Monday, June 10, 2019

Literary Corner: Telling It Slant

Joely Richardson in William Luce's The Belle of Amherst, off-Broadway 2014, photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN. Charles Isherwood at The Times didn't think the concept had a chance of working: "Although the posthumous publication of her extraordinary poetry made Dickinson a celebrated literary figure, during her lifetime, she was known in her hometown primarily for a reclusiveness bordering on pathology. The notion that she would confide her life story and her most deeply felt poems — or even her recipes for cake and gingerbread — to a couple of hundred strangers a night renders Mr. Luce’s play almost nonsensical from the get-go."

If President Obama Made the Deals
by Donald J. Trump
If President Obama made
the deals that I have made -
both - at the Border - and
for the Economy -
the Corrupt Media would be hailing
them as Incredible -
& a National Holiday would be
immediately declared - 
With me - despite our record
setting Economy -
and all that I have done -
no credit!
It was the quaint capitalization that made me think of Emily Dickinson, and of replacing and supplementing all Trump's punctuation with spidery dashes. Obviously it would have been more Dickinsonian if Trump had given me some more syllables for the last bit, but you can't have everything.

I did think of a weird kind of parallel between Trump and the Belle of Amherst, the way both seem to have spent a ghostly existence in a private world on an upper floor of the house, from which they emitted strange and haunting messages, though Trump does in fact leave the house pretty frequently (but only by preference for some other place he owns, some other bedroom).

One comical thing is that Trump hasn't actually done any deals at all in the two and a half years of his presidency, as his former friends in the Russian media (former because of Trump's utter failure to make a deal lifting US sanctions on Russia) point out.

I'll laugh, but it's bittersweet. Trump's asshole-CEO concept of the presidency as a kind of extension of the international CEO's role of jetting around taking meetings always struck me as ridiculous anyway, but by his own standards, as a quick tour through Wikipedia's survey of Trump foreign policy indicates, he has scored a remarkable catalogue of fail:
  • failure to make deals with Peru, Afghanistan, China (trade war since early 2018), Japan, North Korea, Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Turkey ("When asked how he would solve the problem of Turkish attacks on Kurds who are fighting ISIL, Trump said 'Meetings'."), South Africa, and South Korea
  • new and ineffective sanctions on Nicaragua, Venezuela, Iran
  • unratified deals with Mexico and Canada (including NAFTA replacement and failed attempts to control migration to US through Mexico)
  • wrecked relations with France, Germany, NATO, Australia, European Union, World Trade Organization 
  • dismantling of Obama agreements with Cuba, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Paris Climate Accord (did you know in April 2017 the three biggest coal companies in the US strongly urged Trump to stick with the Paris agreement, but he wouldn't listen?), JCPOA on Iran, Syrian resistance, and Reagan Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement
Kiselyov is right, there's not a single positive achievement, which is amazing when you think about it.

In fairness he did decide to let Australia and Argentina alone on aluminum and steel tariffs and, since this month, Canada and Mexico too, so there are now between two and four countries he's sort of not having a trade war with, though Trump's lumber tariffs on Canada (which have turned out to hurt Mexico more than any other country, and benefited especially Brazil in its efforts to destroy the rainforest) are still on, and Mexico remains under threat—

("There is now going to be great cooperation between Mexico & the USA, something that didn’t exist for decades. However, if for some unknown reason..." he told Twitter yesterday ".....there is not, we can always go back to our previous, very profitable, position of Tariffs", still unable to understand that import taxes aren't a "profitable" source of government revenue and haven't been for more than a century).

—but maybe that's a start.

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