18 July 2024

July 18, 2024: One joke popular among Thai comedians years ago involves how a cunning pharmacy advertises itself. “Medicine is sold by Pesatchakorn (Pharmacist) Parinya (Holding university degree)” says the sign in front of that pharmacy.

People rush to buy medicine from the pharmacy, convinced that it is supervised by a pharmacist who graduated from a university. They do not know that Pesatchakorn Parinya is a person whose name is Pesatchakorn and whose surname is Parinya. That person had his whole name and surname changed for the purpose of attracting prospective customers to the place.

Legal, moral and social questions or messages emerging from that joke are more or less similar to the ones in the mushrooming controversy over educational credentials of Senator Keskamol Pleansamai. Some of the questions may not have to do with her directly and the “California University” can be more frowned upon, but you get the idea.

The social media investigation is intensifying and she will have to worry more about potential criminal action, not just the Election Commission. A person can change his or her name to “Pesatchakorn Parinya” as it’s not against the law, but is it totally lawful to use Pesatchakorn Parinya to boost a business through misdirection?

The woman who won the most votes in the new Senate can get away with a “How could I have known?” defense, but her long-term reputation and new-found political glory are at risk. Her senatorial status will not be affected by educational controversies, but it will be seriously impacted if it can be proved that she drew support and admiration during the election through dishonest means.

One thing that many people do not understand is why she has not put it all to rest or at least tried to ease the damage by showing relevant items like her thesis back-up (it’s unthinkable for a professor not to back up important documents that he or she writes) or employment contracts as a tutor, or a work permit. 

July 17, 2024: Thailand’s political direction will depend heavily on the day the Constitutional Court delivers its verdict on the Move Forward case, and its rival Pheu Thai Party will be equally anxious.

August 7 will be closely watched. Will Move Forward, accused of attempting to upend Thailand’s political administrative system, be dissolved? If it is dissolved, how far the punishment goes? Will it affect popular Pita Limjaroenrat who is holding an advisory position in the party?

Those are the basic questions on everyone’s mind. “Everyone” definitely includes Pheu Thai, whose relationship with the conservatives is virtually hanging by a thread, depending on the degree of the reluctant allies’ worries about Move Forward.

If Move Forward is perceived as posing less threat politically, Pheu Thai will have sleepless nights. The ruling party has several policies that the conservatives do not like, and the resurgence or increased political relevance of Thaksin Shinawatra is being frowned upon more and more.

Both he and Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin are haunted by legal troubles _ existing or potential _ themselves, which can explode any minute.

July 16, 2024: All of a sudden, it matters very little if Joe Biden will or should be replaced or not. Developments over the past two days have all but confirmed that the most important thing he or any potential Democratic alternative should do is pray that the rock bottom has already been hit.

The euphoria at the Republican convention hours ago is one big ironic contrast. It could have been the gloomiest event had the bullet been a centimeter or two off its path. As things stand, although reports said under-the-surface attempts to field a new Democratic candidate were still on-going, the efforts may not be as intense as last week, which saw several sources predicting a major Democratic tsunami against Biden’s bid for a second term.

Today, everyone is concentrating on the investigation, and leaders of both warring sides in the United States have called for the lowering of political temperature. They are unlikely to succeed in stopping what they started, though, with “conspiracy theorists” far outnumbering the official investigators.

This, however, does not mean suspicions leading to outrageous theories have unreasonably come from nothing. Curious people in fact have strong grounds to suspect that something lies far beyond what has been officially said so far.

The following is why, which revolves around puzzling “security” at the rally:

1) As we see in the movies, protective “snipers” and other agents should have scanned the area using powerful binoculars. Why those at the Trump rally area had not spotted a young man lying openly in a shooting position on a clear rooftop nearby is questionable indeed. 

2) To add to 1), that rooftop is the only place in the area where an assassin would station himself or herself. It should have been easy. Should have it been secured and crawling with agents hours or days before the rally? How the young “gunman” with a rifle kit managed to go into the building, let alone access the best striking spot in the area and be comfortably poised to shoot, is a major question.

3) Despite 1) and 2), the protective agents responded immediately after the gunman fired his rifle, instantly killing him. If they had not scanned the rooftop before, it was the swiftest, most precise and most efficient response. Then again, if they had scanned the rooftop before, why didn’t they spot the gunman and stop him?

4) It was against a backdrop of unprecedentedly-cutthroat political divide. Stakes could not have been higher. Trump was holding substantial leads in all presidential predictions.

5) Trump had vowed to immediately end the Ukraine war, an attitude that was considerably different from Biden’s belligerence. NATO policies are also a big issue. Some people stand to lose big. Many analysts could not help bringing up John F Kennedy and the American war in Vietnam which he decided to end. There are other comparisons as well: Gunmen with mental issues acting alone; gunmen killed before being able to say anything; and gunmen making unbelievable shots and such skills belied relatively-easy downfalls. 

“Conspiracy theorists” are not exclusively wild-eyed people with messy hair playing computers in the basements this time. Extreme suspicion has extended to many Republicans on the streets. They discussed it at public parks, shopping malls or restaurants, aided by “social media investigators” in the rest of the world.

By the way, Trump has officially picked Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as his running mate, a development that would have been played up three days ago.

July 15, 2024: The whole world has just witnessed the biggest difference a centimeter can make. Or at least many people on the planet believe so.

One western TV broadcaster summed it up perfectly: “If it had been one centimeter or two off the ear, we would have talked about it totally differently right now.” 

That alternate reality is hair-raising. But what’s happening now is that Donald Trump has been martyred alive. Many Republicans and Democrats have come to firmly believe that the election is “over” the minute Trump, blood on his face, walked off the chaotic scene mobbed by protective bodyguards with one of his fists in the air and shouted “Fight” defiantly.

“That’s a campaign photo right there,” leading Thai journalist Suthichai Yoon said on his YouTube live. Few would disagree. It’s an election-winning picture hands down.

The Democrats’ extremely-bad period is still unfolding. Late last month, Joe Biden stuttered and froze during a televised debate with Trump, who was for the first time taking significant leads in popularity surveys. The president then faced a rebellion within his own Democratic Party. Then he made some more gaffes, first at the NATO summit and later at a press conference intended to prove that he was cognitively strong.

All the hate words _ political rhetoric that demonised Trump uttered by government politicians and amplified in no small measure by the media _ are being put under the microscope right now.

A group of Republican lawmakers are blaming Biden, saying his “bullseye” campaign rhetoric led to the attempted assassination. BBC quoted Politico as reporting that Biden said during a phone call to donors: “I have one job, and that’s to beat Donald Trump. I’m absolutely certain I’m the best person to be able to do that. So, we’re done talking about the debate. It’s time to put Trump in a bullseye.”

Certainly Biden did not mean that Trump had to be killed, but the “bullseye” remark is going viral all the same.

Ohio Senator J.D. Vance, a potential Trump vice presidential pick, said on X shortly after the shooting that Biden’s rhetoric was to blame, CNN reported. “Today is not just some isolated incident. The central premise of the Biden campaign is that President Donald Trump is an authoritarian fascist who must be stopped at all costs,” he said. “That rhetoric led directly to President Trump’s attempted assassination.”

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, another potential VP pick and top Trump ally, also said on X, was also quoted by CNN: “Let’s be clear: This was an assassination attempt aided and abetted by the radical Left and corporate media incessantly calling Trump a threat to democracy, fascists, or worse.”

One pro-Trump media outlet has aired clips of certain Democratic supporters lamenting _ some rather hysterically _ the near miss. America, the channel said, should not have come to this point. It noted that it was not an extremely-rare clip done by a hardliner, but that such content could easily be found and attracted agreeable comments on the social media. 

In short, while Trump was bloodied, the Democrats were hurt more than him. Trump’s own rhetoric referring to things like “bloodbath” was fading into the background, and it would raise the question of who demonised whom first.

How could the world have changed had the bullet been more pinpointed? A successful assassination would have still landed the Republicans a big presidential victory, but without Trump a lot of things would have been wildly uncertain. One of the questions is whether the election would have been possible at all.

As of now, it looks like the presidential race will not be affected, although November can turn out to be just a formality. 

July 14, 2024: Politics spills blood everywhere, be it at the most autocratic or democratic places. There are just two reasons _ one is the urge to win at all costs, and the other is hate.

Conspiracy theories will abound immediately after what happened at a Donald Trump rally in Pennsylvania, not least because it took place during one of America’s most politically tumultuous periods in modern times. Nobody will ever know the truth.

As usual, the “gunman” was dead, and there goes the most important “link” if he was not acting alone. Political rallies will never be the same in the United States, which has seen a civil war and countless political assassinations and attempted assassinations. The JFK story will be revisited, if not other incidents that have remained questionable until today. This November’s election will have added meanings.

And it can get worse tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.

Blame it on a politics that is cutthroat, divisive, spawns massive vested interests and sows the fast-growing seeds of hatred on all sides through propagandas and words that demonise the targets. Those things cannot be hindered by technological advances or what we think are “free” and “responsible” media. The only difference between now and then is that today’s violence is occurring before everyone.

July 13, 2024: The question of whether we, the human beings, are alone or not will definitely and unequivocally be answered in our lifetime, a key scientist involved in the operations of the James Webb Space Telescope believes.

This week marks two years since the JWST beamed its very first images to earth, jeopardising mainstream cosmological knowledges in the process. As the “futures” of famous or important humans as well as their organisations, systems or ideologies are being discussed, focused on, or speculated, the highly-sophisticated equipment is continuing to look farther and farther back into the past, billions of years before Joe Biden was born.

It’s a mission greater than finding extraterrestrial life, but, along the way, the JWST will help answer the haunting question of whether movies like Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy are pure fantasies or a glimpse of things to come.

Marking the two-year occasion, www.dazeddigital.com published an interview with Dr Amber Straughn, one of astrophysicists at NASA who know the JWST inside an out. She was asked about the hunt for aliens.

“I think we will discover life – microbial life – in our solar system, definitely within our lifetime,” says Straughn. “And I’m very hopeful that we’ll see these signs of life on other planets in our lifetime as well.” 

The website stated that these are big claims, but it pointed out that they have not come from nowhere, saying that with the JWST help, scientists have uncovered a few key signs of alien life over the last couple of years, including all-important carbon-bearing molecules on the ‘habitable-zone’ exoplanet K2-18 b. Dazeddigital was, however, quick to mention that other researchers have cast doubts over this initially.

July 12, 2024: Although embattled American President Joe Biden mindbogglingly referred to Volodymyr Zelensky as “President Putin” at the NATO summit, the Ukrainian president would still root for him in November.

It’s like saying “Please give Prayut Chan-o-cha a big applause” while ushering Pita Limjaroenrat onto the stage, but Biden gaffes are so thick and fast these days that opponents and supporters alike are looking for a blunder-free week rather than a misstep or lapse of attention.

Besides, there is something that Zelensky should worry about more. Americans are being divided by the Ukraine war like never before. The Republicans’ call for an immediate end to the fighting through a truce is getting louder whereas the White House is as, if not more, belligerent.

Zelensky’s controversial political backgrounds have also become more glaring to the Republicans, who have started to apparently feel that a notorious politician is hiding behind White House backing and Biden-supported NATO, and is virtually holding his country hostage.

The Republicans are charging that the Biden administration is creating a false impression, as confirmed by the US president’s NATO summit speech, that Ukraine stands a good chance to win the war, while in fact the country is being pummelled by Russia’s military superiority.

One major public claim is that the Biden government is “lying” to all Americans, all Ukrainian people and the whole world regarding how the war will end, leading to unnecessary deaths in Ukraine in the process. 

A power shift in America would therefore seriously affect the Ukrainian president.

This means Zelensky can never bring himself to support Donald Trump. This should also mean that, as long as the money and military hardware keep coming, Biden can call him anything. 

July 11, 2024: It’s like you are a bully’s best friend, or the best friend of someone a bully hates. That’s the unspoken meaning of the newly-released finding from the Pew Research Centre.

Things can be difficult either way. If you are a bully’s best friend, the bully’s biggest enemy may not like you or may not trust you. If you are the best friend of someone targetted by a bully, the bully may view you with suspicion.

This is not to mention friends of the bully, or friends of the bully’s target.

The Pew report said Thailand holds the most favourable views of China among people in 35 countries surveyed. A diplomatic nightmare, therefore, is all but guaranteed.

America and China are enemies. That is certain. But who’s the bully? It’s debatable and depends on one’s world views. As mentioned above, it can be very tough either way.

To make matters more complicated, Thai politicians fighting for power at the moment are divided into a pro-China camp on one side and a pro-US camp on the other. 

To make it sound a little romantic, Thailand will be torn between two lovers.

July 10, 2024: “Forceful” is the most popular word in western media’s headlines on the US president’s speech at the Nato summit in Washington this week, but the reason is not to intimidate Russia.

“Forceful” is meant to underline Joe Biden’s attempts to appear strong physically and hence ease doubts about his cognitive conditions.

But things are taking place against a backdrop of what was said to be his most important period of his re-election campaign that is still teetering as of now.

It’s like watching a highly-intense political drama on TV with so many twists and turns that you can’t tell good guys from the bad ones and you don’t know whom to feel pity for or to root for. Most importantly, you can’t predict how it ends.

Let’s recap. After the debate debacle late last month, Biden is fighting with his supporters, or those who used to support him to be exact. His enemies, Donald Trump and the Republicans, have been fading into the background, rather voluntarily because they think the pro-Biden apparatus is shooting itself in the foot so they’d better sit and watch.

Democrat rebels who want him to be replaced as the party’s presidential candidate are increasing in numbers and they are clashing with the White House. Previously pro-Biden media outlets have hopped on the Biden-out bandwagon, with the issue of democratic transparency pummeling the government in particular. (It doesn’t mean that the Democratic Party and the media are being totally honest, though.)

It does not matter if Biden is facing some form of a conspiracy or not. Even if the debate with Trump was a set-up aimed at eventually replacing him, the current downward spiral certainly had not been expected by anyone. At stake now is not Biden’s future, but the future of American democracy entirely.

The latest setback is that George Stephanopoulos, the ABC news anchor who recently interviewed Biden about his fitness for the presidential race, was caught on camera Tuesday indicating that what he witnessed made him think Biden could not serve another four years.

However, over the past few days, Biden has issued strong statements, verbally and in the form of a defiant letter to the Democratic Party, that he would stay in the presidential race, and that the Democrats should challenge him at the party’s convention if they want another candidate.

And currently there is no better stage to demonstrate a leader’s fitness, military acumen and strong ideological resolution than the Nato summit. In a brief but strongly delivered remark at the opening of the summit, the president declared the military alliance “more powerful than ever” as it faced a “pivotal moment” with the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Warning that “autocrats” were overturning global order”, Biden announced more military aid for Kyiv. “The war will end with Ukraine remaining a free and independent country,” Biden was quoted by the BBC, which remarkably added that he was reading a teleprompter. Ukraine was assured of financial and military support.

Forceful or not, Russia definitely is not squirming. It must be praying for Biden to overcome the existing obstacles, in fact (on condition that the existing suspicion about his health and cognitive abilities is true). Those who are squirming must be some Americans, or even those who used to be his unconditional supporters.

The Democratic Party, specifically the rebellious members, must have watched the Nato summit performance with mixed feelings. They installed him almost four years ago (amid Trump’s vociferous charges that they did so illegally), but now that some of them want him out, he is vociferously refusing to go (unless, of course, they find a legal albeit vociferous way to do so).

July 10, 2024: A small, ongoing protest has caught apparently-insignificant attention, yet an easier access to cannabis and other controversial “herbs” is in fact one of the world’s most important issues, one that can upend the global economy.

The conventional world economy depends largely on human beings’ fear of death. People buy medicine, go to hospital, eat “clean” food, consume supplements, take out insurance, undergo tests for, say, cancer and etc because they believe in a narrative that supports arguably the most lucrative and massive industry on the planet: Modern medicine is the only way to go.

That industry even coined a word to back up the virtual drug copyright _ drug patent. It was meant to avoid saying copyright outright but it’s a huge humanitarian question suppressed by giant entities that few dare to challenge all the same.

The more limited the researches and experiments are, the more widespread and invincible the modern medicine becomes.

Imagine what a blow it would be for that industry if traditional medicine gets a big boost. People talk about legislation that could turn things around ideologically or militarily strategically, but what is equally, if not more, important, is legislation that could revitalise old medical wisdom and rattle the related status quo.

Modern medicine makes some people and countries rich and powerful, and that state of affairs has to be protected at all costs. Alternatives, therefore, spark big controversies immediately and without exception.

Pro-legalisation activists are holding sporadic demonstrations near Government House after the Srettha government announced it was reversing the “more open” cannabis policy. “We have been told lies and cannabis is being once again demonised,” a leader, Prasitthichai Nunual, was quoted as saying.

The group has threatened an “upgraded” protest but the Pheu Thai-led government is unlikely to back down. The protesters are so small in numbers and their opponents are so buying into anti-legalisation narrative that their threat will be laughed at by many people.

But, no pun intended, cannabis is no laughing matter. It can even pose a huge democratic question.

July 8, 2024: The only big difference from Thailand is that the French target of a political ganging up is the far right. The rest is virtually the same.

A divided Parliament. Policies that ambivalent partners do not see eye to eye on. A forced alliance that can end any minute. Expected difficulties when it comes to passing a law. (One thing missing could be a return of a convict from exile who can have lunch with the prime minister.)

Any “liberal” somewhere else who may be feeling the urge to celebrate should spare a thought. The far-right movement in France must be feeling hard done by. And take away the ideology, they are going through something very similar to what’s happening half the world away.

July 7, 2024: Without googling, do you know the names of key far-right leaders tipped to take political powers in France? But even a non-football fan should know who the best footballer France is having at the moment.

By the same token, if you are non-English, can you spell the name of the leader of the Labour Party who is becoming the new UK prime minister (if you know the name at all). But you should be able to tell who Harry Kane is, right?

What makes it more interesting is the fact that football news is rarely on the front page while political news is guaranteed utmost coverage the whole time, whether it’s the front page or the home page.

It’s not totally fair to ask about “foreigners”, some may protest. Let’s make it a little easier, then. Who’s Ratchanok Intanont? And who’s Permpoon Chidchob? One, two, three. Time’s up.

What’s the point of all this? It’s the fact that people who are supposed to affect our lives considerably are those who actually don’t interest us or matter to us at all. And it’s also the fact that while we focus on something else, a teeny group of people are making rules, setting agendas, manipulating news and telling a vast majority of the world how to live.

If the minority people are so important and relevant, we should be able to keep track of them by heart, not when an election is taking place.

If politics is not highly overrated, it needs a very serious reform.

July 6, 2024: Joe Biden dug a hole for himself, the White House and the entire Democratic Party during last week’s debate with Donald Trump, and the hole is just getting deeper following the US president’s first-ever media interview since that day.

He blamed his poor debate performance on a terrible cold. The event should have been postponed then. Everyone would have understood. Certainly, there are enough credible doctors in America who could have told the world “He is too ill to go on that stage.” The White House even could have had a Trump doctor examine him and thus confirm the story.

It was not a football final or a rock star concert, to begin with. Nobody had bought a pricey ticket. There would have been disappointment, but it would have been acceptable.

A possible story is that Biden had not told anyone he was not well. Yet he talked about Covid-19 tests during the interview, which means that if the tests had taken place before the debate the doctor(s) then should have known. And in case they honestly did not know, if a 81-year-old president managed to slip through the White House medical observation and go to the podium, he is a genius warrior and there is no need to replace him.

Earlier, the narrative was jet lag. That was an equally, if not more, nonsensical excuse. A president has to travel all the time. One day to Europe and the next to the Middle East for example. And isn’t the South China Sea also a flashpoint?

How many days should the president of a vast nation that requires frequent cross-country travelling rest after a trip? Three full days? One full week? Two full weeks? This is not to mention that Air Force One must have great facilities and personnel to make every presidential journey a lot more comfortable than those taken by ordinary people.

Voters should be totally informed about all that, and more, before making their decisions.

The travelling issue did not feature during the ABC interview, but the much-anticipated event is not going to make things easier for the White House and the Democrats, who have seen talks about the alleged presidential cognitive decline go from being a taboo to a media and global uproar in a matter of days. He told the interviewer only God could tell him not to run, so it would have to take an unbelievably good script to convince him _ and then America and the rest of the world _ that he must drop out of the race.

A bad script will make the pro-Biden camp look like they only care about winning, not an old man with health problems. A bad script will beg the question if they had looked everyone in the eyes and lied. A bad script will prompt a lot of people to ask: Who has been running America over the past few months? A bad script will also make it spill over to some big names in the media, who will have to explain why they did not know beforehand and report it truthfully.

A bad script can even make American democracy, something Biden had said he would die defending, crumble.

July 5, 2024: Amid whirlwind global and domestic politics, one figure escaped much public attention over the past few days.

That figure is one million. Which leads to a tantalizing question: How many children and youths who have had to drop out of school would benefit if the ruling Pheu Thai Party turned its controversial flagship policy, digital wallet, into a full-scale rescue mission for the youngsters?

Digital wallet requires some Bt500 billion which the government intends to extract from state budget rearrangements and borrowing from the farmers’ bank. Most Thais, entitled or not, would receive free money to buy goods from government-designated sellers.

Digital wallet is controversial for a few main reasons: It is blanket, meaning those not so needy would get the money, allegedly defies monetary disciplines of the state, and unnecessarily (also allegedly) requires creation and instalment of a new app while an old one should do.

Imagine Bt50,000 is allocated for each school dropout. That would cost just Bt50 billion. Double the help and it would amount to only Bt100 billion. If the government is serious about its zero dropout policy, this should do it.

And it is a moral, economic (children are every country’s future) and political win-win. Critics would shut their mouths. The central bank would go silent. The media would sing praises in unison.

Just a thought.

July 4, 2024: The White House has dismissed the chances that Joe Biden will withdraw from the presidential race. A few Democratic “doubters” in high places have either made a U-turn or significantly eased their opposition to his candidacy.

But his and the United States’ futures remain highly uncertain.

The most important difference between the Republicans and Democrats at the moment is that while Trump is not dispensable, Biden is. The Republican Party had to go for Trump despite all his big legal and political troubles because he is its only chance to beat a Democratic candidate. The other side, meanwhile, has been dictated by a “Whoever can beat Trump” mentality, meaning that if it has to be anyone but Biden, then so be it.

So, the name of Michelle Obama has become the most-favoured, although she said time and again that she would never run, that even life of being a First Lady was tough enough when her husband, Barack Obama, was president. Current Vice President Kamala Harris has thus been the next best thing.

Both ladies have, in public at least, showed full support for Biden. And so have a few Democratic governors tipped to be a replacement. Yet nobody know what they are thinking. There have been whispers that Barack Obama, who has publicly expressed total backing for Biden, cannot see the president beating Trump in November.

And although she is guarding Biden’s primary entitlement as a lioness protecting her cub, Jill Biden has said one sentence that aroused curiosity. She said her husband “would do anything that is best for the country.” On the one hand, she was saying so while defending his working records. On the other hand, that little statement has been wildly interpreted as a suggestion that he would do anything to guarantee that Trump would lose.

So, the replacement door has not been slammed shut. There will continue to be speculation, rumours or even real turmoil up until the Democratic national convention in August. Even the pro-Biden camp seems currently unsure what should be done. Should they stick with him and thus give Trump a great chance to win? Or should they replace him and risk a bigger catastrophe that could be so hard to recover from _ being seen as a grand liar who knew about his conditions all along but decided to keep it a secret against the principles of transparency and democracy?

July 3, 2024: Can Jill Biden stop the lengthening “Biden out” bandwagon?

She has been demonised by many people in America and much of the world, and now it seems the most-maligned First Lady in memory stands between growing attempts to remove him as the Democratic presidential candidate and his fading chance to get the second White House term.

The “Biden out” narrative is increasingly widespread, ironically among the Democrats and their supporters. The Republicans naturally want him to stay in the race, because they think the man stands no chance against Donald Trump in November.

In fact, a conspiracy theory has begun to strike a chord among some Republicans, who are suspecting that Joe Biden was intentionally hung out to dry last week so that he could be replaced in time.

What caused the suspicion was the fact that the debate was the earliest in US history, noticeably before the Democratic national convention during which the presidential candidate would be formally named and that would be a point of no return.

As belligerent after the debate as Joe Biden has appeared to be, he will listen to his wife about what to do next. Conspiracy or no conspiracy, a lot will depend on Jill Biden. She will influence how things develop that would affect not just America but the whole world.

So far, she is ferociously determined to see him run. That is the reason why the much of the world has condemned the woman, questioning her love for him. 

Although she physically assisted the visibly-wobble Joe Biden in public several times including after last week’s fateful debate, a lot of people are saying that if she truly loves him, making him continue is out of the question.

July 2, 2024: Maybe America’s presidential election is still a little bit too far away. Anyone wanting immediate excitement should look no further than France on July 7.

The European nation is closer than ever in its modern history to being largely governed by the far right led by the National Rally Party. Parliamentary elections which have been half-way through are the country’s most consequential in decades and will have huge implications across Europe and for the United States, politically, diplomatically and militarily.

France’s status quo led by French President Emmanuel Macron could adjust their candidates and still have the possibility of blocking France’s first far right government since World War II, a likely change that will be unleash great ramifications domestically and internationally.

The far right already has one foot in the corridor of power and a lot of analysts believe that the surging movement would try to become “more mainstream” by avoiding to look so extreme. The movement is known to be vehemently against many things the “liberals” or “centrists” like, including the policies of NATO and the United States.

It did extremely well in the first round of the elections days ago, but the liberals will throw the kitchen sink in the second round, in which candidates that did poorly in the first will likely take no part as a last-ditch effort to prevent another sweeping victory of National Rally.

The irresistible surge of the far right is said to be a reason why President Macron has appeared of two minds in public lately. One day he would say something to please the rightists, only to conduct himself as a “liberal” the next. 

Did he dissolve the elected Parliament to open the door for the far right, or was he just egoistic and tried to prove that the country democratically did not want a massive change?

He has been vocally anti-extremism over the past few days, though.

The National Rally’s leader, Marine Le Pen, seems to still push forward anti-immigration, anti-foreigner policies. She’s still perceived by many analysts as fundamentally anti-European, anti-American as well. How the party will co-exist and share powers with Macron has been a big question mark.

Parties opposed to National Rally are ganging up against it. Hopeless candidates not standing a chance have been urged to drop out of the second round, in order to get more votes to those first-round losers who have stronger potentials.

France’s president and prime minister constitute a special governing system considered “semi-presidential”. The president is relatively aloof from day-to-day affairs compared with the prime minister. Think of the former as a company’s chairman and the latter as the CEO. When they are the same page, it’s great. If they disagree or quarrel, there can be a big problem.

When the president’s political backers control Parliament, the president becomes dominant in executive affairs, being able to influence government appointments, for example. But when the president’s political opponents control Parliament, things naturally get tough.

July 1, 2024: The latest Dusit Poll says what everyone knows and probably feels, which is that Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is not Thailand’s most popular man and political fatigue is prevalent.

Dusit Poll surveyed more than 2,300 Thais last week. The findings say Move Forward’s Pita Limjaroenrat (54.5%) is more popular than Srettha (43.8%).

It’s a rating that can make both men ambivalent. Pita might have expected more and Srettha might consider himself lucky because it could have been worse.

To add to that, Pheu Thai leader Paetongtarn Shinawatra (25.6%) is more popular than Move Forward leader Chaithawat Tulathon (20.6%).

At 30.5%, Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul is above both Paetongtarn and Chaithawat. If the interior minister and deputy prime minister has been flying under the radar, the radar will soon start to make noises.

He can arguably be the happiest man in the aftermath of the release of the latest Dusit Poll findings.

Dusit Poll says Thais feel that everything political more or less has been below their expectations, namely the opposition’s performance, the prime minister’s performance, the administration’s overall performance, political stability, how politicians behave, the general economy, the justice system, unemployment and the tackling of narcotic drugs and dark powers.

Daily updates of local and global events by Tulsathit Taptim