From paper tigers to inflatable chicken.

How China and the world sees Trump:

Chicken Trump

Chicken Trump: notice the hand gestures.

A perpetually angry, incompetent braggart, surrounded by sycophants. And it’s not a one off:

Trump chicken production

The world watches on in bewildered amusement; time to strip off the Super Power nomenclature? Global village super idiot?

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The age of stupidity: the Italian chapter.

Italians voted no to reform; because they dislike Renzi; because they didn’t want him to have more power; because they wanted to protest; because they woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Because just as Brits and Unitedstaters before them, they would rather vote for their pet issues than for what their country desperately needs.

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Except this time it wasn’t the captain’s fault. (Costa Concordia via The Atlantic).

Perhaps Renzi could have sold it better, perhaps he should have taken it easier; but then he knows reform is urgent, and simply wasn’t prepared for the level of stupidity so many other countries have fallen for.

What follows? More of the same: governments that last on average a little more than a year; an economy in dire straits; unemployment; whole cities in the hands of the mafia; a feeling that Italy isn’t really part of the EU.

In general this is a problem democracies everywhere must solve.

Is it the EU’s fault? Time for more hand wringing? Or time to undo the tendency, and ask people small issues which cannot be construed to be anything else.

60 million “Americans” acted stupidly.

An Absurd and Dangerous President (Der Spiegel). Strong words from one of the US’s most staunch allies.

First problem: with his disregard for plain truth, Trump is a menace for democracy in the US and everywhere else.

Second problem: The US no longer represents our civilization, or what’s left of it. Authoritarian regimes and populists rejoice.

Third problem: by retrenching, the US will leave many spaces open to fanatics, populists and dictators; common sense, common decency, plain logic are the exception. The countries that have coasted on the tails of the US will need to step up or suffer the consequences.

The first likely scenario is that Putin will test Trump, who will let him do as he pleases since “it’s not our problem”, which the EU will need to tackle head on. Japan might be blackmailed in the medium term to pay for defense, which is of course different from paying for the whim of the US.

 

Trump, the establishment’s choice.

Is the FBI part of the establishment? Did it swing the election? Yes and yes; Trump is therefore the establishment’s choice. An establishment not in line with the current president, Obama. An establishment ready to subvert the democratic process for its own benefit. An establishment ready to drag the entire country into the mud just to get its way. Welcome to the Banana Republic of the United States.

Is a dunce easier to manipulate? We already know the answer thanks to Dubya. This one will require more finesse, let him feel in power while the country is actually run with shady deals handling those details that are beneath the “great leader”.

Do the people in the team reek of the establishment? Christie, Giuliani, Gingrich: Yes, of course. It’s not even in place yet and the new government already stinks of papery, smokey skin. All three men of action, all three experts of the manic smile: everything’s A-Ok, never mind that small thing called reality.

Profile of a populist.

Where do we stand? What do we need to do? These questions imply a different mindset from “what’s going to happen to us?” Trump the loose gun represents a problem for everyone, beginning with the US; we can get a grip on the situation by understanding what other populists have done before, as well as his own limitations.

The race is more important than the actual prize. Once in power he won’t know what to do with it, such is the curse of the small p politician.

Berlusconi? Sarko? Boris? Been there, done that. Putin is weaker because in an outright dictatorship you need to look under the bed every single night, lest you not wake up.

Man of action. Seizes the opportunity. Doesn’t see why others waver or stumble, ends up attributing it to their stupidity and his own cleverness.

What this tells us: One dimensional, the world works in a certain way, all you have to do is learn it and use it. Until reality kicks you up the ass, and then you talk of bad luck or plots. This is a rodent’s view of the world and of power. Culture is a burden. Other points of view are also a burden. Lack of empathy makes the psychopath.

Response: cut the dunce down to size. Even meek Hollande managed to get the upper hand.

From another era. Success: Flash, cash, suit up, watch the hair, get to the top. He’s won the rat race! Top of the world! What are women for if not for using them? Trophy wife all the way. Never got the sixties, has no idea what generation X means, never mind Y. But granpa sure showed them.

Craves respect, fear, adulation. Response: It is ours to withhold.

Ultimately at the mercy of his own impulses and the wider system. The “natural leader”seeks full control, which he can never have. He lashes out in direct proportion to his frustration, itself a proxy for that lack of control.

Response: he cannot control us, when he himself is but a product of his tiny bubble.

Once in power this particular populist will get bored, particularly given that unlike in plain dictatorships there won’t be a challenge for four years. Will he delegate and drift, mollycoddled by the office? Pick a fight internally or externally? It might simply be that worrying about the hair keeps him too busy to do anything too bad.