Posted in Politics

Brexit and Blair re-enters the Stage

Article 50 has still to be triggered, the negotiations have yet to begin, and the “news” on the Brexit continues to be based mainly on hearsay, hypothetical humbug, and hubris of the worst sort. However, the daily bombardment of unsubstantiated drivel means that this particular UK passport holder, who has lived in Germany for most of the last 40 years, will make his own arrangements before D-Day.  Yes, a modicum of Teutonic efficiency, rather than the hapless haphazardness that appears to be defining Brexit Blighty.

There appears to be an indication of that haplessness in Ellesmere Port, near Chester where slightly more than half of the people voted to leave the EU and the self-induced misfortune is even more pronounced in Luton where 56.55% voted for Brexit. Well, it might be argued that with the wisdom hindsight affords us it is easy to be a little clever clogs. Nevertheless,  wasn’t  David “abandon the sinking ship” Cameron outlining this eventuality in the run-up to the referendum?  Now, with General Motors likely to sell Vauxhall to Peugeot there is an increasing possibility that even a bailout from the British government will not prevent these job losses occurring. After all, if a French company, which is partly owned by the French government, has to choose between France, or a post Brexit Britain, isn’t the writing is on the wall?

Of course, ego, who “has lived in Germany for most of the last 40 years, and will make his own arrangements”, shouldn’t really give a monkey’s. Nevertheless, there is this lingering belief in the European project, even if there are a number of reservations (for instance, the fact that the Euro has no surplus recycling mechanism) regarding the direction the EU has taken, and, yes, Britain should be a part of that project.

It might be expected, therefore, that Tony Blair announcing his latest crusade to “persuade the UK to stay in the EU”, while saying that “the British people were misinformed by Brexit campaign and would be correct to change their minds”, would be welcomed. However, the last bandwagon anyone wants to jump on is the one where that odious creature is at the helm and in order to remind myself of that I revisited ‘Blair Inc.: The Man Behind the Mask’ , which begins with Blair officially resigning as PM and setting about immediately to make himself seriously rich. From there I went to  ‘Broken Vows: Tony Blair the tragedy of Power’, Tom Bower’s “devastating indictment” of the war criminal’s time in office. Yes, “odious” just about hits the nail on the head.

Therefore, if the hearsay, hypothetical humbug, hubris, and the hapless haphazardness, isn’t enough to make us realise that we all have to make our own arrangements before D-Day, the re-appearance of this actor with the messiah complex, the paranoid narcissist and proven war criminal, on the stage, should certainly not convince us that there can be common cause and common ground in trying to reverse that rather stupid decision which has already been made.

 

 

 

Posted in Palestine and the Middle East

“Us” and “the Other”

westcliffads.jpg

There he is, a guy you hardly know, a self-proclaimed Zionist, who prefers to live in Innsbruck  than in the Oxymoronic “Jewish Democracy”; ranting and raving in your living room. “The  Arabs this, and the Arabs that …..”, “Muslims threaten Western Civiisation” and “Israel will smash everyone and doesn’t give a fuck (“Wir machen alle fertig”) what the world  thinks”.

So, what do you do after the coffee has been supped, the guests have left, hands have been shaken, and a civilised “do drop in again”has been spontaneously expressed in the most willy-nilly way imaginable? Well, you chew the cud and think you could at least have given him a copy of Pappe’s “Die ethnische Säuberung Palästinas”, or maybe, just maybe, you could have shown him the attached copy of adverts taken from an English newspaper the twenties.

Who knows he might have just about understood. And is it really so difficult to understand that Arabs and Muslims have never done him any harm? They have never tried to set up home in his garden in Innsbruck and they are not even allowed to live in the same street as him in Tel Aviv. Not to mention the fact that Arabs and Muslims, and not only those in Palestine, are more likely to kill each other, or be killed by us, than they are to kill us. Oh and the “us”?

Well, of course, the “us”is that increasingly islamophobic West, a West which has pillaged the Middle East, and the rest of the planet since time immemorial and it is also that “plucky” little oxymoronic “Jewish Democracy”, which  is armed to the teeth by us and doesn’t begin to understand the real message behind those adverts in an English newspaper in the 20s. It is all quite fucking sad, really!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Politics

UK Government to increase Prison Sentences for Whistleblowers and Others

According to ‘the Guardian’ today there are “proposals to radically increase prison sentences for revealing state secrets and prosecute journalists”, with the British government’s legal advisers saying that “the definition of espionage should be expanded to include obtaining sensitive information, as well as passing it on”, while whistleblowers should be imprisoned for up to 14 years. At the moment the maximum prison sentence is two years.

With Jim Killock, the chief executive of Open Rights Group, saying that “this is a full-frontal attack, recommending criminalising even examining secret services’ material,”  while adding that “the intention is to stop the public from ever knowing that any secret agency has ever broken the law,” there is certainly cause for concern and Theresa May contending that it is not, never has been and never will be the policy of the government to restrict the freedom of investigative journalism or public whistleblowing” might be treated with the contempt it deserves.

Moreover, with ‘The Investigatory Powers Act’, which gives  “the UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world”, now in effect the UK  has the most extreme surveillance any western democracy has ever seen and, indeed, a level of surveillance that,  according to Edward Snowden, goes farther than many autocracies.” Now, effectively, if any secret agency abuses what are already very extensive powers, they cannot be held to account. Of course, on top of this, a possible sixteen year prison sentence might also deter journalists and others from accepting and publishing materials that show quite clearly that crimes are being committed by the British government.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that this spying and these crimes are common public knowledge. The UK government sells weapons that are killing children in Yemen, that are used to subdue protesters in Bahrain, that are used to bomb Gaza. Indeed, according to one report, Britain is the second biggest arms dealer in the world. Similiarly, this blog was pointing out some seven years ago that the NSA “has its own rather comprehensive spying operation which would appear to include spying not only on American citizens but indeed on the whole planet.”

With everyone being spied on and the sword of Damocles hanging over anyone who publishes, or is even in possession of, information which can harm the dealers in death, it might appear that we have entered a new age where an unaccountable big brother has created a world in his own image; a world where the 1% rape and loot the planet, where perennial wars are the order of the day. Still, hope springs eternal and, when all is said and done, they don’t appear to be blocking this blog.

 

 

 

Posted in Politics

World War One Starts and Kafka goes for a Swim

My own writing might give some credence to that analogy which equates an historian’s brain to a dung heap by implying that if you leave it long enough, something will grow. Indeed, with ego foreover going off on tangents before getting to the point, the analogy might also be applied to the linguist’s brain and it has just been noticed that when I say “an”, instead of “a”, historian, it really is because the “h” is elided.

Be that as it may, this time around it was an article by  Robert Minto that started to turn the dung heap into something more substantial. The process began when I read that a line in Kafka’s journal on August 2, 1914 began with “Germany has declared war on Russia — went swimming in the afternoon.” Minto then says that this has been used as “an illustration of Kafka’s self-absorption and unworldliness.” However, my immediate thought was what was he supposed to do? After all, it is hardly likely that troops had immediately been deployed to Lake Slapy, or wherever else he might have been going for a swim.

Still, Kafka is a good starting point and it doesn’t become more Kafkaesque than Jonathan Jones when he contends “everything we know about Obama suggests he is far too good a person”, while coming to the conclusion that the man who has just left the White House knows just how ineffectual the new incumbent president is and that “soon we won’t be worrying about Trump. We will be deriding his incompetence”. No mention, of course, of the fact that under the watch of this “good person” the illegal murders, the wars, the drones, and the number of innocent people killed throughout the world never stopped.

Still, our unworldly pseudo journalist does at least get something right when he says that, like the smiling Obama, “we can all go surfing” , while suggesting that we should defer doing so until we realise that we shouldn’t worry about Trump, because he is incompetent. Yes, Trump is incompetent, but do the people in the Middle East and elsewhere really care if the bombs being dropped on them are courtesy of an incompetent, or a competent US Commander in Chief?  Still, “we can all go surfing” and might it not be that rather than being unworldly Kafka actually realised on this Kafkaesque planet our options are rather limited?

A planet where children in the Yemen are killed courtesy British hardware, where Palestine is stolen from the Palestinians, but the Palestinians are a threat to peace, a world where Israel, that oxymoronic Jewish democracy, which exists on that stolen land, possesses nuclear weapons, but instead of admitting it tries to convince the whole planet that Iran, a country with no nuclear bomb, is a  threat to world peace. Now onto the stage comes Trump and the Kafkaesque theatrics, the histrionics, the hyperbole, the hype, the hypocrisy, and the high-noon drama will continue, as will the wars, environmental destruction, and mass murder, under the watch of the man with a slightly smaller brain than the previous incumbent in the White House….., but then nothing has really changed, or has it? ……. and now I am going for a swim!

Posted in Politics

Trump the Son of Immigrants

The story could be picked up on in any number of newspapers, but it is written down succinctly enough in ‘The Times of India’.:

“The US tech industry, substantially staffed with immigrants, was thrown into a tizzy on Friday after President Donald Trump issued executive orders temporarily barring refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the US, and instituted extreme vetting+ in the case of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.” 

The focus here is neither on the human misery, nor on the fact that this executive order has little to do with making America more secure, but rather it is discussing the economic  damage to America from a policy that goes against everything the United States is supposed to stand for.

With Google saying that “at least 187 Google employees who normally live and work in the US have been affected by the ban”, substance is lent to the economic argument.However, it is when Marc Zuckerberg states that “his great grandparents came from Germany, Austria and Poland, and his wife Priscilla’s parents were refugees from China and Vietnam”, the moral dimensions of what Trump is doing, along with the damage he is doing to the idea of America and what it stands for, becomes all too clear.

Of course, it might be worth pointing out that Trump’s mother was a Gaelic speaking islander from Lewis , who worked as a waitress when she arrived in New York, and that his father was a real estate developer. Furthermore, in trying to understand Donald, it might be worth mentioning that there is evidence to suggest that his father, Fred Trump, was arrested in 1927 following a fight between police and members of the Ku Klux Klan in new York City. Trump, of course, denies that the above ever happened.

However, be that as it may, the fact is, that Donald’s parent’s, a property speculator and a waitress, were certainly of less economic use to the United States than some of the people he is trying to keep out, while it might just be that his Gaelic speaking  Calvinist mother, genuinely complemented a racist protestant father, who refused to rent his apartments to blacks.

The world turned upside down with people being barred from the United States because of supposedly extreme religious views, even when these people are very likely to be less extreme in their views than Donald’s parents ever were, and even when they make a far greater contribution to society than either his mother, or his father, ever did.

 

 

Posted in Politics

Trump and “Gleichschaltung”

This blog post is the result of the chewing of the cud that followed a perusing of Richard Falk’s article “Trump’s Pre-Fascism and Progressive and Populist Opportunities”. Those opportunities, according to Mr Falk are there because it is still possible “to organize, protest, and oppose without serious fears of reprisals or detentions” in a country where “the media can expose, ridicule, and criticize without closures or punitive actions, facing only angered and insulting Trump tweets”. In other words, at the time of writing this, two very essential pillars of a bourgeoise democracy are still intact.

Furthermore, with Mr Falk going on to state that, for divergent reasons, there may be a ” tacit and effective cooperation between the national security deep state and a progressive populism”  in opposing Trump, it would appear that the type “Gleichschaltung” necessary to move from a pre-fascist to a fascist state would be difficult to impose on America at the moment.

Nevertheless, with their being no real mobilized anti-fascist opposition, it would be mistake, if we were to allow ourselves to be lulled into complacency. After all, it is difficult to imagine that “progressive populism”, as epitomized by the women’s marches a few days ago, can offer a sufficient bulwark on its own against the creeping cancer of “fascism made in America”. Moreover, this is crucial, as it is more than plausible that the Trump administration can reach a modus vivendi with the intelligence community and the conservative “opposition” not too dissimilar to the one that the Nazis carved out after the 30th of January 1933 with the national conservatives and the German Army.

With Trump calling for a 20% tax on Mexican imports, while declaring war with undocumented migrants inside the US and those who attempt to cross the southern border without paperwork”,the parallel in the preceding paragraph is worth chewing the cud on. After all, elsewhere we can read that Mark Morgan, the man in charge of US border protection, has been forced out of his job just a day after Donald Trump announced he was pressing ahead with his plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico.” .

The “alliance” between progressives and the deep state is about as realistic as the coming together of the German Communists and Social Democrats in 1933 ever was, while there might even be evidence to suggest that the “Gleichschaltung” has begun, even if the American Constitution might be made of sterner stuff than “der Weimarer Verfassung” ever was.

 

Posted in China

Trump and the Possibility of War with China

Politicians pursuing their own personal interests when they make political decisions is hardly novel. For instance, Dick Cheney, who shows no remorse for his crimes when he says  that he would torture prisoners again”,  is just one example. His role at Halliburton, the world’s largest oil field services company with multi-billion dollar contracts with oil corporations including Chevron, is at least an indication that he had a not so ulterior motive when he was a part of the decision-making process that culminated in the illegal war in Iraq and he is, of course, not an isolated figure.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise to discover that the climate change denier, Donald Trump, has ushered in his “energy revolution” by allowing the construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines, which had been blocked by the Obama administration. After all, while the world still waits for this particular crook’s tax returns, financial disclosure forms proving that he invested in Energy Transfer Partners, operators of the controversial pipeline, are  there for everyone to see along with the information that the company’s CEO donated to Trump’s campaign.

Nevertheless, with federal tax credits for wind and solar power set to continue for at least three years, and with the majority of US states having energy mandates of their own, the hoped for return on investment might not be there, even if the “folks in the fossil fuel industry” are rubbing their hands in glee at the moment. Furthermore, yesterday’s green light for the oil industry will see concrete opposition to the new administration from native Americans and environmental activists.

Indeed, this is a precursor of what is to come, as every action from Trump’s administration will provoke a reaction. For instance, what might be expected if Trump carries out his threat  and “impose a border tax of 35 percent on (German) vehicles imported to the U.S. market”? After all, “German carmakers employ about 33,000 workers in the United States and German automotive suppliers about 77,000 more”.

Of course, it is a trade war that is being talked about here and, while that won’t benefit anyone, it is difficult to see how that will lead to a greater conflict. Nobody is seriously predicting a war between Europe and the United States. As mentioned in last Saturday’s post , however, such a war with China is a real possibility and this is where Trump, with his own personal interests and agenda, is an even greater risk than the just as despicable Dick Cheney was.

Whereas with Europe there is likely to be a compromise, which will mean that war will be avoided at all costs, the outcome of a trade war with China is less likely to predict and all the more so since  China might even be capable of winning such a trade war. However, a victory for Beijing, which would follow on the heels of a trade war with Europe and discontent at home, would probably be one that might even lead to a scenario where Trump’s last card to save his presidency would be to provoke a real war that could allow him to cling to power”.

Mismanagement, actions that provoke a reaction, incompetency, conflicts, and scandals will very much be the trade marks of this presidency. It can only be hoped that should Trump try to sell himself as a symbol of national unity by provoking an all out war with China, all and sundry see him for the self-serving egomaniac that he his, and, even if Cheney and his bedfellows got away with their own little mass murders, this particular capitalist absurdity will be stopped before he leads us all down tthe road to armageddon .