I knew it! SHCOMP or NASDAQ are not stock exchange index symbols, but onomatopoeia invented by the late Don Martin:

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"A word about what we should not do"

This from the Trump Campaign: "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

This. Not just yet another abomination slipping from the Provocateur in Chief's mouthpiece, but a formal, written statement published on his official channel. 

This. After the Paris and San Bernardino shootings, after Marine Le Pen's victory in French regional elections, after Obama's speech, after the rise of Ted Cruz in Iowa polls, after a call from Holocaust survivors to welcome refugees in the US...

This. Even in the US, people usually hide behind masks to make such hatemongering calls.

"What is going on" is that radicals once again set the agenda, and Donald Trump is playing their game.

"What is going on" is that France and the United States send the worst message to the world.

"What is going on" is that yes, the leaders of our democracies are weak. 

Francois Hollande is weak. Unlike after the Charlie Hebdo shootings, he chose the nationalist / military only path to pose as a strong leader days ahead of elections poised to boost the extreme right, and of course it backfired.

Barack Obama is weak because there's not much he can do: his predecessor already weakened America and democracy worldwide, and he failed to keep a majority to support him at home. No wonder the first half of his address to the nation* fell flat.

But Barack Obama is not weak when he remains clear (NSA discrepancies notwithstanding) about what America should not do, and that was the second half of his speech. America will stop being America if it follows the wishes of her most radical extremists, which happen to be exactly what ISIS wants.

I'm not sure a majority of Americans got that part of the message.

What I'm sure of, is that ISIS needs friends like Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, or Donald Trump.
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* "Address to the nation by the President" (White House - 20151206)


Fluctuat nec mergitur

Following Friday's attacks, I posted this image of Paris from my mobile phone:

That's a simple map of my hometown, with its motto in Latin.

'Fluctuat nec mergitur' means that even when tossed around in stormy waters, the city never sinks.

I considered using the official coat of arms, but it's too loaded in symbols, particularly with these protective walls, and the King's colors:

The last things I wanted were to celebrate warfare, to mention 'divine blood' in the middle of a carnage, or to bring monarchy into this new Republican challenge*.

I opted for a satellite image showing Paris as it is. Unfortunately, that crappy app cropped the map, severing even neighborhoods that had been struck by the terrorists, adding insult to death.

When I noticed that, I considered trying again, but somehow that failure made sense: you can't sum up the horror in one picture, and humanity as a whole had been assaulted anyway. 

Humanity is not sinking.

But among humans who are sinking, a few are tempted to join extremism, which feeds upon our weaknesses, particularly when our democracies fail.

And from France, more is expected than just 'staying afloat' and surviving terror attacks. This democracy can't afford failing to honor its own motto, 'liberty, equality, fraternity'. 

---ADDENDUM 20151118---
Thank you dear Annabel Park for your kind words to the French people:

(see also the French version on blogules V.F.: "Un message d'Annabel Park")


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* the year that started with "#JeSuisCharlie" keeps being dotted with atrocities across the globe


Jeb? A World Leader? Not kidding anyone anymore

After CNBC's controversial show, the GOP now leads Dems 3-1 in presidential debates.

This time, Jeb Bush seems to have lost big time, and against his most direct rival Marco Rubio, who confirmed in an almost 2008-No-Drama-Obama fashion that he was a top contender for next year.

Even Chris Christie had a slice of Jeb for breakfast, leaving the Bush Campaign in a fantasy league of its own. I couldn't help but imagine Dubya's brother in a decisive meeting at the White House. He'd be wolfed down by any of his advisers, and he told us himself that they would be the same guys who advised W... America doesn't need this kind of "Commandee in Chief".

The usual clowns (Stan Carson and Laurel Trump) left the stage to Carly Fiorina, who didn't make much of all that airtime. Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee cracked good ones and the audience, and at this pace, Trump won't even have to complain about the presence of Rand Paul or John Kasich at each corner of the stage, come November 10 and the 4th debate in Milwaukee Theatre.

Four days before, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley will have met for a quiet chat in Rock Hill, SC. Without Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb, who excused themselves, and without Joe Biden, who understood after the First Democratic Debate that Hillary wouldn't crash that early. She even won the first GOP-Dem debate at Capitol Hill for the Benghazi hearings.

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After helping him boost their ratings, CNN dump Trump

These days, I usually have Trump for breakfast, courtesy CNN. Seoul time is perfect to enjoy primary debates (that, at times, look and sound like debates between primates), and the daily dose of Trump delivered by this network to build up more audience than Fox News for its own GOP debate.

Fun to see Anderson Cooper and Co. pull out two negative stories against Teflon Don the very day following said debate.To be fair, both issues had to be raised: one on a event supposed to be for Veterans, the other on an anti-Muslim question raised at a Town Hall meeting.

Anyway, here's my scorecard for yesterday's debate - +s and -s are not an appreciation of each candidate, but my perception of their net gain/loss compared to before the debate:
  • +++ Carly Fiorina confirms her lock on the Veep position, and she can aim higher. But for that, she needs to show her 'human' side... if any. 
  • ++ Jeb Bush did more than show up. He scored high on family values (wife, dad, bro), and stole some weed from W's wisecracking stash. If his body language remains that of a reluctant and insecure leader, he gained precious points where in the previous debate, he was more into not losing any.
  • + Marco Rubio moved to the next level, back into challenger territory. His stupid joke on California drought might cost him an important State for the primaries.
  • + Chris Christie remains the dude you want to listen to. He perfectly seized each opportunity to shift the debate to audience-connecting grounds, like in his inaugural address, or with his remarks on the 'entertaining' bragging bout between Carly and Don. He cleverly displayed his Conservative credentials, and positioned himself as the good cop who knows when to get tough. He'd make a very strong nominee against any Dem candidate, but stands little chance for the moment in a GOP primary.
  • = Ben Carson was a bit more at ease than in the first debate, where he didn't impress me much, but scored big. He didn't show anything new, but risks less of losing ground than Trump in that regard. Still, he left Bush take seat number two.
  • = Scott Walker had his moments, but can't help looking like a lightweight. This GOP wants a different presence on stage.
  • = Ted Cruz carved himself into a cold, stubborn monolith that only like-minded people can stick to.
  • - John Kasich stuck to his unmovable script, a rambling old timer stuck in the past.
  • - Rand Paul did receive an initial boost from DT, who honored him by noticing his presence. But he continued on his negative trend, even if he fared much better than last time, using the Constitution as a cane to prevent further collapse.
  • - Donald Trump donaldtrumped for three hours, but in front of Reagan's Air Force One, Air Farce One played too often defense, exposing moments of inertia that may cost him more than his outrageous remarks. This man badly needs something new to last. He's still the biggest presence, but boy, did he look like an old, tired lion about to lose his alpha male status... He even failed to compare himself to Ron born-again Republican Reagan.
  • -- Mike Huckabee is already out of the race, a commentator speaking of the nominee as a distant third person.

My Twitter timeline around the debate:

20150826 - Watched today's episode of The Apprentice President on CNN. As usual, Donald Trump outdonaldtrumped himself. (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/636331305089679360):

20150915 - Daily dose of Donald Trump on CNN. As usual, as funny as scary. (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/643585423235637248)
20150917 (Debate Day part I):
. GOP debate of smaller losers drawing to an end on CNN (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/644295898319556608)
. Armaggdon - GOP debate (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/644300121971167232)
. Scott Walker Back in the Race. Jeb Bush caught between him & Donald Trump. Body language of a weak bystander - GOP debate (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/644306529454129152)

20150917 (Debate Day part II):
. Ted Cruz thinks he'd be the perfect theocratic commander in chief to face a 'theocratic ayatollah' - GOP Debate (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/644312765625008128)
. Jeb Bush confirms his advisors advised dad George H. W. Bush and bro George W. Bush... (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/644330158984265728)
. Jeb Bush: G.W. Bush kept us safe. By fueling worldwide terror? By paving the way for ISIS? - GOP Debate (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/644331145597816832
. Jeb Bush - Donald Trump low fiving now - GOP Debate (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/644344804105711620)

. Curious to see how Donald Trump bubble scores now. Issues were raised at GOP debate, and he played defense (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/644347252366946304)

20150917 (Debate Day part III):
. Donald Trump on CNN: nobody did bullying. Rand Paul might disagree (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/644349243705065472)
. As expected, Carly Fiorina secured the Veep spot. Aiming higher now, but too tough. Losing a kid to drugs a handicap then. GOP debate (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/644373833021919232)
.CNN waited after GOP Debate to demolish the Donald Trump they've helped build up to boost their ratings. Raise anti-Muslim, Vet issues (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/644670334562471936)

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Hillary not likable enough?

HRC is obviously trying to roll the clock back to early 2008, when she found her voice by shedding a tear. But this time again, it seems too late in the game, and not that sincere.

As announced (see "ABH Corpus"), Bernie Sanders is enjoying the time of his life at the helm of the Anyone But Hillary movement, all other Dem candidates failing miserably in the polls. The question is not which bubble will burst first between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, but if someone will show up to save the RNC.

Joe Biden is the most likely - and likable, that's important too - candidate, and Monmouth University polls clearly show a Joementum (see below), but does he want to race, and can his scores remain that stellar if he officially kills Clinton?

Monmouth University September polls ("National: Clinton lead shrinks - While non-candidate Biden makes gains")
For the moment, Hillary doesn't seem able to reload her campaign, to bring freshness to it. That's what Veep Picks are for, but her main hurdle is the primaries, and the early ones at that. Hell, she can't even afford waiting for IA and NH; she must pull out something by the end of this year, or else...

If the core Dem dilemma is about character, what to say of the GOP side? Ahead of the second debate, 3 non-politicians steal the show (Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina), but the not likable enough Jeb Bush stays in the race, and Mike Huckabee has thrown a Hail Mary Pass on the Kim Davis case (if the Kentucky clerk ever gets sanctified, that will be for surviving a quartering act between the Fox News host from Hope, AR and Ted Cruz).

To lead this GOP, the most rational choice seems to be Kim Jong-un:

BREAKING - Kim Jong-un declares war to Donald Trump (20150821 - twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/634558694936604672)

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GOP's Got Talent

Today, Jon Stewart left The Daily Show to join the Academy Award trail - fare well Maestro!

A dozen people embracing Jon Stewart in a big hug, what a contrast with the GOP Debate podium!

Now Fox News can claim the top spot for political entertainment and not fully thought through opinions. 

Today, no fewer that 10 top stand-up comedians took the stage for the first GOP Debate, and we're not even counting the minor candidates, who enjoyed their own open mic hours before!
America's Got Talent: today, 10 funniest stand-up comedy talents on GOP Debate (tough competition for Donald Trump) (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/629481901875556352)

Here's how the 10 (+1) fared:
  • 2 over-performed:
As often in the case, the winners are underdogs: Carly Fiorina confirmed her potential as the perfect running mate, and John Kasich was, to put it simply, in the zone - his comfort zone (as long as this guy can repeat his same 'I did that' speech he's okay, but he'll be in trouble once the field's cleared up and he's given more time to talk about other issues).
  • 1 lost big:
Not only did Rand Paul sink, but to add insult to injury, Trump was the one who delivered the death blow.
  • 1 won the Democratic debate:
Chris Christie played the full orchestra: compassionate, conservative, patriot act hawkish, Obama hugger, no-nonsense tea partier hunter, good cop and bad cop, Hulk and Baloo.
  • 3 did exactly what was expected from them:
Jeb Bush by keeping low profile, staying below radar surface, and even ending with the dullest closing words. So he didn't win today's debate, but the aim was not to lose it, so mission accomplished magna cum boredom. 
Donald Trump by roaring outrageous Trumpisms that would terminate all hopes for any normal candidate, but will keep him in the race for a while. Chris Wallace and his Fox News pals tried their best to expose his ugliest sides and his lack of knowledge on key issues, but Donald Excuse Me Trump proudly owned up to every single monstrosity he ever said or did.
Marco Rubio by playing his charmingly hollow, perfect son in law self: my parents did all the tough parts, including my face, but I learned how to smile all by myself, so I'm qualified for the job.
  • 4 performed so-so:
Sorry but I still can't take Scott Walker seriously. He may be one of the least worst in the pack, each time he speaks I see Steve Carell.
Ted Cruz was, is, will be a loser.
Ben Carson is not a jaded politician and it shows. The unnatural way he waves his arms, how his eyes keep returning to his notes / screen... Regardless of what he says you can't trust a leader who doesn't trust himself.
I was about to face-palm when Mike Huckabee started his wrap-up (he's not going to denigrate Trump when he's supposed to finish on a positive me-note?!?), when he pulled his Hillary Clinton joke. Got me, but didn't seize the day.

BTW: now please give me a good Hillary Clinton - Bernie Sanders fight.

Rick Perry jabs at Donald Trump in absentia at Minor League debate. Huckabee to do the same in the main Nuthouse That GOP Built (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/629454011456884736)

GOP Debate starts with individual Q&A. Here, Chris Christie on how he slimmed down (the NJ budget, not his own weight) (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/629463191509045248)

Robin Williams still alive, Steve Carell still making a fool of himself (Ted Cruz and Scott Walker at GOP Debate) (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/629467865557504001)

Ben Carson body language: what am I doing here?
Certainly no Commander in Chief material (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/629468580174639104)

Donald Trump at Rand Paul with the grace of a buldozer: "you're having a bad night" - actually "you're having a bad time today" (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/629469326622478336)

Donald Trump proud of milking the system he pledges to change, of making money at other peoples expense. Surreal GOP Debate (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/629475624281706496)

Donald Trump in Atlantic City: I took the money and ran.
Christ Christie in NJ: I restored the budget, now I can run for Prez.
GOP Debate (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/629477659890749440)

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Trump Parliament

Since last May (see "ABH Corpus"), more candidates have joined the race. No surprise, except maybe for George Pataki, a serious contender for VP who didn't have to show up that early. As expected, Chris Christie and Scott Walker jumped in, as well as the Bobby Jindal - Rick Perry - Rick Santorum trio.
Of course, Donald Trump eventually putting his money where his big mouth has always been remains the most entertaining part of the show, particularly when you're on the Democratic side.

Yet Latinos and Veterans are not finding Trump that funny. Not after his latest outrageous remarks on Mexican migrants or John McCain.

That's classic Donald Trump: a farcical extremist, a guy who, at the same time, makes you want to laugh (doesn't he look like Owen Wilson?) and to puke (doesn't he think like Jean-Marie Le Pen?).

Owen? You'd better not pout, I'm telling you why (Donald Trump between Jean-Marie Le Pen and Owen Wilson)
This outrageous character is leading the polls for the GOP primaries: according to Fox (July 13-15), he scores 18% compared to 14% for Jeb!, 15% for Walker (Scott, not W), 8% for Rand Paul, and 7% for Marc Rubio (who didn't stand the distance vs Bush The Third).

This shouldn't last, but Donald Trump has become the ultimate deformable mirror for other GOP candidates, forcing them to distance themselves from this radioactive clown, to the risk of alienating ultra-conservative voters.

And ultra-conservative voters are not in a mood for laugh, following the latest victories of democracy:  Confederate Flag outlawed, and equal rights for same-sex marriage (hell, Lindsay Graham even became a candidate for the GOP, how's that for LGBT rights!).

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ABH Corpus

Even if many heavyweights are taking their time, the 2016 race is considerably more crowded than when Ted Cruz launched / torpedoed his own campaign (see "2016 - Recyclable Expendables").

By submitting his candidacy first after Hillary on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders claimed at least 3 obvious categories : "ABH" (Anyone But Hillary), "EWE" (Elizabeth Warren Erzatz - Sanders reaches even further to the left, pitching himself as a 'socialist'), and "OFGWAB" (that perennial candidacy type I dubbed "Old Farts Going With A Bang"). If both Jim Webb and Martin O'Malley show up (not to mention Lincoln Chafee), they have little chance to last long in the primaries.

On the Republican side, serious contenders don't want to appear as anonymous members of the tadpole pack. So Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, or Scott Walker keep waiting (Lindsey Graham could also be a serious contender - but like, two centuries ago?). Among declared candidates, neither Rand Paul nor Mike Huckabee seem to have enjoyed any form of momentum. Marco Rubio made a pretty good start (only tripping a bit during Shinzo Abe's visit - see his flip-flop in ""History is harsh" and other sick jokes"), but Jeb has the capacity to financially suck his campaign dry. Still, Bush The Third must beware not to leave Marco get too much time and space to shine. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina have, as expected, bought their lottery tickets for a Veep slot. Will Jindal join them? Will Perry further embarrass himself? Will Santorum run again, or simply wait for a theocon V.P. call?

And does Barack Obama consider running again, this time under the GOP flag? Some arctic drilling after an ultra-SIG-friendly TPP, anyone? I don't know if Michelle will ever run for the office, but I can't wait to discover the top sponsors of his Obama Foundation...

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2016 - Recyclable Expendables

Ted Cruz and his wife launched this stand up comedy season: Heidi's Goldman Sachs story and Ted's Obamacare flip-flop set the bar relatively high.

as a friend put it, Heidi makes serious dough
Sad to see this nut crack so soon: with Cruz, GOP primaries would be so much more fun to follow! We're not sure Rick Perry will return or Donald Trump go for it, and John Kasich is by no means SNL material.

The main question is: after John McCain and Mitt Romney, will yet another 'fake-moderate' win? For the conservative base, Chris Christie is too billclintonish, Mark Everson too joebidenish, Jeb Bush too Bush, Bobby Jindal too weak, Scott Walker too hollow, Marco Rubio too latino-alienated, Lindsey Graham too dovish (and gay), Ben Carson too... well, you know, not Latino enough? (even if his anti-gay score looks perfect)...

Will the Tea Party decide? No, Rand Paul is too curly and pro-gay-rights.
Will theocons decide? Yes, Mike Huckabee can sing. And seize any opportunity.
Will Netanyahu decide? Hillary is AIPAC-friendly anyway. And it could be worse: Shinzo Abe is the next in line for a speech at the Congress...

If a fake-moderate wins, they might be forced to pick yet another ayatollah as a running mate - of the theocon flavor like Sarah Palin, of the tea party variety like Paul Ryan. Another cycle wasted for the fake-moderates running for a Veep spot, unless Carly Fiorina or Rick Snyder join the early stages of this Love Boat Season 2016.

In a best case scenario, the GOP selects two lukewarm nobodies covering all gender-race-age bases, and easily wins on a Anyone-But-Hillary platform.

Speaking of the Democratic primaries... only Al Franken, Wendy Davis, or Nick Hanauer could spice them up. That, or health issues for Hillary that would open the door to Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Cuomo, Joe Biden and all. For John Kerry, it would take a double miracle with Iran and Israel. And Charlie Crist pulling out a Reagan 1980? An Obama 2008 scenario remains unlikely, but many dream of an Obama 2004 stunt in Philly for DNC 2016 (give Hanauer an hour...). Before that, the primaries will provide opportunities of a lifetime: for ambitious youngsters to show their face (Julian Castro if he can't wait for the VP slot)? for old farts to go with a bang? for a smart anti-conservative to steal the A-B-H votes promised to Warren? Evan Bayh? John Hickenlooper? Mark Warner?

We do know that Janet Yellen won't run, even if the Fed chair is not as 'patient' as she used to be.

Employment is up, the greenback is recovering, the stock exchanges are way too high..., but fundamentally, the US economy is not in a much better shape than national politics or this post-Ferguson society in general. Much of the good news comes from a bad thing (shale gas), and the failure to reform finance sucked the whole world dry, paving the way for the extremes, and even the success of China's AIIB. Greedy money reflated bubbles all the way to where future value is created (research, start-ups...).

After the subprime crisis, we basically rewarded the guys who broke the system, and of course they've been pushing further ever since. How far into the campaign will the gimchi hit the fan?

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