Now everyone’s been Trumped

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Analysis
So its Trump, how can 60 million people be that dumb! Many are trying to put the spin on it, that it was working class Americans in rust belt states fed up with how they are treated in Washington that swung the election. Well no, the polling data (both before and after the election) shows the vast majority of Trump voters are middle class or upper class whites who generally have a better than average income. The majority of low income whites still voted for Hillary. Certainly some more of them than did vote for Trump than would normally be expected in an election, but in theory this was cancelled out (to some degree) by an increased level of turn out and voting for Hillary by ethnic minority voters.

Indeed its worth remembering that she carried the popular vote, Trump carried the key swing states by only a tiny margin. The reality is that a Trump victory should have been mathematically impossible had it not been for large number of both wealthy or middle class Americans turning out to vote for him. So Trump is on their head, they are now responsible for whatever mess he makes.

A more crucial factor was that the “never Trump” block within the GOP clearly dithered at the final moment. I mean Republicans are such hypocrites. They launch all of that assault on Bill Clinton and Obama, go around thumping their bible complaining about how America now has no morals anymore….then vote for “grab them by the pu%&X” Trump, who is worse than Bill and far more corrupt than any president or candidate has ever been (Trump university for example, shady deals, Mafia connections) and will be spending some portion of his presidency in court. He may actually end up being indicted on bribery charges before he takes up office. And we can’t just point the finger at white men, the polling data shows a majority of white women also voted for him in certain older age groups. And least we forget Trump is likely to run up a massive deficit, far larger than Obama, so all that BS from the GOP about the debt ceiling over the last few years was clearly just political street theatre.

One fact is clear, is that facts no longer matter anymore. We are truly in the post truth world. And don’t even take my word for it. The analysis of a neuroscientist of Trump supporters is that there’s something wrong with their brains. They have an enlarged and overactive Amygdala, which means they are much more likely to overreact to perceived threats (whether real or imagined). They also have demonstrated an inability to be capable of separating fact from opinion, a trend we saw over in the UK prior to the brexit vote. In short, they believe crazy things because they don’t want to look bad in the eyes of their peers and because they gain some sort of sadistic pleasure out of the fact that it winds up liberals when they do this. Many of these are also increasingly getting their news from Facebook, or Alt-right websites who have both been accused of polarising subscribers by only showing them web pages that won’t challenge their views in an effort to get up site hits.

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And there is also the Dunning-Kruger Effect, by which many overestimate their own ability. I see this all the time as a lecturer. The people who will most overestimate their performance tend to the low achievers, who then can’t understand how it is that they failed (I’m not joking they’ll be on like 18% and want it remarked convinced that somehow we got it wrong). By contrast some of the high achievers tend to underestimate their performance (and come to me straight after the exam with the “well I know I’ve failed, what now?” line….when in fact they finished top of the class!). Or put another way, many Republicans don’t realise how dumb they actually are.

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And finally there is the racism. As in the brexit vote, some will try to argue that Trump winning had nothing to do with racism. Actually no, it very much had everything to do with it. Again the polls show that. The two leading reasons given for voting Trump were terrorism and immigration (i.e. no more darkies). On economic issues, even with low wage blue collar workers, Hillary won out easily. The simple fact is that many Americans who voted for Trump were quite willing to sacrifice some of their economic well being to see the wall build and America become a more racist place. There’s no way to sugar coat it. What Trump shows is that America is a very racist and misogynistic place.

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If Trump and his supporters aren’t fascist, why do they keep getting caught making fascist salutes

Which is hardly surprising given how the GOP have been pushing those over stimulated Amygdala buttons for many decades now. They’ve effectively brainwashed a large chuck of the US population to the point where they cannot separate fact from fiction and believe in new age myths over real data and statistics. Where some fantasy pedalling creationist, climate denying whack-job is given the same credibility as a Nobel prize winning scientist. In doing so they’ve done great damage to American democracy. I mean I was talking to someone from China the other day and enquired what he thought of democracy and he just laughed. I mean seriously, if you were Chinese, horrible thought the Communist party is, would you rather have a system that elects Putin, Trump or votes for brexit?

Trump’s other supporters
And then there’s the other group of Trump supporters, Jill Stein and Gary “Aleppo” Johnson voters. Let’s be clear, you effectively voted for Trump. Go through the data, you’ll see that in the 5 key swing states (any 3 of which would have handed the election to Hillary) and if only half of those who voted for Stein and Johnson voted for Hillary she’d have won (or if all those in 3 of those states who voted for Stein voted Hillary, she would have won).

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When Jill met Putin…..

One can’t argue with the maths, Hillary is not the president thanks to these voters. In effect by voting for either of these candidates in a swing state was the moral equivalent of taking part in a firing squad, but convincing yourself that you fired the blank round every time. Trump is on your head as well. I hope you like him, because its now your fault as much as it is the Republicans.

Hillary robbed at email point

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Hillary tries on her inaugural gown

And given how narrow the victory was one has to look back at the e-mail scandal and the FBI’s last minute intervention. This clearly had an impact, its difficult to believe it didn’t. Now while its clear the polling data was off, it still had Hillary in about an 8% lead prior to Comey’s letter. The final polls put Hillary about 4% up. So one assumes that it caused a 4% swing against Hillary, while the polls were actually off by about 4% as well. I’m reminded of this scence from the Simpsons where Mr Burns runs for office.

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Hillary had a massive lead prior to the Comey’s intervention

While Hillary has to take some of the blame, she may not have been the best choice of candidate (recall I never said I liked her much myself, its just I could see the difference between her and Mr Disaster). And she lost this election more than Trump won it (she got several million less votes than Obama got, while Trump got less votes that Romney got!). But clearly she’s right in pointing the finger at the FBI’s intervention, noting that if true, then Comey broke a long standing electoral law and should, along with Rudolph Giuliani and Senator Chaffetz be subject to a criminal investigation. Of course with Mr stop and frisk now likely to be the attorney general, that seems unlikely to actually happen.

Bernie
Inevitably some of the Bernie brigade are chirping about how Bernie would have won it. And yes I’ve seen polls showing that. However we have to put this in context. He hadn’t just fought an election campaign and have baseless racist/sexist smears thrown at him by the GOP, with the direct assistance of the FBI. Yes, he might just have pulled it off (this election favoured the outsider), but equally its possible is that he’d have still lost, perhaps by a larger margin.

Most Americans are trained from birth to consider anyone calling themselves a socialist to be coming for their wallet, their gun and their bible,in that order. Now I know that’s BS, but that’s still what many think. And there are large number of Americans, including quite a lot in the electoral block that typically vote democrat, who will not vote for an atheist as president. Bernie may have tied down a bit more of the white working class vote, but he’d have seen lower turn out among ethic minority groups from strongly religious backgrounds. And Blomberg would have followed through with his threat to run as a 3rd party candidate.

Again, look at the demographics of those who voted for Trump (who actually voted, ignore this myth about angry blue collar voters) its difficult to see Bernie making a bigger dent. Yes he might have won, but it would have been close. Then again, technically Hillary won, it was only this dumbass electoral college system that stopped her.

Trump v’s reality
So what can we expect from Trump? Well he’s biggest opponent is likely to be this little thing called “reality” and he can’t build a wall around that. Take for example his plan to put a 45% tariff on China and 35% on Mexico. Ya, that’s the thing, stick it to the Chinese, that’ll show’em….hay why’s my I-phone now 45% more expensive? And gas prices just went up, and when I went to buy new tires for my buick they were 35%….oh wait, now I see!

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The only thing protectionism will achieve is it will make everything more expensive. Now while that’s not a big deal for those who can afford to pay 45-35% more for everything, its not so great news for anyone on a tight budget. Yes some companies might move their factories into the US, but only those who exclusively sell to Americans. As other nations will retaliate with tariffs of their own, they’d be shutting themselves out of the international market by moving into the US. It would in short, make more economic sense for Apple to relocate out of the US and abandon the American market than lose the rest of its world sales. America simply lacks the economic clout to fight a trade war with China or the EU. Trump and his supporters might think its 1928, but its not.

Then he wants to build the wall and deport all of the immigrants. Now ignoring the engineering and practical problems with all of that, the enormous costs and the fact that the Wall has been obsolete since the Wright brothers invented this thing called “planes. And who is going to do their jobs? Do you think unemployed people in the rust belt are going to trek halfway across the country to take up manual labour jobs picking crops and cleaning toilets in California or Texas for 6 months a year, then go home again? The end result of his policy will be labour shortages and crops left to rot in the fields. As a result of Trump’s policy we could well see queue’s forming outside shops, much like in Venezuela recently, as certain items become scarce.

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Economists fear the US deficit exceeding 100%….

Then there’s the deficit, his plan is to run up a massive deficit, up to $5.3 trillion to $10 trillion. Certainly, he’d push America pass the long feared threshold of 100%, at which point its likely investors will start to panic, US debt will be downgraded and interest rates will soar.

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…..because it raises the risk of national bankrupcty

Now Trump says, oh I’ll renegotiate the debt or print more money. Ya, and you do realise that will devalue the US dollar? Meaning beyond a certain point, he’s no longer a billionaire (because a billion bucks suddenly ain’t worth that much). And this would also have to push up salaries, including those of state employees. government contractors will start charging the state more for their services. Lenders will charge a higher rate of return, so again interest rates go up. In short economic meltdown.

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Another member of the Billionaire’s club! Trump’s plans would make everyone a billionaire just like him!

Certainly the “print money” option is a good idea, in a crisis, as a temporary means of restoring order. But as a long term debt management strategy its the equivalent of buying Trump wine and mixing it with water and then trying to sell it, only nobody wants to buy it at the original price, instead they’ll only buy it at a discount price. Trump is basically trying to argue that he can still make money selling this diluted wine at a lower price than he buys it. And recall the largest holder of US debt is pension funds based in the US not China.

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Trump v’s congress
The second problem for Trump is that a number of his policies will not last long in congress.

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For example one of the first groups he’ll be upsetting with any trade tariffs will be the US automotive lobby. This is a cabal of car makers, fossil fuel companies, construction firms (who build and maintain roads) and auto dealerships. A lot of US auto parts are shipped in from abroad (most notably Mexico), as is lots of its fossil fuel supply. They will be more than a little upset at the thought that their cars should be more expensive and their profits should take a hit. And these are not the sort of people you want to mess with. Keep in mind the global warming denial machine is just one tiny part of this lobby group. At a local politics level, these guys wield a lot of power (as this Adam ruin’s everything mentions), typically 20% of local sales tax comes from automobile sales. Who do you think local politicians will listen too, Trump or the guys who fund their campaign and the main source of local tax revenue?

In short, Trump messes with these guys, and they’ll see to it that the GOP will get crucified in the mid-terms. And the GOP know that, so they ain’t going to endorse a lot of the things he’s proposed. Likely they’ll pick and chose. For example his tax cut plans, they’ll go for the idea of cutting taxes to the wealthy or getting rid of estate taxes, but likely leave out the bit about closing off loopholes. Which given how ruthlessly Trump has relied on those loopholes himself (he’s probably not paid any tax for 18 years), its likely he’ll go along with. This will, as noted, push up the deficit, leave many poor Americans worse off, while the wealthiest one % are much better off. As fo

The GOP will also go after various ideological issues that play well with their electorate, e.g. repeal Obamacare, ban abortion and gay marriage, deport migrants (although oddly enough not his wife!), make gun ownership compulsory (except for Muslims and minorities of course!), etc. The environment, well they’re pretty much going to ban that, with consequences much like in this Simpson’s sketch  (its scary how old Simpson’s episodes are starting to play out in reality).However, they will likely face Filibustering tactics from the democrats, who will effectively now try to shut down congress and count down the clock on Trump’s presidency. And the GOP can hardly complain as this was essentially their tactics under Obama. In short, its likely the log jam in US politics will get worse under Trump not better.

There are some positive policies that might emerge, the GOP and Trump being the hypocrites that they are, they can be prone to a strong element of “not invented here” syndrome. e.g. Obamacare. Mitt Romney was dead set against this, and I mean who the hell came up with this job killing idea?Mitt Romney did, Obamacare was modelled along the lines of similar policies in various American states…including one brought in by Mitt Romney! This explains Trump’s dithering on repealing Obamacare. He’d be replacing it with something very similar, just a bit more expensive and not as effective.

Similarly he might get certain things passed, who knows maybe even some modest gun control measures, some job creation through another stimulus package (much of which will inevitably find its way into his and his supporters pockets of course), simply because he proposed these things rather than Obama or Hillary. But beyond that, I’d brace yourself for disappointment.

Trump v’s the world
Trump will also face opposition worldwide. Pulling back from the Paris climate deal is not that straightforward, its now entered into international law, he’s going to find it very difficult to pivot away without suffering blow back. And the deal explicitly states that a country must give 4 years notice before leaving, so that’s not even possible within his presidency.

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He also wants to make friends with Putin and break with the NATO alliance. Ya, run that by your generals first! They would be appalled and point out the dangers in such a policy towards US interests. Most of America’s forward deployed forces are in Europe. They rely on European airspace to supply forces in the middle east, conduct intelligence in Russia and watch for possible missile launches. Losing that is simply not acceptable as far as his generals will be concerned.

And I take it he doesn’t want to get re-elected? You do know that one of Putin’s allies happens to be a little place called IRAN who took delivery incidentally of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles a few weeks back. These missiles effectively make it very unlikely that Israel could now carry out any attacks against Iran without losing a lot of aircraft. As one US general put itIran is now Israel proof”. Even the US forces would now have to accept causalities from any bombing missions against Iran. Which means Trump would upset the Israeli lobby by cosying up to Putin.

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And it takes some doing to have the Israeli’s and the Arab world against you. Those Muslim’s he wants to stop from coming into the US happen to control over 50% of the world’s oil production and hold many strategic bases. They now might just go away and form an alliance with the Chinese.

More worryingly its very easy to see how Trump and Putin could get into conflict with each other. For example, egged on by pro-Putin rhetoric from Washington Putin goes into the Baltic states, much like how Saddam mis-read signals from Washington and went into Kuwait. NATO forces, including American forces respond. And note that US commanders in the field don’t necessarily have to call the president before opening fire. If US forces or civilians come under attack, (or NATO allies ask the US commander for assistance) they can respond without waiting for a presidential order. So Trump would have to explicitly order his forces to stand down, even if it meant abandoning American civilians and military forces to be shelled and bombed. He’d be committing the very crime that the GOP tried to claim Hillary committed with regard to Benghazi, except on a much larger scale. He would be vilified, even by his own supporters as a new Benedict Arnold and likely Congress will have him out of office so fast his wig will spin.

Wall street’s man
And the bad news for anyone who did vote for him because your angry about the elites in Wall street in congress, well your a moron, stay away from ballot boxes in future. One little feature of election night I noted, firstly the Asian stock market crashed, dropping 1000 points in a few hours (as you’d expect if you’d followed the campaign). So heavy were these losses that the Dow didn’t open the next day, as it had lost 5% as a consequence of these losses in Asia. Then when it opened rather than the expected falls continuing, instead it barely moved.

Then the Asian markets regained their earlier losses within 24 hrs. To me this indicates that Wall street insiders knew something the Asian stockbrokers didn’t know (but quickly worked out), the fix is in. This behaviour means one of two things A) Wall street knows that something’s planned, Trump will not be president, he’ll have himself a little “accident” in a few days time, the electoral college will vote for Mike Pence or Hillary instead, etc. Or B) He’s been fixed, they’ve got some dirt on him or bought him, he’s their man.

I’m tending towards the second option, given that he’s now talking of repealing the Dodd-Frank act, a key bill brought in by Obama to prevent another financial crisis. In short all that BS during the rallies about going after wall street and draining the swamp, no it was all lies. He’s going to do nothing of the sort. If anything he’s going to make it easier for Wall street to screw the little guy, not the other way around.

Either that or the first option is correct and he’s not going to be president for some reason.

Trump and the UK
There are some in the UK who cheered Trump’s election. Theresa May won’t have been one of those. Firstly, after going to all this trouble to get brexit to kill off UKIP it does not suit the Tory agenda to now have UKIP going around portraying themselves as the UK Trump party. Also there has never been any doubt the UK could get a trade deal from the US, the question was always how beneficial it will be. Its a bit like trying to buy a car. If you’re in a hurry you’ll get it if you pay more than its worth. You want a fair price it takes a lot longer. You may have to walk away from a few deals first.

And again, remember Trump will have to get the details of such a deal past Congress. Recall the US auto lobby. Recall May has essentially committed to getting tariff free trade for the UK car industry. Its not possible to square those two circles. If Trump concedes on this point, he’ll face massive opposition from a very powerful lobby group (who been trying to stop European made cars, essentially those owned by their bitter rivals in Japan, from gaining a foothold in the US market), with their fingers in many swing states (and the pockets of many politicians) and some of the very voters who put him in power work in this industry. If Theresa May concedes, she can be looking at hundreds of thousands of job losses in the lead up to an election. There’s a solution, but its not that easy, it will take time and careful negotiation.

And if the UK ends up part of some sort of transatlantic trading bloc, they could face sanctions and punitive tariffs from the EU and China. Given that the UK does more of its trade with the EU than America, if it has to pick a side, the logical thing to do would be to pick the EU (of course there I go with my “logic” and “facts” again). This is the whole reason why so many voted remain. The UK is too small to be a world power by itself anymore. Its option are to either pool its resources with the rest of Europe, or become a vassal state of an existing empire, literally the 51st state in all but name.

And another reason for voting remain, is that the fear of the UK becoming essentially airstrip one (of 1984 fame) if it leaves the EU. You may enquire what’s to stop the US moving its forces in Europe and stationing them in Britain. Well, firstly geography (the Middle East is too far away! And you’d still need overflight rights from the Europeans). Secondly, this would be political suicide for the Tories. All of that controversy back in the 80’s over US missiles in the UK would spark off again. This is exactly the sort of controversy that could blow the Scottish independence referendum wide open or give Corbyn a fighting chance in 2020.

Trump’s Impeachment
The GOP wanted to impeach Hillary “in her ball gown. This does seem unlikely, most of the controversies she has been accused of were simply made up or over-egged. More importantly the GOP have now set the bar for what constitutes grounds for presidential impeachment so low, its basically a given that any president whom they don’t like, if they can get the necessary votes, he can be removed from office.

And Trump has been involved in numerous scandals already, as noted he will be spending quite a bit of time in and out of court as it is. Also there are already warning signs of where a possible future scandal will erupt. Making white supremacist Steve Bannon as possible white house chief of staff for example, or that odorous brown envelope distributing toad Myron Ebell as head of the EPA, appointing his own relatives to senior posts, yet they also are trustees on the trust fund that will manage his finances during the presidency. You could start a sweepstake on how long before the balloon goes up.

And the democrats show every sign that they are going to come out of the gate swinging on the 21st of January. They feel that they have been cheated out of the presidency and are likely out for blood. They don’t have a majority enough to start impeachment, but they can start making waves. The GOP will likely try to hang onto Trump, so long as he’s useful. If he proves himself to be the disaster many expect him to be, the democrats won’t have to try very hard to convince enough of the Republicans to back impeachment. Personally I reckon a Trump impeachment attempt (successful or not) is essentially a matter of when not if.

Rise of Fascism

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Of course we are making a very dangerous assumption here. That all the checks and balances of the US government will work. But what if they don’t? G. W. Bush should have been at the least investigated over the Iraq war and those “black flights” but he wasn’t (even Trump agrees with this). Its quite clear that Trump and a number of his inner circle have fascist tendencies. The way he’s now flip flopping like John Kerry at a summer footwear convention does suggest that they regard their own supporters as sheep. Mindless drones in a cult of personality who are too be manipulated, control and where necessary betrayed.

Keep in mind that Hitler was helped into power by the very sort of people who helped Trump into power, because they saw him as a useful idiot, who could be used to keep the plebs in line, while they the establishment still secretly ran things. Of course they didn’t count on Hitler ending democracy and relying on his cult of personality to rule by degree. The checks and balances of the US state are about to be subject to destructive testing that will test them to their limits.

If they fail the consequences are pretty grim. As Obama pointed out, one has to worry about a vain insecure man like him, who can’t be trusted with a Twitter account, having access to the nuclear codes. We are very close to midnight I fear.

And if the checks and balances fail, let us remember who got us here. Republicans, (so called) conservatives, plus Jill Stein and Libertarian voters, this one is on all of you. Historians of the future may judge your actions very harshly. My own guess its we that Trump in power probably signals that the US has receded from its high water mark. The US has essentially voted to go backwards, to retreat from the world, to be a less progressive place, to be the new “sick man” of world politics (by putting a sick man in charge). And that is the real problem with this election result.

You’ve been Trumped too

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All in all, I think Trump was summed up rather well by Michael Forbes, the farmer who opposes Trump up in Aberdeenshire. In the recent film you’ve been Trumped Too, he reminisced that when Trump came to Scotland half the country loved him (including Alex Salmond) and half hated him. Now everyone hates him as they realised he’s a complete con artist, who tells tall tales, never delivers, he just fills his own pockets and massages his own ego.

My guess is that this is the reality, Trump is out for one person – himself. He doesn’t care if the country falls apart so long as he comes out on top. And that’s who America voted for!

Bigoted Britain

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One of the more unsavoury aspects of the brexit vote is how the bigot brigade now feel they can throw their weight about. There’s been a worrying rise in racist and xenophobic incidents, up 14% nationally, but as high as 70% higher in some hot spots. A number of foreigner visitors (some only here as tourists) have reported all manner of stories of random abuse being shouted at them, eggs thrown at them, shop windows smashed or being attacked in a public park. Even Lily Allen has reported how she had abuse shouted at her by a cab driver who refused to accept her fare (she’d said something earlier in the week about how the UK should take in more refugees). And this is on the mild side. We have of course the recent murder of a Polish man (now being investigated as a hate crime) and of course just prior to the referendum, there was the murder of MP Jo Cox by a pro-leave bigot.

Unsurprisingly given that Britain has become a more racist and unwelcoming place, some have had enough and there’s stories of how some Polish people are now moving out of the UK, now no longer feeling welcome. I’ve even heard talk from one or two people I know who are thinking about leaving. We’ve even got the rather embarrassing story of how the descendants of Jewish families who came to Britain to flee the nazi’s, are now fleeing back across the channel and seeking to regain their German citizenship.

The word “Britain is increasingly being seen in international circles as synonymous with the word “bigot. And anyone who voted brexit, let us be clear this one is on your head. Make whatever excuses you want, but by voting leave you made common cause with the sorts of racists and bigots a previous generation of Briton’s died to stop from taking over this country. By voting leave you betrayed every principle the UK was founded on. For shame! History will likely judge your actions very harshly.

Far right out of the closet
Stateside some Americans might be tempted to take the moral high ground and say how awfully racist the British now are…yet they still can’t explain why so many want to vote for Trump. Maybe I can offer an explanation.

In part it has to do with “the bloc”, that being the GOP voters, who for various reasons (ideology, religion, down right ignorance and stupidity), will always vote GOP no matter what. The GOP could nominate Kim Jung un, he could campaign on a platform of selling them all into slavery and randomly shot into the crowds at his rallies and I guarantee you the GOP would still carry most of the “red states”. Even if the reincarnation of George Washington was the democrat candidate.

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Secondly, Americans, much like the British, need to accept that they are a much more racist country than they have ever realised. Case in point, the Bundy brigade who held up a wild life preserve at gun point, then after a stand off, car chase and shoot out (which left one of their number dead) recently beat the rap and walked out of court without any punishment. By contrast, protesters against an oil pipeline in Dakota have been harassed, suppressed and imprisoned. A reporter, who was filming the protests, now faces 45 years in prison. Edward Snowden would get a “mere” 30 years if he arrived back in the US.

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Spot the terrorist (PS, according to the Trump bigot brigade, its not the guy with a gun)

And in other news missed within the election coverage, a Saudi student was killed in what is believed to have been a racially motivated attack. Plus, as James Comey’s blatantly politically motivated actions have illustrated, parts of the FBI are filled with racist rightwing partisans.

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An African American church burning…in the name of Trump!

One is reminded of the bad old days in the deep south where the Klan would go out and lynch someone, get caught and walk out of court scot free. Meanwhile any black or northern college activists who tried to do something about segregation would be followed around by the cops, get beaten to a pulp while the cops looked on and then get themselves arrested and the book thrown at them for the most minor offences…..then also get lynched and murdered themselves.

The unfortunate reality which this election campaign has exposed, is that racism in the US did not end with the Jim Crow laws. It just went underground, it went dark. The reality many Americans need to accept is that probably about 1/3 of the country, or at least 3/4’s  of “the block”, are racists and bigots. They do not believe that a black person is equal to a white person (some even argue that blacks were better off as slaves!). Nor is a catholic, a Jew or a Muslim equal to a WASP like them. That Hillary is automatically disqualified from being president, not because of her emails or her politics, but because she’s a women and a women can’t be in charge of a man.

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And its obvious the US far right plan to try and intimidate ethnic minority voters during the voting on Tuesday. Already some of them are showing up at polling stations with guns. The irony is their excuse is they fear the election being rigged…..so they plan on basically rigging it themselves! One can only assume that if they win, much like how the brexit brigade were emboldened in the UK, they’ll go on the rampage. We’ll be hearing stories of burning crosses on people’s lawns and ethinc minorities being driven out of white neighbourhoods.

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Again spot the terrorist…hint he’s the guy who isn’t white

Making the West history
And what are the likely consequences of all of this? I mean if foreigners leave it will mean more jobs for British people? Actually no! If one or two of the people I know leave, well yes I suppose a British person could take their job…..if they’ve got a PhD in a particular narrow field of chemistry or engineering and about ten years experience! Oh, and if they leave they take their research grant with them and the half a dozen British technicians who work for them get the sack.

As for lower paid workers, it is often argued they are doing the jobs the British won’t do. That’s not quite true. Often the problem is that these jobs are temporary posts in locations far away from unemployment blackspots. A Polish person will have no problems relocating to Inverness for 6 months to do a minimum wage job over the summer. But a Britain person in Skegness with a house and kids in school often isn’t willing to do so. Remove the option to hire the Polish person just means one of three outcomes, the job will be unfilled, raising the risk of the company shutting up shop or move overseas. The company may increase its wages to tempt a British person to take it (but that pushes up the cost of the services it offers, making it more expensive to UK customers and potentially rendering the company uncompetitive internationally). Or,  the company may seek to eliminate the job by automating it altogether. All in all, the likely outcome of this rise in racism is likely to be less people in employment not more.

As I’ve pointed out before, the UK is not Australia (i.e. a combination mining colony and holiday destination). Running a knowledge based economy in an ageing country without the ability to bring in young minds (and tax payers) and fresh ideas is likely to be a recipe for economic disaster in the long run. The next generation of inventors and innovators will skip Britain (and the US) and head for less racially charged nations. Neil Ferguson pointed out in his series a few years ago, The west, and in particular Britain’s, success in past centuries boiled down to a number of “killer apps”. Competition, Science, rule of law, etc. Now you (like me) may dispute some of this theory here, even perhaps devise your own set of “apps”, but one cannot help but point out that many of these “apps” only work on the implicit assumption that the West remains open to foreigners to coming in and open to new ideas (i.e. none of this anti-science malarkey also on the rise since brexit).

And keep in mind that the UK is at a disadvantage to other Western states because it lacks the natural resources of the US, Canada or Australia. It doesn’t have the high value exports and warm climate of Spain, Italy or France and its got nothing like the high tech industrial base of Germany. Indeed per capita, even Ireland ranks above the UK for industry as a proportion of its GDP (20% in Ireland v’s 10% in the UK).

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So brexit now threatens to undermine the UK’s ability to bring in new talent (such as scientists, doctors, etc.). Indeed the country may now lose the people it has as they seek their fortunes in other parts of the world (as the falling pound means a massive drop in relative salaries). Already quite a few recent engineering graduates are heading for the exits.

Also the other “killer app” of the UK (relative to the rest of the West) has been its relatively free markets and easy access to finance. Given that the banks are on the verge of jumping ship (for better or for worse) that crosses off that one. An orderly evacuation of New York is possible if Trump wins. And the post-brexit UK is now an economy based heavily on government intervention and political patronage, as the Nissan and Hinkley deals make clear. Those who bend’eth the knee before the brexit high sept, will have gifts lavished on them. Those who are seen to be out of favour (e.g. wind farms which have helped cut UK carbon emissions by rather a lot recently and stabilise energy prices in he wake of rising gas prices thanks to brexit) are punished for their success. Keep in mind that its likely the Nissan deal could work out as extremely costly to the UK, and Hinkley C is likely to cost the taxpayer tens of billions (on top of the hundreds of billions bill payers will have to stump up over its 50 year life). And its recently been revealed that the government will have to pick up the tab for the plant’s eventual decommissioning (which generally has worked out more expensive than building the plant in the first place).

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And one cannot help but point out the irony of a brexit won on the back of a lie that we’d get money back of johnny foreigner in Brussels to spend on the NHS….instead the UK is likely to have to pay out billions to foreign multinationals and billionaires, while the NHS is screaming for funding, with dire warnings of possibly collapse in the provision of certain services if something isn’t done quickly. Hardly progress is it! And as a whole the UK government is already facing a £14 billion shortfall due to falling tax revenue.

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And this post brexit bigotry also raises a more serious risk, the breakup of the UK. I would argue that hidden in the small print of the contract that is the UK is the long standing principle that the English, who make up the majority of the UK’s population, will not use their majority position to force English nationalist domination onto the other parts of the country. Brexit and the bigotry it has spawned obviously suggests that this particular contract has been torn up. And if that’s the case, then the UK itself is on borrowed time. I’m not sure if the Indyref2 will go the SNP’s way, we’ll have to see. I will certainly be voting yes, if only to get away from all of this awful xenophobia. But even if its another no vote, I’d still argue a future break up of the UK becomes a matter of “when” and “how” and no longer “if”, unless something is done to kill of this rising tide of bigotry. The lessons of history are not on the UK’s side here.

Recall how the Soviet Union tried to hold things together as the Commonwealth of Independent states after the fall of communism, which very quickly broke down, once the other nations saw a rising tide of Russian nationalism. Similarly Yugoslavia broke up, when the other nations feared domination by the Serb majority. Czechoslovakia split down the middle as well. And the Austro-Hungarian Empire imploded after World War I once it became clear the scale of the mess the Hapsburg’s had dragged the various ethnic groups in the country into. And least we forget Ireland left the UK also thanks to World War I because the view was taken that we could no longer tolerate English interference in Irish affairs, or being dragged into European wars that we wanted nothing to do with.

One of course hopes the future breakup of the UK will be peaceful, but speeches along the lines of how “we came into the EU as one nation and will leave as one”from the brexit brigade sound eerily similar to what was coming out of Slobodan Milosevic’s mouth in the lead up to the Yugoslav civil war. Trying to stonewall the Scots in the event of indyref2 (which seems to be Theresa May’s plan) is a potentially very dangerous tactic.

Equally headlines branding Judges “enemies of the peopleis the sort of thing I’d expect to read in Der Sturmer in the 1930’s, not the UK in the 21st century. And of course one cannot help but put point out the irony of how one of the arguments for brexit is that British judges should make decisions like this….now the British judges have spoken they’ve been vilified. There’s a very real risk that if there is a vote on brexit in parliament, of it being turned into a rerun of the 1933 Enabling law vote in Germany.

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So if brexit means bigotry, then I would argue its a price that is too high. The price is likely to be the future economic prosperity of the UK, if not an end to the UK itself. Thus brexit must be stopped, or failing that it must be set up to screw over the bigot brigade. A soft brexit, with open borders, a relaxed policy on refugees (here’s a thought, the regions which voted the most for brexit should be required to take in a higher proportion of them!) should be a priority.

And there needs to be a change in the law to drive the bigots back into whatever gutter they crawled out of. Fines, prison sentences, a block on claiming benefits or working in a public sector related job, all should be increased to make them think twice before opening their dirty racist pie holes. I’d argue this taxi driver who refused to pick up Lily Allen should be stripped of his cab license for life. Anyone who is convicted of racial hatred, I say treat them like the UKBA treats migrants to the UK. They’d have to go through several years of paying taxes but going without benefits payments or tax credits or voting rights. Then, assuming they behave (else we reset the clock and they have to start all over again), they earn the right to reapply for citizenship to get all of these things back (paying through the nose for it, going through citizenship classes & tests, etc.). That might teach them a bit of respect!

A GOP stitch-up of the election

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The “October surprise” of a new batch of Hillary’s e-mails has threatened to upset the election. The democrats have cried foul and perhaps for good reason. There is a long standing tradition in all democratic governments than in the weeks leading up to an election government agencies are supposed to be in a state of Purdah, which means no statements should be released that might sway the vote either way. While the system isn’t quite as official and regulated in the US as it is in the UK, it is still a widely respected policy. Its been suggested that FBI chief James Comey actions, who is also a registered Republican, might actually be illegal and thus he could end up in prison rather than Hillary.

Indeed the FBI’s actions here don’t add up. Normal practice would be to keep this sort of thing confidential (even if there wasn’t an election going on) until you have something more tangible (such as some actual “evidence”, the FBI haven’t even read these e-mails yet, they could be a collection of Hillary’s pot roast recipes for all we know). This applies whether you are investigating a political candidate or Benny from the Bronx or Johnny tightlips.

Why? Well for starters we have this principle of innocent until proven guilty. If you don’t even have evidence of guilt (never mind proof), its a little early to be throwing around accusations. It makes getting an unbiased jury harder and makes it more likely the defendant will get off on a technicality (as it kind of implies you launched a fishing expedition against him, which technically the cops aren’t supposed to do). Also obviously enough if a prep knows they are being investigated they will do something about it, skip town, intimidate witnesses, “retire” a key informant, etc. Given that the democrats now see this as a GOP plot, they are closing ranks, the chances of the FBI completing their investigation in a timely manner are somewhere between slim and none. So one is forced to the conclusion that either James Comey is grossly incompetent or criminally abusing his office for political ends.

But how serious is this e-mail scandal? Well firstly we do need to remember that back when Hillary did set up this account it was against the backdrop of wikileaks when there were fears that US government e-mail systems weren’t that secure. This was largely the fault of Obama’s predecessor G. W. Bush. His big idea, the department of Homeland security, was a bureaucratic nightmare. So in order to make it work, they adopted very lax controls over e-mail security, which was exploited by Wikileak whistle-blowers.

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Also at the time the legislation governing the handling of confidential materials was a bit ambiguous, it wasn’t clear if it applied to e-mails. Keep in mind that Hillary’s predecessor, Condelezza Rice went around with a blackberry during her time in office (the whole reason Hillary went with this private e-mail server was because the NSA won’t supply her with a secure blackberry). On the other hand, its been argued Hillary might have been using a private e-mail server to avoid future FOI requests. Keep in mind that the GOP have been bombarding her with these for the last 25 years. So her paranoia is understandable, but its possible she was genuinely trying to hid something (e.g. emails to wall street bankers, the Clinton foundation, etc.). But the point is A) we don’t know, this is all speculation. And B) Republicans have done the same thing or far worse in the past.

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If the bar for prosecution and denying someone access to high office is this low, then G. W. Bush (two illegal wars, black sites, illegal use of torture, the biggest recession in 80 years), G. H. Bush (Panama invasion, the Church committee while head of CIA), Reagan (Iran Contra) should all have been impeached and removed from office. And Mitt Romney and Trump himself should also be disqualified as both have done far worse than anything committed by Hilary. To call the Republicans behaviour here double standards doesn’t even come close.

Of course, one factor in all of this everyone seems to forget is that there’s a long standing tradition in US politics that upon the election of a new president, the heads off all of the US government departments will file a letter of resignation with the new president. Now generally the incoming president will refuse to accept their resignation and re-appoint them. But every once in a while they don’t (Nixon was notorious for using this to get rid of officials he didn’t like). Given the frayed relationship between Hillary and Comey, he probably feared she won’t e-mail him back once he tenders his resignation (her likely claiming that she didn’t want to force the FBI to start another e-mail investigation!) and he’d be out on his ear.

So there’s an element of cynical short-sightedness here. Comey, trying to save his career, regardless of the cost to the country. Of course whether you’d want to be FBI chief with Trump in charge is another matter. He’ll use the FBI to go after his perceived enemies, so he’ll spend the next 4 years reading the e-mails of Hillary and late night comedians, while drug dealers, the mafia (who may have Trump on the payroll), terrorists and corrupt business executives get ignored. In short the FBI will be sent back to the bad old days of J. Edgar Hoover’s time in charge…if they aren’t already there!.

And of course, what’s the likely outcome? Well if Hillary wins (which is still the most likely outcome), not only is Comey gone but pretty much every Republican senior office holder too. She would be well within her rights to argue that if the GOP are going to use the offices of state to settle political scores and play silly games, screw you, I’ll sack the lot of ye’s and appoint democrats or independents to those jobs instead. Of course this will lead to yet more partisan politics and a lack of political progress.

And speaking of short-sightedness, what is Assange up too? Okay, he doesn’t like Hillary, she doesn’t like him. But what does he hope to achieve? Does he want Trump to be elected? What will happen then? Assange’s claim for seeking asylum is that he fears going back to Sweden in case they extradite him to the US where he may fact charges carrying the death penalty. This doesn’t add up. Sweden has laws in place that would forbid extradition under such circumstances. But with Trump in charge, do you think Trump is going to respect Ecuadorian sovereignty? No way, he’ll have some assassin blow Assange’s brains out from across the street or send some Green Beret’s in to drag him out. So for the sake of scoring a few childish points, he’s jeopardising his own life and the entire political system. No wonder he has the Ecuadorian’s nervous. My guess is Trump or Hillary he’ll likely be put out on the street not long after the election, as he has now made himself a liability.

The short-sightedness of some people, they’re willingness to cut off their own nose to spite their face, is just sometimes baffling. Hopefully American voters will have the good sense to see through the facade to what’s really going on here and ignore it.

The post election GOP civil war

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By all accounts nothing short of a miracle will see Trump winning this election. The odds are distinctly in Hillary’s favour and have been for sometime now. Its likely they will lose seats in the Senate and House, best guess at the moment is that the Senate is a tossup and the house will be retained by the GOP, but with a greatly reduced majority. A more important question would be to speculate on the inevitable recriminations after the election within the Republican party after the election.

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The best case scenario for the GOP, for reason I will shortly explain, is that Trump loses and he loses comprehensively. Hilary crushes him, taking all of the swing states and maybe one or two of the red states, like Georgia or Utah. This will leave little room for anyone to doubt the election results. Trump may dispute them, but very few beyond his inner circle will do so. It will send a very clear message to even the most demented of his supporters that by putting Trump on the ticket, you just handed the keys of the white house to Hillary. Put Trump or some similar lunatic (e.g. Ted Cruz) on the ballot paper again in 2020 and you’ll be guaranteeing not just 4 years of Hillary but 8 years. Keep on nominating unelectable retards and you’ll then get 8 years of her predecessor too (probably Elizabeth Warren or Al Franken!).

Presented with this, the old guard of the GOP will re-merge from their “undisclosed locations” and attempt to retake control of the party. I suspect two forces will battle it out, the traditional Republicans (best represented by Paul Ryan) and the monied interests/establishment (best represented by the Bush family). Its difficult to see who will win, perhaps some sort of compromise might be reached. But the chances are the Tea party and Trumpers will be squeezed out. My guess is the nomination process will be overhauled, introducing Democrat style super-delegates and requiring a candidate has the support of a certain number of elected senior officials and some past political experience. This will allow them to screen future candidates and avoid another Trump (or Ted Cruz!).

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The Tea party Trumpers may run off and form their own party, but they’ll quickly become an irrelevance. They may make life difficult for the GOP in the mid term elections, but the balance of probability is they will attach very little support – Just ask Gary “Aleppo” Johnson. They might cost the GOP the odd seat in some of the tighter races, but that’s about it.

The other scenario, arguably the worst case scenario for the GOP, is Trump loses by a narrow margin. He will inevitably dispute it. Some of his more trigger happy supporters may take up arms, get annihilated by the military and police….and create the perfect excuse for why Hillary should push for tighter gun control as her first act in office. This will also allow her to paint the GOP as unamerican, cut from the same cloth as the confederates who opposed Lincoln’s election. Trump meanwhile will hang on and try to run again in 2020. This would be disastrous for the party.

There are a whole slew of Republicans, some of whom will hold their noses and vote Trump on November 8th, who despise him and everything he stands for. Others, such as the Bush family Mitt Romney and even Glen Beck will not vote for him, even if it means Hillary winning. In short there are a whole raft of characters within the party currently queuing by the fire exit, likely arguing while they wait over whose fault is that got them to this place. They will not hang around to stomach four more years of Trump. If it becomes obvious that he’s not going to go quietly, or that they will be unable to force him and his supporters out, they will open the fire exits and commence an orderly evacuation of the GOP.

It should be noted that the anti-trump wing didn’t mount a third party challenge to him this year because by the time they’d realised the danger their own gerrymandering rules (designed to stop third party challenges in red states) would have worked against them. Now they’ll have a full 2 years to the mid terms and 4 to the next presidential election to organise. They may join the democrats or the libertarians, but my guess they’ll form a new party, whom I’ll refer to as the Real Republicans, which will emerge as a new force in American politics.

Meanwhile the consequences for Trump’s GOP will be meltdown. The monied interests will inevitably jump into bed with either Hillary or this new party. With the money tap turned off the GOP officials who organise the party at the local level will jump ship as soon as their first pay-check bounces. As a result Trump’s GOP will start to unravel, imploding from within. Much of the US political machine, both GOP and democrat is fully private anyway. Wander down K-street and you’ll be tripping over Lobbyists, political strategist, spin doctors, Pollsters, campaign managers, etc. These hired guns are loyal only to the person who is paying them. Trump supporters need to understand they are fighting an election in America, where the dollar rules, not in France.

Indeed speaking of money, Trump has recently been caught by the UK Daily Telegraph (a fairly right wing newspaper owned by a pair of millionaire tax exiles) soliciting donations from Chinese businessmen, which is illegal under US election laws. So its possible a Trump GOP will essentially become even more a mouthpiece for foreign businesses, literally a 5th column within the US political system.

Fox News too, will inevitably fall in line behind this new party. If Trump thinks he’s getting a hard time now, wait till he goes through 4 years of far worse, with Fox itself leading the charge. He’ll face lawsuit and criminal investigations galore (foreign donations, his taxes, sexual misconduct), the purpose of which will be to guarantee he’s either ineligible to run again, either due to criminal convictions or he’s gone bankrupt paying lawyers.

Of course the bad news is this new Republican party will likely struggle in the mid terms. Old habits die hard and enough people who’ve voted GOP all their lives will continue to do so, even though it hands Hillary the keys to the house. However on the plus side, once they’ve had time to organise (and the danger inherit in continuing to vote GOP is made clear to conservative voters), this new party will represent a serious challenge to Hillary in 2020. The GOP itself will wither and die, much like the downfall of the Whig party.

One also has to factor in what’s happening across town in democrat HQ. The Bernie Sanders brigade, who’ve reluctantly backed Hillary to stop Trump haven’t gone away. My guess is there will be some left wing challenge to Hillary, possibly something of a party split not long after the election. How bad this will be largely depends on that election outcome. A narrow victory to Hillary and most of the left wing of the democrats will feel the need to circle the wagons and buckle down. Yes Sanders might leave, but he only recently joined the party anyway. He’ll find the bulk of the party sticks with Hillary.

If on the other hand Hillary wins by a huge margin, with a strong showing made by third party candidate and the GOP gets massacred in the Senate and House races, that changes everything. Suddenly all those promises she made to the Bernie brigade, which should could otherwise renege on given the impossibility of getting them through Congress, now became a political possibility. So she’d have to at least try to get them passed, or face civil war within her own party. As David Cameron showed, sometimes winning an election by a larger majority than you expected can be a bad thing. Now you actually have to pretend to forfill all of your election promises.

And one has to consider the implications for America’s standing in the world with regard to a strong vote for Trump. The view of the rest of the world is that Trump is a bigot, a racist and a buffoon and November 8th is essentially a poll for the rest of us to figure out how many Americans are bigoted racist morons. Will the next generation of foreign born billionaires, like Elon Musk, Sergey Brin or George Soros chose to set up in the US (or UK for that matter) if they fear its run by racists who might run them out of town? Anyone in the rust belt voting for Trump because their angry about the lack of jobs, etc. Ya well good luck finding a job after foreign investors start pulling their money out of the country.

So it is for these reasons I would say to any conservative voters, think very carefully before voting for Donald Trump. It is in the best interest of the GOP and conservatives that Trump loses and loses by a landslide. If you can’t bring yourself to vote Hillary, vote for a 3rd party candidate. Conservative voters are facing a choice, not so much in who becomes president (that ship has pretty much sailed), but in which post-election scenario you most favour. One where the GOP survives, one where it falls apart or one where it loses elections after election for a generation.

Slithering towards authoritarianism

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If Corbyn had made an end of conference speech suggesting that he wanted to use the power of the state to make a better society, the media would quickly be rife with the usual “crazy bolshie Corbyn” articles, while half his MP’s would resign and sign a no confidence motion. But instead, Theresa May was the one who made the speech and instead she is praised as “taking the centre ground”. Well not quite!

A lot of people think politics is a linear one dimensional problem of right and left, when in fact it is at the very least a two dimensional issue of right and left but also liberal and authoritarian (one could argue for a third dimension to define scientific literacy, e.g. are you a global warming denying anti-vaccine type, or a hard science transhumanist, but that’s another days discussion). In effect what the Tories are now proposing to do under our poundshop Thatcher is to move diagonally, slightly to the left, but more upwards towards authoritarianism……the same spot currently occupied by UKIP…..and closer to Hitler!

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And if that sounds like being a little unfair, we have Oberführer von Rudd’s “I’m not racist….but” speech, calling for business to be forced to say how much of their workforce is British. Thing is, for years campaigners for disability, women and minority rights have been calling for this sort of data to be made available, but the Tories has dismissed such a policy as “anti-business”. Yet we now have the Tories advocating just such a policy, as they attempt to out UKIP, UKIP. I mean how would they react if Nichola Sturgeon announced she’d make all Scottish businesses declare the numbers of English working for them? Next thing you know the Tories will have foreigners going around with little stars on their chests. And if some over enthusiastic Brownshirts patriotic Tory grass roots supporters should boycott some Pakistani owned shop, or break his windows, well the Tory party aren’t to blame, are they?

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One wonders what Thatcher and her mantra of big government being more part of the problem than the solution, would sit with the current Tory party. Of government getting off the back of businesses, not lecturing them in how to do their job (or telling them who to recruit), keeping markets stable and basically not doing anything to upset the apple cart. Or that a British home is your castle…well not if we want to frack underneath it these days! If Thatcher had a grave, she’d be rolling in it about now. And if her ghost showed up at the conference she’d be called a bleeding heart liberal and told to take it outside.

And what about the deficit? The Tories came to power in 2007 on a ticket of deficit reduction, claiming the UK would lose its credit rating and be bankrupted by hyperinflation if the deficit wasn’t brought under control quickly. They ran in the 2015 election on a platform of finishing what they started. The Hinkley C project, talk of millions of homes on green field sites, a new runway at Heathrow, HS2 and much else, all paid for on the UK’s credit card does suggests that the Tories have essentially abandoned  their long held position of being the party of supposedly balanced budgets and prudent spending (actually they never really achieved this but they at least pretended to try).

As I highlighted in a prior post, the only people who don’t worry about the deficit are the sort of people who are bad at maths (that would be Hammond!), or think national bankruptcy holds some sort of silver lining (that would be Michael Gove!). It is important that governments balance their books. My main criticism of Osborne was how he was prepared to throw the very poorest in society under the bus to achieve his targets, while his lopsided policy ignored the need to raise taxes concurrently. Bill Clinton and more recently the Irish tackled their deficit this way, tax rises and spending cuts, but rises where people can afford it, cuts where it will cause the least harm. Indeed one was often forced to the conclusion Osborne’s policy was really just an excuse to gut public spending that did not benefit his class.

And speaking of which, why not roll back all of Osborne’s austerity measures? That would represent a move towards the centre ground, but like I said the truth is the Tories are instead slithering towards the Authoritarian right. Given labour’s move towards the hard left under Corbyn this actually means there is no major party of the centre ground in UK politics. For those who want someone to speak for the 67% of the electorate who didn’t vote leave, nobody now represents you, other than perhaps the lib dems (who have a single digit number of seats).

But spare a thought for traditional pro-business Tories or libertarians. They literally do have nowhere to go to now. Rather ironically some voted for brexit hoping it would mean a more free market libertarian Britain…LOL..😂..how dumb they must look now! Instead, much as I warned prior to the referendum (and indeed actual libertarians warned also), we’re looking at a UK split between the authoritarian right of UKIP and the Tories and a hard left labour party.

Some still cling to the belief that UKIP is a libertarian party, failing to understand that UKIP are in fact the ideological enemies of libertarians (calling ones self a “libertarian was, a common dog whistle code word in the US, because showing up wearing your hood or calling yourself a fascist tended to get a negative reaction. Of course with Trump, they don’t need to do that anymore, and besides there’s an actual libertarian running now in Gary Johnson). So any actual libertarians in the UK have literally nowhere to go now.

So no, the Tories have not moved towards the centre ground, its just that “moving towards the centre ground” sounds a bit better than “becoming more like Hitler”. In the wake of brexit the centre ground has been abandoned, while the two major parties make their way towards the extremes.

Lady and the Trump

By all accounts (well accounts from vaguely sane people, even those who tend to vote Republican) Trump lost the first Presidential debate ….and then some! And how did Hilary win? By bringing up every bullshit lie and racist statement Trump has ever made, putting him on the defensive and then sitting back and letting him dig himself in an even deeper hole.

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Will this effect the outcome of the election? Probably not. “Trump supporter” has entered our language as a means to describe a form of lunacy where “facts” are not just ignored but treated with as an act of extreme hostility. His supporters will perform Simone Biles like feats of mental gymnastics, to cling to their pre-conceived positions. He and his supporters have made the name of the magazine “Scientific American sound like a contradiction in terms.

His supporters will claim they support him because Hilary lies, flip flops and is corrupt. Trump will lie and flip, flop while denying allegations of his connections to the mob all within the same sentence. Indeed the cult of Trump were soon on the internet rigging polls to suggest he won. Unfortunately they tried a little too hard. Trump quoted how he’d one a CBS post-debate poll, only to be told there was no such thing.

If the very rules of politics set by conservatives were applied to Trump, he would not only lose, but won’t even get his deposit back. But unfortunately they don’t. American elections are becoming a bit like the rule of the Targaryens in Game of Thrones. Every four years the gods flip a coin to see if we get someone good or a madman.

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And the recent leaking of his tax returns, which show Trump took a nearly $1 billion loss which he’s been using to aggressively dodge tax ever since doesn’t exactly fit with his narrative of being a great businessman, or how he’ll look out for the little guy (the little guy in these bankruptcies got screwed) or that he’ll crack down on tax dodgers.

The next debate, a town hall format, may favour Trump more. It puts Hilary at a disadvantage as she has to talk to “people” and she doesn’t do “people” very well. She might get asked some awkward questions. However, the problem with the GOP is most of the issues with her that they should be taking up (e.g. her ties to Wall Street for example) they don’t. The likelihood is they’ll focus on things like her e-mails and Benghazi and she can easily pull herself out of those holes, as the truth is this were minor misdemeanour’s at worst….and Trump has done similar but far worse things in the past, as have past GOP presidents.

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The real danger for Trump is in fact if any of the cult of Trump show up and start screaming about the wall (is he going to set up his own version of the night’s watch to guard the wall?) and Muslims, where’s Obama’s birth certificate and aren’t you great Mr Trump for raising all these issues (while Trump is starting to sweat and signalling security to get this person out of the room). This is exactly what happened to John McCain. He tried to play the moderate Republican, but every now and then he’d have to deal with some sort of insane outburst from a supporter (or Sarah Palin), which drove moderate voters towards Obama.

So this town hall format might work for Trump yes, or it could be total disaster, particularly if he loses his cool, or someone brings up his taxes.

The greater fool fallacy and Trump

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There are some who support Trump even though they know he’s a bigot and a racist, but they support him despite this, because they think he offers the possibility of significant change (same goes with quite a few who voted for Brexit). That he can be manipulated into doing certain things other politicians won’t do. Other politicians would feel the need to run things by “advisors” and “experts” and worry about public opinion (or put the idea to focus groups), then realise its not going to work and hesitate. A shoot from the hip type president will do things others won’t, because he’ll act first without thinking things through.

Examples of those looking to exploit a future president include space cadets, the far right and even some elements of the far left (Bernie Sanders types who took all that anti-Hillary stuff way too seriously). I’ve even heard it argued by some Chinese that Trump would be better for China than Hillary because she’ll stand up to China, while he’s such a good business man (the sort that’s gone bankrupt 4 times?), he’d do a deal with them. At the very least Trump undermines the case for democracy, which Beijing likely sees as helpful. In all cases the assumption of these groups is a variation on the “greater fool theory”, in that they think he’s a bigger fool than them and hence can be manipulated. However as I will discuss, this is a dangerous fallacy.

By way of example, let’s take the space cadet brigade. Much of the pro-Trump rhetoric I’m hearing from them is more or less identical to the stuff I was hearing about G. W. Bush back in 2000. The assumption was he was more pro-space than Al Gore, largely because Bush was seen as an amiable dunce. How did that work out? Well within the first few months of office, he gutted the NASA’s science budget to pay for tax cuts to his wealthy donors. Several important projects were cancelled, from space missions to Jupiter (only recently resurrected and flown under Obama), the Helios solar drone project (as I discussed in a recent post), various shuttle replacement proposals and much more, all were defunded. This put NASA in an awkward position after the Colombia crash as they were left with no obvious alternative to the shuttle.

The Colombia disaster did give Bush the opportunity to reset US space policy. And he did come up with something a little more appealing to them. But his policy was completely disjointed. His proposals were a mishmash of whatever he felt would appease the space cadets and the corporate lobbyists, yet without any extra funding attached. The Ares 1 rocket was clearly one designed by lobbyists rather than engineers, whose sole purpose was to make sure the same contractors building and servicing the shuttle kept their jobs. As one commentator at the time put itNASA is being expected to carry out John Kennedy’s space program with Bill Clinton’s space budget”.

Within months critics were panning his plans as unworkable, I was even hearing rumours  of Bush’s plan being referred to as “project Cancellation” within NASA rather than its official title Constellation, as it was widely assumed that such an obviously unworkable project would not survive multiple president’s and multiple layers of congressional oversight. Indeed it was mostly all cancelled by the end of Obama’ 1st term. So Bush (again the supposed champion of the space cadets) score card would show that he ran NASA into the ground and essentially ended US manned space flight.

So what’s likely to happen with Trump in charge? Well my guess is that he too will initially gut NASA’s budget, to pay for tax cuts and various other vanity projects. And as a vain and insecure person who bears grudges he will cut not what’s cutable but what cuts will punish his perceived enemies. If California votes against him (as expected) he’ll likely shut down JPL or Ames. If Virginia votes democrat, what’s the bet that Langley will be closed? Naturally anything with the word “environment” in it will go too, which is a lot of NASA’s budget (often one of the best ways of learning how the atmosphere of Mars works is by studying our own).

While I suspect Trump could be eventually persuaded to back something like a mission to Mars (as a vanity project), he will only be doing so on basis of lining his own pockets. The contracts won’t go to someone sensible like Elon Musk (unless Musk bows before him and kisses his rings and slip him a few quid in the next few months), but to whichever of his cronies promises him the largest cut of the money they skim off the top. Who knows maybe he’ll do what he did with the Trump towers and give the contact to some Mafia front (Goodfella’s Rocket Company?). Which is probably rather fortunate because it will prevent him actually flying any hardware that might kill someone. Any proposal backed by Trump for a Mars mission will likely either be some sort of one way suicide mission (with Hillary and Elizabeth Warren slated as flight crew!) of the Mars one variety, or a two way Banzai charge of the sort the Mars society proposes.

As for those on the left, do you honestly think Trump a wealth corrupt buffoon is really going to promote a leftist agenda? Yes he may pull back from international trade agreements, but what he replaces it with will be written to suit the elites like him. And those on the far right, yes he might build a wall or do something about immigration, but he’s not going to end it or deport anybody. After all some of these Mexicans work in his hotels. Do you think he wants to end up having to hire a load of Americans instead? They’d be asking for minimum wage and paid vacation time, then keep bringing up their “rights”. Trump’s plan will be to control immigration for his benefit, not end it.

As for Brexiters, Trump is not going to sign up to a trade deal with a post-Brexit UK which would put those who funded his campaign or his blue collar supporters at a disadvantage. And as for the Chinese, while I suspect Trump would eventually leave China better off after launching a trade war (or worse an actual war) with China and losing, but this is hardly positive. Its like arguing that Hitler was an all American hero because his actions left America much stronger after world war II. For sure Hillary will be a pain in the ass, both for the UK and the Chinese. But she’s not going to do anything stupid. She’s not going to start a war for the sake of the Philippines (doubly so now they’ve elected their own version of Donald Trump).

And bringing up the matter of Hitler, its worth remembering that he too was a product of this “greater fool” fallacy. Many of those who helped him into power, notably those on the centre right of Germany at the time did so because they saw him as a useful idiot, who could be manipulated and controlled once in power. Of course they soon found out this wasn’t the case. Putin too came to power as a result of being seen as a puppet, who like his predecessor could be manipulated and controlled….just one who could stay sober for more than five minutes. But quickly Putin showed himself to be less a puppet of the Oligarchs and more the puppet master.

Voting for a madman like Trump on the assumption that you can control him is a bit like opening the gate on a lion’s pen and assuming you can control the lion, just cos you saw someone do it on the Discovery channel. Its a logical fallacy and amounts to a tacit admission that whatever you are advocating is basically unworkable. Any plan or proposal that is unable to withstand the rigours of conventional politics and requires a madman in charge to implement is by definition a bad idea.

Trump v’s China

And speaking of China, a key theme of Trump’s poisonous rhetoric is to stoke fears about China. How America’s predicament is somehow the fault of China….No, its not America’s decision to pursue neo-liberal policies that sold working class communities in the country down the river, it was China’s fault. It does raise the prospect that if Trump wins he will try to confront China. Suffice to say this would be a disaster for the US and likely lead to victory for the Chinese.

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

China has a trade surplus of around $600 billion, with a GDP of $20 trillion and debt to GDP ratio of 17%. The US has a trade deficit of $530 billion, a GDP of $18 trillion and a debt to GDP ratio of 76% and climbing . Any economic war between China and America will only ever have one winner. And China could end any such confrontation in a single day. All they’d need to do is take the $1.4 trillion in US bonds they hold and dump them on the open market. Within 24 hrs, the US would be bankrupt.

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But can’t the US just default on its debts and screw the Chinese over? Well yes, a $1.4 trillion hit would certainly hurt the Chinese, hence why they are unlikely to opt for their “nuclear” option of dumping bonds unless provoked (unfortunately, Trump’s exactly the sort of moron who might just do that). However, it would pale in comparison to the economic mess unleashed in America. 67% of US public debt is held internally (mostly by pension plans!), v’s the 8% held by the Chinese. We’d be talking about the Chinese catching a cold, while the US gets Ebola. It would be the equivalent of the defenders of a castle burning it down (while they were still inside) in order to save it from the enemy.

How about a military confrontation? Well aside from the obvious risks of starting a war with another nuclear armed states, there’s the not so small issue of costs. As in you do know wars are expensive? The war on terror cost $4.4 trillion, about $1 billion a day on top of a military budget of about $1.4 billion per day. How would Trump pay for that? Is he going to go around and collect the gold fillings from his supporters mouths? Maybe he can build a wall in the Pacific and get the Chinese to pay for it?

Even if we ignore these thorny little issues, the US would be committing to a fight it can’t win. It would be like pitting a bantamweight boxer against a Japanese sumo wrestler. Yes, the boxer will get in some telling blows and give the wrestler a bloody nose, but he’s not going to knock the Sumo wrestler out. The boxer will tire eventually and the sumo wrestler will likely then end it with one punch.

It has never been the policy of China to defeat the US (contrary to what the movie Red Dawn or the likes of Alex Jones might have you believe), but to endure the US. The American military would certainly inflict a lot of damage and destroy much military hardware. But China would be losing stuff it can afford to lose. Their massive industrial capacity means that they could easily replace any loses pretty quickly. And they’ve no shortage of people from whom to recruit to replace any losses in manpower.

The US by contrast does not have the industrial capacity any more to endure heavy losses….nor indeed could they afford to pay for replacement equipment with a bankrupt economy. Consider for example that with their new long range carrier killing” missiles the Chinese could take out a US aircraft carrier in just a few minutes, while it takes the US several years to build a new one. A single salvo of these missiles could inflict losses that it would literally take America decades to recover from. And the same missiles could also be targeted at US ground bases too, forcing the Americans to either endure crippling losses or withdraw their forces out of range of the Chinese.

In short, the result of any such confrontation would almost certainly be a Chinese victory and an end to the US as the world’s leading superpower, and we’d have Trump to thank for it! If you worry China is getting too big for its boots, then you really need to vote for Hillary, Her attacks on China’s human rights record, or using diplomatic pressure to challenge them on their claims to the south sea, are far more troubling to the communist party than any amount of bluster from an orange haired buffoon.

The awful consequences of Populism

A few months back the Philippines elected a Populist nut job, Rodrigo Duterte, as their President. A man described as “Asia’s Donald Trump”. So how has that worked out?

Well the current estimate is that 2,500 have been killed by vigilante’s and police in a supposed anti-drug crack down. Will this get drugs off the street? For a while perhaps, then (if events in Mexico are anything to go by) many of these vigilante’s will be in the drug trade themselves. So long as there’s a market for drugs someone will try to sell them. You are better off tackling the social problems that promotes this drug addiction, as some European countries have successfully managed to do.

On the international stage, Duterte embarrassed himself at a recent summit. Obama cancelled a meeting with him and other leaders more or less gave Duterte the cold shoulder. Pissing off the Americans is a bad idea for the Philippines, as they are (or were) backing them up in a dispute with China over the South China sea, where the Chinese have been building artificial Islands to reinforce its claim to large areas of sea (that might contain oil or gas reserves).

Oddly enough, despite a favourable recent ruling, Duterte seems to be unworried by any withdrawal of American support. Indeed he seems to be increasingly favourable to the Chinese. Leading some to wonder if he’s just a shill for the Chinese (literally a Manchurian candidate).

So what’s the economy been doing? Foreign investors are already withdrawing their money and making their way towards the exits, the country seems will on its way to becoming another basket case. And recall, he’s only been in the post about a month. What’s it going to look like after 4 years? My guess is we’ll never find out. The Philippines has a history of military coup’s and I’m guessing we’re now just months or a year or two away from another one.

In short, Duterte shows everything that is wrong with electing populist leaders into government. No matter how bad you think Cameron, Blair, Clegg or Hillary might be, trust me there are people ten times worse.

Sunday service

A few stories that caught my eye over the last week……

Blackouts & Newspeak

With Hinkley C now hanging in the balance, the National Grid seem to be waking up to the realisation that its unlikely we’ll be getting any new power infrastructure in time to offset the likely decommissioning of the UK’s ageing coal and nuclear plants. So they seem to be putting their faith in energy efficiency measures instead.

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Keep in mind a few years ago, I was scoffed at for making such a suggestion at a conference by someone from NG, who felt such measures were unnecessary or that they won’t work (he was trying to argue the case for Hinkley C and how the ground would open and swallow the country if it isn’t built). And these very measures were part of the so-called “Green crap” Cameron cut to keep his allies in the fossil fuel and nuclear industry happy, just a few years ago. So there’s a certain “newspeak” element to this whole story as a result.

Now, I’m all for energy efficiency measures. I have long argued they are a big part of the solution. If we can’t build renewables quickly enough (nor nuclear for that matter) to meet the growing need for power and reduce carbon emissions, then we need to cut consumption. However, this road to Damascus conversion ignores three crucial points.

Firstly, there’s a law of diminishing returns in play here. You can make some big drastic savings early on (if you build the right infrastructure of course), but beyond a certain tipping point, you’ll be scrapping the bottom of the barrel. Energy efficiency, by saving people money, can actually encourage further energy use. Think about it, if I could double the fuel economy of your car, you’d probably drive it more regularly won’t you? Ultimately you still need to be producing power, and you will need to build some new power plants (be they renewable, fossil fuel fired or nuclear). This whole crisis is a result of the UK government’s failure to adopt a long term energy policy, throwing one industry under the bus after another, to the point nobody in their right mind would invest in a power station in the UK (renewable, nuclear or otherwise) unless you basically bribe them.

Secondly, a lot of the better energy efficiency measures require changes to how the grid works. They will not go ahead unless the government gives firm signals that it is adopting an appropriate long term energy policy. For example, the most obvious way of cutting carbon emissions is to switch from a handful of centralised thermal power stations, to a network of smaller decentralised CHP plants. Even running on fossil fuels, this cuts carbon emissions by at least 25%. Some European countries get 40% of their electricity from such power stations. They can also effectively backup intermittent renewable energy sources. But again, without building the hardware, you can’t implement it. And they will only work as part of a coherent overall strategy.

And thirdly there’s the ticking clock. Any energy plan for the UK needs action to be taken now. There are no quick fixes, no easy short cuts. Those boats sailed some time ago. The government has to take action asap and put its money where its mouth is, or any energy plan no matter how well meaning it is, will fail.

Irish apple…..and not the fruit!

For years Apple had been playing the double Irish tax dodge, only to recently get caught out. The EU’s just tapped them for 13 billion euro in back taxes. To put that in prospective, that’s about Ireland’s health budget for a year.

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Oddly enough rather than Leinster house cracking open champagne bottles and starting to work out what we’re going to spend all this money on (that’s enough to buy every adult in the country about 900 pints of the black stuff…now there’s a thought…), they are thinking of appealing. Why? Okay it does hurt Ireland reputation a bit, but so what, if Apple was here for the reasons it claims (i.e. to take advantage of a well educated workforce, I know they do a lot of co-funded research with Irish uni’s), then this ruling shouldn’t change anything.

If they were here for the tax dodge then feck em. They want to piss off back to California, fair enough. The Brexiters were dancing a jig about how Apple might move to the UK. That’s unlikely as the rate of taxation in Ireland is still lower than the UK’s. And lets be clear about what the Brexiters are proposing, they think that British tax payers should subsidise the profits of one of the world’s largest and most profitable companies. Seriously? Try selling that one in the middle of the next election! Voting for Corbyn suddenly starts to sound like a good idea.

So I say hang’em out to dry!

Olympic hijackings

And speaking of which, Brexiters have been trying to talk up how great everything is post-Brexit. They’ve picked up on everything from the Olympics, ignoring the fact how most medal winners are mostly young people, i.e. the people who voted remain, plus quite a few are from immigrant families and won’t be here if the UKIP brigade had its way, doubly so if lottery funding was ended, as some on the right have been long calling for. UK sports also receives money from the EU btw.

Speaking of which, Trump has been unusually quiet about the Olympics. Probably because it doesn’t fit into his narrative of a “broken” America, when they are finishing top of the medal table. And if Mexico isn’t sending the US their best, how about those Mexican American medal winners? Or what about the American Muslim and Jewish athletes? How unamerican of them to train hard and win medals! I particularly like Libertarian Gray Johnson’s tweet, he questioned if Trump was only watching the Olympics to see how high the Mexican pole vaulters could go.

Oh and incidentally, while many athletes didn’t want to talk about Brexit or Trump, those that did ain’t exactly supporters.

Brexit blues

But I digress, Brexiters have also jumped on the slightest hint of good economic news, ignoring the fact that things like factory output or employment figures often reflect conditions several months ago, i.e. before Brexit was announced, or can be thrown off by seasonal factors.

The real threat from Brexit was, and still is long term trends. As the saying goes its the bears that get you in the end, not the stags running for cover. Brexiters might want to spare a thought for example to the workers at Catepillar in Northern Ireland, who were told this week, hundreds of whom were losing their jobs. Further job losses appear to be imminent in ICL. Its possible they may follow in Ford and Nissan over the next few months and years, with other car makers likely to follow. Lloyds of course axed 3,000 last month over Brexit.

Solent News

Indeed recruiters argued that they were seeing a slow down in recruitment levels even before Brexit, as companies brought in hiring freezes in advance of the referendum. In some sectors recruitment rates are now “in freefall, as many companies have held onto those hiring freezes since then. Also even if you’ve been given leave to recruit, as my uni’s been finding, its next to impossible to hire new staff. Think about it, if you’ve got a job already would you risk changing jobs in the present climate? If you move jobs and your new employer decides to start down sizing, it will likely be last in first out, so who in their right mind would want to move? They only way we can recruit now is by hiring people on contract and paying them exorbitant day rates.

And yes, I’m aware there are employment laws meant to prevent LIFO type layoff’s, however I think you’ll find the fine print says they are EU laws. And the chances of a Tory government protecting the rights of employees is somewhere between slim and none.

Now all of this was inevitable. As I’ve pointed out before, UK manufacturing is going to take a hit and Northern Ireland is going to have it the worst post-Brexit. Companies aren’t going to rush for the exits, but they will slow down investment in the UK and stop hiring. Of course this will leave UK factories uncompetitive, meaning any time things are looking lean, they will inevitably pull production in UK firms first, particularly those in Northern Ireland. So let’s not kid ourselves people are losing jobs, or the opportunity to get a job as a result of Brexit. And if you think things are bad now, wait a few years!

Ambushed on Brexit

Indeed Theresa May appears to have been ambushed at the latest G20 talks, by both the Japanese and Americans, who are starting to put the squeeze on the Brits. As I mentioned in prior posts a UK government post-Brexit is going to come under enormous pressure, from international leaders, business, the army and even the government’s own civil servants. This means Brexit, actually might not mean Brexit, or it might just mean the UK becoming a sort of side kick to the EU (sorry, hero support!).

A winter of discontent?

The doctors are threatening a 5 day strike, so I hope everyone’s feeling fit and healthy and not planning on getting ill for a while. And southern rail is still in the grip of industrial action by disgruntled staff…while announcing a £100 million in profit! In both cases the employers are blaming the workers for the strikes…or even Jeremy Corbyn! Which is a bit like overloading a donkey with stuff and then getting angry with the donkey when it collapses from exhaustion.

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The fact is that the government’s policy of squeezing doctors isn’t working, its creating major problems for the NHS. And their policy on privatisation (health care or the railways) is inherently flawed. So their solution is to paper over the cracks and pretend they aren’t there. And likely thanks to Brexit, make strikes harder to hold in future. Will this means things improve post-Brexit? No! Doctors will likely move overseas, we’ll find it even harder to recruit new ones and similarly the situation on the UK’s trains will get even more strained.

You could argue that both junior doctors and the southern rail company are the canaries in the coal mine for problems the rest of the NHS and the rail network will experience further down the line.

Corbyn caught out

And speaking of trains, Corbyn claimed to have sat on the floor the other week all the way to Newcastle, as the train was “ram packed”. But Virgin revealed that actually that wasn’t how things had panned out. Clearly this was a half arsed attempt at the sort of political street theatre other parties engage in all of the time. The trouble is that Corbyn is such a hate figure for many that he can’t pull something like this off. He seems to drive people to a level of maddening hatred. He’s less a party leader and more of a punch bag.

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Consider that I once lost my bag on a Virgin train. I reported it, but they were never able to relocate it. They knew the train, the carriage and the seat number I was in, how much trouble would it have been to go through the CCTV and try to trace the bag? But instead they were quite happy to look at the CCTV footage for several carriages on likely more than one train for several hours to see what Corbyn got up too. This should show you how far Corbyn’s opponents will go to stick the knife in….and how little Virgin cares about its customers.

SpaceX explosion

SpaceX the upstart rocket company founded by Elon Musk suffered a serious technical failure the other day, with a rocket exploding on the pad. They’ve not said why yet, but I could not help but notice that the explosion seemed to start at the upper stage. This suggests some sort of malfunction with the rockets controls (e.g. the upper stage motor fired early), or perhaps a flash fire further down precipitating upwards (think of a champagne bottle…just one filled with rocket fuel).

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Some have started to question if this accident now threatens the future of SpaceX. Well it shouldn’t. Rockets are the very definition of extreme engineering. The most reliable rockets in the world have a success rate of 92%….or put it another way they blow up 1:12 of the times they are launched. SpaceX’s record, if we count this explosion as its 2nd failure out of 29 attempts counts as a 1:14.5 failure rate, well below the best the rest of the industry can manage. Its just that most of the other rockets tend not to fail so publicly, so the media don’t notice.

And SpaceX has pointed that even if the rocket was manned, its escape rocket system would likely have saved the crew. So rumours of SpaceX’s demise are perhaps greatly exaggerated.

Pulling power

One of the first things you notice state side is how much bigger cars are there. There seems to be lots of people who opt for some outrageously large SUV or pick up truck. The perfect thing for towing the boat they don’t own up the mountain they don’t live near. I’ve always felt skeptical of these behemoths feeling they are more pony and less draft horse. Well now I’ve got proof.

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Consider this video of a tug of war between a British Land Rover defender, with a 2.5L engine (at most 160 hp) and a kerb weight of about 1.6 tonnes (they do aluminium bodied versions that weight even less than this, I’m assuming this is the standard steel bodied version) against a Dodge Ram 3500 (Cummin’s Diesel version) with a 5.9L engine and weighing in at closer to 3 tonnes. Who wins?

Well if you watch the video, you’ll see its the Land Rover. Which is not that huge a surprise if you know anything about power to weight ratios. The Land Rover might be smaller and lighter, but that just means its got more power to devote to pulling the Dodge backwards. Driver skill and a manual transmission (with I assume a low torque selector and a diff-lock) also probably makes a big difference.

Plus a lower kerb weight means for lower ground pressure, an important feature in a 4×4 given the need to drive across muddy fields. Hence why real farmers or off road drivers use a Land Rover (or a range of other similar and more practical vehicles, the Toyota Hilux for example). While things like the Dodge Ram are aimed at men, with Trump like small hands, seeking to compensate for something else that’s very small.

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