News and Propaganda: Snowy Summer Fun Edition

Sunday, May 15, 2016

It's been a while since we've had an N & P, but I couldn't help doing so this week amid all of the...free time that I seem to have now. 

Hang on a second, something seems somehow different these days? What is it? Oh wait--now I remember: school's out.

Things change in Bozeman pretty quickly in the wake of graduation and the end of the school year. There's still a fair bit going on downtown, but the area around the university (which is on  the opposite side of a large residential area) is so quiet these days. There's hardly any traffic, so the biking is a lot easier. That is, it's a lot easier to bike these days so long as you're not pedaling in the midst of a snowstorm. 

In Bozeman and environs 

On Sunday of last week I was out biking for much of the afternoon. By the end of the day, I was really glad that I'd liberally applied sunscreen--something I always forget to do. The weather was gorgeous--bright, no wind, bluebird skies, incredible in all the ways that gorgeous days in the high altitude west can be. Then, from noon Monday until midnight Tuesday there were heavy winds and almost constant snow flurries. 

It's no big deal. I'm sure it's snowed in May every year since I've been here, and it snows in the summer as well sometimes. Usually these are brief episodes, generally taking place for a couple of hours in the morning, and then by mid-afternoon it's sunny and beautiful again and people are out riding their bikes and skateboarding. So this kind of snowfall was a bit more rare I'd say for this time of year, but was more of a curiosity--for me, at any rate--than anything else after all of the warm weather we had been experiencing this spring. 



Anyway, I took a few pictures when I was out driving early in the morning last week. This is one of my new hobbies--getting up at the crack of dawn and driving out on the edge of town to look at the scenery and the wildlife that are out at that hour. I see a lot of deer, generally far out from the road, walking distantly in pastures and fields, or else in the grasses immediately below a forest leading up into the mountains. But I've also seen a lot of elk on these drives. 

So you see what having a car has done to me? The first forty-five years of my life I hardly ever drove, and even relied on my bicycle as my primary form of transportation through all or part of six Montana winters. Now that I have a car I've started wastefully driving around as a hobby. 

But it's hard not to out here. The area around Bozeman is so completely stunning and is topologically diverse in ways that I never would have imagined prior to moving here. I love the fact that you can climb a mountain in summertime--all the while wearing layers, walking past bits of snow, carrying bear spray, wondering if you're going to have dry heaves--and then go have a beer on a balmy day downtown.  

Yellowstone shotz
 
I also took a brief trip down to Yellowstone last week. I didn't take too many shotz, but here are a few:
  

Heading through the Lamar Valley












Some last remaining snow












 
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Okay, now that we're finished with the propaganda, what say we look at some news? 

Mehmet Okur winner announced 

Congratulations to Enes Kanter of the Oklahoma City Thunder. No matter who garners the the NBA title this year, Kanter is the winner of the Mehmet Okur award for the Turk who goes deepest in the playoffs. Apparently there were only three Turks who played in the NBA this year, with the other two being Ersan Ilyasova, whom the Pistons traded to Orlando this year, and Mehmet Asik of the New Orleans Pelicans.


En route to glory












 
Mehmet Okur, a member of the Pistons' 2004 championship team, was the first Turk in world history to play on an NBA title-winning team.

Trump through a Turkish lens

In a very indirect and convoluted way, I sometimes see (depends on the night) the Trump phenomenon somewhat in terms of Turkish politics in the 90s. That decade there were a number of left-right coalitions in Turkey, a situation that was partially the result of the fact that the two center-right leaders hated each other's guts, as did the leaders of the two center-left parties. In these coalitions, which took place between 1991 and 1999, the right wing parties were generally larger and played a more significant role in shaping the political agenda of the government. 

In those days, one of the big issues was privatization. Many of the left's constituents were against it, and felt abandoned by the leaders of the leftist parties, which had signed on to support the privatizing initiatives of successive right-wing dominated coalition governments. Many of the left's voters would then later end up supporting the Refah and Fazilet parties


Necmettin Erbakan in the 90s
In terms of their approach to religiosity in the public sphere, Refah and Fazilet were precursors to today's AKP. But they nevertheless were very different from the AK Party in that, under the domination of Necmettin Erbakan, the Refah and Fazilet parties emphasized social justice, including economic justice, in a manner that the more corporate AKP does not. 

Similarly in the United States, it seems clear that a lot of voters--Democratic and Republican--feel abandoned by the leaders of the two main parties. So, they'll vote for someone that they think is addressing their concerns.  

The point of the comparison is not to imply that Necmettin Erbakan or Tayyip Erdogan was/is like Donald Trump. But in both cases there was a constituency out there that was ignored by both the left and the right--people feeling that they have been on the losing end of changes taking place in recent decades, and that the traditional parties are not speaking for them. 

Year of authenticity? 

I don't like the silly false-equivalencies between supporters of Sanders and Trump, but there is something that these voters really do have in common: a belief that they are supporting someone who cannot be bought. To me, this seems like a rather unsurprising response to Citizens United and the sense that many people have that they're powerless in the fact of wealthy interests that control the political process

And both Sanders and Trump appeal to voters who want an "authentic" candidate. Indeed "authenticity," or at least the hunt for it, has in many ways been one of the most important themes of the 2016 election so far. For this reason, I think that Hillary Clinton could really have some difficulties with Trump in the fall. A fired up Trump base taking on a disspirited Democratic party could overcome a lot of the obvious electoral weaknesses that a Trump nomination would seem to bring.

Then again, I wonder if Trump's decision to accept GOP money will diminish his status in the eyes of his supporters. On this, I liked Gail Collins' recent piece in the NYT

Ultimately, I think the GOP establishment will get behind Trump--many of them have already. And I wouldn't be surprised one bit if Trump eventually sold his brand to the establishment, much in the way he's rented his name, in recent years, to other operations that he's had little day-to-day involvement in.

I could be wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised if, by November, Trump's actual policies relating to taxation and wealth distribution end up looking a lot like the ones supported by the party's establishment. 

Entertainers only

I liked this piece on Zeki Muren. Müren sounds like a really amazing performer--I only saw him on TV. 

Last summer when I was in Turkey I bought a Zeki Müren  record called "Lunapark Konseri." The beginning of the record is especially impressive. You can give it a listen here: 



I wrote a piece about Zeki Muren and Bulent Ersoy a few years ago that puts Müren's career in a somewhat different context. 
 

Partition fantasies

Sigh. "Could different borders have saved the Middle East?" If only we'd done a better job of dividing those people up! 

The assumption behind arguments like this seems to be that the cause of disfunction is somehow organic. By drawing the maps along cleaner ethnic or religious-based lines, we would have saved the world a lot of trouble because there would have been nothing to fight over, right? 


Some are tempted to pick up the pen again
Call me a skeptic, but I think that, no matter how the lines on the map were drawn, a number of factors would have nevertheless continued to destabilize the region, including: the presence of enormous supplies of oil and natural gas; colonization and the methods of decolonization, including international support for the creation of a new state, Israel, that was opposed by the great majority of people in the region; international support for regimes which violently and violently mistreat their own populations.

These "if only" arguments don't always stick to history. Late last year I posted a piece here about Josh Bolton's partition plan for Iraq and Syria. But the problem we need to realize is that the US and others could divide up the Middle East a thousand times and in a different way each time but this wouldn't change the fact that the division would be coming from outside. And that, in and of itself, is a problem. 

Commencement season upon us 

Muhtar Academy graduation. Stay tuned for the sequel. 

I wonder if the guy who makes the weird noises is available














I wrote about the muhtar elections in a post from Arnavutkoy back in 2009, when local tailor Terzi Hikmet took on the entrenched incumbent. 

Eurovision champion

The Crimean Tatar singer Jamala won the Eurovision Song Contest with a song about the 1944 deportations. Jamala was representing Ukraine, not Russia. Crimean Tatars were strongly against the 2014 annexation, and during the period of independent Ukraine's administration of the peninsula (1991-2014) Kiev and the Crimean Tatars were allies of a sort vis-a-vis Russians in Crimea. 

Here's her song: 




On that note, I think I'll get back to some other writing that I need to work on. For now, I hope my readers are enjoying themselves and avoiding snowstorms. 

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Also see: 

Other People Countries: Partition talk re Syria and Iraq

Entertainers Only

Decision 2009: The Race for Muhtar

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180 librarians can't be wrong! Order a copy of Turks Across Empires for yourself--or your library--today. 

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More commentary, photos, and links can be found, as always, in the Borderlands Lounge.