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May 312017
 

No, of course he isn’t. The Russian intelligence services would never allow an agent of theirs to behave in such a foolish way; at most he is a useful idiot. But whose antics are getting to the point where the idiot part is outweighing the useful part.

Even ignoring the political shenanigans of doing almost the complete opposite of what he said he would do (decimating public spending on health care is going to come as a bit of a surprise to many of his supporters) :-

  1. Trump allegedly tried to pressure several intelligence agency heads into stopping investigations into the “Russian connection”.
  2. Trump fires the head of the FBI whilst that head was involved in investigating the “Russian connection”; whilst this was allegedly done because Comey’s performance during the investigation of Hilary Clinton’s email situation was sub-par, it looks like an attempt to stop the investigation.
  3. Trump allegedly has private meetings with Russian officials in the oval office where he allegedly calls the former head of the FBI a “nut job” and that his firing takes off the pressure of the “Russian connection” investigation.
  4. Trump allegedly shows highly classified intelligence information to Russian officials in the oval office. Imagine this happening during the cold war era!
  5. Trump in trying to deny the above lets slip that the source of the intelligence was an Israeli agent embedded within ISIS; if that agent survives, he or she is owed a free slap at him.

This all goes well beyond political naivety and well into the realm of complete stupidity. It doesn’t take much sense to realise that interfering with an investigation into the “Russia connection” is a spectacularly dumb move. And releasing classified information and then to top that by leaking the source is criminally stupid and quite possibly treasonous.

Nov 112016
 

So Trump has been elected as the next president of the USA.

Now setting aside my disbelief for a moment (really? He actually won?), let’s look at some of the reasons why he may have won, and why the poll takers got it wrong.

First of all, the polls were not that far out – whilst they got the winner wrong, they did predict that it would be close. And it was close – Clinton got 47.7% of the popular vote whereas Trump got 47.3%. Yes, Clinton actually won the popular vote, but the US electoral system does not work quite so well when the result is so close. But not bad for a 200-year old system, but perhaps it is time for a long and careful review of the process in the light of modern communications.

In addition, there is also the embarrassment factor – if you had decided to vote for Trump, would you really admit it publicly? On a more serious note, when elections are particularly acrimonious, there is a good chance that a significant amount of the electorate will lie (or just keep quiet) about their choice when asked by pollsters.

Enough about pollsters though, how did he win? Of course everyone wants one simple answer to that question, and there isn’t one. There are many factors as to why he won, and each contributes a little.

The first thing to remember is that there are many stupid people in any population. Nothing wrong with being stupid; some of my best friends are stupid (that didn’t come out quite right!). Really! And it is a fact of life that there are many stupid people – it’s how intelligence tests work. You measure everyone’s intelligence, and those who are below average are stupid, and those who are above average are bright.

Besides, Trump won didn’t he? QED.

And stupid people are easily conned by anyone who tells them what they want to hear no matter how fantastical it might be. And Trump has been telling them what they want to hear – abortion is wrong, he can restore manufacturing jobs (presumably by overturning the laws of economics), making America great again (that one always goes down well, even if America is already great), that climate change is not man-made, etc.

Every time that he pushed one of those buttons, and pandered to every wing-nut grouping out there, he gained more supporters. He either didn’t care or didn’t know that he came across as a cretinous fool, as long as he got some votes.

The second big factor was that although Trump was nominated by the Republican party, he was the closest thing to an anti-establishment candidate of the two major parties (I’ll come to the other parties shortly). Of course he isn’t really not part of the establishment being a billionaire property developer, but he hasn’t previously held public office. And anti-establishment is very popular right now. Given that Clinton was very definitely old political establishment, this could very well be the most significant reason.

And of course there is the economy. Like the rest of the world, the US has just been through a huge recession where many lost their jobs or even their homes. And any ruling party suffers in the wake of a recession. Whether or not the Democrats were to blame, they were going to get blamed by the voters – or at least enough of them to make a bit of a difference.

Next there is of course the poor old sane Republican who has always voted for their party. This time around, they had a buffoon to vote for and although some couldn’t face voting for Trump, a good number couldn’t see any other options.

The reason that some people are blaming are the “other” candidates. Despite the media coverage implying that there are only two candidates, there were in fact nearly 30. If all those who voted for one of the others, had voted for Clinton instead, it might have made a difference, but it seems a touch unlikely that they would have all voted for her. Best guess? They would have divided more or less evenly just like everyone else did.

Having said that, it would be nice if the US had a transferable vote system whereby you could vote for (say) the Green Party, but have your vote go towards another if the Green party didn’t win.

I’m not going to bother mentioning those who couldn’t be bothered to vote. They didn’t vote so they don’t count.

So how about the reaction to Trump’s victory?

It’s almost as bizarre as the lead up to the election: When you’re in a room the morning the results came out, and the two embarrassed Americans both apologise for the US having voted in Trump, you know there’s something odd going on. The reaction has been extreme – not just the usual moaning about having an idiot in charge for four years, but protests, riots, and even a group in California that wants to declare independence. It is sort of understandable (after all, it’s Trump!), but the division in the US today may be almost as damaging as the idiocies that Trump will enact.

On the subject of which, Trump himself probably can’t remember all the rubbish he has promised all over the campaign trail. Of course there are those who will remind him of things he has promised, and probably a lot more besides. But how much damage will he actually do?

The worst case scenario (and there’s more than one) is that he brings about some sort of theocratic form of government (he certainly has supporters who would like to see this), and launches nuclear weapons (Trump with his hand on the launch button? Shudder!).

This is not that likely – there are too many obstacles in the way, including the constitution. And there is just the slightest hint that Trump might not be quite that bad.

His first reaction to the protests was typical paranoia – blaming them on paid activists. But his second reaction was quite sympathetic saying he was pleased that the protesters loved their country so much. Trump probably likes being popular, and there’s one obvious thing to do with a president like that – when he proposes some idiocy, protest. Don’t protest about Trump (however tempting it is); protest about his bad policies.

Of course I might be overly optimistic.

stack-of-coins-p1

Oct 022016
 

donald-trump-bw

I have said it before (quite possibly here): US politics sometimes seems like some kind of bizarre reality media show put on by the US to entertain the rest of the world. No serious political system could be that dysfunctional? Could it?

But this post is going to concentrate on the just one of the possible candidates (despite the media reports there are lots) – Donald Trump. It might be a little tin foil haty to ask this, but is anyone sure that he really isn’t a democrat supporter running as a spoiler? I mean the guy is so over the top as a buffoon, it seems like the most likely cause of his behaviour is that he really is a Democrat supporter who is running as a Republican to remove any possibility that the Republicans can conjure up a credible candidate.

Just look at some of the things he’s said :-

Do you mind if I sit back a little? Because your breath is very bad.

Just a silly example to start with. Most of us have thought this from time to time, but usually have second thoughts before opening our mouths. Now why do we re-think and decide not to say it? Because going around being nasty to people without consideration is indicative of a certain level of sociopathology. What is worse is that it is indicative of a dumb sociopath, as most people with enough sense to keep breathing without being constantly reminded to do so, will realise that acting like a dick will not win friends and influence people.

The point is that you can’t be too greedy.

Really? Kind of symptomatic again.

All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.

Creepy. Even ignoring political correctness, the later sentence implies an horrendous arrogance to the man.

If people can just pour into the country illegally, you don’t have a country.

Now there may well be problems with illegal immigration (although personally I doubt the problems outweigh the advantages), but the idea that you’ll lose you country because of immigration? Ridiculous. Illegal immigrants are nowhere near populous nor powerful enough to take over your country, and by the time their descendants are, they won’t be illegal immigrants any more but they will be you.

Scare mongering is the tactic of the lowest form of politician, and we all know how low they can get.

People love me. And you know what, I have been very successful. Everybody loves me.

No they don’t. Some people may love you, but not all. To think so is extremely delusional.

As for successful, it all depends on your criteria for success but most of his alleged success has taken place in the property development field which is notoriously easy if you already had money to invest (he did). There are a considerable number of serious commentators out there who question his business acumen.

I feel a lot of people listen to what I have to say.

What he neglected to mention is why people listen. Sometimes it’s to fall about pissing themselves with laughter.

That’s one of the nice things. I mean, part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich. So if I need $600 million, I can put $600 million myself. That’s a huge advantage. I must tell you, that’s a huge advantage over the other candidates.

Which is of course another condemnation of the US political system which allows the rich and powerful to buy their way to power.

Sure, sure, I’d like to see Apples built in the United States, not built in China. I’d like to see them have factories in the United States. At least partially. They make nothing in the United States, virtually.

I’m reminded of King Canute (or Cnut) trying to hold back the tide. Fundamentally China is successful at producing mass market goods because it has very low labour costs. By the time you reduce US labour costs to the level of the Chinese, you will be looking at a revolution; the myth of the American dream won’t survive starvation.

As for nothing being built in the US, Trump needs to get out of his tower and go and take a look. There’s plenty being built in the US, but you won’t find cheap consumer goods (unless you count that made with slave labour; sorry I meant prisoner labour).

As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.

I hear the LGBTQ community has more to worry about the violence and oppression of a hateful domestic ideology.

Thanks to Hillary Clinton, Iran is now the dominant Islamic power in the Middle East, and on the road to nuclear weapons. Hillary Clinton’s support for violent regime change in Syria has thrown the country into one of the bloodiest civil wars anyone has ever seen – while giving ISIS a launching pad for terrorism against the West.

This is not the only quote about how Hillary Clinton is responsible for all of the world’s ills (and probably the four horsemen of the apocalypse too). Fact is that no foreign policy is going to cure the world’s ills; you can only respond to what other countries and people are doing. Foreign intervention in a country can make an existing situation worse but not create that situation.

build a permanent border wall between the US and Mexico that Mexico “must pay for”. The plan proposes various sticks to force Mexico to cooperate, such as impounding all remittance payments to Mexico from illegal wages earned in the US.

Ah yes! The infamous wall to stop immigration from Mexico. If we assume the wall will cost $1.5 million per kilometre, covering the whole 3,200 kilometres of the US-Mexico border will cost a cool $4.8 billion although this is probably a wild underestimate of the cost given that the 2006 Security Act allocated $1.6 billion for just a fence, and critics claim that it will need at least $4.8 billion more than is allocated. And that is for a fence not a wall.

And why should Mexico pay for it? They are not getting the benefit.

And you can use all the long words you like, but “impounding remittance payments” is just theft.


And that is of course just a quick taste of the inanities that Trump has come out with. There are those who excuse these comments by claiming a blunt honest man is better than another slimy politician. But there is a difference between bluntness, honesty and just plain stupidity. And having a stupid man in charge of the White House (and all that goes with it) is definitely not a good thing.

Dec 102015
 

So Donald Trump wants to ban muslims from entering the US does he?

Perhaps he really is not only a vicious racist but also as gormless as he looks in the photo (apologies for those of a sensitive disposition). There are others who have covered why banning muslims from entering the US is morally wrong, and if you do not understand why that is so, then explaining here is not going to make things any clearer.

But in addition to being morally wrong, it is also dumb in the extreme. There are two important question to ask when looking at a policy …

Is It A Practicable Policy?

No.

Islam is a religion and is not apparent from someone’s appearance. There is no label on their forehead!

So a policy of restricting muslims would be limited to either asking them. Which would lead to a situation where you were excluding muslims who do not lie about their religion, or in other words you are letting in the kind of muslims that you should perhaps be excluding, and excluding the muslims there is no reason for excluding.

Or you could do some sort of racial profiling, which amounts to not excluding muslims, but excluding light-brown skinned people. Again this will exclude the kind of muslims you do not want to exclude, whilst allowing through ones up to no good.

Will It Accomplish The Mission?

It really depends on what is intended by excluding muslims. If it is intended to portray the US as an intolerant country blundering around with incompetent measures that do more to annoy than to protect, them yes it can be said to accomplish the mission.

If however it is intended to make the US safer from terrorists, then no. Terrorists are more interested in accomplishing their own mission than telling the truth, and will go out of their way to avoid being identified is muslims if they think that this will help in their mission.

There is one small category of terrorists that this may protect against – those who are initially ordinary muslims but who later become radicalised whilst in the US. However having said that, the likelihood that this measure will protect against those vulnerable to becoming radicalised is pretty low.

 

 

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