By Robert A. Vella
When speaking in public, political leaders who have something to hide shouldn’t deviate much from their prepared remarks else risk revealing their subconscious thoughts. Mastering the art of public speaking is actually quite rare, and only a small number of individuals have truly achieved it at the national level or on the world stage. There are several examples I could cite, but Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy stand out for me because so much of what they said came straight from the heart. But, when speech is rhetorical and not so honest (as it most often is), then only the most skilled tend to avoid uttering things they didn’t intend to say. Such gaffes are commonly referred to as a Freudian slip. On Wednesday, homophobic “Straight Pride” activist Don Grundmann inadvertently admitted what his organization is all about; and, it is something far beyond what Christian fundamentalist leaders want Americans to believe.
Concerns are mounting for Republican Party strategists ahead of the 2020 election who see increasing erosion of support in suburban communities across the nation which they lost big in the 2018 midterms.
In international news, Department of Defense analysts are blaming President Trump’s erratic foreign policy moves for allowing a resurgence of the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS) in Syria and Iraq. Disagreement between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who are allied against Iran in the Yemen civil war, has worsened to the point where their forces are starting to fight each other. Italy’s ruling coalition is breaking down, and new elections may be called soon. Far-right extremists are terrorizing anyone who stands up to them in the German capital of Berlin.
Additional details have been published from yesterday’s disturbing IPCC report on food production and climate change.
A Freudian slip
From the moment he took to the podium to defend his “Straight Pride” event, Don Grundmann was booed by the assembled crowd at Wednesday’s Modesto City Council meeting. But he quickly became a source of their unmitigated amusement after a slip of the tongue sent the meeting into joyful laughter.
Grundmann, who is attempting to host a “Straight Pride” rally on Aug. 24 in Modesto, started off by defending his intentions.
“We haven’t done anything,” he protested. “We’re a totally peaceful, racist group.”
Although he quickly tried to recant the “racist” portion of his sentence, the chambers were already laughing and cheering so loudly he couldn’t be heard. One of the Modesto city councilmembers can be seen laughing so hard, she fully turns away from her microphone.
Grundmann, who is a chiropractor based in the Bay Area, is partnering with Modesto resident Mylinda Mason for the event. He’s also the founder of the four-month-old National Straight Pride Coalition. On its website, it says it aims to promote and defend “Western Civilization,” “Caucasians,” heterosexuality, a “God ordained natural nuclear family.” It also extols the virtues of nationalism.
More GOP woes
BROOKHAVEN, Ga. — Republicans face a reckoning in the red-state suburbs that have long been a bedrock for the party, propelled by the stormy confluence of President Trump’s searing racial attacks, economic turbulence and frustration with government inaction after last weekend’s deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.
The GOP lost its House majority in 2018 after it fared poorly with suburban voters, particularly women. Party leaders are increasingly alarmed that they have made little progress winning them back. Instead, Trump’s incessant feuds, his hard-line position on immigration — including federal raids that left children without their parents — and the stock market’s tumult amid his trade standoff with China threaten to further alienate suburban voters ahead of the 2020 campaign, even in states that have traditionally elected Republicans.
Republican leaders also worry that Trump’s dramatic policy moves and Twitter outbursts — such as last month’s racist tweets about four minority women in Congress — could prod more suburban GOP lawmakers to head for the exits rather than mount a defense, following in the footsteps of several Texas Republicans and others who have decided not to seek reelection.
A report from the Pentagon Inspector General found that President Donald Trump’s decision to rapidly pull troops out of Syria and to divert attention from diplomacy in Iraq has inadvertently aided the Islamic State’s regrouping in Syria and Iraq.
The DoD’s quarterly report to Congress on the effectiveness of the US Operation Inherent Resolve mission states that “ISIS continued its transition from a territory-holding force to an insurgency in Syria, and it intensified its insurgency in Iraq” – even though Trump said that ISIS was defeated and the caliphate quashed, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Many officials and experts have repeatedly warned that a rapid US withdrawal from Syria would enable ISIS to regroup into an insurgency after their battlefield defeats by the US-led coalition.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates may be close partners with a common goal defeating a rebel group in Yemen, but their diverging interests have come to a violent head as heavy clashes erupted between their respective allies in the war-torn nation.
Violent skirmishes between the Saudi-backed guards of exiled Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the UAE-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council reached their second day Thursday in the southern port city of Aden. Both groups were opposed to the Zaidi Shiite Muslim rebel group known as the Houthis or Ansar Allah, suspected of receiving Iranian backing, but the southern separatists want to see an independent South Yemen as it existed from 1967 to 1990.
Hadi’s administration has accused the UAE of backing southern claims for secession and, though the two sides fought at least once before last year, the latest bloodshed came amid a series of developments that tested ties between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh.
ROME, Aug 8 (Reuters) – The leader of Italy’s ruling League party, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, has declared that the governing coalition has broken down after months of internal bickering and that the only way forward is to hold fresh elections.
He said parliament could be convened next week to take the required procedural steps. The League’s coalition partner, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, accused Salvini of “taking the country for a ride” and said it was ready for elections.
IS THE GOVERNMENT OVER?
Not yet. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will have to go before parliament and call for a vote of confidence in his government. If he loses the make-or-break vote, then he has to resign. If he does not, he can carry on. Alternatively, he could resign without waiting for a confidence vote.
Fears of far-right violence are growing in Germany, after politician Walter Lübcke was shot dead in June, allegedly by a right-wing extremist. In one quiet area of Berlin, local residents are also being targeted.
One victim is a bookshop-owner. Another is a historian who runs a gallery. A third is a mother who refused to accept a far-right election campaign leaflet.
What they all have in common is that they stood up against right-wing extremism.
Their cars have been torched. Molotov cocktails have been thrown against their houses, and their windows have been smashed with bricks. Neo-Nazi death threats have been daubed in red paint on to the walls of homes.
But this is not a crime-ridden area. The southern end of the Berlin district of Neukölln, where these people live, is peaceful and leafy. Full of carefully tended gardens and spotless pavements, it is a residential middle-class idyll on the edge of the city.
IPCC report update
The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself.
The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report.
Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply. Already, more than 10 percent of the world’s population remains undernourished, and some authors of the report warned in interviews that food shortages could lead to an increase in cross-border migration.