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Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Trump, Romney, McCain and Bush speeches compared – with humility

July 28th, 2016 Comments off

Why would you vote for Donald Trump in the US presidential election? Maybe if you had not reached your fifth birthday, so were short on qualities such as self-restraint, logic, analytical thinking – and an acknowledgement that the truth is important.

Watching a TV series about four-year-olds, shortly after having seen the Donald accept the 2016 Republican nomination, the parallels were striking. Some of the four-year-olds displayed very similar characteristics to the potential next leader of the free world. They were inconsistent, loud, unsympathetic to others, selfish, mendacious, self-aggrandizing … and so on.

The rise of Trump does underscore what could be either a sea change in society, or, please gods, just a temporary fillip brought on by the stresses of modern life in the West. For his success – with a sizeable minority of Americans – runs counter to the traditional ideals which we have tried to instil into our children. Be polite does not equal “she had blood coming from her, whatever” (Megyn Kelly standing up to him); being honest does not equal saying one thing one month, the opposite the next, and ignoring the inconsistency; being transparent about one’s activities does not equal refusing to release tax records, unlike all other candidates; being upfront does not equal phoning the media and pretending to be somebody else called “John Barron”.

Mature adults know better than to rate people solely on their looks (Trump, in the sly way he has mastered, took a shot at Ted Cruz’s wife Heidi by posting an unflattering picture of her speaking beside a photo he presumably thinks is flattering of his wife Melania). Mature adults also accept that it is dangerous to incite a crowd to use physical violence against a member of that crowd. But Donald is not a mature adult. He is a rich, spoilt kid who has managed to get away with a string of business failures, and is mouthy enough to be a success in the crude world of the TV reality show. Read more…

Assange and Wikileaks – reflection

November 28th, 2013 Comments off

This is a paper I wrote last year, and have belatedly decided it’s not half bad – though of course will be updating for lectures this winter...

THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS has a number of angles. One is the theme of free speech/power to the people; one is of the ‘little guy’ who takes on the global establishment and leaves it red-faced and determined to get revenge; one is the privacy or privileged nature of certain communications – or whether that never exists at all.

For people in the news media, one interpretation is that their role is undermined, even made redundant, by the Wikileaks phenomenon. At its core, Julian Assange’s project does away with mediation – the material goes straight from initiator to the public, so there is  no ‘mediation’ (filtering, editing, selecting) and so no role for media.

Wikileaks has blown open journalistic procedure. Yet it has also highlighted the need for professional journalistic practice, in selecting, editing, and presenting important information so it is of use to the public (which, it could be argued, the undifferentiated dumping of thousands and thousands of government messages can never achieve). In its first global coup, the release of the State Department cables in late 2010, Wikileaks could not have achieved the amount of coverage and controversy if it had not partnered with leading newspapers across the globe, whose senior journalists combed through the cables and selected the material which was most important and made the best stories.

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Queen, Obama – what more could Ireland want?

May 24th, 2011 Comments off

Well, maybe a complete turnaround in its economic situation, reflects Angela Long

Ireland, always a theatrical country, has been through a massive week of street theatre. Stars of the respective shows were Queen Elizabeth of Britain and President Barack Obama. Almost inevitably, this turned into a tale of two cities, for the old and the young.

And while the queen’s visit sealed a door and formally healed an ancient wound, Obama’s rousing speech in Dublin city centre spoke to the young and raised eyes to the future.

Queen Elizabeth arrived on May 17 – unfortunately, the 37th anniversary of British loyalist bombs in the Irish republic which killed 34 people in Dublin city and county Monaghan. This, it seemed, had not even been taken into account, and was swept under the carpet except for irritated protests by a few left-leaning journalists. The queen was met at carefully-selected venues (for the tourism market) to carefully-selected members of the establishment. Then her show rolled on, through empty streets. This street theatre was eerie; all members of the public were banned from getting near Her Majesty, so terrified were the authorities that even a tomato might land on the royal vehicle.

It was only when the queen, ‘towing her nearly 90-year-old husband’, as one commentator put it, got to Cork city that the authorities relaxed enough to let her meet some ordinary people.

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