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Fascinating piece of tv. “Nationalist” Steve Bannon and “cosmopolitan” Tom Friedman are in agreement on how to deal with China – who would have thought?

Much discussed, gloomy book by Yale professor Timothy Snyder. Snyder juxtaposes the “politics of eternity” versus “the politics of inevitability” – as far as I can see these concepts are his own. The politics of inevitability is the idea that there are no ideas. The cliche being: there are not alternatives. From the collapse of the politics of inevitability emerges the politics of eternity. Whereas the first promises a better future for… Read More

…are of course the men and women of the New York Times. In the documentary “The Fourth Estate” we get a first hand account of the year following the election of Donald Trump. We see how the stories develop, what dilemma’s the editors are faced with and how The Times struggles to find a way to cover this new phenomenon. It’s a great concept, informative for sure, but for a full feature… Read More

An erratic Trump runs around in a chaotic White House, binge watches Fox and has trouble taking in information. He has no focus. Except for one issue: trade. He is absolutely adamant to get the US out of all its treaties and ‘globalist’ arrangements. Trump is certain trade deficits are lethal, despite all the intelligence and facts he gets on a daily basis proving the contrary. Woodward seems to rely heavily on ex-staffers… Read More

If it weren’t a true story, I would not have believed this crazy twist of history. Entertaining & original. Somewhat over the top at the end, when Spike Lee rubs his message in that there’s a straight line between the KKK and Trump. Spike Lee, BlackkKlansmanm 2018 ***

How Trump’s ideas are hurting exports

Surprisingly enough, Europe is lagging all American states economically

On the eve of Trump launching a missile attack on Syria, I watched “The Final Year” – a Netflix documentary on the efforts of Obama’s diplomatic team (Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, John Kerry) to solve conflict through diplomacy. Featuring Obama’s famous red line, now replaced by Trump’s “Mission Accomplished” – totally different approaches, same result: the war in Syria goes on.

The world would be a safer place if Trump were a reader. At the top of his reading list sound advisers would put “Destined for War”, the latest book from Harvard scholar Graham Allison. It would greatly help the president in shaping his decisions. The president would understand that China has always taken the long view and crafts ‘strategies  for generations’. He would learn that China is beating his country in many… Read More

Waarom stemmen zoveel Amerikanen tegen hun eigen belang? Hoewel deze vraag al vaak onderzocht is, is ze nu na de verkiezing van Trump en kiezersmanipulatie via social media weer relevant. De linkse hoogleraar Arlie Russel Hochschild (Berkeley) gaat in dit boek verder waar de meeste onderzoekers ophouden: ze gaat daadwerkelijk tussen haar onderzoeksgroep wonen (5 jaar!), sluit vriendschappen, verdiept zich in hun leefwereld en voert eindeloos veel gesprekken. Epicentrum is een plek… Read More

Washington staat op zijn kop. Het tell-all boek van Michael Wolff over Trump, de alt-right revolutie en de keiharde strijd om de politieke koers van de VS is een sensatie. Wolffs schrijfstijl is agressief en suggestief, maar ook onderhoudend en geestig. Hij heeft zijn toegang tot Trump en zijn staf maximaal gebruikt (en daarmee voor eeuwig verspeeld) om een vernietigend boek te schrijven over een chaotisch en disfunctioneel Witte Huis. De verschillende… Read More

Een openhartig verslag van een heftig jaar voor Joe Biden, Amerika’s vice-president. Biden schotelt ons drie verhaallijnen voor: het ziektebed en de uiteindelijke dood van zijn oudste zoon Beau, zijn internationale werk als ‘Veep’ en zijn worsteling met de vraag of hij zich verkiesbaar zal stellen als opvolger van president Obama. Wat betreft dat laatste, we weten dat hij ervan af gezien heeft. Hoewel hij zichzelf het beste gekwalificeerd vindt, was hij… Read More

Written by an admirer, focussing on the (sometimes accidental) wisdom of the former vice-president and coming in pocket size – don’t expect this to be a thorough biography of Joe Biden. It is however a nice and charming account of Biden’s life, his convictions and does have some great lessons to share. Moreover, it wets the appetite to read more about this intriguing man. So, I picked up a copy of his… Read More

Heel interessant voorstel voor een CO2 belasting uit onverdachte hoek. Ondere uit de koker van Hank Paulson, minister van Financien onder George W. Bush en oud-topman van Goldman Sachs. Benieuwd of de nieuwe Republikeinse president er wat in ziet… Larry Summers is ook een voorstander.

Na de dood van zijn broer Freddy, mede als gevolg van alcoholisme, besluit Donald Trump dat hij altijd zal voorkomen dat mensen een verliezer in hem zouden kunnen zien. Winnen en succes vormen vanaf dat moment de ingrediënten zijn levensmotto. En dat lukte: eerst met de dappere en gewaagde aankoop en geslaagde restauratie van het Grand Hyatt. De Trump Tower was niet lang daarna de bevestiging van zijn roem. Winnen is waar… Read More

We all know Henry Kissinger as a brilliant, yet divisive figure of American Foreign Politics. He was a bright mind with a first row seat during the great events of the Cold War. Probably less known is the drama of his flight from his home town Furth, to escape Nazi-Germany. After some detours he arrived in New York, together with many other Jews. We join the young Kissinger on his trip; from… Read More

Highly original article on the rise of Trumpism – taking us back to Hunter S. Thompsons’s book on motorcycle guys. The ethics of the Hell’s Angels is still alive; and widespread.

Donald Trump doet liever niet aan zelfreflectie. Hij zou dan weleens, zo zegt hij zelf,’iets onaangenaams tegen kunnen komen.’ In ieder geval zou de introspectie van Amerika’s nieuwe president leiden tot een gespleten beeld. Trump is ogenschijnlijk zeer consequent inconsequent. Zo pleitte hij eens op Capitol Hill voor een inkomstenbelasting tot 60% voor rijke mensen, niet lang nadat Reagan deze naar 31%  had verlaagd. Dat zou hij nu niet meer zo snel doen…. Read More

Entertaining film with great actors (Jeff Bridges!) adding a moral dimension to the well-know topic of bank-robbers-on-the-run-for-a-sheriff-on-the-brink-of-retirement’. A must see, not in the least because of the renewed interest in small town, rural America (i.e. Texas). Hell or High Water – David Mackenzie (2016) ****

Strong ‘rags to riches’ story, very funny at times, but above all a cultural critique of white, working-class America. The author, J.D. Vance, a hillbilly himself, describes their increasingly marginalized social position through the unlikely, mostly miserable, lives of his own family. An important book to better understand modern America. Also read this great interview with J.D. Vance

An ambitious film on a great topic and beautiful scenery, but it wants to tell too many stories and depends to a large extent on the charisma and performance of Matthew McConaughey alone. Moreover, it makes emotions and events too explicit, as often is the case with American films (although the producers seem to be Chinese). Although this fascinating episode in US history had deserved a better script and, above all, tougher choices, the… Read More

Understanding Trump by George Lakoff A lot has  being written and spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More that half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have… Read More

Dit boekje belooft ‘alles over de Amerikaanse verkiezingen’, wat enigszins overdreven is. Wel is het een leuk en nuttig overzicht van de smerigste campagnes (de allersmerigste is die van 1856), slimste leuzen (de beste: I Like Ike), zwakste running mates (natuurlijk Dan Quayle) en beste presidenten (FDR). Voor Amerika lovers. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – Paul Brill (2012)

Interesting Politico piece arguing we don’t really care about the truth, the reason why so many politicians get away with lies. We are inclined to believe them unless we have a previous reason not to believe them. It’s all about cognitive dissonance. Related, some insight on whether the Republican party will survive the Donald.

As this New Yorker article by Dexter Filkins (author of the great book The Forever War) argues, it should’t surprise anyone that no politician in charge in the last 10 years, Republican or Democrat, isn’t compromised by the chaotic American involvement in Iraq. Claiming that State Secretary Hillary Clinton stood by while events unravelled is as un-factual as blaming George W. Bush for all things gone wrong. As always, reality is nuanced – a difficult… Read More

Ian Bremmer is the new star of international relations, his book is clever, easy to read and has a clear concept. We  live in a wold where no G-20, G-3, G-8 has the power to push through decisions. We are all on our own and should prepare for wheeling and dealing with our neighbours on a permanent basis.

Hilarious account of Congressman Charlie Wilson, who together with CIA operative Gus Avraktos, creates an ever expanding program to support the Afghan Mujahideen – back in the days when the Soviets were fighting in Afghanistan. This story proves that reality is more surprising than our imagination.