Quotes: On Being a Slave

“My people, you unnerstand me, dey ain’ got no ivory by de door. When it ivory from de elephant stand by de door, den dat a king, a ruler, you unnerstand me. My father neither his father don’t rule nobody.””

This is a quote from Kossula, aka Cudjo Lewis, born around 1841, and sold into slavery. Kossula sailed as a captive on the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to the US from Africa, arriving in 1859. He sailed from the then kingdom of Dahomey, now Benin.

The book is Barracoon, The Story of the Last “Black Cargo,” by Zora Neale Hurston, who visited Kossula in and around 1927 in Plateau, Alabama.

Quotes: A World Without Passports

A world without passports isn’t some aspirational future place, like a nuclear-free world. It was just the regular old world pre-World War I. Here is Stefan Zweig from his memoir, The World of Yesterday:

“Before 1914 the earth had belonged to all. People went where they wished and stayed as long as they pleased. There were no permits, no visas, and it always gives me pleasure to astonish the young by telling hem that before 1914 I traveled from Europe to India and to America without passport and without ever having seen one. One embarked and alighted without questioning or being questioned, one did not have to fill out a single one which, with their customs officers, police and militia, have become wire barriers thanks to the pathological suspicion of everybody against everybody else, were nothing but symbolic lines which one crossed with as little thought as one crosses the Meridian of Greenwich.”

(a book review by John Gray, here, pointed me to this quote.)

Quotes: On Juncker and the Right Time to Retire

“The atmosphere in Brussels has become, of late, reminiscent of the late Brezhnev era. We have a political system run by a bureaucratic apparatus which — just like the former USSR — serves to conceal important evidence. Especially when it comes to the health of its supreme leader, Jean-Claude Juncker.”

From the article Jean-Claude drunker – What’s ailing the President of the European Commission? by Jean Quatremer at the London Spectator.

Quotes: Our Leadership, Our Peril

No good shall come of this,

“an instance of the president of the United States offering an incentive to dismantle an organsation of America’s allies, against stated US government policy”

– From Trump is trying to destabilize the European Union in the Washington Post. It describes “a private meeting at the White House in late April, (in which) Trump was discussing trade with French President Emmanuel Macron.”

An individual American leader unilaterally dismantling alliances is not normal, and Mr. Trump’s inclination flies in the face of virtually all opinion among policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic. The Trump/Macron meeting was followed by an acrimonious summit in early June with the leaders of the big western economies and Japan, after which the American president tweeted ad hominem attacks aimed at his Canadian host, calling Justin Trudeau “very dishonest and weak.” His tweets came as Mr. Trump flew to his summit with the North Korean dictator.

Next comes the NATO summit, in which

“European and some American officials say they dread the same pattern — a noisy, divisive NATO summit, damaging deterrence, followed by a chummy meeting with a dictator, in this case Mr. Putin, whose long-term goals are to destabilize the European Union, undermine NATO and restore Russian influence over Eastern Europe, the Baltic States and the Balkans.””

Even senior American officials said they had no clarity on Mr. Trump’s intentions for this meeting. They have told senior European officials that a lot will depend on Mr. Trump’s mood as he arrives and what is being highlighted on his favorite American news media outlets such as Fox News.”

– From As Summit Nears, NATO Allies As Summit Nears, NATO Allies Have One Main Worry: Trump in the New York Times, emphasis mine.

This, too, is not even approximately normal and shows an American leader apparently intent on dismantling the structure of the North Atlantic’s backbone postwar alliance against the advice of just about every serving American and NATO official.

Then there is this:

“Mr. Trump’s past comments suggest that he thinks that there is some NATO treasury to which members owe dues, and that allies are behind on their payments.”

– From the same article. If this statement is true it reveals an elected American president in no way prepared to engage intellectually with his allies – or adversaries.

And a headline today:

U.S. assessing cost of keeping troops in Germany as Trump battles with Europe


Meanwhile on the home front: in The Collapse of the Never-Trump Conservatives, the Trumpist American Spectator argues that

“With the installation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and a yet-to-be-named reliable replacement for the unreliable Anthony Kennedy, Donald Trump will have confirmed himself as the most consequential conservative president of the modern era….”

This on the strength of Mr. Trump simultaneously holding office and breathing, because his party served up his first Supreme Court appointee for him to choose on taking office and his second came because of a retirement.

I’m afraid Mr. Trump’spresidency is indeed consequential, not because he is conservative, for he demonstratively has no core ideology, but for nothing more than his luck of the Supreme Court draw.

But of course there’s more. Last quote:

Vladimir Putin looked Trump in the eye and lied to him. We negotiate with Russia at our peril

This is the headline from an article written last summer by current National Security Advisor John R. Bolton. The article appeared in the conservative London Telegraph and was reprinted by the business-friendly American think tank the American Enterprise Institute. Yet there was Bolton on Wednesday in Moscow announcing the Trump/Putin Helsinki summit “in hopes of soothing U.S.-Russia tensions.”

This is the same John R. Bolton who made The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First in the Republican house organ, the Wall Street Journal. But that was back in February, when Mr. Bolton was just an interested observer.

Shall we believe Mr. Bolton’s previous lifetime of work was all just posturing to ingratiate the bellicose American right? That now, since March, Mr. Bolton understands the need to overriding need to have tea and photo-ops with dictators?

What is it with power?