A lock on the House

Hillary Clinton could still lose to Donald Trump on November 8. It doesn’t look likely at this point, ongoing e-mail eruptions notwithstanding. A far safer bet is that the Republican party, however badly its presidential nominee crashes and burns, will retain control of the House of Representatives, making life exceedingly difficult for Clinton even if the Democrats retake the Senate.

Source: LETTER FROM WASHINGTON: Republicans deft at exploiting ticket to power | Columnists | BDlive


Courting bad press

On a daily basis, and much like Jacob Zuma, Trump challenges the capacity of reporters to play by the rules of fairness and balance. His provocations are deliberate.

Source: LETTER FROM WASHINGTON: US media supplies Trump with ammunition | Columnists | BDlive

Trump’s Rhodes-Must-Fall Moment

In sneering at Khizr and Ghazala Khan, an immigrant Muslim couple whose son Humayun, a US Army captain, was killed protecting American comrades in Iraq, Donald Trump may finally have arrived at his Rhodes-must-fall moment.

Not Cecil but “Lonesome” Rhodes, the protagonist of Elia Kazan’s 1957 cautionary tale, “A Face in the Crowd”, a movie finding a whole new audience thanks to the Republican presidential nominee. Continue reading “Trump’s Rhodes-Must-Fall Moment”

Putin Phishing for Trump?

Someone tried to blow up the Democratic Party as it gathered in Philadelphia this week to unify around presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Prime suspect? Jacob Zuma’s best friend forever, Vladimir Putin. These are extraordinary times.

The device was an information bomb: 20 000 emails heisted from the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) servers between January 2015 and the end of May this year. CrowdStrike and other private cybersecurity experts have fingered the FSB, successor to the KGB, and the GRU, Moscow’s military intelligence directorate. US intelligence agencies are said to have “high confidence” the Russian government was involved.

Full article: LETTER FROM WASHINGTON: Was Democratic hack a Russian Trump card? | Columnists | BDlive

Dying with Mr Jimmy 

Traditionally, the acceptance speech of an American presidential nominee is followed by a cascade of balloons from the convention hall ceiling and snappy, upbeat music blasting from the speakers. For a long time the preferred tune was Happy Days Are Here Again.

The Donald Trump convention in Cleveland, Ohio, ended on a different note last week: Mick Jagger (without his permission) wailing: “You can’t always get what you want … but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need”.

It’s a macabre song, featuring a girl with blood-stained hands, a bleeding man in a glass, and someone called Mr Jimmy at a Chelsea drugstore looking “pretty ill” and muttering the word “dead”. Whoever picked the number — one of the Trump “children” perhaps — chose well.

Full article: NEWS ANALYSIS: Trump makes Clinton’s life easier by unifying Democrats | Americas | BDlive

Night of the Nut Job

Night one of the cartoonish Donald Trump convention in Cleveland, Ohio, was devoted to the proposition that under President Barack Obama America has become Gotham City and that the mayhem will only deepen if Hillary Clinton is elected in November.

Republican Batman-in-waiting Donald Trump made his first appearance — to introduce his wife Melania — as a silhouette on a dazzling white screen to the unauthorised strains of Queen’s “We are the Champions”.

It was as if the previous speaker, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, having warned that the upcoming election might be America’s last if Clinton won, had left the stage to flick on the Bat Signal.

Except that the shadow smacked less of the Caped Crusader than of the Penguin, the portly villain played by Danny De Vito in the second of the Michael Keaton Batman movies.

Full article: NEWS ANALYSIS: As the Joker once asked: enough madness? | Opinion & Analysis | BDlive

The great American demagogue filter

In 415 BCE, Alcibiades, a made-for-reality-TV Athenian with a lot of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson in him, revved up his countrymen (the women had no say) to add Sicily to their empire. There being no checks or balances to blunt the passions of the voting demos, off they sent thousands of their finest over the objections of Nicias, a seasoned general who knew better. Few came back. Athens was never great again.

The story, as narrated by the historian Thucydides, was seared into my memory at school, the same school attended by Britain’s lame duck prime minister, David Cameron, and his bloated nemesis, Johnson. Had Cameron learnt a little Greek, he might have been slower to submit a question of no less consequence to a similarly unfiltered national plebiscite.

What moved 52% of British voters to opt for Brexit would appear to be much the same disgruntlement that has led to Trump becoming the Republican party’s de facto presidential nominee.

Happily, America does not choose its CE by referendum.

Full article: LETTER FROM WASHINGTON: Electoral system makes it hard for Trump to win | Columnists | BDlive