Toute En Famille, Mis En Scène

July 19, 2017

If anyone on either side of la mer Atlantique is truly “shocked, shocked” that Pierre de Villiers has been maneuvered into resigning as chef de l’armee de France, s/he can never again credibly claim any standing as a connaisseur of French cultural discourse and politics.  Beneath the surface patina of policy differences and budget contraction, here’s what Macron‘s tempête de théière with de Villiers really means:  more than merely a two-fer, more than a three-fer, it’s a four-fold declaration of defiant independence.

— an implicit critique of Donald Trump;
— an outright rebuke of Vladimir Putin;
— a conciliatory gesture toward the Muslim world, especially the Maghreb and the Gulf states;
— a coup de poing maçonique directed at the institutional and cultural influence of the Roman Catholic church in France.

The simultaneity of all these unmixed messages is made possible because of the existence of one man: Pierre de Villiers’ frère, Philippe.  How so?  Because in many ways, Philippe de Villiers is a French (and thus somewhat classier) version of Donald Trump.  He’s a conservative nationalist entrepreneur-turned-politician whose worldview is based in (and biased by) his Catholic faith.  He has achieved notoriety in Europe (and throughout the Mediterranean region beyond) for his strident criticism of Islam and the purported threat it poses to “European” culture.  He consorts with billionaire Russian kleptocrats like Konstantin Malofeev, and in 2014 traveled to newly-annexed Crimea, where he met with Vladimir Putin to advocate development of a joint-venture Crimean theme park designed to “promote the history of Crimea as part of the long history of Russia.

This all sure sounds familiar, but leaves one wondering which of the two –Trump or de Villiers– is the “original” throwback patriarch.  Does it really matter?  Probably not.  Perhaps we should be thinking about who wrote the playbook.

Meanwhile, back at Palais Elysée, by maneuvering brother Pierre into a position where his honor as a warrior/aristocrat required démission, Manny Macron has begun a campaign to diminish Philippe de Villiers’ access to information and key nodes in the social networks that constitute the command structure of French military and intelligence institutions.  Friends of François Fillon won’t be far behind.  Best of all, those in the know will get the message:

Trumpisme n’est pas bon
ni Putinisme
nous avons besoin de nos amis (riche) Arabes
l’eglise hors d’ici

Any questions?

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And Quiet Flaws the Don

July 17, 2017

“… don’t you think there’s something in this business deal that doesn’t quite conform to the code of civil law and the future prosperity of Russia?”
Gospodin Manilov

 

Hedged Funding

July 7, 2017

Wait, is that an actual hedge or a virtual (Photoshopped) hedge in the background of this photo? Perhaps only Yonhap’s photo editor knows for sure.  It doesn’t really matter: the underlying message is the same either way.

 

Large-scale and green: we should expect forthcoming news of YUGE clean-energy investment deals between Siemens and KEPCO.  Moon has promised to reduce Korea’s reliance on nuclear power plants by adding cleaner electricity generation capacity.  Wind, tide and solar are obvious candidates to augment hydroelectric and thermal power stations.  Furthermore, significant job creation would be necessary to build and operate new energy infrastructure. This project is gonna get green-lighted (using dis term in da trad Hollywood vernacular, not in da bogus interwebs ish).

Good Ole Boys in the Hoods

June 27, 2017

Where some may merely see a surfeit of Old Glory hanging limply in the background, keener eyes might be able to perceive the subliminal profile of klansmens’ hoods.

 

throwback backdrop

That’s because the good old boys network has a specific name, and ain’t the triple-eleven that you might reflexively assume.

 

10acity

June 25, 2017

Quote of the day-before-yesterday:

“For people like us who believe in physics, the separation between past, present and future has only the importance of an admittedly tenacious illusion.”

Lunar Land-scapegoat

June 22, 2017

Outmoded rituals –like the minor habits of daily domestic life– can be difficult to set aside even once their original purpose has long been lost to modern memory.  Nowhere is this more true than in the Moonrise Kingdom of New Baekje now taking shape upon the ruins remaining from Old Silla.  Amid the tumult and confusion of foreground regime change, longstanding cultural practices keep-on-keepin’-on … at the very margins of visibility.  Case in point, the presidential photo-op:

Way back yonder in the Lee Myung-bak era, Lunghu pointed out that visiting dignitaries at Cheong Wa Dae were sorted by their hosts into a hierarchy of international importance that was signalled by the subtly-coded backdrop before which the traditional handshake photo was staged.  Barbarian emissaries of semi-savage nations (Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia) were received in front of a Chosun-era folding screen depicting lowly foreign messengers performing their kowtow to the Korean emperor.  Diplomats and officials from valuable export markets in Europe and North America posed for their handshake with a glowingly resplendent golden screen behind them.  Close neighbors from China and Japan rated an auspicious Asian landscape painting replete with Sinitic symbolism.  A place for everyone, and everyone in their place.

This pattern from Lee Myung-bak’s Republic of Hyundai didn’t change during Park Geun-hye‘s Republic of Samsung, and thus far it hasn’t changed under Moon Jae-in‘s Republic of Candlepower.  That’s why Beijing-bound Beltway advanceman Richard N. Haass is backlit with a golden aura in the photo above.  Despite what Koreans might think of the monarch whose message he bears, the United States is still a precious ally in an unfriendly neighborhood.  As far as Koreans are concerned, the U.S. alliance is a vital relationship that can –and must– outlast four years of attempted sabotage inspired by Comrade Bear.

Upshift

That said, let’s never forget that national politics is –in every nation– a cutthroat, zero-sum, feast-or-famine struggle for survival.  So it should be absolutely no surprise that the newly-exiled courtiers of Old Silla (under the rebranded label of Liberty Korea Party) are seeking to exploit their well-established backchannel links with American conservatives to discredit the Moon government’s national security policies.  According to these hardened cold-warriors, a left-center/progressive/human activist like Moon Jae-in is someone who will place the freedom-loving Korean nation in jeopardy by being soft on China and squishy on Kim Jong-un.  Since President Moon currently has public approval ratings above 80%, they’ve inevitably chosen to attack his appointees rather than the man himself.  Thus their overt parliamentary maneuvering and covert media campaigns against foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha and national security adviser Moon Chung-in.

In fact, Hannara/GNP/Saenuri/Liberty Korea knows quite well that the new administration has no real wiggle room to dramatically alter inter-Korean relations: Kim Jong-un ain’t playin’.  Instead, what really worries the kleptocrats of Liberty Korea is the inevitable, inexorable impact of a looming government crackdown on chaebol corruption. Coming soon: a long overdue Brazilian-style carwash investigation, transplanted to Gangnam and points South-Southeast.

 

Wrothless Ire

June 11, 2017

That man is a head taller than me. … That may change.
Don Lope de Aguirre

 

Il Va’ … Para La Molienda

May 27, 2017

So, this guy in a white suit goes to the steel mill on a Saturday morning, and doesn’t get even a speck of soot on his smock.  But, thinking of some recent visitors to his home, he has something to say about getting the job done:

lost chains

Speaking to some 3,500 industrial workers at the ILVA steel factory in Genoa, many in overalls or hard hats, Francis distinguished between good entrepreneurs, who “share the labors of workers and share the joys of work” to create something together, and speculators who are not bothered when they fire workers in a search for profit.

“The speculator doesn’t love his business, doesn’t love the workers, but only sees the business and workers as a means to make profit.  One sickness of the economy is the gradual transformation of entrepreneurs into speculators,” the pontiff said.

Evoking il soffitto di Cappella Sistema

 

After the visit at the mill, Francis met with bishops, priests and nuns at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo.  Later he planned to meet with refugees, prisoners, poor and homeless people.

Ay! La Culebra!

Craft Brewery

May 20, 2017

If you’re gonna go on a witch hunt, you obviously don’t want to do a half-assed job: you wanna deploy the finest witch-hunting expertise available.  Which means you gotta go back to the roots, to Africa, where the craft began.

Chief Pembamoyo of the Chewa-speaking people of Vubwi district in Eastern Province has warned his subjects against preventing their children from attending school [so that they can participate in] witchcraft training and practice.  The chief says it is sad to learn that many parents and guardians in his chiefdom are encouraging their children into witchcraft rather than going to school.

Chief Pembamoyo said that he has directed his Indunas (subchiefs) to investigate more such cases and that anyone found lacking will face the wrath of the law.  Induna Chikoka admitted that such cases were on an increase in his area.  He said that last week the Vubwi district traditional court had imposed a fine of two goats on a man whose 10-year-old son confirmed that his father had sent him to witchcraft practice rather than to school.

 

The phenomenon of witch-hunts in Africa is ancient, but the problem is reportedly on the rise due to urbanization, poverty, social conflict and fragmenting communities.  In Congo, it is estimated that there are 25,000 homeless children living on the streets of Kinshasa.  More than half (60%) were expelled from their homes because of allegations of witchcraft. However, there is often an economic motive behind the claim of sorcery:  in traditional African societies, a suspicion of witchcraft is the only justifiable reason for refusal to shelter a family member, no matter how distant the relation.

Evangelical pastors are helping to create this new campaign of violence against young Africans. Self-styled pastors and prophets, greedy for cash, teach their parishioners that many problems they are facing —poverty, joblessness, financial crisis, sickness or poor harvest— are all caused by a witch-child hiding in their families. The superstitious parents then try to guess which of their six, seven or eight children is a witch.  The suspected children are forced through torture to confess that they are witches. Those children are severely beaten, cast out of their homes, mutilated or killed. All of this is due to a blend of Christianity and native paganism that has been brought inside the church.

 

Perhaps the contemporary meaning of this timeless parable will become clearer to you after a suitable period of sober reflection and introspection.  Or maybe not.

 

Basket Caseload

May 19, 2017

Yeah, definitely, the end is nigh. Gotta be, once these freakin’ basket cases start mining Lunghu’s old material for their off-the-cuff insults!

What’s next?  I’m waiting for another elderly elephant to go berserk in Lizy-sur-Ourcq