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What poetry has to say about “the mob at the gate”

Friday, October 26th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — Donald Trump and Joy Reid. meet CP Cavafy ]
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Donald Trump has been repeating a mantra tying Dems to the word mob recently — here’s one example:

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Belay that! For Trump “the mob at the gates” might equally, scarily, be that “caravan” in Mexico, making its way up to a confrontation with US troops at the border, and no doubt paid for their troubles by George Soros

Take your camera. Go into the middle. You’ll find MS-13. You’ll find Middle Easterners..

Hold it: that’s a powerful image.

But Joy Reid saw the mob differently:

The mob are WOMEN.

**

Democrats, the caravan, women — take the mob at the gates as you will, there’s a considerable force, on the outside, massing and pressing to come in. And poetry has something to say about that (recurrent) situation. In the words of CP Cavafy‘s celebrated poem, Waiting for the Barbarians:

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What’s the point of senators making laws now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,
in state, wearing the crown?

But I’ll invite you to read the answer to that question, and the rest of the poem, powerful as it is, on the Poetry Foundation site..

Cavafy has one possible outcome — but there may be as many as there are mobs, or people perceiving them.

In any case, enjoy the poem, and vote.

Of Note: Tim Furnish, & Trump’s National CT Strategy

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — and a few ppl whose views on trump’s strategy document I’d also like to read ]
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  • Tim Furnish, Trump’s New Counter-terrorism Strategy: The One-Eyed Man is Still King
  • Trump, 2018, National Strategy for Counterterrorism
  • Obama, 2011, National Strategy for Counterterrorism
  • Tim Furnish, Sectsploitation: How to Win Hearts and Minds in the Islamic World
  • **

    I wanted to draw your attention to our blog-friend and sometime contributor Tim Furnish‘s post, which offers a lucid introduction to the Trump administration’s National CT Strategy paper, situating it in contrast to the Obama admin’s version, and linking it to a very helpful breakdown of what we might call (remembering William James, but in mostly lower case) the varieties of Islamic experience.

    Let me just say that from my POV:

    1) Tim Furnish has a way superior understanding of the said varieties than John Bolton ever will have — plus he has a taste for pop culture asides!

    2) that the key issue to be further explored could be expressed in terms of the overlaps, Venn diagram-wise, between “literalist”, “mainstream” and “authentic” Islams.

    That’s a project I’ve been circling for more than a decade, and the closer I get, the more subtleties arise to be considered. Still circling in..

    Thomas Hegghammer, JM Berger, Leah Farrall, Adam Elkus, Will McCants and John Horgan are others whose varied voices and opinions regaarding the new CT Strategy text I’ll be watching for.

    **

    Tim’s essay and associated matters: Warmly recommended.

    Zen — pray chime in.

    Metaphors and catchy phrases, cont’d

    Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — following on from Metaphors, more iv, featuring Oliver Roeder & Chris Cillizza ]
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    Trump’s War on the Justice System Threatens to Erode Trust in the Law:

    It is a once-unimaginable scenario: Sometime soon in an American courtroom, a criminal defense lawyer may argue that the prosecution of an MS-13 gang member is a politically motivated “witch hunt” built around a witness who has “flipped” and taken what the lawyer calls a plea deal of dubious legality.

    He will be quoting the president of the United States.

    That is potentially the gravest danger of President Trump’s sustained verbal assault on the country’s justice system, legal experts say. In his attempt at self-defense amid the swirl of legal cases and investigations involving himself, his aides and his associates, Mr. Trump is directly undermining the people and processes that are the foundation of the nation’s administration of justice.

    The result is a president at war with the law.

    at the end of a week that featured criminal conviction for Paul Manafort and a guilty plea by Michael Cohen, President Trump over the weekend took aim at the FBI. The president tweeting out new accusations against Hillary ..

    pick up the ball ..
    this is really a base play..

    Winners and losers from the Arizona and Florida primaries

    The story of the 2018 primaries usually centers on President Trump. And there’s plenty of that narrative in Tuesday’s gubernatorial, Senate and House primaries in Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma: For another week, Trump is in our winner’s column. But liberal Democrats are an even bigger winner, for reasons we’ll get into. Here are the winners and losers from some of the most consequential primaries of the year.

    Trump spars with Andrew Gillum, the surprise Democratic nominee in Florida’s governor’s race

    President Trump and Andrew Gillum, the surprise Democratic winner of Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, exchanged barbs on Wednesday morning, underscoring the role the president is expected to play in a marquee race this fall.

    The life and character of John McCain in his own wordsBy Steve Almasy and Nicole Chavez, CNN

    After he was awarded the National Constitution Center’s annual Liberty Medal in 2017 for his lifetime of sacrifice and service to the nation, he delivered a pointed speech.

    “I’ve had the good fortune to spend 60 years in service to this wondrous land. It has not been perfect service, to be sure, and there were probably times when the country might have benefited from a little less of my help. But I’ve tried to deserve the privilege as best I can, and I’ve been repaid a thousand times over with adventures, with good company, and with the satisfaction of serving something more important than myself, of being a bit player in the extraordinary story of America. And I am so very grateful.”

    whether sen shumer is playing a 3-dimensional chess here ..
    unscrupulous golfing ..
    there may be a lot of balls in the air ..

    The greatest sports achievement in my lifetime?

    Football players seem even more like gladiators when they play in short sleeves in a winter storm, and baseball players who don’t wear batting gloves feel like throwbacks to a more rough and tumble era. What category of admiration should we reserve, then, for someone who ascends a sheer rock face of 3,000 feet using only a pair of climbing shoes and a bag of chalk?

    “He is under an attack like no president has faced,” DeSantis said. “The last thing I want to do is go up there and lob hand grenades at the president.” ..

    Maxine Waters (D-CA) is at again, this time saying she has “taken off the gloves” to fight President Donald Trump ..
    whatever he does himself, he assumes others are.. [katy tur]
    it’s like reading every fortieth page of moby dick .. [check when transcripts are available
    Ohr says Steele told him Russian intel believed they had Trump ‘over a barrel’
    every thread has three other avenues we want to go down ..
    so far they’re batting 1,000, and that’s pretty good ..
    where do you think .. if you had to put it on a hundred yard field .. ?

    Enquirer Cover, Playboy Centerfold &c

    Monday, August 27th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — not hookers: one Playmate, one porn star, both sex-workers of one or another kind ? ]
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    Pravda on the Checkout Line – nice title — Politico Magazine — note last on the right, middle row

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    In Scaramucci on symmetry, I quoted James Fallows:

    I argue that “projection,” in the psychological sense, is the default explanation for anything Donald Trump says or does.

    Projection means deflecting any criticism (or half-conscious awareness) of flaws in yourself by accusing someone else of exactly those flaws. Is Trump’s most immediately obvious trait his narcissistic and completely ungoverned temperament? (Answer: yes.) By the logic of projection, it thus makes perfect sense that he would brag that he has “the greatest temperament” and judgment, and criticize the always-under-control Hillary Clinton for hers.

    **

    I just came across what looks to me like a perfect example of Trumpian projection — if you’ll grant me that Trump, via his friendship with David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer, proactively influences the front page of that rag-mag.

    Here we go:

    last on the right, middle row, above — a closer look, a clearer image

    See there at the foot of the page?

    She Ordered Me To — pay HUSH MONEY to hookers

    That’s under a general header:

    24 Years of Cover Ups and Crimes Exposed

    **

    Oh dear, and Donald Trump, according to the sworn testimony of Michael Cohen, his personal attorney, in Federal Court, caused considerable moneys to be paid to at least two young ladies, one a porn star and director, the other a Playboy Playmate of the Year if that falls under a different category, to buy their respective silences on his alleged affairs with them, the payments being made in time to avoid any sordid revelations in the immediate run-up to the 2016 election..

    Time, methinks, for the Enquirer to rerun that front page with a few of the details switched to reflect the Federal-bench-approved Truth.

    Speaking in two tongues — at least

    Monday, August 27th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — sacred tongues, the split tongues of serpents, gestural languages, the languages of conflict — language itself fascinates, ne? ]
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    Here’s the language of Psalm 139 in the King James Version:

    If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

    And here, as recorded in The Atlantic‘s Mike Pence’s Outer-Space Gospel, is the VP’s language at the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council:

    As President Trump has said, in his words, “It is America’s destiny to be the leader amongst nations on our adventure into the great unknown.” And today we begin the latest chapter of that adventure. But as we embark, let us have faith. Faith that, as the Old Book teaches us that if we rise to the heavens, He will be there.

    and again more recently:

    And as we renew our commitment to lead, let’s go with confidence and let’s go with faith — the faith that we do not go alone. For as millions of Americans have believed throughout the long and storied history of this nation of pioneers, I believe, as well, there is nowhere we can go from His spirit; that if we rise on the wings of the dawn, settle on the far side of the sea, even if we go up to the heavens, even there His hand will guide us, and His right hand will hold us fast.

    So that’s our destiny — our clear and manifest destiny you might say, although it’s not clear whether drilling for oil, fracking, strip mining, or mountain top removal qualify for our destiny also, making our bed in hell..

    **

    And our President?

    His language is seldom Biblical; he prefers mob talk. Let’s begin here, with the actual and admitted prosecutor / mob analogy:

    Last November, a person close to the Trump administration speaking to the Washington Post invoked a chilling metaphor. “This investigation is a classic Gambino-style roll-up,” the source said. “You have to anticipate this roll-up will reach everyone in this administration.” This turns out to be a perfectly apt and quite literal description not only of the investigation, but of Trump’s own ethos and organizing principles.

    So many people have been dissecting Trump’s mafia-like language recently that I’ll confine myself to one headline:

    One cluster:

    One TV header:

    One image:

    and the cuttingest insult of all:

    Trump may imagine that he’s Michael Corleone, the tough and canny rightful heir—or even Sonny Corleone, the terrifyingly violent but at least powerful heir apparent—but after today he is Fredo forever.

    **

    Language games, Witty Wittgenstein would have called them, and they’re played semi-consciously at best..

    Here’s another language, that of the gentlemanly art of boxing as photographed by Muybridge, Eadweard Muybridge:

    and as verbally captured by the Marquess of Queensbury Rules:

    1. To be a fair stand-up boxing match in a twenty-four foot ring or as near that size as practicable.

    2. No wrestling or hugging allowed.

    3. The rounds to be of three minutes duration and one minute time between rounds.

    4. If either man fall through weakness or otherwise, he must get up unassisted, ten seconds be allowed to do so, the other man meanwhile to return to his corner; and when the fallen man is on his legs the round is to be resumed and continued until the three minutes have expired. If one man fails to come to the scratch in the ten seconds allowed, it shall be in the power of the referee to give his award in favour of the other man.

    5. A man hanging on the ropes in a helpless state, with his toes off the ground, shall be considered down.

    6. ..

    and so on and forth.

    Gentlemanly, I said — and with the approval of the Marquess, maybe Noble even.


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