Nov 072020

Now that Trump has been rejected by the US electorate, it is time to examine just what caused him to be elected in the first place. It’s all too easy to blame the electoral system (and there are issues with that), but fundamentally Trump got a lot more votes in 2016 (and 2020) than a self-obsessed failed business-critter should have done.

A big part of the MAGA phenomenon was (and is) frustration with mainstream politicians. Yes, there are other contributing factions – evangelical “christians”, far-right racists, the so-called “alt-right”, and traditional Republicans (who may have been reluctant but voted for him nevertheless).

But there is an immense level of frustration with the current political landscape with both political parties beholden to their corporate masters. And ordinary working people (who may not always have the most sophisticated political knowledge) have the urge to vote for “something different”.

Or in other words, “populism” or anti-elitism. Which is not always a bad thing especially if you pick the right elites to be against. But Trump’s brand of populism was fake – he promised to drain the swamp and just jumped in.

Fox News had a poll (don’t laugh – their polling is well done as long as they aren’t just polling their viewers) which was surprising – the US public overwhelmingly support more progressive values (universal health care, etc.) than either of the mainstream parties.

And that’s the key – neither of the two main parties is aligned with the interests of the electorate. Trump appeared to be anti-establishment, and those who didn’t see through to his con-act may well have voted for him because of that. Especially as he lacked corporate donors in 2016.

And that’s the key – the mainstream parties represent the interests of the corporations and not the electorate. And in the long term that is dangerous.

Two Posts in the Sea
Nov 252017

The last few weeks has seen an explosion in the number of sexual abuse scandals amongst US politicians, and a somewhat bizarre difference in how the two parties treat them. The most serious accusations have been made about a US politician called Roy Moore, a particularly loathsome piece of work (even before the accusations) who is accused of molesting teenagers. Of course he has denied the charges, claiming amongst other things that he has never dated any girls without the permission of the mother (as if that makes a difference).

Now some Republican politicians have reacted appropriately and suggested that Moore should withdraw, but far too many have continued to support him arguing that either the accusers are making it up, or that it doesn’t matter – a child molester is preferable to a Democrat. Donald Trump (himself probably guilty of sexual harassment) has come down in favour of Roy Moore, in effect agreeing with both positions.

Many evangelical religious leaders have also come down in favour of Roy Moore; you might think that religious leaders might demonstrate some level of moral leadership but in this case those who support Roy Moore show they are not entitled to claim any sort of moral leadership.

Other Republicans have pointed to disgraced Democrats who have recently been exposed as guilty of sexual harassment as if that is comparable with child molestation. There are two very clear distinctions; firstly the Democrats have generally resigned their position, have lacked support from within their own party, and lastly whilst sexual harassment is inexcusable, it is hardly comparable to child molestation.

To abuse an analogy, sexual harassment is comparable to holding up a service station with a toy pistol whereas child molestation is a full-on bank robbery where the robbers shoot the security guard dead just for trying to do her job.

It appears from this distance that a sizeable proportion of the Republican party is comprised of self-entitled arseholes who can do no wrong providing they support policies that support the ultra-rich; led by the buffoon Trump.

Oct 172013

With apologies to all drunken sailors who will no doubt resent – quite reasonably – being compared with a dysfunctional government.

The big news today (and yesterday – different time zones confuse these things) is that the US government has grasped just a bit of sanity and has stepped back from the abyss. Well most of them did, but the lunatic fringe of the Republican party (also known as the Tea Party) still persisted in trying to block the government from doing any work and paying any debts it owes.

But it is only temporary, and unless some more sanity returns to US politicians, we will get to see this mess repeated in January.

Ultimately this is all the fault of a fanatic wing of the Republican party who believe it is their right to undemocratically block the government budget until their favourite hobby horse is taken care of. Obamacare. Whether it is a good or a bad thing, it is a done deal, and it is undemocratic to try to sabotage it without first giving it a chance.

Yes the US has too much public debt, but too much is made of the so-call US ‘debt crisis’. The overall figure is immense to be true – so big that it is impossible to understand; so big that we have clever means to make it understandable, and to understand it in terms of affordability. If you look at the US debt as a proportion of GDP (in other words how affordable it is), you will see that the US is in 35th position (according to CIA figures) with a figure of 73.6% of GDP. Or 9th position (using the IMF figures).

Not a good position certainly, but hardly a basket case.

Now there’s a great deal of sense in reducing US government debt, but not in this way. Simply by stopping US government cheques would cause a catastrophic effect on the US (and world) economies.

Perhaps those with a vote in the US would like to remember this when it comes to voting next time. Your current set of politicians look dangerously dysfunctional; even in comparison to politicians in other countries.

Jan 132011

Sarah Palin has recently made a speech on the recent shooting spree in Arizona where a congressperson was shot (and probably targeted by the shooter) in relation to the media noise about the aggressive and combative attitudes in US politics at the moment. In it she claimed the media was launching a ‘blood libel‘ against the right-wing in US politics in its criticism of the political debate.

Whether or not she has a point to make, the use of the phrase ‘blood libel’ here is grossly inaccurate and an example of exactly what the media is talking about. Blood libel is the phrase used to describe the hysterical accusations of anti-semites accusing Jews of sacrificing Christian children and draining the blood for some religious purposes – if it hadn’t been used as the excuse for slaughtering Jews throughout history, it would be ridiculous. I am hardly an expert on the US media, but I find it extremely unlikely that anyone from the US media is likely to hunt down any right-wingers, kill them, and drink their blood.

Sarah Palin’s remarks are merely a hysterical over-reaction to a perceived attack on the right-wing. To be fair I should point out that apparently others have used the phrase in US politics recently. Which just goes to show that US politics is little over-heated. Interestingly a conservative commentator has pointed out that the use of this phrase is an indication that Sarah Palin just isn’t of presidential material – presumably presidents are expected to behave and talk in a slightly more dignified fashion.

Did the US media attack the right-wing ?

The US media did comment after the shootings that there is a considerable level of aggression in US politics today, and used an example showing certain US congressional areas targeted with rifle cross-hairs which was published by the right-wing. This could be said to be unfairly criticising the right-wing except that the reason that example was used was that the congressperson who was shot (Gabrielle Giffords) had previously complained about that very publication in which she was targeted.

Personally I don’t believe the right-wing was specifically targeted in the various suggestions that US politics can be a little aggressive. There is a lot to be said for lowering the temperature in US politics – opposition, criticism, discussion and debate are all a part of politics and essential in any healthy democracy. But there’s no need to go too far, and throwing around inappropriate phrases like “blood libel” is certainly an example of that.

I have no doubt that there are Democrats who go too far too.

We have no way of knowing how much the current atmosphere in US politics had an effect on the shooter, and will probably never know. After all he is clearly a deranged individual and he probably doesn’t know himself. The naysayers who claim it had no effect have no way of knowing that. If it did have an effect, it does not make those making inflammatory comments responsible for these shootings – not even to the extent of inciting murder.

But the current state of US politics could have an effect on deranged individuals even if it did not in this case. As such it is worth considering whether toning it down is worthwhile. Say “she’s an idiot” rather than “she’s a traitor”, say “he should be fired” rather than “he should be put in the chair and the switch thrown”. It doesn’t ruin the debate and it might just save someone’s life – isn’t that worth it ?