Public opinion and demands

Guardian, on a poll showing two-thirds of Americans “oppose” the administration separating immigrant children from their parents:

Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll, asked: “When does public opinion become a demand that politicians just can’t ignore? Two-thirds of American voters oppose the family separation policy at our borders. Neither quotes from the Bible nor get-tough talk can soften the images of crying children nor reverse the pain so many Americans feel.”

I read this as suggesting Malloy thinks there is a polling number above which “politicians” as a class somehow apart from other Americans respond: politicians can ignore 67% opposition, but 80% magically causes engagement. This interpretation of “oppose” as “disapprove of” reflects to me American self-definition as passive viewers of media, seduced into thinking their responses on a survey connotes meaningful political engagement.

Another approach is to ask when public opinion stops being opinion, and becomes demand:

  • “You must stop separating children from parents because we are here now sitting in the doorways of this detention facility, and we will block the functioning of this place until you return those children to their parents.”

At this point American opposition to the administration seems on the level of saying they are unhappy when a polling representative asks them about their internal state. This is not a demand.


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Column of Constantine

Very honestly I wouldn’t claim the column behind the tram station is a lot to look at, but it was placed here to mark Byzantium, now Constantinople as the capital of the Roman Empire. Thirty and forty years ago that meant only something I might need to learn for an exam and otherwise held no relevance to me. Just last year I think I started getting a sense of the Byzantium/Rome schism. Coming from Catholic Croatia and Orthodox Serbia this is now quite salient.

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Basilica Cistern

I thought this was amazing.

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Hagia Sophia

As with many such spaces there is really no way to capture in a picture the grandeur you experience when present but I took a photo anyway to remind myself.

I found this interesting to watch. The weather is great, and there are not masses of people outside, so it’s really easy to get your picture taken in front of the Hagia Sophia. But inside, you can get your picture taken in front of an image of the Hagia Sophia. Is this more “real”? I liked the cat on the left also.

The golden tiles are oriented in slightly different directions, so at any one time some of them will catch the light and sparkle. I found this quite beautiful.

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Convincing people

I got a big kick out of a Guardian article, Democratic women and Republican populists surge in primaries this morning. That’s really the message of the entire piece, but you need to read it carefully to fully appreciate the import. There is not a shred of a suggestion of what Democratic, or the label used without irony in this article, “left” policy might be being advocated. Not a hint. A spokesperson for Emily’s List is quoted “No one is getting a vote because she’s a woman, she’s getting a vote because she is working really, really hard to convince people.” But to convince people of what? That she’s a woman? That she’s not a Republican? Seriously, that seems to be the heart of the Democratic program for 2018 just as it was in 2016: “We are not Republicans”. Democratic Party foot soldiers are expected to passionately vow in response “I’m with her!”

On the phone the other day an old friend, anguished about the lack of resistance to the current administration, wondered aloud about the American people filling the streets in the future. What about a general strike? If the Democratic Party is leading the strike what would the demands be? Business as usual stops until Americans become women?

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Important bearing

I am fairly confident this is the first hotel I’ve stayed in where the direction of Mecca can be found in the bed-side drawers.

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Bridge over the Bosporus

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Eight kilometers of trucks

Leaving Bulgaria there were literally eight kilometers of stopped trucks.

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Lambs brains

Tastes a bit like liver (which I like).

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Bulgarian Beer

There are beers from half a dozen countries on the menu. I told the waitress I’d like a local beer, she listed several Bulgarian and several Czech brews and looked at me questioningly. I asked her what she would drink, she smiled, “Not Bulgarian” went and got me Czech.

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