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Will new US President be capable of reforming a petrified America?

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The 2016 presidential poll is taking place as Americans have begun to think about a possible political systemic a change and new world order to move away from unilateralism, unipolarity and exploitation towards real democracy and collective work for freedom and happiness – unheard of in any capitalist nation.

At the outset, neither Trump nor Hillary is capable fo making anew reformed and enlightened America and they would only continue with Bush-Obama policies of invasions and militarism. In that sense Americans are unlucky lot.

Most US leaders think Hillary can bring more resources to the nation than Trump by terror wars. That is not the strength but weakness.

Presidential debates are mere gimmicks?

Debates in US presidential poll campaign are just a formality and what the candidates say would not have any relevance for the presidency as the presidents are controlled by capitalist-imperialist lobbyists, war monger intelligence-Pentagon, and mainly regulated for pro-Israel policies by the Jewish members of Neocons.

Particularly the final presidential debate, meant to make the presidential candidates to come to terms with the rising demands on USA, did not discuss anything about some of the most pressing concerns Americans as well as the world face, like climate change, terror wars as permanent war feature, poverty and corruption and campaign finance.

World wars and the so-called cold war with Soviet Russia made USA what it is today, the super power that can bully any nation that does not obey its instructions, follows its footsteps. Perhaps for this reason USA does not want to stop criticizing and attacking Russia. As the effective boss of UN and UNSC, NATO, G-7, World Bank and IMF, etc, strangest and loudest campaigner of so-called democracy, USA has been able to retain its control over the world and press its global prowess into action to weaken any nation.

The final debate moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, faced questions on debt and entitlements, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign hot spots and the candidates’ genuinity and fitness to be president. These topics have already been widely covered in previous debates. According to an analysis of the first two presidential debates and the vice presidential debate, there has been a “significant emphasis on Russia, terrorism and taxes.” So far, those topics have received a whopping 409 mentions combined, with 77 of those dedicated to Trump’s own taxes.

1. How to end terror wars, essentially on Islam?

2. How to recast a normal foreign policy for promoting world peace and genuine democracy?

3. How to put an end to media Islamophobia trends?

4. How to solve the dangerous climate change?

5. How to attack poverty and save the poor and under privileged? Much more.

Climate change, poverty and campaign finance reform are just three issues the mainstream media has refused to raise questions about in the debates. Also, both the candidates and media are silent on issues like China, gun control, education, student debt, voting rights, drugs, abortion, and reproductive health, NSA/privacy/surveillance, Native Americans.

Global warming directly threatens economy and capitalism. According to a World Economic Forum survey of global experts in 2016 global warming tops the list of potential threats to the global economy. But this issue has been mentioned three times in the debates (by Hillary Clinton, in passing. According to Pew Research the people are concerned about climate change, with 73 percent of all registered US voters saying they care either “a great deal” or “some” about the issue,. Fifty-two percent of registered voters say the environment is “very important” to their voting decision in 2016.

Donald Trump is a climate denier and has said on his medium of choice that global warming was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive. Trump has pledged to undo the Obama’s climate initiatives, including the Paris climate agreement and the Clean Power Plan, which would require power plants to clean up their emissions. Trump has also vowed to expand fossil-fuel exploration.” Clinton has a detailed plan for combating climate change on her website, with the promise of “taking on the threat of climate change and making America the world’s clean energy superpower.” While she has gained a number of endorsements from leading climate groups, her acceptance of natural gas as a so-called bridge fuel disturbs some, including 350.org, which says it’s “just a fast lane to more climate destruction.”

Treacherous politics of poverty

It is not just the third world but even the developed nations have poverty, both known and covert. Despite over 45 million Americans currently living in poverty, not a single question has been asked about that either, and the issue has barely been mentioned. In fact, Democrats had no questions on poverty in any of their primary debates. That is because Democrats have taken, along with terror wars, the burden of poverty as well prompted by Republicans as well as their own. Child poverty rates in the United States, at 21.6 percent, are nearly double the OECD average of 12.4 percent. Before running for president, Jewish leader Bernie Sanders, who still claims to be a socialist, called poverty one of the “great moral and economic issues” that Americans we face. He wrote that after the Census revealed that the number of Americans living in poverty had increased to over 46 million, the highest number ever (it has since dropped to 43 million). “Poverty in America today leads not only to anxiety, unhappiness, discomfort and a lack of material goods. It leads to death,” Sanders said. But the candidates have faced not one question on a deep problem that affects so many. Sanders writes, poverty is rarely covered by the mainstream media and “gets even less attention in Congress.” While running for president, Sanders criticized Clinton for her support of welfare reform that Bill Clinton enacted in 1996.

The latest hacked Clinton emails show that in the 2016 primary Clinton’s aides were wary of ideas that could alienate centrist and conservative voters who are skeptical of welfare. Despite the fact that nearly 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 will someday themselves experience the official poverty line.

People would love to see the presidential candidates discuss their plans for combating poverty. Trump talks about poverty, about creating more jobs, which he aims to achieve by cutting taxes and government regulations and renegotiating trade deals to bring more jobs back to America. He’s also called for a new tax plan to help defray child care costs for working parents. Clinton has detailed plans to fight poverty on her website, including: expanding the tax credit for children; doubling Early Head Start spending; providing universal preschool for 4-year-olds; subsidizing child care; increasing the minimum wage to $12 an hour; and investing tens of billions of dollars in poor communities, including for housing and job training. To pay for her proposals, she would increase taxes on the wealthy, but she won’t do it. .

Campaign Finance and fundraising

Since the common folk and the poor certainly don’t make large campaign contributions, they don’t have powerful lobbyists in Congress and Senate representing their interests. Everything is planned and executed in USA for the rich and those who “generously” give money to the candidates during the immoral fund raising. Eighty-four percent of Americans think money has too much influence in their political campaigns. But moderators have asked not one question about it, and there’s only been one mention so far in the debates.

USA promotes lobbyists to make money from foreign nations and companies.’ This is the root cause of rampant corruption and nepotism in America.

Clinton and Trump have raised a jaw-dropping $911 million and $423 million respectively, including money from super PACs. In state and local races across the country, donors have poured more than $1 billion so far this year.

Trump said he supports campaign finance reform that would keep registered foreign lobbyists from raising money in US elections. He also announced a number of proposals for reforming the revolving doors between government and the interests that they lobby. The one campaign finance mention in the debates Hillary Clinton said, perhaps without any serious intent that she wants to “see the Supreme Court reverse Citizens United and get dark, unaccountable money out of our politics.” The story by Lee Fang and Andrew Perez “Hacked emails prove coordination between Clinton Campaign and Super PACs” shows consistent, repeated efforts by the Clinton campaign to collaborate with Super PACs on strategy, research, attacks on political adversaries and fundraising.” That’s against the rules of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision. The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center announced earlier this month that it had filed two sets of complaints with the Federal Election Commission, charging that both the Trump and Clinton campaigns have improperly coordinated with super PACs. USA clearly cannot overcome the phenomenon of rampant corruption in all domains.

Terror wars launched by the foolishly arrogant USA in energy rich Muslim nations have further narrowed down the space for genuine cooperation, peace efforts and promotion of freedoms in US policies.

The continued support for Israeli fanaticism and colonialist crimes in Palestine has dented the prestige of USA more than anything else. In fact it is the US policy for Israel and the latter’s ideas about a new world order where Israel’s threats to Arab world, its crimes and genocides in Palestine are respected that has complicated and weakened US efforts for secured world.

Israel controls and attacks not just the Gaza Strip but even areas in West bank. The UN human rights rapporteur has accused Israel of denying Palestine’s right to development thus causing rampant poverty, “epic” unemployment and economic stagnation, while illegal settlement activity is leaving hundreds of Palestinians homeless this year alone. Over 1,100 people have been left homeless so far this year in Area C of the West Bank, as Israel demolished some 780 Palestinian homes. Area C is fully controlled by Israel and comprises of some 60 percent of the total territory in the West Bank. It is the area where the Jewish settlements – illegal under international law – are located.

So far this year, Israel has destroyed 780 homes there, compared to 453 demolitions that were conducted in 2015. Last year’s demolitions left some 580 Palestinians homeless, while this year 1,129 people were left without a roof over their heads.

In addition, the publication noted that further 125 Palestinian homes were also demolished in East Jerusalem since the start of the year. Last year’s figures stood at 78 home demolitions. As a result, 164 Palestinians were left homeless this year in East Jerusalem. In 2015, that figure stood at 108 people.

Overall, more half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority considers West Bank to be a part of a future independent Palestinians state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Illegal occupation remains one of the main stumbling blocks on the way to achieve a two-state solution with Israel.

A day earlier, as part of the Israeli government’s ‘carrot and stick’ policy, the country’s security cabinet reportedly approved a series of Palestinian building plans in Area C. The Deepening of the occupation, the constriction of basic human rights and the utter absence of a political horizon leading to self-determination for the Palestinians have reinforced an atmosphere of despair and hopelessness “Poverty is rising. Unemployment is rising to epic levels. Food insecurity is becoming more acute. The Palestinian economy is becoming more stifled and less viable under the occupation,” Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said delivering his report to the UN General Assembly in New York.

US/NATO unilateralism vs. Multilateralism

The 2016 presidential election has left a strong impression of the USA as a fractured, gloomy nation. According to the latest American Values Survey, nearly two-thirds of Americans say neither major party represents them, while 74 percent are pessimistic about the country’s direction – up from 57 percent just four years ago. Nearly three-fourths say the country is either stagnating or falling behind, according to a Time magazine poll. Even among young adults under 30, more than half are fearful for the future. This mood of pessimism requires that the winners of the election listen to the views of people who think differently from them.

An argument advancing globally that the American-led Western order of governance and economics is on the wane. When the Philippines’ tough-guy President Rodrigo Duterte announced in Beijing last week that “America has lost” and that he was “separating” from the USA to align with a rising China, it could only send a clear message to the world about the current weak status of superpower. Yet, US leaders cannot leave out Israel – the major cause of its decline.

Within Western so-called democracies – from Britain to the US itself – people are disillusioned with the their systems that promotes only capitalism and colonialism, care only for the rich and corporate interests, resulting in reactionary populist movements are pushing back against the rotten rules and systems that have stayed for decades. In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is feeling betrayal by USA. In “autocratic” countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, leaders feeling badgered by the USA over human rights are turning to China and Russia, too.

As America has become a less-dominant presence in the world, the countries that have risen to play a larger role are broadly “democratic” and adhering to free-market norms – from Turkey to Japan to India, South Africa, and Australia. Moreover, China and Russia have been seeking to expand their influence for years as America has been forced to withdraw somewhat from its leading role. But the “authoritarian market state” has not drawn many converts.

The world order launched following the end of a disastrous World War Two, making USA the richest nation on earth and the current picture, can be seen as the birth pangs of a new world order ¬– less Western-centric and still retaining the old order’s foundation of democracy and liberal economics. Organized movements like the tea party or Black Lives Matter don’t fade away if they lose an election. They often morph into affirmative and local action.

Americans are in a period of struggle between democratic governance and a more authoritarian vision of rule both nationally and internationally. People feel that their culture and identity are under threat; they sense that governing systems are no longer working, and they want some strong response to that.

Post WW-II world has been fully controlled and regulated by the USA. Now the Western-built system of international order is no longer serving the world’s needs. The USA and Europe are less willing to intervene when other parts of the world are unable to respond effectively to conflicts and other global challenges. That has meant a decline in Western influence. Indeed, 500 years of the West ordering the world is at an end, and that sounds terrible. And, broadly speaking, the emerging multipolar global order is largely based on the principles that the West espoused. And, a decline of dependence on the part of independent nations!

Americans have seen these alternative means of civic engagement show up on the margins of politics. New communities have formed, often on the internet, around local food, alternative energy, home-schooling, or work sharing. Americans don’t simply stew in political resentment. They create new paths, outside official democracy, to find people of similar interests and values. The Digital Age has accelerated this trend to redefine what is public. It can also mean understanding how Americans are turning their disappointment with politics into new forms of civic activity. If they are not finding the social goods they seek through elections, they must be looking for them elsewhere.

These alternative civic bonds do not merely fill the gaps of government services. They can create whole new communities, cutting across the traditional political divisions. Yes, Americans “must always believe that they can write their own destiny.” These are based on hope, not gloom. The 2016 election winners does indeed have work to do in listening to the currents of American society that are moving ahead on their own. A good leader tries to run ahead of the people in the direction they are going. This shift is happening as the global systems established by the West face unusual headwinds.

Observation

In the name of democracy and regime change, USA has promoted only authoritarians. And it’s not just countries that are more or less new to the club of Western principles. For instance, more than a quarter of French citizens are prepared to accept a more authoritarian state, according to a recent survey. In the USA, critics see a war mongering and arrogant Clinton, the rise of Donald Trump – who has spoken openly of reining in press freedoms, intimidated judges, and taken a generally bellicose tone – as a turn toward a strongman-like figure.

After 70 years of a world order that has been built by the West on the architecture of Western values, it is certainly striking… how much liberalism is on the retreat – everywhere.

America and the West must withdraw from being world policemen and a new breed of global strongmen are trying to take over leadership, Russia and China topping the list. Many countries now rising to prominence claim they do share America’s core values. American ally seemingly eschew the long-dominant Western order of democratic principles and free-market economics to embrace a more authoritarian and state-driven vision of economic and political rule.

Now the new president could, if he wants and has the will, can play a lead role in reforming a new world order of multilateralism and genuine justice.

Americans can no longer leave the electoral process to the two parties or the media conglomerates with who they’re in cahoots. The stakes are too high. But Americans do not have more than just two candidate choices and have to abide by the conventions. The American political mood is dark and pessimistic just now. This will force those elected in November to listen even more to those they oppose. What they find may surprise them.

Frustrated populations are increasingly tempted by strong alternatives to the status quo, the diplomat says. Internationally, a breakdown of the long-reigning Western order is prompting the Russians and Chinese to promote multilateralism- a new version of international relations on their side. But China and Russia have made little headway. Already at the time of the international financial crisis, the Chinese were putting out that their system was better than the American democratic system. The financial crisis saw the emergence of the multipolar G20 where once the all-Western G7 had reigned. But it did not lead to a world signing on to China’s model of govern

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Americas

In Praise of the Lioness of Law: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her Jurisprudence

Punsara Amarasinghe

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image credit: Wikipedia

The death of the US Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg has created an abyss in the court for the liberal voice where justice Ginsburg was seen as the linchpin of the liberal block of the Supreme Court at a time when that block was shrinking. Especially late judge had vociferously advocated for women ‘rights, environmental issues and often came up with unique dissents in delivering her judgements which were propelled by her jurisprudence which embodied the solemn ideal in American legal system “Equal Protection under the Law “. She was on a quest to defend the delicate balance between honoring the timelessness of American Constitution and recognizing the depth of its enduring principles in new centuries and under new circumstances.

She grew up in an era where men held the helm in every aspect of social life and especially the legal profession was utterly dominated by men. Recalling her legal studies at Harvard law school in the 50’s judge Ginsburg had stated later how she was once asked by the Dean of Harvard law school to justify her position as a law student that otherwise would have gone to a man. Yet she had the spunk to overcome all the obstacles stood on her way and excelled as a scholar becoming the first female member of the Harvard Law Review.

In tracing her legal career that it becomes a salient fact, Judge Ginsburg marked her name in American legal history even decades before she joined the bench. While at the American Civil Liberties Union in the early seventies she made an upheaval in American in legal system in famous Supreme Court Case Reed Vs Reed. In Reed Vs Reed the brief drafted by Ginsburg provided an astute analysis on the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause. Ginsburg’s brief changed the aged long practice existed in the State of Idaho on favoring men over women in estate battles by paving the path for a discourse on gender equality rights in the USA.

Judge Ginsburg’s appointment to the Supreme Court in 1994 during Clinton administration marked the dawn of new jurisprudential chapter in the US Supreme Court. Two terms later, in the United States v. Virginia (VMI), Justice Ginsburg applied her lucid perspective to a sharply disputed constitutional claim. The United States challenged Virginia’s practice of admitting only men to its prestigious military college, the Virginia Military Institute. Writing for six Justices, Ginsburg held this policy unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. In reaching this result, Ginsburg adroitly cut away potentially confounding issues about women’s participation in the military or the advantages of single-sex education.

Her robust activism in securing gender equality often attracted the admirations of the feminist scholars and activists, but it should be noted that her contribution was not only confined to the protection of gender equality. She was a robust critique of racial dissemination which still pervades in American society and she frequently pointed out how racial discrimination has marred the constitutional protections guaranteed to every citizen. Especially in the case of Gratz Vs Bollitnger, she stressed on the commitment that the state ought to fulfil by eliminating the racial biases existing employment and education. Moreover, disabled citizens. In Olmstead v. Zimring, she held that “unjustified institutional isolation of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination” violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.45 She elaborated a two-fold concept of discrimination, noting that unneeded institutionalization both “perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life”.

In remembering the mortal departure of this prudent judge that one cannot forget her keenness in incorporating international law into her judgements regardless of the disinclination shown by conservative judges like Antony Scalia. Going beyond the mere textualism approach to the law, Ginsburg’s jurisprudence was much more akin to using international law to make substantive decisions. For instance, in her concurring verdict in Grutter Vs Bollinger, Justice Ginsburg relied upon international human rights law, and in particular upon two United Nations conventions, to support her conclusions.

Indeed, the demise of Ruth Ginsburg is a major blow for the liberalists in the USA, especially in an era where liberalist values are at stake under the fervent rise of populist waves propounded by Donald Trump. Especially late judge had been one of the harsh critics of Trump even before ascendency to the Oval office. The void created by the demise of judge Ginsburg might change the role the US Supreme Court if the successor to her position would take a more conservative approach and it will fortify the conservative bloc in the US Supreme Court. Trump has already placed Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh and the third pick would more deeply entrench the conservative views in the US Supreme Court, which would inevitably undermine the progressive policies taken during Obama’s administration towards issues such as the environment. The political storm appeared after the death of the late judge has already created a tense situation in US politics as president Trump is determined to appoint a judge to fill before the presidential election in November.

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The Politics of (In)security in Mexico: Between Narcissism and Political Failure

Lisdey Espinoza Pedraza

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Image credit: Wikimedia

Security cannot be that easily separated from the political realm. The need for security is the prime reason why people come together to collectively form a state. Providing security is, therefore, one of the most basic functions of the state as a political and collective entity.

Last Friday, the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) laughed during his daily morning press briefings over a national newspaper headline about 45 massacres during his presidency. This attitude summarises in a macabre way his approach to insecurity: it is not his top priority. This is not the first time that AMLO has showed some serious and deeply disturbing lack of empathy for victims of crimes. Before taking office, he knew that insecurity was one of Mexico’s biggest challenges, and he has come to realise that curbing it down will not be as simple as he predicted during his presidential campaign.

Since the start of the War on Drugs in 2006, Mexico has sunk into a deep and ever-growing spiral of violence and vigilantism as a result of the erosion of the capacity of the state to provide safety to citizens. Vigilantism is when citizens decide to take the law into their own hands in order to fill the vacuum left by the state, or to pursue their own very particular interests. Guerrero, Michoacán, Morelos, Tabasco, Tamaulipas and Veracruz have over 50 vigilante organisations that pose substantial danger to the power of the state.

Vigilantism is not the only factor exacerbating the security crisis in Mexico: since 2006, young people have also started to join drug cartels and other criminal organisations. There are important sectors of the population who feel that the state has failed to represent them. They also feel betrayed because the state has not been able to provide them with the necessary means to better themselves. These frustrations make them vulnerable to the indoctrination of organised crime gangs who promise to give them some sort of ideological direction and solution to their problems.

As a result, it is not enough to carry out a kingpin arrest strategy and to preach on the moral duties we have as citizens as well as on human dignity. People need to be given enough means to find alternative livelihoods that are attractive enough to take them out of organised crime, Mexico can draw some important lessons from Sierra Leone who successfully demobilised and resettled ex-combatants after the armed conflict. Vigilantism, recruitment by organised crime, and insecurity have also flourished because of a lack of deterrence. The judicial system is weak and highly ineffective. A large proportion of the population does not trust the police, or the institutions in charge of the rule of law.

A long-term strategy requires linking security with politics. It needs to address not only the consequences but also the roots of unemployment and deep inequality. However, doing so requires decisive actions to root out widespread and vicious corruption. Corruption allows concentration of wealth and also prevents people from being held accountable. This perpetuates the circle of insecurity. Mexico has been slowly moving towards a borderline failed state. The current government is starting to lose legitimacy and the fragility of the state is further perpetuated by the undemocratic, and predatory governance of the current administration.

Creating a safer Mexico requires a strong, coherent, and stable leadership, AMLO’s administration is far from it. His popularity has consistently fallen as a result of his ineffective policies to tackle the pandemic, worsening insecurity, and the economic crisis. Mexico has reached over 72,000 Covid-19 deaths; during his initial 20 months as incumbent president, there has been 53,628 murders, among them 1800 children or teenagers, and 5888 women (11 women killed per day) This criminality rate is double than what it was during the same period in the presidency of Felipe Calderón (2006-2012); and 55% higher than with the last president, Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018). Mexico is also experiencing its worst economic recession in 90 years.

Insecurity remains as the issue of most concern among Mexicans, seeing the president laughing about it, can only fill citizens with yet more despair and lack of trusts in the government and its institutions. AMLO’s catastrophic performance is not surprising, though. Much of his failures and shortcomings can be explained by both ideology and a narcissistic personality. Having someone with both of those traits ruling a country under normal, peaceful times is already dangerous enough, add an economic crisis and a pandemic to the mix and the result is utter chaos.

AMLO embodies the prototypical narcissist: he has a grandiose self-image; an inflated ego; a constant need for admiration; and intolerance to criticism. He, like many other narcissists, thinks about himself too much and too often, making him incapable of considering the wellbeing of other and unable to pursue the public interest. He has a scapegoat ready to blame for his failures and mistakes: previous administrations, conservatives, neoliberalism, academics, writers, intellectuals, reporters, scientists, you name it, the list is long and keeps getting longer.

AMLO keeps contradicting himself and he does not realise it. He has been claiming for months that the pandemic is under control: it is not. He declares Mexico is ready to face the pandemic and we have enough tests and medical equipment: we do not. He says Mexico is on its way to economic recovery: it is not. He states corruption is a thing of the past: it is not. He says Mexico is now safer than ever before: it is not. When told the opposite he shrugs criticism off and laughs, the behaviour of a typical narcissist.

AMLO, alike narcissists, due to his inability to face criticism, has never cared about surrounding himself by the best and brightest. He chose a bunch of flunkies as members of his cabinet who try to please and not humiliate their leader. A further trait of narcissistic personalities is that they love conflict and division as this keeps them under control. The more destabilisation and antagonism, the better. AMLO since the start of his presidency has been setting states against states for resources and for pandemic responses, instead of coordinating a national response. He is also vindictive: playing favourites with those governors who follow him and punishing those that oppose him.

Deep down, narcissistic leaders are weak. AMLO is genuinely afraid to lead. He simply cannot bring himself to make decisions that are solely his. This is why he has relied on public referendums and consultations to cancel projects or advance legislation. He will not take any responsibility if something goes wrong: It was not him who decided, it was the people, blame them. He inherited a broken system that cannot be fixed during his term, blame the previous administrations, not him.

AMLO is a prime example of a textbook narcissist, unfortunately he is not the only one: Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Recep Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte are only a few more examples of what seems to be a normalised behaviour in contemporary politics. Every aspect of AMLO’s and other leaders presidencies have been heavily marked by their psychopathology. Narcissism, however, does not allow proper and realistic self-assessment, self-criticism, and self-appreciation therefore such leaders will simply ignore the red flags in their administration and have no clue how despicably and disgracefully they will be remembered.

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Minor Successes And The Coronavirus Disaster: Is Trump A Dead Duck?

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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That reminder from the Bible, ‘He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone’ may give us pause — but not journalists who by all appearances assume exemption.  And the stones certainly bruise.

Evidence for the bruises lies in the latest poll numbers.  Overall, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump 50 to 43 percent, a margin that has continued to increase since January.  It is also considerably wider than the few points lead Hillary Clinton had over Trump four years ago.  It gets worse for Trump. 

In the industrial states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Trump in 2016 won by razor thin margins, he is losing by over 4 percent.  Also key to his victory was Wisconsin where, despite his success in getting dairy products into Canada, he is behind by a substantial 7 percent.  Key states Ohio and Florida are also going for the Democrats.

Trump was not doing so badly until the coronavirus struck and during the course of his news conferences he displayed an uncaring persona larded with incompetence.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man he fired for correcting Trumpian exaggerations became a hero and Trump the bully.

If that bullying nature won him small rewards with allies, he hit an impasse with China and Iran … while bringing the two closer to each other.  Then there is the border wall, a sore point for our southern neighbor Mexico.  President Lopez Obrador made sure the subject never came up at the July meeting with Trump,   Thus Mexico is not paying for it so far and will not be in the foreseeable future.

The United Arab Emirates, a conglomeration of what used to be the Trucial States under British hegemony. have agreed to formalize its already fairly close relations with Israel.  In return, Israel has postponed plans to annex the West Bank.  Whether or not it is in Israel’s long term interest to do so is a debatable question because it provides much more powerful ammunition to its critics who already accuse it of becoming an apartheid regime.  However, it had become Prime Minister Netanyahu’s sop to the right wing who will have to wait.  Of course, the reality is that Israel is already the de facto ruler.

If Mr. Trump was crowing about the agreement signed on September 15, although it is akin to someone signing an agreement with Puerto Rico while the United States remains aloof.  As a postscript, the little island of Bahrain also signed a peace deal with Israel.  Bahrain has had its own problems in that a Sunni sheikh rules a Shia populace.  When the Shia had had enough, Saudi and UAE troops were used to end the rebellion.  Bahrain is thus indebted to the UAE.

How many among voters will know the real value of these historic (according to Trump) deals particularly when he starts twittering his accomplishments as the election nears?

There things stand.  As they say, there is nothing worse than peaking too early.  Bettors are still favoring Trump with their money.  The longer anyone has been in politics the more there is to mine, and for an opponent to use to his/her advantage.  Time it seems is on Trump’s side.  

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