad

When physician, best-selling author, and professor of neurology Oliver Sacks understood that his battle with cancer could not be won, he expressed a desire to live out his remaining months "in the richest, deepest, most productive way" that he could.

His checklist was a simple but noble one. He explained that he wanted to "deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight." 

In his posthumously-published book, "Gratitude" Sacks reflected on his final days. In summing up, this extraordinary and compassionate man observed:

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sanity Sunday - The Music of Al Stewart

 by Nomad


Scottish singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician Al Stewart will always hold a special place for me. He is best known for one song which topped the charts in the late 1970s, "Year of the Cat." 
Released in 1976 in the album of the same name, the song tells the story of a Western tourist who loses his soul in the bazaar.


On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime
She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolor in the rain
Don't bother asking for explanations
She'll just tell you that she came
In the Year of the Cat.



Except for that one song, his music never quite reached the wider audience in the US. That's a pity on two counts. Firstly, Stewart had an earlier career in the 1960s as a folk singer that deserved more attention.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sanity Sunday - The Music of Los Tabaleros

by Nomad


Well, I can't really tell you too much about the featured band for this week's Sanity Sunday. The name of the group is Los Tabaleros, which, if Google Translate can be trusted, seems to mean "The cigar makers."

Originating from Buenos Aires, Argentina, the band released their first album, "Crimson" in 2009. According to their bio, in their early years, they dedicated themselves to interpret and understand the traditional folklore. Over time, they developed their own unique voice.
Even though I am not able to tell you much about the meaning of the songs, I was really captivated by their sense of harmony. Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

On This Day - August 28

by Nomad


The date of August 28 has special significance to all Americans, but particularly to African Americans.

1833 - First Steps to Freedom

With the passage of the Slavery Abolition Act, slavery was abolished in the United Kingdom and most of its colonies on this date in 1833. Historians point out, however, that the new law was not quite what it seemed.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

What Happens When Young People Lose Their Faith in Democracy

by Nomad


The Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), José Ángel Gurría, has thought a lot about a disturbing global trend: the crisis of public faith in democracy. 
What are the causes? What are the effects and what are the long-term implications? And, perhaps most importantly, after the recent rise of right-wing populism, how can trust in liberal democracies be restored?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Can the US Ever Recover from the Trump Era?

by Nomad

There's no question that Trump has left his mark on America. Nobody could argue with that.
As we steel ourselves for horror show election of 2020, it is not too early to reflect on what Trump has already done to America.

The Symptom and the Cause

In terms of US foreign policy alone, this administration has been an utter disaster. Take foreign policy, as Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins UniversityEliot A. Cohen, observes:
[The] surface-level calm of the last two years should not distract from a building crisis of U.S. foreign policy, of which Trump is both a symptom and a cause. The president has outlined a deeply misguided foreign policy vision that is distrustful of U.S. allies, scornful of international institutions, and indifferent, if not downright hostile, to the liberal international order that the United States has sustained for nearly eight decades.
It goes deeper than upending the world order.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Diversion: The Observations of Daniel Koren

by Nomad

Time for a distraction from politics.

Daniel Koren is an Israeli musician, comedian and director, now living in Brooklyn. 

With his quirky point of view, 35-year-old Koren has not abandoned the wonder we once felt as children. His Youtube videos have received hundreds of thousands of views. 

I have chosen five videos from his online collection. There's the euphoric "Enjoying Stuff" - a guide to finding your snatch of happiness, and "Benches" - where Koren finds the greatest show on Earth. His video called "The Thing about Dogs" is heart-breaking and "Cactus"- a treatise about what emotional pain can do starts out ok but then completely falls apart because of a detail.
Hope you enjoy Daniel's ideas as much as I did. 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Sanity Sunday - Laid-Back Lounge Music

by Nomad


In the wake of yesterday's demoralizing and tragic news, I thought we needed a bit of a diversion. In this case, I selected lounge music, songs from another era. A time when people didn't have to worry about being shot while Saturday shopping or a night out at a local bar.   

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Highlights from the Second Democratic Debate

by Nomad

Highlights from the First Half


Highlights from the Second Half


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

LIVE: Mueller Testimony Before Congress

by Nomad

This Livestream kicks off at 7:40 a.m. EDT with a breakdown of the major findings and moments from Mueller's report.

PBS coverage of Mueller's testimony begins at 8:30 a.m. in a House Judiciary Committee hearing, and continues at noon with a House Intelligence Committee hearing.

Update:  The PBS livestream doesn't appear to be active. I will be switching to ABC News instead.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Obsolete Ideals: The Truth Behind Putin's Eulogy for Western Liberalism

by Nomad



In Conflict with the Majority

Quite a few eyebrows were raised recently when President Vladimir Putin, in an interview with the Financial Times, declared that Western liberalism and its values were "obsolete" and have been rejected by the majority of the people in Western nations.

Much like Trump during his campaign, Putin talked about migrants running amok who are allowed to "kill, plunder and rape with impunity." Every crime, he declared, must have its punishment.
(Unless, of course, you happen to be an oligarch with lots of bigly connections.)

Friday, July 5, 2019

Good News Round-up for July 2019

by Nomad


Thought you might like a break from the Trump News.
The theme of this collection of good news stories is not scientific developments or large scale efforts to right some man-made wrong.

Rather, these are stories on a smaller (but no less significant) calibration: personal acts of charity and courage that have made or are making a difference in the lives of strangers.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Four Political Cartoonists Weigh In on the Migrant Children Fiasco

by Nomad


This month, the editors of the New York Times' decided to close down all political cartoons from its newspaper. That decision came as a result of a controversial cartoon critical of Benjamin Netanyahu and which some considered anti-Semitic. Here's the item in question. Judge for yourself.

The elimination of this feature sparked widespread protests with one cartoonist calling it “chickenshit and cowardly.”

This move by the NYT actually follows a long term trend. As one source notes:
A 2012 report by The Herb Block Foundation found that there were fewer than 40 editorial cartoonists with newspaper-staff jobs in America, a steep decline from more than 2,000 such positions in the beginning of the 20th century. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sanity Sunday - Soul Mix

by Nomad


Thought I would drop a Sanity Sunday on you today. The theme is soul groups from the early 70s. The period linking soul and the disco era produced some fantastic music.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Populus vult decipi: How Another Trump Supporter Finally Sees the Light

by Nomad


During the 2016 election campaign, Kraig Moss followed Donald Trump all across the United States singing his praises- literally. Following the candidate from rally to rally, Moss strummed his guitar and belted out his pro-Trump ballads. He even recorded a CD with hits that included Save Our Nation, Build the Wall and Trump Train.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Images from the Hong Kong Protests

by Nomad


Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents took to the streets in mass demonstrations against a proposed extradition law that would allow residents to be tried in mainland China.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Empathy on Trial: Trump Admin Targets Those Who Help the Undocumented Stay Alive

by Nomad


A controversial case in Arizona illustrates the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy on humanitarian assistance for undocumented migrants.


Humanitarians on Trial?

A jury in Tucson Arizona went to deliberations on Friday in the criminal trial of Scott Warren. Warren, a volunteer for the humanitarian aid organization No More Deaths, is charged with two felony counts of harboring illegal immigrants and one count of conspiracy to transport the two men. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Lunatic President: Donald Trump, the Moon and Fox News

by Nomad


Trump's Gibberish about NASA

Last Friday,  President Trump sent a tweet about NASA that had a lot of people screaming into their pillows.  
For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon - We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!
Almost every news outlet focused on the Mars /Moon confusion- which was probably more of a problem with Trump hackneyed phrasing than anything else. Trump (probably) does not believe Mars is a part of the Moon but part of the "bigger things we are doing."
But that very generous interpretation opens a new can of worms for Trump.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Sanity Sunday - In Memory of Leon Redbone

by Nomad



On Thursday of this week, news came that singer-songwriter Leon Redbone had passed away at the age of 69. He has been called "perpetually anachronistic," "mysterious" and "a man out of time, a vaudevillian who tottered along in a television age."

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Will Deepfake Technology Become the Ultimate Weapon in the Disinformation War?

by Nomad


Last week, there was a lot of agitation made about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's faked video. If you missed it, a viral video emerged on social media which- through digital manipulation- appeared to show Pelosi three sheets to the wind.
As a method of digital deception, the video was, in fact, extremely crude but apparently sophisticated enough for most Trump supporters.
And if Trump tweeted it, it had to be true, right?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Three Surprisingly Good News Stories on Tackling Climate Change

by Nomad



For good reason, climate change has been called “challenge of our generation.” Experts have been warning us that the possibility that a runaway warming of the planet will make vast areas of the planet uninhabitable is real. And the window of opportunity is slowly closing. The world needs US leadership on the issue. Unfortunately, the only thing America seems to have to offer is Donald Trump.
In the midst of this glum forecast, we can still find some positive signs.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Paying the Price: Why American Farmers Have Become Trump's Trade War Casualties

by Nomad


There are always casualties in war, even in trade wars. As tit-for-tat tariff hikes between Trump and China begin to spin out of control, US farmers are already starting to feel the pinch. And it is likely to get much much worse.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Looking back at Alistair Cooke's "Letters from America"

by Nomad


A Letter from Home

Many many years ago, when I first came to Turkey, I lived in a small and very conservative town. Those first two years were not easy ones and I often felt as isolated and lonely as a space explorer. I was very likely not only the sole American in town, but the only foreigner.

Even though I never mentioned it to my kind hosts, I often craved the sound of a speaker without a Turkish accent. I had to travel two hours by train to Istanbul just to purchase an English book or a cassette of American music. Letters from my parent took two weeks - or more- to arrive.
As far as official news from home, a civil war could have broken out in the states and I would have been none the wiser.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Why Trump's Evocation of Executive Privilege is a Doomed Act of Desperation

by Nomad



Trump's decision to use executive privilege to defy Congress is a last ditch effort to escape accountability. If history is any guide, it is unlikely to succeed.


Contempt

This week, Attorney General William Barr joined the list of Trump administration officials who have thumbed their noses at Congress by threatening to stonewall House committee oversight.

After a disastrous testimony before Congress, the House Judiciary Committee threatened to hold Barr in contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report. Said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the committee.
“Yes, we will continue to negotiate for access to the full report. And yes, we will have no choice but to move quickly to hold the attorney general in contempt if he stalls or fails to negotiate in good faith."
Good faith was clearly in short supply.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Sanity Sunday - Nomad's Chill Mix No. 2

by Nomad


No doubt about it: for anybody following US politics, this has been an exhausting and demoralizing week. We have had front row seats to the dismantling of institutions that we once believed were the safeguards to the American Republic.
And next week is not likely to be any better.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Why the Trump Administration Threatened to Veto a UN Resolution on Wartime Rape

by Nomad



Ever since the human species climbed out of the jungle trees and began throwing rocks at one another, one of the recognized spoils of war was pillaging of the villages, the looting of the valuables and the raping of the women.
For those who subscribed to the adage that might makes right, it was only logical that the weakest should pay the price of the barbarian conquest. 
Throughout our history, women were always at particular risk of sexual victimization during conflict. "To the victor go the spoils" has long been a war cry, and female bodies generally have been classified as part of those spoils of war.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sanity Sunday - The Music of Schubert and Brahms

by Nomad


For this Sanity Sunday, I want to go back to the Romantic period which is always good for a little mental palate cleansing.

Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Dying at the age of 31, his musical career was short and yet he left the world with quite a legacy. That included "more than 600 secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphoniessacred musicoperasincidental music and a large body of piano and chamber music."

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Sanson Memoirs- 3/3

by Nomad


In this the third and final post of the series, we examine how the curse of the revolutionary madness was lifted, how the family curse came to an end. Finally, we ask: What are the parallels to our time?

End of the Curse

For the next seven years after the execution of the French king, the nation saw a series of rebellions within rebellions and partisan uprisings. The timeline shows a convoluted parade of leaders and groups that came and went.

Eventually, the leader of the revolutions, revolutionary leaders, Georges Jacques Danton and the radical Jacobin leader Maximilien Robespierre, were themselves consumed by the seemingly temporary insanity of the French people.

Monday, April 22, 2019

In Loving Memory of Buffalo Gal

by Nomad

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of one of the members of the group, Ronni Matwijkow, otherwise known as Buffalo Gal. Ronni was much-loved here at Nomadic Politics.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Sanson Memoirs- 2/3

by Nomad



In the first part of this series, we profiled the Sanson family- the official executioners for imperial France before the Revolution. In this part, we will look at the Charles-Henri's vivid observations of the chaos that overwhelmed France during the revolt.


Your King is Ready to Die

As we noted in Part One, as an eyewitness to historical events particularly those of the French Revolution, Charles- Henri Sanson's diary is both fascinating and horrible.

By January 1792, the guillotine was working at full steam, with a growing - and shrinking- list of the French 1% and members of the royal court. The borders had been closed long before. Those that had waited too long to escape were now trapped and were being hunted down like rats. 
It was the moment, the writer explains, when the history of the scaffold and the history of France combined.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sanity Sunday - Sylvia Telles

by Nomad



One of the most talented Brazilian bossa nova singer during the 1950s and '60s, Sylvia Telles' vocal style has been described as "smooth, sophisticated, generally understated, yet somehow bursting with raw emotion."

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Sanson Memoirs- 1/3

by Nomad

Not too long ago, I spent about a month reading The Memoirs of  Sanson Family. I am pretty certain you've never heard of it. I myself discovered it accidentally on the "shelves" of archive.org. For history buffs, it is a remarkable and unique find, a truly riveting history.

Written by Henry-Clément Sanson, the last of the family line, the two-volume chronicle tells the true story of a French dynasty of state executioners. It covers the period beginning with the age of the kings and through the horrific revolution. Exactly how accurate it is is, of course, up for debate but most scholars consider it reasonably accurate.

The Dreaded Inheritance 

The family history began with Charles Sanson of Abbeville (1658–1695), a soldier in the French royal army. According to the tale, Charles fell off his horse, breaking his leg and was cared for by a gruff father and his lovely daughter. While nursed back to health, the brutish soldier fell in love with the young woman.
Tenderer feelings were stirred, as they say.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Three News Stories to Brighten Your Day

by Nomad


Photo by Marcin Ryczek
Every day and all around us, there are people turning tragedies into positive stories. Unfortunately, nine times out of ten, those stories go unnoticed or trivialized. In time, hopelessness overwhelms us and I think, gives us a distorted view of what's happening.
In truth, it is entirely up to us which we would like to focus our attention on, the rotten side of life or the good.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Colorful Mr. Sater: A Few Notes on Trump's Former Business Partner

by Nomad


Donald Trump, Tevfik Arif and Felix Sater in 2007 / Getty

Postponed Times Two

Soon after the Michael Cohen hearings, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff publicly announced that a former Trump business partner would appear at a public hearing March 14 - later postponed to March 27. It was part of Congress' deeper inquiry into “Russian investment in Trump’s businesses and properties.”

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Sanity Sunday Musical Break - Meditation Music from India

by Nomad


For this Sanity Sunday, I have arranged something a little different, meditative music for trying times. 
Even though I have never been too much of a devotee of meditation, I did find this music relaxing and- for want of a better word- soulful. Whether that means anything as far as reducing my stress levels or any other health benefits, I can't tell you.

In any event, I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Seeds of Republican Decline and the Myth of the Progressive Eisenhower

by Nomad



A quote from the Eisenhower era suggests, when it comes to social programs and taxes, the Republican party has drifted a long way toward the extreme right. That is, of course, true. However, a closer look at the source of that quote tells us that the problem with the GOP began early on.


Fast and Loose with the History of the Party

Republicans have always had an extremely selective memory when it comes to the historical facts of their party. You will hear, for example, that the GOP is the "Party of Lincoln" and the Democrats were the party of slavery, without much in the way of elaboration.