Easter news roundup

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The quiet civility of American democracy

Tripping up Trump

A meeting last week was convened by senior GOP members to figure out how to deal with Trump. Unfortunately the conclusion seems to be to support an existing third party candidate or (more likely) endorse Hilary.

One of the proposals floated at this meeting was to have some suitable Republican to run against Trump as a third party candidate  . He won’t have to go through the nomination process as in theory any American can stand for election to be president….even Canadians can apply. However in practical terms, such a move will now be very difficult, if not impossible, to pull off.

To get a candidate on the ballot papers in all 50 states there are local laws that must be met. And many of those laws were enacted by Republican states precisely to stop some third party breaking the GOP monopoly. In the state of Texas for example they will need a petition filled in with 80,000 signatures, from people who did not vote in the primaries. And they’ll need that paperwork sorted by May 9th, six weeks from now. In Florida they’ll need a whopping 119,316 signatures. The trouble is we probably won’t know whether or not Trump will get the nomination until June when California votes. By then it will be too late to do anything, although equally it will be too late for Trump to run as an independent if he is denied the nomination at the convention.

This creates something of a dilemma for the GOP. They can simply muddle along, hope for Trump to be denied the nomination and then go along with him if he succeeds. However, this would likely be catastrophic for the senate and representatives votes. The democrats would get to tar them with the same racist baloney Trump has been spouting and many anti-Trump Republicans would stay at home, leading to decimation on election day.

By backing a third party, while they will all but guarantee Hilary’s victory in the Presidential election, they will give themselves some chance of holding onto control of the senate and congress. But like I said, this is a window of opportunity that’s closing fast. Endorsing Hilary will stop her painting them as Trump’s goon’s, but its not clear whether that will be more effective in getting the vote out for the senate and house seats.

To my mind the solution lies in the hands of party supporters. If you agree that Trump, or for that matter Cruz (whose just as bad as Trump), is not an acceptable candidate and you can’t vote for Hilary, then vote for a third party. There’s plenty of options in this regard already without the GOP having to put up a third party candidate. The Libertarian Party for example (not that I support them, I’d likely vote Green, or vote for Hilary to stop some wingnut becoming president). Indeed this would have the positive effect of helping to break this corrosive and dangerous political duopoly that has wrecked American democracy.

Not so British

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Word is that British Home Stores (BHS) are in trouble. The media spent the week lamenting this fall of a high street icon. I saw, good riddance to them. They are owned by Phil Greed Green, a tax dodger who lives in Monaco to avoid paying tax here, then has the nerve to call his stores “British”. I’ve never shopped in these stores for exactly this reason. Perhaps if he started paying some tax in the country the company might not be in such trouble.

Banks warn about Brexit risks

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UBS fears that Brexit could hammer the value of the pound, with serious consequences to anyone on a fixed income

The EU referendum hots up yet again. The vote racist leave campaign published a list of 250 businessmen who supported Brexit….trouble is someone’s been checking up on them and already found a few who seem to have been randomly stuck on the list without their permission. Then again, its also emerged that the vote leave campaign have been hiring EU migrants to run their call centres….I’m sorry I think my irony meter just exploded there!

Meanwhile the bank of England has warned of the risks to the UK economy if the country votes to leave, warning it might spark another credit crunch. And this is backed up by those in the banking industry themselves, 2/3’s of whom have warned of financial insecurity if the UK votes to leave the UK.

I’m actually suitably concerned myself that I’m thinking of pushing some of my savings into my Irish euro bank account where they’ll be safe, until after the referendum. But of course, I have the luxury of being able to do that. And the rich with their offshore accounts are probably already well ahead of us on that front (why else do you think Sterling is falling?). They will ride out the storm. Indeed some might well profit handsomely from it…at the expense of the poor saps who can’t move their money around, largely because they are living in it.

Its the very people who are more likely to vote for Brexit, pensioners and baby boomers who are most likely to get screwed over. As I’ve said before, if anyone is tempted to vote leave might I suggest that you buy a tin of cat food and taste it. If you don’t think you could live through retirement eating it in a stone cold house with no pension, then you really don’t want to vote leave.

Music for a jilted generation

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Joseph Stiglitz has an interesting article out in the Guardian in which he talks about the reasons for millennial anger of the economic and social divide that now splits Western society.

In essence, the baby boomer generation had it pretty good, most are better off now than when they started out as adults. They are retiring on a final salary scheme, debt free with not only the mortgage paid off, but the house worth many times more than they paid for it. Some are on paper millionaires from the value of their property portfolio alone. And while the Tories have axed everything not bolted to the floor, going after tax credits and other payments that benefit young working families, anything that benefits pensioners (regardless of their income) has been left largely untouched.

By contrast generation Y and millennial’s face a lifetime of job insecurity, with less a matter of what career they would like to choose but what kind of job they can get and still pay off their student loan. As for saving for a mortgage or a pension LOL! They’re only hope is that the baby boomers die off before spending too much of it and they can claim the inheritance (reminds me, I need to get my dad to take up smoking again!).

Generation X’ers like me meanwhile are somewhere in the middle. We have some debts, but nothing like those of millennials, we also suffer from job insecurity (no job for life anymore), but usually have a few more years experience to help give us some control over our careers. And most of us have some savings or have some chance of affording a house, even though it will probably mean spending a considerable part of our salary for it. Pension? That’s something we’ll need to work on!

So the end result is this massive divide between two generations. We can see it in politics with the older generation more likely to favour Brexit or vote for Trump (because they basically don’t care anymore), with the younger generations (who realise what a raw deal they’ve gotten) favouring more left wing candidates such as Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders.

We can see this too with issues such as climate change. Older people are more likely to be climate change deniers, even among those who are more left wing. While young people tend to be more willing to see some measures taken against it, even those who are fairly right wing. Presumably because they know they will have to live with the consequences of climate change, while the old fogies don’t care and worry about anything that might impact on their precious pension and fixed income.

Such a generational split is very worrying for society. Not least because it will likely be resolved by enough of the older generation dying off, eventually swinging the political compass the other way. While it may seem unlikely that a politician like Sanders or Corbyn might win power now in Britain, vote to leave the UK (or vote for Trump), give it a few years of economic disaster….a couple of cold winters with no heat (due to blackouts), with a resulting change in electoral demographics, and it doesn’t then seem that unlikely.

What happened to my Dad?

And of interest to the above is this trailer to a new movie “The Brainwashing of My Dad ” which charts the rise and the effects of the gradual shift to the right of the US media….or as the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah puts it how the f**k did we get here?

In other words the Republicans have been spinning the BS for so long its taken on human form, grown a wig and taken to the campaign trail. Same as here in the UK Farage and UKIP are the natural end state of several decades of Daily Mail tabloid bigotry.

Zika U-turn

The Catholic church has long promoted the idea that contraception doesn’t work, oh condom’s will explode every tenth time they are used and increase the likelihood of STD’s. However the Zika virus and its horrible impact on babies has prompted a rethink. Now the church supports contraception…but what about all the baloney they’ve been selling for the last few decades? Do they admit that was now all lies? And once this Zika virus goes away will they be promoting the same anti-family planning BS again, business as usual?

America’s dumbest presidents

Another item of interest is this ranking of US presidents, listing the 25 smartest….and the 25 dumbest…I’ll let you guess which end of the list G. W. Bush is on (4th from bottom) and which end Obama is on.

Hinkley C – pi$$ or get off the pot!

The Bataan death march that is Hinkley C continues without breaking step. The head of EDF energy has refused to give a date at which the plant will be built. Meanwhile the company is in a legal fight with Greenpeace to keep certain documents secret that could reveal the true costs of Hinkley C and that may well prove the company has known it was a $hit sandwich from day one.

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The Hinkley plant has its own Edstone of sorts!

And leaked documents of a different type reveal that a number of EDF’s senior engineers want the project delayed as they fear recent design flaws highlighted in other projects might mean the plant needs to be redesigned first. They are urging a delay.

So we now have the company’s own unions (whose chief just sent an e-mail around saying he will vote against Hinkley C in any board meeting), engineers, the former chief financial officer and quite a few shareholders all urging the plant to be abandoned or delayed.

Normally for a project to become this much of a white elephant it has to be part way through construction, too far in for it to be stopped. Yet the single minded obsession of those behind it means that it will be pushed through regardless. About the only positive is that it will be such a soul destroying process, generating such negative publicity that it will all but guarantee few additional reactors will be built, in the UK or beyond.

And hence the current trend of nuclear reactors being turned off quicker than they can be replaced will continue.

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