Daily Archives: July 16, 2018

Dear Senator Blunt

Dear Senator Blunt,

Hi.  It’s me again.

Do you even care about the damage that this so-called President of the United States is doing to the world order, to progressive democracy, to social institutions, to diplomacy, to the party that you claim to represent?

You are now so complicit in the damage that you must have a hard time sleeping at night.

Let me quote and paraphrase The Atlantic (which I’m betting is not your favorite magazine) —

I am old enough to remember Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon telling lies on TV, about Vietnam in both cases, and Watergate for Nixon. I remember the travails and deceptions of Bill Clinton, and of George W. Bush in the buildup to the disastrous Iraq War.

But never before have I seen an American president consistently, repeatedly, publicly, and shockingly advance the interests of another country over those of his own government and people.

Trump manifestly cannot help himself. This is who he is.

Those who could do something are the 51 Republican senators and 236 Republican representatives who have the power to hold hearings, issue subpoenas, pass resolutions of censure, guarantee the integrity of Robert Mueller’s investigation, condemn the past Russian election interference, shore up protections against the next assault, and in general defend their country rather than the damaged and defective man who is now its president.

For 18 months, members of this party have averted their eyes from Trump, rather than disturb the Trump elements among their constituency or disrupt the party’s agenda on tax cuts and the Supreme Court. You already bear responsibility for what Trump has done to his office.

But with every hour that elapses after this shocking performance in Helsinki without Republicans doing anything, the more deeply you are stained by this dark moment in American leadership.

When are you going to step up?

Dr. Jeffrey Carter

Euro18: observations

I journal daily (sometimes almost hourly) when I travel abroad.

And reviewing my travel journals is a delightful way to recall experiences, feelings, observations from my travels over the last 24+ years to four different continents.

This excursion has brought me some new observations, so reminders, and some stories. I’ve shared a couple of the latter already.  (And also.)

Here are some observations . . . .

My flat in Vienna has no garbage disposal.  I’m having to recall what to do with dinner dandruff!

A very kind Swedish kid was watching videos all the way from Newark to Stockholm.  He draped his hoodie across the side of his seat to that his video screen would not interfere with my fitful attempts at sleep.

How easily people switch between languages in Europe!  So many people are multi-lingual!

In Stockholm, whilst watching FIFA World Cup soccer in the executive lounge at the Hilton: the lounge attendant keeps walking into the room, watching a minute of the game, throwing up his hands in disgust at failed goal approaches, and walking out with a sigh.

My schoolboy German is coming along, and apparently people think I’m local at times, so successful is the accent.  But I’m finding English to be more prevalent than I remember from ten years ago.

The EU is fraying.  Voices of illiberalism are gaining strength. Flames of fear are being fanned by right-wing demagogues who then propose they are the solution to the problem they maintain is present, even though emperical evidence does not support their claims.  Even the young Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, is calling for hardening of the open borders that have been a key element of the European experiment.

Policies of mistrust — panic, even — are replacing what has always been a rational, consensus-driven, lead-from-the-middle governing philosophy.

Angela Merkel almost lost her government this month.  The Italians can’t pull anything together.  Hungary is under the thumb of a right-wing heavy.  Poland is verging on civil war.  And America?  My god . . . .

Cold cucumber soup is a delight!

Americans can be real shits when traveling abroad.  (I suppose people from other countries can be as well.)  Witness, in Florence last weekend:

“Is there a ladies nearby.”  New Jersey accent.  Repeated three times, at louder decibels. Met with a blank look from the Italian.  Finally, “Oh god, I just need a toilet.” And there was the word that made sense.

Why don’t people learn to try different words?  When I talk to people for whom English is not the first language, and I get a blank look, I always try to find another way of expressing the idea.  This seems so basic!

And American and Japanese teenagers and college students: stop tapping on your damn smartphones, and start looking up while you walk!  By the way, children, I learned years ago to look up above street level.  In many cities, some of the greatest glories abound on the façades of the buildings!

My impression is that Italians are not as considerate as their northern neighbors.  Not once did I see anyone at all –and certainly not the oblivious youngsters — give up a seat for a person with a cane, or an older person.  Even tram seats marked as for the elderly or handicapped were taken instead by able-bodied folks, usually youngsters.  In Vienna, half the tram jumps up to offer their seat.  Even in NYC!  But not in Italy, or at least not in Florence.

School email never ends.

I guess I just don’t get conceptual art.  The Klimt Beethovenfries was glorious, but the current contemporary installation was lost on me as I visited the Secession on Saturday.


Euro18: crown jewels

Since I have a jahreskarte to several Vienna museums, I went back on Friday to the Imperial Treasury Vienna.

The treasury, which is Austria’s version of the Jewel House at the Tower of London, features a stunning array of ecclesiastical objects, most of which are so overly ornate as to be wearisome.

But the secular treasury is a stunner!

Coronation robes.  The Habsburg hereditary crown.  Insignias of secular orders.  Objects d’art.  Uniforms galore.

The crown of the Holy Roman Empire was kept in Nuremberg for centuries, but has resided in Vienna since the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in the early 1800s (save for a brief sojourn back to Nuremberg under the Nazis).

I spent the €2.50 for the audio guide and wandered and listened and snapped photos for two hours. And the treasury is air-conditioned, which is a plus!

Emerald unction vessel, with 2680 carat emerald! Prague, 1641.
Detail, crown of Stefan Bocskay. Turkey, 1605.
Great cross of the military order of Maria-Therese, 1765.
Great cross of the military order of Maria-Therese, 1765.
Holy Roman Empire imperial crown, finished in the early 1000s. Worn only at the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor. Of German origan, ca. 980. Gold, cloisonné, precious jewels, pearls.
Detail, crown of the Holy Roman Empire.
Detail, Habsburg imperial crown. Prague, 1602.
Orb made in the first quarter of the 17th century to be used at coronations.
Ceremonial garb of one of the orders of merit. I can’t recall which one.
Austrian imperial coronation robe.
Ceremonial crib for the son of Napoleon. Paris, 1811.
Hungarian opal, ca. 1600.
Detail, Habsburg hereditary crown. Prague, 1602. The pearls are killer, but the enamel work on this is stunning.