FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

From Japan to Houston During the G20 Circus

Photograph Source: Alan Santos/PR CC BY 2.0

I left Japan for Houston last week, going from a country where gun violence is virtually unknown to one that is a free-fire zone.

In 2017, just 3 people were killed in shooting incidents in Japan, where there is strict gun control.

By contrast, and let’s focus on children alone, data from the Center for Disease Control shows that 6.63 children, 18 and under, died each day from violence-related firearm deaths in 2017, the last year those statistics are available (2,420 total deaths divided by 365 days = 6.63).

As I was leaving Kyoto for Tokyo airport by bullet train, the annual circus that is the G20 summit was about to begin in nearby Osaka.

Nothing worthwhile or lasting has ever been achieved at these G20 events, which are for PR consumption and little else.

But they provide plenty of opportunities for gaffes and missteps on the part of the participating leaders, especially where Trump is concerned.

What could be expected from Trump, going by his previous foreign visits, is a policy announcement or two done on the hoof, misdescriptions of the people he meets (“I met the president of the US Virgin Islands”, who of course is Trump himself, “the Prince of Whales”, and so forth), his customary lies, insults (a favourite target being the Muslim mayor of London), and of course little idea of what is going on.

Trump came out with at least one whopper at the summit, when he claimed that air and water in the US are the “cleanest” they have ever been.

PolitiFact has assessed Trump’s repeated claims that the US is “the cleanest country on the planet” , and says:

“The Environmental Performance Index is the go-to source for questions on environmental quality. Yale and Columbia University researchers teamed up with the World Economic Forum in 2018 to compile the data.

Using 10 categories, they ranked the United States 27th. On air it ranks 10th and on water, 29th. Among wealthy democracies, the United States ranks toward the bottom, according to Zachary Wendling, principal investigator at the Environmental Performance Index.

Switzerland ranked first on the overall index, Barbados ranked first on air quality, and eight European countries tied for first on water. European countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and Japan tend to top the United States in environmental performance”.

Air quality has in fact declined in quality since Trump took office in 2016. AP FACT CHECK says:

Trump’s own Environmental Protection Agency data show that in 2017, among 35 major U.S. cities, there were 729 cases of “unhealthy days for ozone and fine particle pollution.” That’s up 22 percent from 2014 and the worst year since 2012.

The Obama administration, in fact, set records for the fewest air polluted days in 2016. In 2017, after Trump took office, the number of bad air days per metro area went up 20%.

There was also an insult directed at the host-nation Japan, according to The New York Times:

“Before arriving in Japan, Mr. Trump had reportedly been musing about withdrawing the United States from the security treaty with Japan signed in 1951 and revised in 1960 — the cornerstone of the alliance between the United States and Japan and a pillar of American foreign policy. On Wednesday, asked about the treaty on Fox News, Mr. Trump sneered, “If Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III.” Then he added: “But if we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television”.

The right-wing Japanese prime minster Shinzo Abe, who has shown himself a skilled arse-licker when dealing with Trump, must have been mortified by this boorish comment.

Abe is a wealthy man, but his shares may be in Panasonic rather than Sony, so Trump’s gibe could have miffed him in more ways than one.

In the mandatory photo-op of leaders at the end of the conference, none of the other leaders showed-up with their significant others, but Trump brought Ivanka along to sit and stand next to him, signalling clearly she is the de facto First Lady, this breach of protocol notwithstanding.

Here in muggy Houston the recovery from Hurricane Harvey is still going on—a drive around the neighbourhood where I’m staying shows there are dumpsters outside unoccupied houses, filled with their stripped-out insides; and RVs parked in driveways, where property owners live while they work on their houses.

I was told that those who did not have flood insurance when the hurricane struck, could only rebuild by dipping into their savings, or if these were not sufficient, by doing it bit by bit from paycheck to paycheck.

You feel sorry for the people of Houston, while bearing in mind they still have it better when it comes to government aid than the long-suffering Puerto Ricans, victims of the brutally uncaring Trump administration.

Texas, one of the most solidly Republican states (Texas has backed Republican candidates for more than 40 years of presidential elections, since Carter’s 1976 victory), nonetheless is giving out signs that Trump could be in trouble there.

A Quinnipiac University poll released in early June shows Biden leading Trump 48% to 44% among the 1,200 Texans contacted. To take into account the preponderance of Republicans in Texas, the pollsters included just 407 Democrats and “Democrat-leaners” in their survey.

Even Elizabeth Warren was statistically even with Trump– 45% of those polled would vote for her, versus 46% for Trump, with 5% of voters saying they “don’t know” which of the two would be their choice in the election.

Trump leads Bernie Sanders 47% to 44% in the same poll.

Predictably, Biden did well among women (despite his confirmed reputation for being “handsy”), independents, and non-whites (despite his being a pal of the segregationist Strom Thurmond and his part in the lamentable treatment of Anita Hill).

Texas has 38 electoral seats, the second-largest after California, so Trump’s chances of being elected would be almost zero if the Democrats somehow managed to take Texas.

Of course a single poll does not an election make, and Biden’s sloppy campaigning to date, and problematic past positions on key issues, may not see him becoming the actual Dem candidate.

Warren’s impressive showing in the poll is an eye-opener, however.

It is too early to say what the Quinnipiac University poll will portend for the presidential election, but at this stage any anti-Trumpist, while certainly not expecting too much from the Dems (with their track-record of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory), may well wonder if a surprise, such as Texas going for Warren, could be in store in 15 months’ time.

Next week I will be in London, to get a further sense of the long-running Brexit shambles, and to join in the waves of laughter prompted by the Tory leadership contest between two individuals manifestly not qualified for the job of being prime minister.

 

 

More articles by:

Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina.  He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.

July 09, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
COVID-19 Exposes the Weakness of a Major Theory Used to Justify Capitalism
Ahrar Ahmad
Racism in America: Police Choke-hold is Not the Issue
Timothy M. Gill
Electoral Interventions: a Suspiciously Naïve View of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War World
Daniel Falcone
Cold War with China and the Thucydides Trap: a Conversation with Richard Falk
Daniel Beaumont
Shrink-Wrapped: Plastic Pollution and the Greatest Economic System Jesus Ever Devised
Prabir Purkayastha
The World Can Show How Pharma Monopolies Aren’t the Only Way to Fight COVID-19
Gary Leupp
“Pinning Down Putin” Biden, the Democrats and the Next War
Howard Lisnoff
The Long Goodbye to Organized Religion
Cesar Chelala
The Dangers of Persecuting Doctors
Mike Garrity – Erik Molvar
Back on the List: A Big Win for Yellowtone Grizzlies and the Endangered Species Act, a Big Loss for Trump and Its Enemies
Purusottam Thakur
With Rhyme and Reasons: Rap Songs for COVID Migrants
Binoy Kampmark
Spiked Concerns: The Melbourne Coronavirus Lockdown
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela is on a Path to Make Colonialism Obsolete
George Ochenski
Where are Our Political Leaders When We Really Need Them?
Dean Baker
Is it Impossible to Envision a World Without Patent Monopolies?
William A. Cohn
Lead the Way: a Call to Youth
July 08, 2020
Laura Carlsen
Lopez Obrador’s Visit to Trump is a Betrayal of the U.S. and Mexican People
Melvin Goodman
Afghanistan: What is to be Done?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
The End of the American Newspaper
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Merits of Medicare for All Have Been Proven by This Pandemic
David Rosen
It’s Now Ghislaine Maxwell’s Turn
Nicolas J S Davies
Key U.S. Ally Indicted for Organ Trade Murder Scheme
Bob Lord
Welcome to Hectobillionaire Land
Laura Flanders
The Great American Lie
John Kendall Hawkins
Van Gogh’s Literary Influences
Marc Norton
Reopening vs. Lockdown is a False Dichotomy
Joel Schlosberg
“All the Credit He Gave Us:” Time to Drop Hamilton’s Economics
CounterPunch News Service
Tribes Defeat Trump Administration and NRA in 9th Circuit on Sacred Grizzly Bear Appeal
John Feffer
The US is Now the Global Public Health Emergency
Nick Licata
Three Books on the 2020 Presidential Election and Their Relevance to the Black Live Matter Protests
Elliot Sperber
The Breonna Taylor Bridge
July 07, 2020
Richard Eskow
The War on Logic: Contradictions and Absurdities in the House’s Military Spending Bill
Daniel Beaumont
Gimme Shelter: the Brief And Strange History of CHOP (AKA CHAZ)
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s War
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Racism May be Blatant, But the Culture He Defends Comes Out of the Civil War and Goes Well Beyond Racial Division
Andrew Stewart
Can We Compare the George Floyd Protests to the Vietnam War Protests? Maybe, But the Analogy is Imperfect
Walden Bello
The Racist Underpinnings of the American Way of War
Nyla Ali Khan
Fallacious Arguments Employed to Justify the Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Autonomy and Its Bifurcation
Don Fitz
A Statue of Hatuey
Dean Baker
Unemployment Benefits Should Depend on the Pandemic
Ramzy Baroud – Romana Rubeo
Will the ICC Investigation Bring Justice for Palestine?
Sam Pizzigati
Social Distancing for Mega-Million Fun and Profit
Dave Lindorff
Private: Why the High Dudgeon over Alleged Russian Bounties for Taliban Slaying of US Troops
George Wuerthner
Of Fire and Fish
Binoy Kampmark
Killing Koalas: the Promise of Extinction Down Under
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail