Curtain Raiser

The Lead of the Irish, Colltalers

In two months, Ireland has taken a leadership position on two crucial, global issues: women’s reproductive rights and climate change. Both decisions were reached by its democracy doing what’s supposed to: to represent the will of the majority. Startling, that’s relative these days.
Both themes acquired urgency lately, as the Trump administration seems bent on fulfilling an extreme right wing agenda. Short of popular opposition, Americans may soon lose the right to decide what’s best for their own bodies, or even protest against our reliance on fossil fuels.
The president, by the way, was in full evil clown mode on his latest mini European tour, and few were laughing. In a chaotic series of visits, he chastised our NATO allies for not spending more killing people, that is, buying American weaponry, and humiliated U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, while finding kind words for her political enemy, Boris Johnson, and of course, Vladimir Putin, who he’ll meet next. Prepare.
But despite massive protests and becoming once again a joke on the European media, Trump accomplished what many are still to realize: it’s all part of a plan. With his goofs, he turned the coverage onto himself, while pushing forward his own interests, and that of the defense firms.
Through apparently incoherent public statements, he managed to throw mud on the issue of immigration in Europe, avoiding questions about his own approach to the matter – children in cages, anyone? His staged nonsense also serves him well for manipulating media coverage, just like any certified reality star, and snake oil salesman, would know how to do it: every one of his asides and diatribes was faithfully broadcast.
What the Irish showed the world, though, is that we must keep our eye on the prize, and not get so distracted by what now should be all too familiar to anyone. The president will lie and deceive and do what he can to retain the narrative; it’s up to the people to impose their own.
In May, a referendum showed that the majority in Ireland favors the removal of a constitutional anti-abortion clause. That may open the way to legislation granting women what’s theirs by nature: control over reproductive issues, and rights to a full and religious-free health care. For such a strongly Catholic-influenced country,

the popular move towards a more secular law is considerable. Will Northern Ireland be next?
Then last Thursday, the Irish Parliament voted to fully divest all public funds from fossil fuel companies, in what’s a first for any nation. Many others may as well take the cue and follow suit. It’s about time too. It’s becoming a tragic routine to mark every month and year hotter than the one before, and to observe rising and more violent disruptions caused by the impact of record-breaking, man-made climate change.
Speaking of May, it was the third warmest on record, according to the European Copernicus Climate Change Service, and 401st consecutive month above the 20th century average, according to NASA and NOAA. Perhaps we’d be seeing more encouraging numbers if the Trump administration, instead of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, had been even more active, leading the world to fight global warming.
Even without being completely aware of the changes, we’re becoming progressively more acquainted with harsher hurricane seasons in the U.S., for instance, or more powerful monsoon seasons in Asia, as the episode of the soccer boys, rescued from a Thai cave, briefly exposed.
It’s terrifyingly frequent now to see a gigantic iceberg cut lose from a glacier to threaten a fishing community, as it’s happening in Greenland’s Innaarsuit village. And that even as a 4-mile rock it is but a fraction of the size of similar ice breakups in the Arctic and specially Antarctica.
While the U.S. president was doing the bid for the industrial defense complex, whose about $1 trillion budget is more than the spending of the next 13 countries combined, he said no word about the solar industry growth, for one. Only in 2016, it generated over $150 billion in economic activity, that is, well-paid jobs and new markets. And it did that without wrecking the environment or killing a single person.
Trump’s actions have already had negative consequences, putting pressure on world leaders who up to recently were committed to new, non-pollutant energy-generating technologies. Case in point: Canada’s Justin Trudeau, whose taxpayer-funded $4.5 billion nationalization of the Kinder Morgan pipelines is being called a betrayal to his platform’s commitments. So much for his family bona fides and movie star looks.
That’s because the aging pipeline complex, which runs highly pollutant tar sands through largely Native American lands, has been plagued by leaks and malfunctions for years and represent a negligible gain to the economy, compared to potentially catastrophic coast to coast risks.
If the president succeeds, helped by unscrupulous U.S. senators, to nominate yet another ultra-conservative justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, which seems all but sure, he will set conditions to do away with the 1973 Roe vs Wade ruling that legalized abortion in America.
If not just contraception, but regular gynecologic and general healthcare clinics that cater to impoverished women are already reduced down to a few dozen in the whole country, denying assistance to millions of families, just picture a world when they simply won’t exist.
We can’t help it but also see on this the decisive reason why a Hillary Clinton’s presidency would’ve been not just different than Trump’s, but also better. The reminder is not gratuitous: the Democratic Party looks as though it wants to curb, not encourage fresh, progressive voices, and the example of Clinton’s failed campaign, despite having a hugely superior argument to win, should never be overlooked.
Americans and the rest of the world have to stop paying too much attention to the outbursts of a TV-made star, because they’re shining objects designed to draw attention of fools and paid-for acolytes. Taking the bait of, ‘on my, he walked ahead of the Queen,’ or ‘the E.U. is a foe,’ which he declared in Scotland, means that we’re missing the real purpose of his entire trip. Or his coming meeting with Putin.
In fact, given how little was concrete and how much was for show on his meeting with Kim Jong un, the expectations for what can be achieved from his personal forays in foreign policy remain low. Perhaps in time, even his constituency will realize that these trips are costly, and give the world a renewed, and embarrassing, view of our dear leader: a crass sales pitchman for what America has of worst.
Welcome to a new era of irrelevance of the U.S. government in most matters but the science of making a profit killing people, here and abroad. Any change in the current global perception of America as a fading leader, that nevertheless bullies others into doing as they’re told, won’t come from the White House, not anytime soon. It’ll come from ordinary Americans like you and I, who have had enough. WC

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